The Charities Authority in Jamaica has defended its decision to deny registration of the Buju Banton Foundation after backlash from the Grammy Award-winning Reggae/Dancehall singer and his fans last week.
In an Instagram post last Thursday, Banton shared a letter from the government agency which revealed that his application to set up a Foundation in his name was denied. The Authority referenced the Charities Act of 2013, explaining that Banton could not be permitted to act as a governing board member on the Foundation because he was not “a fit and proper person” having been “convicted of an offence involving dishonesty.”
The singer, whose real name is Mark Myrie, blasted the Authority, writing in the post “I BET I am way more honest than all of these fool put together”, while many of his fans deemed the action to be unfair.
Erroll Gallimore, Head of the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies (DCFS), Charities Authority, further explained the reasoning behind the decision during an interview with Television Jamaica on Friday.
“We are of the opinion that he has not satisfied these particular criteria to be fit and proper,” Gallimore said. “We are concerned whether or not having Mr. Myrie on the board of a Foundation would be in keeping with maintaining and protecting the public trust and confidence in charitable organizations, given the public knowledge of his conviction. So we don’t feel he has met that particular criteria.”
Gallimore clarified who the ACT deems “fit and proper”.
“It basically requires that the person should not be convicted of an offense involving dishonesty, and who, most importantly, in the opinion of the Authority is a person of sound probity and is able to exercise competence, diligence and sound judgment in fulfilling the responsibilities of a charitable organization’s functions.”
“So we ensure that it fits within the four corners of the law, and it has nothing to do with any personality, or who the person are. It’s a matter of satisfying the criteria,” he said.
However, Gallimore added that Buju and his Foundation are not out of options.
He said Buju Banton could be replaced as a governing board member of the Foundation. “In this particular reference case, one of the options which is available to anybody who is refused, is for the person to be replaced”.
The Buju Banton Foundation was first unveiled in January 2019, two months after the artist returned to Jamaica after serving seven of a ten-year sentence for conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute in the US.
The Foundation has since donated books, computers, footwear, sports equipment, and other supplies to various children’s homes in Jamaica. Workshops were also facilitated with the aim of empowering youths to believe in their ability to succeed.
After winning the 2020 Jamaica Festival Song Competition in July 2020, Banton also donated the J$3 million cash prize to a Boy’s home.