“What you doing here?”
That was the question which PNM deputy leader and one-time Community Development Minister Joan Yuille-Williams asked Guardian Media as she walked slowly past the Port-of-Spain Magistrate’s court yesterday.
The same question was leveled at her. Did she come to support embattled fellow deputy leader Marlene McDonald, expected at the court?
“No, I just came to the National Security Ministry and I walk up St Vincent Street,” Yuille-Williams added, walking away from queries about McDonald.
Yuille-Williams served alongside McDonald in the Manning administration as deputy leaders since then.
McDonald succeeded Yuille-Williams in the Community Development Ministry in the 2007-2010 term.
Up to yesterday McDonald held the deputy leader position together with Yuille-Williams, Works Minister Rohan Sinanan and PNM Tobago Council leader Kelvin Charles.
Yesterday PNM officials at Balisier House were in a sombre mood.
“It’s our colleague so we rally around her as a person,” one said.
McDonald will likely be absent from tomorrow’s PNM screening session which resumes at Balisier House. The 12-member screening team headed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and including deputies and PNM executive members will interview Local Government nominees for Diego Martin.
Outside of the POS Court, meanwhile, on-lookers stood on the pavement yesterday waiting to see the accused in McDonald’s matter arrive. Others peered from a corner building. Several PNM supporters were also present, most vocal, Christine “Twiggy” Livia.
She yelled at a man, “ Yuh can’t get POS South! You and your UNC people - stay out of POS South business!”
Former POS South councillor Nedra McLean, added, “I’m very sad, heartbroken for (Marlene) We’re here for her regardless of how the pendulum swings. I pray God everything goes in her favour if she’s right, she’s right, if she’s wrong,...regardless, we’re showing solidarity, guilty or not.”
“It’s up to the people if she should resign as MP, they elected her. But she has a lot of support in the area,’generally people are sad today. People call this lady ‘Mudder’, she did a lot for POS South especially depressed areas - everybody is her children.”
“In this season she always bought bookbags loaded with stationery for children. At Christmas and even out of Christmas, she gives out hampers. People hold out a hand to her, they say “mudder, we doh have dis or dat’. But I’m sure the Prime Minister will put something in place for those who look forward to her help annually.”
Livia and Mclean clashed with former PNM youth activist Kingsley Kinglsey who fell out with PNM over the selection of McDonald for POS South in 2015 general elections. He said he and others supported activist Isha Wells.
“We told the political leader ‘No Isha Wells, No vote.’
But they didn’t listen. We don’t praise other people’s downfall but we gave Dr Rowley information about Ms McDonald and said she had questions to answer. Now today is sad for PNM POS South. We already had ex-MP Eric Williams having problems.”
“We’ve been asking what Marlene did for us in the area. Now this has happened, she should resign and have a by-election,” Kingsley said, adding he now supports UNC’s Kamla Persad- Bissessar.
While supporters didn’t get to see McDonald, some shouted encouragement to other accused, including Edgar Zephryrine when he arrived.