At last week’s Cabinet meeting, even as unions and political parties were preparing for a consultation with this pappy-show regime on the matter of vaccines – the lag in the vaccination effort, and the way forward – the assembled geniuses pulled a double-cross, much like a thief in the night, and announced a whole raft of tough measures designed to bring the anti-vaxxers and the hesitant to the altar of vaccination. In a manner of speaking, the ‘Iron Curtain’ fell on Antigua and Barbuda.
As you can imagine, the major political parties expressed “shock” at the high-handed nature of the dictum and diktat from he of a high place. He was obviously relishing the wielding of power, and even threatened to implement even more draconian measures, if the people did not comply. Dictators all over the world – past and present, would have been proud of our ‘Dear Comrade Leader’ audaciously putting the people “under heavy manners.” Indeed, all that was needed to complete last week’s disturbing performance was an appearance by the Dear Comrade Leader on national media in his ugly red suit, complete with the equally horrid red beret, surrounded by the usual gaggle of red-clad sycophants, dutifully reciting insipid words of approbation. And yes, the Dear Comrade Leader barking ‘cuss wud’ and assorted invective at all those who happened not to agree with his manure. Woof! Woof! Woof! Beware of Dog!
Of course, this past weekend was a moment of reckoning for many here in Antigua and Barbuda. He of a high place had angrily spat the new order of the day; he spoke with barely disguised venom and a seething malevolence. He was bringing to reality the Biblical prophesy that “no man shall buy or sell,” . . . . unless he or she had the jab by October 1, 2021. Indeed, he’d fantasized about it for a long time. Remember, he had earlier glibly used the phrase, “No jab, no job!” Talk about a man in love with the wielding of power! Here he was, all by his lonesome, his feet astride the Shekerley Mountains, deciding who will eat and who will starve, with nary a word of consultation with any of the stakeholders. Power is truly a helluva thing!
Noteworthily, our ‘Dear Comrade Leader’ had solemnly sworn that he was not looking to make vaccines mandatory here in our fair State. Said he of a high place just a few days ago, “Let me be clear that no one, absolutely no one in our country will be vaccinated if they do not wish to be. We uphold that right and respect it!” Sigh! Talk about an about-face! He obviously had a change of heart, as per the Cabinet notes of Wednesday, September 15, 2021: “With effect from Monday, 20th September 2021, Cabinet agreed that all unvaccinated government employees, including the public service, statutory corporations and companies in which the government owns majority shares shall be required to remain at home until proof of vaccination is provided . . . All unvaccinated public sector employees, inclusive of employees of statutory corporations and companies of which the government holds majority shares, shall be required to remain at home until proof of Covid-19 vaccination . . . As of Thursday, 1st October, 2021, no public sector employees, inclusive of statutory corporations and of companies which the government holds majority shares, shall be paid a salary or wage for the period of non-compliance with the current policy . . .” Hmmm! As you can imagine, with the proverbial ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over their heads, hundreds of public sector workers/government employees ignored their hesitancy and misgivings about the vaccine and lined up to take it over the weekend.
Of course, there are those will adamantly refuse to take the vaccine, no matter the consequences, even “upon pain and peril of death.”We support their right to choose, and not to be bludgeoned over the head and forced.
Having said that, we support the vaccination effort, and have provided a medium for the voices to be heard on the issue. We believe that many more people could have been brought to the vaccination table with a smarter, more robust, more inclusive and relentless public awareness campaign. Sadly, this pappy-show administration could not even do that right. What a colossal failure, by an administration so very full of garrulous, ‘mouthy-mouthy’ people. Failing so miserably on the persuasion and education front, this desperate administration had to default to mandating the vaccine.
Interestingly, the United Progressive Party (UPP) quickly released a statement condemning the administration for its lack of good faith with the representatives of the people, and its strong-arming of the unvaccinated. Said the UPP: “The United Progressive Party categorically rejects the Gaston Browne Administration’s imposition of mandatory vaccination on the nationals, citizens and residents of Antigua & Barbuda – particularly since this decision was taken without consultation. The Party is concerned – like all right-thinking persons – about the frightening spike in Covid-19 infections and the recent number of related deaths. Accordingly, it welcomed the invitation extended by the Prime Minister to collaborate with other organisations and devise policies to meet the challenges. Ironically, the date for that consultation [was], September 16. However, the release of the Government’s new and totalitarian policy – well ahead of the consultation – leaves no room for any other voice or proposal and excludes the input of civil society completely. The UPP has said, and it reiterates, that it does not support what many describe as “forced vaccination.” It has recommended an intensive, personal, persuasive campaign that is spearheaded and championed by the medical fraternity, and it continues to do so. The Government’s policy is punitive, bullying, and fails to recognize the hardships – economic, social, and mental – it is imposing on a population already battered by the Covid-19 fallout.
Even as we recognize the scientific need to get to herd immunity, and the obligation to protect health, lives and livelihoods, the United Progressive Party cannot and will not support this dictatorial approach. The end, noble as it might seem, does not justify these means. . . “
Of course, he of a high place in this flailing administration has ramped up his name-calling and bully-ragging and childish intimidation tactics. So utterly unseemly and embarrassing – the ‘Dear Leader’ engaging in petty back-and-forth, wasting an inordinate amount of time on social media in melee, and pickin-nearga prattling. We have not seen such vacuity in a long time. No wonder the administration cannot get anything done correctly. The pappy-show regime! Sigh! We have come to a fine pass! We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.