As Government seeks to recover following Marlene McDonald’s corruption charges, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal and Laventille East/Morvant MP Adrian Leonce are at odds over the PNM’s ability to govern.
Speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew on Tuesday, Moonilal described Monday as the most “murky and remarkable day in T&T’s political history where one Cabinet minister fell and a senator fled.”
He said that given McDonald’s charges and the resignation of Senator Garvin Simonette following revelations that he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in Texas, US, it was clear that the government had collapsed. Simonette was chosen to replace McDonald as the Minister of Public Administration, but Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley rescinded the offer following the revelation of his transgression.
To Moonilal, it meant that the Senate was harbouring a member, whom for several years, possessed a criminal record. He believes the blunders have led to a rigid test of Rowley’s leadership.
“We have a senator being appointed and then being disappointed. Apparently, for four years or so, Dr Rowley and the PNM did no vetting of their senators.
“This is not the first time it has happened, but in a most remarkable about-turn, they cancelled a swearing-in ceremony of a government minister; the person who was unsworn, so to speak, at the last minutes.
“It speaks to poor judgement. It speaks almost to a macabre development and I think the Prime Minister himself, his judgement is really up for question now and the government this time cannot pull a rabbit out the hat,” Moonilal said.
He was sympathetic to McDonald as he described her predicament as a sad development and wished her good health. He said she faces serious charges in the court, but will have an opportunity to face her accusers.
Meanwhile, Rowley faces an onslaught of criticism for having appointed McDonald thrice to his Cabinet despite allegations of corruption against her.
However, Leonce says that her appointments were based on information the party had as well as her work performance.
Leonce said that the government has not collapsed as there are capable people to fill the Public Administration ministerial portfolio.
“I think Marlene, because of her experience, knowledge and skills, she is an asset. She performs her duties well and the Prime Minister would have made his decision based on that.
“What happened is unfortunate and the Prime Minister would have taken precautions.
“He made his decision based on the information that was given to him and he would have allowed her back to serve because she is an asset.
“I don’t see it as anything wrong or bad, I support her because when you’re trying to perform and give your country the best and you have someone who can do the work, who is committed and who is serious, you want them on your team,” Leonce said.
He described her as a mentor, teacher and a friend.