By Raffique Shah
January 17, 2022
But with the drums of political war growing ominously louder by the day, and increasing in volume and tempo, and those who are looking to unseat his Government long before the due date for fresh elections, buoyed as they are by Watson Duke’s sound licking on the PNM in the recent Tobago House of Assembly election, they are doing everything to frustrate him, to goad the PM into calling snap elections, which they believe they can win, whoever “they” may be, whatever their agendas.
I sense the PM is growing tired of being assailed from every direction, on anything he does or fails to do, by two-bit activists and wannabe politicians, the attackers ranging from dinosaurs in the trade union movement to upstarts from existing parties, their issues covering everything imaginable: the vaccination drive by the Government, property tax, the state of the roads, problems with potable water, drainage, unemployment… barrels of complaints.
The rise in Covid cases to levels far higher than everything we’ve endured from its inception is serious cause for concern, even alarm. Just what the medical team that has been handling the pandemic from the beginning had warned, the cases are so many, the demand for intensive care units so pressing that our healthcare system is on the brink of being overwhelmed. And instead of being grateful to Dr Roshan Parasram and his team, the neemakharams are cussing them.
The showdown over the vaccination drive that he launched two weeks ago, which was intended to prod all public sector workers and managers to vaccinate before they are allowed to return to their desks, seems fated to fail, what with the Opposition in Parliament, the backward-ever-forward-never trade union leaders, and sundry lumpen proletariat elements joining in an unholy alliance, insisting that not only must those who, on grounds so spurious, they are shameful, that they must be allowed to choose to be vaccinated or not.
The mis-leaders of this sorry bunch vow to fight not just for their right to remain unvaccinated, which makes them prime candidates for distributing the deadly virus to unsuspecting citizens, prime among them now being children. They will go to court, they swear, to have the dumb vectors not having to declare whether or not they are vaccinated. All of these machinations are in high gear as Covid numbers globally soar to troubling heights, people are dying like flies, children’s education remains in limbo, the ranks of the jobless swell, cemeteries are bursting at the seams, and now, with open-air cremations back in operation, scores of corpses being burnt to ashes every day.
In such grim scenarios, I shan’t be surprised if the PM surrenders to the pervasive stench of stupidity and walks off into the horizon, hoping he encounters something better, maybe a hammock in the Amazon jungle where he can relax. Think about it. Put yourself in his sapats: you try and try and try… there must come a point when you wonder why you should continue. Nothing good lies ahead on a road that leads to nowhere.
I—who last week called for war against those who will easily infect all the nation’s children, including my granddaughter, my many nieces, grand-nieces and nephews—withdraw my vow to fight. Moreover, I apologise to the majority of public sector employees, managers and others so employed who work hard at the jobs they do, and by and large, provide the public with fairly decent services.
And if it is that the PM is fed up, I am willing to lend the loyal citizens of this country the last few ideas I have pertaining to how we seek to bring Covid to a closure—if that is at all possible. Check this: the half-million or so people who are unvaccinated but ashamed even to admit they did not take the vaccine although statistics show it offers the only hope to dampen the Covid virus, let them be. They do not wish to identify themselves.
We, the close to 700,000 who have taken the risk—there are risks with all medications, especially new vaccines—and are in the frontline of the battle, let us come out boldly proclaiming our status. Government must stop wasting money wooing the recalcitrant minority and spend it instead on mass-producing proper ID badges for the vaccinated. Offices, shops and other business enterprises and Government departments that have 90 per cent or more vaccinated people, also have the right to carry such signage.
So we boldly identify ourselves—vendors, professionals, transport operators, and generally all who must interact with other people. We buy from our own, we patronise our own and those who have no such identification, we blank them. That badge will be our weapon to fight not just Covid, but the cowards who are unvaccinated.