Features — 04 July 2014 — by Kareem Clarke

The recently formed advocacy group called the “Rod of Correction (ROC)” – which consists of a mixture of trade unions and local activists – met at the Belize National Teacher’s Union conference room today, where they discussed their plans in terms of keeping a list of current national issues on the front burner, and strategizing the way forward in relation to the structure of the organization itself.

The group has come out swinging against what it perceives as several acts of corruption that either have been, or is being perpetrated by the current United Democratic Party (UDP) administration, and has promised to use their collective power to ensure that these issues are all addressed one way or another.

After their meeting today, Amandala spoke with Evan “Mose” Hyde, the spokesperson for the ROC, who provided the media with the rationale behind the meeting and gave us an idea of what was the final outcome of the session.

He said, “Basically, [we’re] trying to sort out our leadership structure and trying to set an agenda, so it was really a lot of discussion – sorting out stuff; just different organizations figuring out how to be effective essentially.”

Instead of meeting to vent their dissatisfaction or mobilize against the Government of Belize (GOB), which is the source of their varied concerns, Hyde said that the meeting was simply trying to build on the group’s effectiveness while engaging the citizenry.

He stated, “I think it’s more important for us at this point in time to really become an effective organization and, if there is anything we could probably share is that each organization has given an update, and there are certain things which were brought up, which are matters that we consider to be very pressing, and we feel that in a short time, we will have to go on the record with them and establish exactly how we feel [because] we will need to engage the people of Belize with those issues.”

The ROC was recently discredited by Prime Minister Dean Barrow at a press conference on June 13, and referred to as a “matter of self-interest” on the part of its originators who are trying to “manufacture a fit that isn’t there.”

Hyde, however, stressed that the group’s intention is not necessarily to bring down the government.

“Our convergence is not based on – we’re not in the business of government removal, and so if a government is interested in doing right and correcting things which need to be corrected, then I imagine that there won’t be a problem at all with ROC”, he asserted.

The current national issues, he said, are “very serious concerns” which are certainly no strangers to the public, and include matters which they will have to take a firm stand on, such as the private prosecution of disgraced former Minister of State, Elvin Penner, by the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), and the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association (BGYEA)’s issue with the Harmonyville Buffer Zone.

“Ultimately, we have a problem with Mrs. Sharon Anderson and her situation there as Chief Pharmacist, and also, that whole concern of the Pharmacists’ Association. We have a very serious issue that COLA, who we deem as being an agency, and as a part of ROC acting on behalf of the people, have been so frustrated with getting their evidence and support from the Commissioner of Police. We believe that’s a very serious matter, since the trial date is set for the 24th [of this month], and also the matter of BGYEA and the land situation; we think those are pressing issues that we will definitely be very firm on”, Hyde told us.

According to ROC, pacts with members of the business community are also in the pipeline; however, those matters will be discussed when they meet again sometime next week.

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