There are so many reprehensible things to condemn right now. What Ms. Walton-Desir said about supporters of the PPP, that they are mentally lazy, makes her a person deserving of the harshest condemnation. What she was saying, when she was saying it, and in the context of what she was saying was clearly racist. In her defence so far, she has been digging a deeper hole for herself. She should simply have apologised. When Joseph Harmon, speaking as the Opposition Leader, responded to the Chief Justice’s ruling throwing out the election petition by threatening unspeakable things, he deserved condemnation. Khemraj Ramjattan has dug an even deeper hole by threatening violence. These are all obscene examples of the shallowness of the Opposition and their leaders. They have nothing of substance to offer the Guyanese people, and have descended into open racist positions and threatening instability in our country.
With no tangible idea of how the Opposition can serve Guyana and the Guyanese people, and no clue how to represent the interest of their own supporters, they descend into a place they know well, and where they feel most comfortable – racism and violence. The Opposition have dug into their bag of tricks and ended up resuscitating an old, unworkable formula – Desmond Hoyte’s “slow fyah, mo’ fyah”.
These are things we all should stand against, no matter what race we belong to, no matter what religion, no matter what party we support. All three of these persons deserve condemnation; all three owe this country an apology; all three should resign as MPs. These are absolutely reprehensible things, there is no excuse. These things make me angry.
Yet, today, on the eve of Arrivals Day, this is not what makes me most angry. What makes me most angry today is the continued public silence of these three persons and their colleagues in and out of Parliament on what must be the most important security and developmental issue facing our nation. COVID-19 has already killed more than 300 of our Guyanese sisters and brothers. More will die in the coming days. COVID-19 is not attacking people who support the PPP or the PNC; COVID-19 is waging a war against all Guyanese. We all are in this boat, and we all must respond together. The only way out of this COVID-19 pandemic is to vaccinate all of our people. Every single country, no exception, has discovered that certain public health measures are critically important in fighting COVID-19. These measures, such as masking, social distancing, and sanitation such as washing hands regularly have contributed to restricting the COVID-19 virus. But these by themselves have not been sufficient to stop the COVID-19 virus. Every country now is finding out that the only way to exit the COVID-19 pandemic is via mass vaccination. Israel, Bhutan, the UK, the USA are some of the countries where vaccination is proving effective already in staving off the pandemic.
The Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Health, is actively rolling out the COVID-19 vaccination programme with an intent to vaccinate all adults living in Guyana this year. We urge everyone to work together so that every adult living in our country is vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) sooner rather than later. In this regard, we appreciate that persons such as the former Minister in the Ministry of Health, present APNU/AFC MP Dr. Karen Cummings, took her vaccine and publicly urged others living in Guyana to take their vaccines. We urge other MPs who have also taken the vaccine to similarly do their part and publicly encourage persons to take their vaccines. In doing so, Dr. Karen Cummings showed there is still hope that the Opposition MPs and members can do the right thing. She acted responsibly. She acted as a patriot. In difficult times like these, Guyanese politicians must find a way to work together. Working together in the national interest is ultimately the goal of all genuine politicians.
What Karen Cummings did with her vaccination and her public statement this past week is similar to what Volda Lawrence did during the West Berbice violence, when David Granger, Joe Harmon and other PNC leaders tried using the tragedy of a murder to catapult their sagging, almost dead political fortunes. She took a principled stance. It did not matter what Volda’s motivation was, it was still a principled stance in the interest of the PNC supporters and in the interest of the Guyanese people.
It is clear that APNU/AFC is engaged in a silent campaign to discourage people from taking the vaccines. With this clear picture of what APNU/AFC is doing, Karen Cummings took a principled position and went contrary to the APNU/AFC narrative.
What makes the present silence surrounding the COVID-19 vaccination campaign most reprehensible is that all the PNC leaders and their MPs and their families have taken the vaccines. They want to ensure they and their families are safe. But they remain totally silent, not uttering a single word to encourage their supporters to take the vaccine. This is not just ordinary hypocrisy; this is utterly reprehensible. The vaccines are good for them, but their supporters must put their lives in jeopardy just so that these APNU/AFC leaders can be satisfied. Such repugnant, obscene strategising must be rejected.