By Carlena Knight
The newly named candidate for the United Progressive Party (UPP), Franz C deFreitas is adamant that this new position will not affect his role as a radio personality on Observer radio.
Speaking exclusively to this newsroom, deFreitas who is the co-host of the popular Voice of the People show, said he will in fact continue in that role despite some concerns that the show would highly political.
However, deFreitas is assuring the public that he can separate the politics from the professional realm.
“It is my intention to continue to co-host that programme because it’s Voice of the People. As a leader and a professional, I have the ability to be able to sort out the professional from the political and be able to manage the two tasks,” he explained.
“Many people take on more than one job, more than one initiative, and even though the work of building or rebuilding the constituency of St John’s City South is going to difficult, I believe that I can maintain both roles. I see it as no conflict, and a place to hear what the voice of the people has to say, for or against. It’s certainly in my view that it does not present any bias at all. People on both sides of the political system in Antigua and Barbuda have been able to call, have been able to express their thoughts and views and I see no conflict of interest in that regard.”
His comments were endorsed by Managing Director of NEWSCO Observer Ltd, Algernon “Serpent” Watts, who is also the UPP candidate for the St George Constituency.
Watts said that deFreitas’ appointment will not affect the daily operations of the company.
“There are people who are going to come with this thing about the independence of Observer. Let me just say that I completely, wholeheartedly, support Franz in his move going forward and Franz is an employee of NEWSCO and will continue to be an employee at NEWSCO until Franz decides that he is no longer an employee of the company. There are people out there who want to tell you how you can dress, how you can walk and most of these people are people who want to see your demise, not people who want to see the best for you, but the reality is the Franz that I know has always been a professional and I don’t see this changing the Franz that I know. If Franz has an opinion, it is his opinion and that is what Voice of the People is about,” Watts said.
Yesterday, the opposition UPP announced deFreitas as the replacement candidate for St John’s City South. He succeeds Michael Burton who was among the first batch of names released to contest in the upcoming general elections.
The party’s Political Leader Harold Lovell said Burton has been relieved of the responsibilities of candidacy, due to health reasons.
“Brother Burton has been overseas receiving medical treatment and we felt that it would be unfair to him to subject him to the rigours of an intense campaign at this time. We discussed the matter with his family and we feel that it is best if we allow him to continue to be part of the overall team when he returns, but just not on the ticket this time,” Lovell said.
He explained that deFreitas recently became a member of the party and was embraced by both the branch and the executive and that he is confident deFreitas has the goods to be a candidate.
St John’s City South is an Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) stronghold and is currently represented by MP Steadroy Cutie Benjamin, but deFreitas is confident of his chances of dethroning the incumbent who has held that seat since 1994.
“I would say that with the collaboration of the people in the constituency I believe that I will be victorious in making the constituency a better place. This is a constituency that has great history, has produced many great people and the truth of the matter is very little has been done over the last 25 years to continue to build on the great traditions of this constituency … so because there is such a big void in leadership I believe working with people we will be able to get a community that is strong and the envy of Antigua and Barbuda and once that is done, then I will be able to be successful in this constituency.”
DeFreitas said he is running to safeguard the options for the next generation and secure the contributions of past contributors. He is among 16 candidates contesting for the UPP in the next general elections. The full slate will be introduced on September 27.