REV ROBERT DASH
I AM STILL struggling to understand what kind of people live in this country. The fact remains that we are living in a multicultural, multi-ethnic, multiracial, plural society. We live in a “callaloo pot” society. These divisions have us where we are politically. People are still merging in their racial and tribal divides to elect people to represent us. We are an immature society, politically.
But there is no division when it comes to covid19. This virus is no respecter of cultural, ethnic or racial divide. It transcends all social divides and meets us in our vulnerable positions. These divides provide no protection from the virus.
So why are we allowing self-seeking politicians to confuse us about the vaccine programmes of the Ministry of Health? They are all vaccinated and are ashamed to make it public.
In this unprecedented time in the life of such a young nation, one will expect a coming together of leadership to travel this unknown, uncharted sea. There is no reference point to draw from. But the opposition is determined to have a good laugh when there is turbulence on the journey. And even when there is smooth sailing, it seeks to say there is turbulence.
It has not, up to this point, acknowledged the achievement of the Government’s fight against this virus. It has not recognised the amount of vaccines available in this Third World country. This is a landmark achievement of the Government. When a right-thinking person understands this achievement, they will be in high praise of the leaders who have accomplished it.
For the fact remain that vaccines are not easily acquired. There is a struggle by Third World countries to acquire vaccines. This struggle is real. The governments of Barbados, St Lucia and the Bahamas are presently in the US courts to get a vaccine manufacturer to deliver vaccines already paid for.
There is the cry of vaccine apartheid. There is the cry by countries for delaying booster shots until all the people of the world have at least had a first shot. The poor nations cannot access vaccines. The last report of the World Health Organization (WHO) informs that only 0.5 per cent of poor countries have been vaccinated, whereas 55 per cent of rich countries have been vaccinated.
Yet in all this turmoil of vaccine scarcity, the TT Government was able to acquire enough vaccines for the population and has also given us a choice. But some people just don’t appreciate this privilege.
Yes, there are unappreciative people in our nation and they are encouraged in their unappreciative, stupid behaviour by the Opposition, by the unions, by the pronouncement of the Industrial Court president on mandatory covid19 vaccination policies in the workplace, by some religious leaders and even some parents.
And what is wrong with the teachers’ union? There are mothers at the helm of this union. One would expect a motherly assessment on matters for their children’s education.
I call on these leaders to take stock of their leadership. As religious leaders we have to acknowledge that governments are ordained by God. God has the power to set up and to pull down governments. Religious leaders must not resist the power of governments. They must point their flock to law-abiding living.
We are in a pandemic. Have we taken time to understand that there is an emergency mode with a pandemic? Matters of human rights, worker rights, conciliation, time for discussion, etc take a different formula.
There is need for decisive governance. The Government has to look at the holistic view of the nation’s well-being. The unions are frustrating the employers with their unrealistic demands. Workers and their unions need to co-operate with employers to get the economy moving and stop playing games with their jobs.
So where are we heading in this “fight-down?” All these anti-vaxxers are standing in the way. There are approximately one million people from our 1.4 million population to be vaccinated. There are vaccines in stock that will expire within the last quarter of the year. The Government will have to donate these vaccines to another country.
Is that a sensible move? For when the influence of these anti-vaxxers collapses and the one million people are ready to be vaccinated, should the Government buy more vaccines?
The time is coming for mandatory vaccination in this nation. Globally, large organisations are developing strategies to implement it. Other Caribbean governments are doing the same.
The Antigua and Barbuda prime minister openly informed the media, “We have made inoculation against covid19 mandatory for all public sector workers to protect the lives of all, including tourists who visit our shores.”
He went on to say, “Caricom is determined to overcome the baselessly-flawed arguments of those who promote resistance to vaccines despite the fact that, sadly, the number of hospitalisations and deaths are rising daily.”
This is the way to go. The wait for voluntarism has gone. Some people only understand the hand of the law.