By Leonard Gildarie
Tomorrow marks the seventh week since that March 2nd General and Regional Elections. We would be doing a disservice to this nation if we dare cast our eyes elsewhere to examine what else is going on, other than the elections fallout and COVID-19.
I am results-oriented. It makes no sense complaining if you can’t be part of the solution.
For example, you have ministers or village representatives who refuse to listen. It is simple. You put them there in the first place. Complain to the NDCs or RDCs.
File a complaint to the party headquarters. Write a letter to the press or better yet, take to social media.
There are a growing number of ways where pressure is brought to bear. The name-and-shame approach has worked wonders. Ask a few politicians. It is never easy when you are under the spotlight.
WHEN AND HOW LONG?
Let us talk about that announcement by the Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh on Friday about the recount. In essence, she says that the recount will see no more than 10 workstations at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, Pattensen.
The counting stations, according to her, will be inside the building. She has asked the head of the COVID-19 Task Force, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, for guidance on the way forward, as there are strict guidelines when it comes to social/physical distancing. I may see her reasoning.
Twenty workstations are dangerous in light of COVID-19. We may have persons coming in from overseas to observe. The issue may be one of control. The recount has to happen in an environment of control.
Don’t forget that there were 2,339 polling stations across the country on March 2nd. There were staffers there and party representatives. A recount of 400,000-plus votes from 2,339 polling stations at the Convention Centre is what GECOM is being asked to oversee.
It obviously means less personnel. It means it cannot be finished in a night. Definitely not in a week. I am sure in the whole context of things, the pressure will be on the GECOM Secretariat, which has been mandated the task of logistics, to ensure that process is completed speedily.
The question on the minds of citizens and other stakeholders has obviously been: when and how long?
Justice Singh will have to see it as imperative, the need to lead from the front. A country that is waiting impatiently is suffering from its biggest catastrophe in decades…COVID-19.
Elections 2020 has nothing on COVID-19. Yes, it is that big. Therefore, it is inconceivable that GECOM would not want to explain to the people of Guyana the constraints of its decisions. It will make the pain easier to bear.
The Chair will do well to address the nation and let them know how she arrived at her decision. She says she has written the PM as head of the Task Force on COVID-19. Is there a haste by the Task Force to hold such a meeting?
In the meantime, the hearts of Guyanese and by extension, the world, including investors, are continuing to palpitate painfully.
We await to see how Justice Singh handles this latest twist in the tale of Elections 2020.
COVID-19 FIGHT AND UNCERTAINTIES
Meanwhile, when it comes to COVID-19 fight, there are worries. We have the number of infections confirmed as in the 60s. We can pander to the six deaths and say that we are winning. However, the rising number of those tested positive will continue to raise alarm bells. How many more?
We have the Task Force saying that the plan to open the international airports at Timehri and Ogle in early May is not likely to come through. There has to be an assessment. A decision will have to factor in whether the number of positives has risen further. It is uncertain when schools would reopen.
We have many categories of vulnerable now. We have persons who lost their jobs, as there is no business. We have persons who will only receive part of their salaries. We have vendors and others who would benefit from schools and other places of employment. All of that is gone.
We don’t even have to talk about impact on public transportation. Many families own minibuses. Many single parents own taxis and hire cars. The work has been slashed drastically. I am not even talking about our seniors or single parents.
The reality is that the decision to cut gas prices will not have much impact, as there is not much travelling like before.
I went to a gas station on Friday and took out $8,000. I was shocked when it was filled with only $5,000…there was about a quarter tank in there already. It takes sometimes about $10,000 to fill the tank.
Guyanese stuck overseas will have to bear up, the Task Force said. It cannot risk bringing back persons and burdening the health care system with additional monitoring.
In the meantime, there is despair. Food is running out. Cash is short for many families.
Economic activities are literally being butchered by about 80 percent, some analysts have estimated.
I understand the Coalition’s predicament. It has little resources. The closing of the borders has not helped. We are saddled with the double whammy of elections and the virus. In modern times, the planners could not have catered for this extreme. Never in our wildest nightmare.
I have said it before and will repeat. Now is a perfect time for our leaders to show their true worth. The ability to rise above the fray. To prove to the world we have elected representatives and leaders who are conscientious. I like the word bipartisan.
We are at the crossroads…truly. Stay strong, Guyana!
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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