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The Open Secret of Vote Buying




In the heat of the campaign for the Portland Eastern seat left vacant by the death of Dr. Lynvale Bloomfield earlier this year, allegations and denials of vote buying flew.

Vote Buying Allegations in East Portland


The opposition People’s National Party (PNP) accused the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) of using taxpayers’ money on de-bushing and other projects in the Constituency. According to the PNP General Secretary, Julian Robinson, “scores of JLP supporters in green t-shirts” de-bushed the main road, leading to Port Antonio.

As the PNP saw it, this flurry of activity is a blatant attempt by the JLP to influence the outcome of the April 4, 2019 By-Elections.

No Bollo Work!

Of course, the JLP quickly denied the accusation. It charged that the PNP was making misleading statements. The party insisted that these infrastructure and de-bushing projects were in the pipeline long before the Prime Minister’s announcement of the By-Election. The JLP also denied the PNP’s complaint made to the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman about the bridge it installed in East Portland.

According to the Public Relations Chairman of the JLP, Matthew Samuda, the Government of Jamaica is carrying out infrastructure work, drain cleaning, and de-bushing projects in several constituencies.  The JLP also rejected the implied connection between the government’s bridge building project in East Portland and vote buying.  So,  vote buying is not happening in Eastern Portland. No bollo work is being issued. At least, that is the JLP’s story and they are sticking to it.

Carnival of Spending!

Yet, Jamaicans cannot overlook the coincidence of what the PNP called the “carnival of spending” on several projects and infrastructure works in East Portland. In a bid to avoid the appearance of vote buying in the East Portland By-Election, Prime Minister Andrew Holness ordered the halt of payments from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). Regardless of this move, the allegations of vote buying persist.

According to Julian Robinson,

“This (vote buying) has become the normal pattern of behaviour for the JLP government, culminating in a spending spree of $1 billion during the recent South East St Mary by-election.”

However, the JLP fired back, accusing the PNP of hypocrisy.

Meanwhile, the Electoral Office of Jamaica (ECJ) called for the political parties to stop using resources to influence the by-election.

$10,000 for the ‘X’

Not surprisingly, not all Jamaicans will hesitate to sell their votes if given the chance. Although the buying and selling of votes are illegal under the Representation of the People Act, approximately 13 percent of Jamaicans surveyed ahead of the 2016 General Elections were willing to sell their vote. A Gleaner-Bill Johnson Poll done at the time found that votes could go for between  $500 and as high as $10,000. Furthermore, the poll found that some Jamaicans are willing to sell their votes, regardless of the penalty of $80,000 and a ban on voting or holding political office for the breach.

Anthropologist Dr. Herbert Gayle, in a 2016 study also found that 48 percent of eligible voters plan not to vote. However, 10 percent of this group said they would sell their votes if given the opportunity. It also does not matter which of the two main political parties buys the vote. Even die-hard party supporters were willing to accept incentives not to vote at all.

Bribery not new

Truth is, vote buying is not a new problem in Jamaican politics. One might even venture as far as to say, as Garfield Higgins in a recent article did, that “Bribery and variant forms of it have been part of the electoral landscape in Jamaica for decades.”

How bad is the problem, really?

Anecdotally, bribery reared its ugly head from the very first general elections, in 1944. As the stories went, politicians distributed salt fish and counter flour to voters to win their votes during that election. Every election since then, whether general or local, some form of bribery prevailed.

As bribery, vote buying, or vote holding became widespread, the scale of the problem grew. Alarmingly, reports emerged of money in envelopes changing hands during political rallies. Allegedly, party activists were also paying voters not to vote in some constituencies.

The Root of The Vote Selling Problem

One suggestion that may explain the ease with which votes can be bought and sold is what Garfield Higgins called, “mass disaffection” of the Jamaican population. Mass disaffection is more noticeable among the young who are not eager to participate in the political process. This attitude among persons of voting age may explain the drop in the last 25 years in the number of voters who cast their ballots.

The garrison, that is, an enclave where a single party (whether JLP or PNP) dominates its influence over voter behaviour, is also fertile ground for “vote buying” of another form. In garrisons, residents benefit from various cash and in-kind incentives to maintain loyalty. Any betrayal whether direct or indirect is met with swift and often brutal consequences.

That said, Jamaica has managed over the past elections to conduct the votes without the kinds of violent and disruptive incidents that dominated the elections of the past. Who could forget the bloody 1980 General Elections?

Did Vote Buying Feature in East Portland?

Apparently, direct vote buying was not a striking feature of on the ground happenings during the East Portland By-Elections.

Observations by the corruption watchdog National Integrity Action (NIA) and the Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) were that direct vote buying is not the problem in this event. The problem is the indirect distribution of funds for projects and activities inside the constituency.

Then again, an examination of the voting history in Eastern Portland shows a longstanding tradition of high voter turnout bred by a natural inclination to vote.

So, the handout of money in envelopes was not what swung the voters in East Portland.

It was quite evident that JLP’s candidate Ann Marie Vaz resonated well with the voters in that constituency. Not only was she well liked across the political divide, but she was also accessible. It helps that she lives in East Portland. Unlike the PNP candidate Damion Crawford, who was parachuted in to contest the seat.

The Labour Party also conducted a strategically superior campaign that stayed on the message of prosperity and hope. East Portlanders appreciate the freshness of that message and place much premium on the JLP’s ability to fulfill its promises.

So, will there be an election in Jamaica that is untainted by vote buying? Probably not.


Peter Parchment is a highly trained professional with twelve (12) years senior executive experience in Policy Formulation, Monitoring & Evaluation, Strategic Planning in the Public Sector, and Social Research. A strategic thinker with strong problem-solving skills, people and resource management skills and the ability to think outside the box. Equipped with sound technical report writing and consultation facilitation skills and knowledgeable in the workings of Government and the Public Service. Experienced in working with rural and urban communities in a variety of locally and externally funded projects. He is also trained in Media and Communications and writes for online clients and publications.


Corporate Jamaica – Invest in Your Employees’ Wellness!




National Salt Reduction

Invest in your employees’ wellness! That is the word from Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health and Wellness recently. He was addressing an awards ceremony for the Work-it-Out weight loss challenge put on by the National Health Fund (NHF) at the Spanish Court Hotel on June 13, 2019.

His call came against the background of the low uptake by corporate entities in the Government’s campaign to encourage health and wellness among Jamaicans. Corporate Jamaica must see employees as the most valuable asset, the Minister asserts. Also, employees’ state of mind that enables the intellectual drive to enhance corporate competitiveness should be nurtured by motivation. Employees would be healthy and motivated to do their jobs well.

Change the Sick Profile

Indeed, Jamaica needs to change its ‘sick profile’ toward health and wellness. According to data cited by the Health and Wellness Minister, one in three Jamaicans is hypertensive, that is, living with high blood pressure. Obesity among Jamaicans is also high. The most recent Health and Lifestyle Survey, 2016-2017, reveals that one in two Jamaicans is classified as overweight or obese. Also, seven out of ten Jamaicans die from a lifestyle-related disease.

Undoubtedly, this drive toward health and wellness among Jamaicans, including employees, couldn’t come any sooner.

Staggering Healthcare Cost Burden

The cost burden on the country’s healthcare programme is staggering. The cost of care for citizens living with diabetes and hypertension alone has surpassed US$460 million. That is approximately six percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Naturally, when the cost of other non-communicable or lifestyle-related diseases is included, the healthcare bill escalates.

Not to mention the cost of healthcare to individuals. Spending on doctor’s visits, tests, hospitalization, specialist care, and other related costs is just as staggering.  In a study a little more than ten years ago, the World Bank estimated that individual Jamaicans collectively bore a healthcare cost burden, including lost income, of J$47,882 million (US$641 million) in 2006 and 2007.

Clearly, on every level, Jamaica can no longer afford to continue life without health and wellness.

Wellness in Motion – GoJ’s Jamaica Moves Campaign

The Jamaican Government has in recent years championed the Jamaica Moves campaign to motivate Jamaicans of all walks of life to take their health and fitness seriously. This campaign includes messages to Jamaicans to exercise regularly, change harmful diets, and reduce stress. Corporate Jamaica is also encouraged to participate through team weight loss programmes, of which NHF’s Work-it-Out Weight Loss Challenge was a part.

Corporate wellness programmes are not the purview of only large enterprises in Jamaica. Even small companies can actively engage their employees in health and fitness activities.

Benefits of Employee Wellness

The benefits of a healthier workforce also translate into greater employee productivity and increased profit. One can say that a healthy workforce is a productive one. Absenteeism owing to illness is reduced, and the company saves the cost for temporary replacements for workers who are off sick. Also, company resources are free to address other corporate matters instead of dealing with chronically sick employees.

On the upside, a healthy workforce is also more energetic and creative. Corporate innovation increases with healthy employees. Naturally, a holistic approach to health and wellness is vital. Not only should companies focus on their employee’s physical health, but they must address mental, emotional, environmental, and spiritual health. Evidently, successful companies are those that invest heavily in the wellbeing of their employees.

The Narrative Must Change, Says Tufton

According to Dr. Tufton,

“There are thousands of companies in Jamaica who all they care about is that you show up for work, work as hard as you can and after you leave work, it doesn’t matter to them….what happens to you as long as you show up the next day.”

The narrative must change.

The Ministry of Health has adopted “wellness” as part of its mandate (and portfolio name) to encourage Jamaicans to take more responsibility for illness prevention. Such activities to prevent lifestyle-related illnesses like heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity will transform the country into a healthier nation.

What Businesses Can Do

Among Dr. Tufton’s recommendations for employees’ wellness in corporate Jamaica are:

  • bring a doctor in once or twice per annum to conduct tests on employees’ health status;
  • engage fitness instructors to conduct workouts at the workplace at least once weekly,
  • offer healthier menu choices for employees at the cafeteria.

Of course, the sky is the limit for the innovative ways Jamaican businesses can motivate their employees toward a healthier lifestyle. If the Ministry of Health and Wellness has its way, the entire country would be (in the words of the late Hon. Edward Seaga) full of vim, vigour, and vitality.

So, let’s get moving toward a healthier, wealthier Jamaica.

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Navigating Jamaica in Style: All We Need to Know About Knutsford Express

Alaina Hull



Navigating Jamaica in Style: All We Need to Know about Knutsford Express

What is Knutsford Express?

Jamaica is a beautiful place and if you are looking forward to moving around from one spot to another within the island, Knutsford Express can be your best option. Be it in terms of affordability or safety and comfort, the service provides everything in one easy to access bundle.

Navigating Jamaica in Style: All We Need to Know about Knutsford Express

Knutsford Express is a luxury coach service which simplifies travel to multiple destinations across Jamaica. An added advantage it provides is the station to station solution which means you can access specific parts of the country; with a central point to meet and move around from if visiting only for a few hours. The spacious and large luxury coach makes it painless for those travelling alone, as a family or travelling with a young one  to move from one destination to another.

Apart from that, a fully customisable Knutsford Connect will allow you to schedule private transfers to any destination within Jamaica. It can also be used to transport tour groups from one city to another with assured comfort.

How to Use Knutsford Express?

Using Knutsford Express is easy as all the information including booking, destination choices and ticket rates are all provided under one roof in its official website. If you are a traveller looking to move around the island of Jamaica or even a local who simply wants to get where you need to go hassle free, just specify the ‘from’ and ‘to’ destination to check for ticket availability.

Navigating Jamaica in Style: All We Need to Know about Knutsford Express

Usually, tickets are readily available for most dates for all locations within the island and you can also choose your most convenient time of departure. Make sure to specify the number of passengers travelling together including adults, kids, senior citizens or even students for special discounts if applicable. A special Senior Coach Card is provided for those above 65 which will help you get special benefits when hiring luxury coach, cabs or additional luggage services.

You can also make use of the courier services offered by the company to send parcels to any of their 10 listed courier destinations across the island. The deliveries are done quickly on a daily basis. It makes it easier for a local company to quickly send items across the island as the coach service ensures it is delivered promptly on all seven days of the week.

Key Information on Knutsford

Before you get onboard or book your tickets, knowing some of the important information related to Knutsford should help ensure your journey goes smoothly. For starters, the actual journey from one end to the other end of the Jamaican island is about 4 hours (Kingston to Negril). However, to reach Ocho Rios, it takes only about 2 hours of time.

Navigating Jamaica in Style: All We Need to Know about Knutsford Express

The luxury coach goes from one office point to another in each spot and you can either make use of cab services offered by Knutsford or hire your own to get to your next point. All passengers are allowed luggage that weighs 50 pounds or less along with a ‘carry-on’. The service is offered on all days except for Christmas day every year.

When using Knutsford as part of your travel plans, you can also book for events happening in specific places. The advantage is that you can book tickets for both to and fro so as to cover the event. The drop-off and pick up locations are prominently placed across the cities that a local cab should easily get you to the location. Check for updated charts as there are events that take place all over to choose your most desired point and make your visit a fun-filled one.

  • Tickets purchased are valid for a period of six months so that you can travel on another bus if you miss the one originally scheduled
  • Payment can be done using credit cards
  • There are no drop off stops for the coach except for the office locations at each point
  • Fare listed is only for one way trip and you can book return tickets if needed

Recent News, Activity, and Accomplishments of the Service

Knutsford Express has received positive reviews on popular travel websites. The company is also known for providing clean coaches with Wi-Fi and restroom onboard for a comfortable journey. The most prominent spots in Jamaica including Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Negril, and Kingston are all covered by Knutsford Express while you can also avail customised services with Knutsford Connect.

Navigating Jamaica in Style: All We Need to Know about Knutsford Express

The company has recently received multiple awards and accolades. Oliver Townsend, the visionary of the service has been nominated as Business Leader #2. The newly improved app also makes it easier for passengers to book the coach from any destination and reach another in assured comfort.

Conclusion: Pros & Cons of Knutsford, Alternative Choices Available

Overall, Knutsford Express has managed to receive some amazing reviews from passengers who have used the service. The company has been quite punctual in their pickup and drop; they have affordable ticket prices and also additional courier services to send items whenever needed.


  • The quality of the luxury coach
  • Clean and spacious interiors
  • Additional benefits such as restroom and Wi-Fi makes the journey comfortable


  • Seating is not the most comfortable for people who come late to board the coach
  • At times, there is a delay in the bus reaching its destination due to multiple drop-off points

Alternatives Available

Being a popular tourist destination and with people bustling with activity all the time, there are plenty of luxury coach services that make your life easier when travelling around Jamaica. While Knutsford Express is a popular service in itself, there are other services that you could check out when booking your next trip.

The popular service providers in the beautiful island are,

  • Marvyn’s Paradise Tours
  • Kingston City Tours
  • Best Jamaica Day Tours
  • Mike’s Tours and Transportation
  • Grandtran Jamaica

If you are planning to travel or like to move around the city like a local, there are plenty of other services available as well, from which you can choose your best pick. Knutsford Express easily comes out as the top one because of the professional services offered by the service provider. In addition to reliable coaches with convenient facilities and the overall great experience they offer for those who are trying to see select locations in Jamaica.

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Jamaicans Love Affair with Facing Hardships




It has been said that we can be our own worst enemies; the absolute truth when you look at the state of things in society. Recently, the World Health Organization recognized the term ‘Burnout’, as a workplace condition. Burnout is defined as a “state of vital exhaustion”.


In elaborating, the World Health Organization stated that-

“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Stress is one of the key factors that are used to identify Burnout. The Verywell Mind team stated that-

“Employment burnout, also known as “job burnout” or just “burnout,” is a state where you lose all motivation or incentive, leading to feelings of depression or stress”

Unfortunately, many individuals are currently in this very situation. Many also choose to remain in this situation. There are several factors that can be owed to persons remaining in organizations and situations that are leading them to Burnout. Specifically in the Jamaican society, we seem to prefer the state of constant stress in an organization. Allowance can be made for the hard task of finding another job that offers the benefits and opportunities that are required. However, that should not be a reason to not try, to not start searching for a way out!

Toxic Environments

“Better to have a half a bread than nothing”

“Thank God yuh ave a job, some people have nothing”

“Better to inna frying pot than fire”

These are phrases that you are guaranteed to hear if you mention your need for a change, due to your reluctance to continue to withstand the stress of a toxic environment. ‘Gratitude is a must’ as Koffee said, but at what cost should we be thankful? Remaining in a state where you are severely uncomfortable only leads to stress, medical conditions and mental illnesses (a term that has not been given its needed attention in Jamaica).

This life should be one that we aim to achieve and fulfill our life purpose. Sadly, a lot of persons have regrets. In talking to the older generation in Jamaica, the missed opportunities of better jobs, free classes, different positions is a major topic of conversation. A careful look at the positions that many older Jamaicans currently hold, and the time frame that they had been in the same position is a testimony to the misery they are facing. The employers group of Jamaica have performed poorly with unlocking and magnifying an individual’s potential.

Tension and Stagnancy

In addition to the long period of being in the same position with the same duties, it is no wonder they are assumed to being closed off from interaction with young people. There is the belief that tension between the generations is common in organizations due to the differences in communication, work culture and ideals. The stagnancy that is experienced by many individuals must also be considered. For instance, it is the norm for office attendants to remain in the same position for an extensive time. We all know of a ‘Ms. Joyce’ that had been serving coffee for over a decade. Are they really happy? Maybe. Could the organization had performed a more active role in their upward mobility? Absolutely!

Jamaica needs to be a great place to work by 2030, and this is one aspect that needs to be paid attention to. Many Jamaicans are miserable due to the job that they are in. It is no wonder why they are many stress-related conditions that plague the nation. It should not come as a shock if persons simply want to change their jobs due to a desire for a change in scenery. We need to encourage this. Happy life makes a happy Jamaica. Let us get rid of the culture of toiling away until old age makes it difficult to work, until old age makes it difficult to enjoy ourselves. Let us start living in our greatness.

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