by Nyasha Lucesh
Wednesday, 6 March – Senior staffers of the Peter David campaign clashed Wednesday with National Democratic Congress candidate for the Town of St George, Claudette Joseph, as she attempted to erect a swing set for children at the Mt Gay Housing Scheme.
Joseph and a campaign team were well advanced in placing the swing, when residents sympathetic to the incumbent party alerted senior members of the New National Party, Town of St George campaign team.
The Candidate’s donation to the children of the area drew stiff opposition and angry words from Oswald Gilbert, the campaign manager for Peter David, and Fabian Bowen, the NNP housing officer for the Constituency.
Officials at the Housing Authority of Grenada, which is responsible for managing the housing development, were also called in to block the community project.
Gilbert and Bowen were heard loudly demanding that the swing be taken down there and then, accusing Joseph of “putting the cart before the horse”, by failing to get direct word from the HAG.
Joseph had not sought permission directly from the HAG, although she said residents who support her campaign had volunteered to seek permission and had assured her that they had.
Permission was granted by the contractor responsible for maintenance of the property, according to Joseph, who had not done any community work at the property before.
The contractor has been the main point of contact between residents and the HAG on issues to do with physical works at the housing complex and residents are accustomed to seeking his approval when making changes at the property.
Joseph was eventually able to reach a compromise with the HAG, that the swing would go up and the Joseph campaign would officially seek permission.
Gilbert claimed that it was “government property, and no politician is allowed to do anything there without government permission”, demanding that the HAG official act immediately have the swing set torn down.
The two campaign staffers have no State authority, nor are they residents of the area and had no standing to try and stop the swing from going up.
Joseph, an attorney, is seeking to win against Peter David in the hotly contested Town of St George seat which David once held as a member of the NDC, and there have been multiple reports of violence since the election date was announced weeks ago by incumbent prime minister Dr Keith Mitchell.
In the 3 years that the housing development has been settled this was the first attempt to put any recreational facilities in the area, either from government or the community itself.
During Wednesday’s incident, residents also complained that while the government had failed to provide any street lights in the last 3 years, attempts were being made now to stop a project aimed at benefiting children.
Children play in the streets on a daily basis competing with vehicle traffic, and there are some residents who support the incumbent party who did not take kindly to the Peter David staffers trying to stop it from being erected.
Meanwhile, others supportive of the NNP joined the campaign officials in calling for the removal of the swing set, some claiming that they had no children and had no use for a swing set on the premises.