The great and unforgettable Temptations sang: “It was the fourth of September; that day I’ll always remember (yes I will);
For that was the day my Daddy died”.
I guess in our case it will be the day after elections in Jamaica and we will probably see a spike in COVID-19 spread throughout the country, and perhaps more in the die-hard communities often described as “garrisons” where voters are often compelled to go out to vote.
The scenarios of electioneering do not seem to represent the views of the Ministry of Health and Wellness guidelines and have prompted the minister, Dr. Tufton, to express his views forthrightly, but to defer to Cabinet.
So several questions need to be answered in the case of election preparations:
- Are we having a double election on September 3?
- When will local government candidates be nominated?
- How will local government arrangements extend the time required for voting under MOH guidelines?
- Who or what are the “outdoor agents”?
- Are they part of the legitimate electoral process and who pays them?
- Polling stations have a presiding officer; poll clerk; indoor party agents; and sometimes an official observer, so can this be described as a MOH “safe environment”?
- Can voting time (start to finish for each elector) be minimized?
- How will exceptions be handled (elderly; physically challenged; blind voters with or without assistance; no voters’ I.D.; people of apparently unsound mind; indoor agents identifying voters without I.D. and arguing to resolve identity; and other frequent occurrences?
- How will the system ensure clean clothing and sanitized protective devices for voters and electoral officials throughout many hours?
- If a nomination can be made for a candidate by another person why didn’t the authorities ban mass gatherings and marches for nomination day?
- Have we had a definitive no about local government elections or just an avoidance of the matter?
- Why is there a great legal debate about people in quarantine and with COVID-19 being allowed to vote?
- Can prisoners vote, can people in ICU units and other hospital areas for infectious diseases, be allowed out to vote?
- In light of the last election that had a voter turnout of less than 50%, why this sudden huge concern about human rights as it pertains to voting?
- What about citizens being forced to vote/not vote by politically motivated gangsters intent on disenfranchising them?
These questions are not collectively exhaustive and should have been answered at the time of the announcement of elections in a comprehensive manner that clarified these matters. Instead, it seems to be announced in a piecemeal manner in response to various interest groups.
In serious matters the job of the Government and Opposition is to lead the way towards safety, even for the people who cannot or will not understand the situation. In the same way that most Jamaicans cannot debate macroeconomics they do their best to communicate reality to those people, so should election safety.
The time has come to educate our population to think and understand situations beyond unexplained cultural beliefs like “rolling calf”; John Crow riding coffins; human sacrifice and ritual killing and the like. Scientific evidence has clarified many previous beliefs (Pluto is no longer a planet) so it is time for us to accept science in a broader way in our society.
This is the time to break with prior actions that no longer serve the exigencies of the times, and to chart a new way forward to revise the rules and regulations that require attention in our Constitution.
I celebrate the birthday of Rt Excellent. Marcus Garvey who encouraged us to pursue science and technology; education; honesty; pride in ourselves; and all the other tenets that could and would still serve us well. We have abandoned him and have adopted the two-party divide and rule with the power that divides our people and devalues them by placing them in living conditions that destroy their bodies, minds, and morals, as slaves to the orange and green.
That is NOT Garvey. That is not Jamaica 2030 Vision. That is a contrived return to slavery in the pursuit of power and corruption.
“Justice, truth, be ours forever, Jamaica land we love.”