The political career of Mayor of Belize City Zenaida Moya-Flowers, who remains formally expelled from the United Democratic Party (UDP), is hanging in the balance after a meeting of the UDP’s National Party Council this past Saturday, January 22.
Amandala has confirmed that at this meeting, the Mayor was asked to make her case as to why her penalty should be altered, and then was told that the Council would make a decision.
Apparently, that decision is that the Mayor must respond to the Council in writing accepting certain pre-conditions (not revealed) which would result in her expulsion from the party, which was announced last May, being reduced to a suspension of 1 year, considered to be in effect from that time, May of 2010. If she does not respond, the expulsion remains in effect. The Party has not specified how much time she will get to respond.
We also have confirmed reports circulated elsewhere in the press last week that the Mayor had sent in an application for standard bearer, which we understand was for a Belize City division, reportedly the Albert division, held by the Opposition People’s United Party’s (PUP) Mark Espat.
Our understanding is that Michael Finnegan, the Mayor’s acknowledged political mentor and UDP area representative for Mesopotamia, had intended to step down in this election and have her replace him there, but that he was dissuaded from this position by senior party officials and that the Mayor was given a choice of three City divisions in which she could run as a candidate, all currently held by the PUP – Albert, Lake Independence (represented by Cordel Hyde) and Fort George (in which all indications are that Said Musa will run again), and she chose Albert.
A senior party source told us that the application was accepted pending the result of the appeal of the decision of the Ethics Committee before the National Party Council, but as a result of the decision, the Mayor, whether she is ultimately suspended or expelled, is not eligible to contest any political convention in this election cycle, whether general (for which applications were due on January 14), or municipal (for which applications are due in April of 2011).
Municipal conventions are expected to be held sometime later this year, as elections for the Belize and Belmopan City Councils and the seven town councils are due to be held the first Wednesday of next March, 2012.
The Ethics and Integrity Committee of the UDP had been tasked to review the Mayor’s act of making charges against Prime Minister Dean Barrow of allegedly inappropriate conduct in his capacity as political leader of the UDP in a media interview on October 1, 2009, after the Mayor was first read 22 counts of uttering a false document and 2 counts of failure to adhere to City Council financial regulations in conjunction with City Administrator Dr. Kiran Vanjani, administrative assistant Kiran Bhudrani and now-deceased financial director at City Hall, Dwain Davis.
On November 9, 2010, in the Magistrate’s Court, she was discharged from the charges of uttering a false document before Chief Magistrate Margaret McKenzie, and the regulations charges were struck out for want of prosecution by Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer the next day, December 10, after the prosecution was not able to get its witnesses to court for the case.
The Mayor had accused Mr. Barrow of instigating the laying of charges against her for uttering a false document and not complying with City Council financial regulations — “pervert(ing) the course of justice by conspiring with or manipulating the Director of Public Prosecutions…”, as the Prime Minister had recounted it to Amandala’s Adele Ramos on the May 25, 2010 edition of the Adele Ramos Show on KREM Radio and KREM Television.
“Miss Moya did not seek to fight the case, did not seek to dispute the charge; that she in effect threw herself upon the mercy of the [panel], admitted she had done wrong and said to them that she was sorry… (she) said she wished to make amends for that, she wished for reconciliation…,” the Prime Minister stated in recounting the events of that meeting, adding that he had never taken the allegations personally, but that other party members saw it as confirmation of the diverging interests of Moya-Flowers and the UDP.
We have sought confirmation from the Mayor herself, but at press time she is yet to return our call. Attempts to reach other party sources with knowledge of Saturday’s events were unsuccessful.