Show us government’s true stand on Covid-19
By Elias Mokua | December 9th 2020
Political leaders’ expression of concern over the increase in coronavirus cases in Kenya is a big lie. Sorry, but they are just kidding. The truth is that the leaders are the super Covid-19 spreaders.
For a start, logic dictates that you cannot be sympathetic to a situation and still not be at the same time. It is either you stop all rallies, including the roadside political meetings, because you strongly believe the country should focus on the pandemic or simply run your political rallies and never pretend to say a word about the pandemic.
Similarly, it is hypocritical to create perfect conditions for the virus to spread and talk tough on how the country is battling the pandemic. Moreover, the use of masks by the speakers is a mockery of the situation when a majority in the crowds do not wear any, and when they do, the masks hang on their chins in case there is an impromptu police swoop.
Evidently, our political leaders, who should set the example, have let us down in the fight against the pandemic. For some reason, Kenyans love and hate politicians in equal measure. Politicians are great crowd pullers. Even as we say all kind of nasty things about them, we cannot miss an opportunity to listen to them.
We simply hate what, in essence, we seem to love. What a contradiction! And yes, politicians know this very well. So rallies of all manner, formal and informal, go on in churches, by the roadside, in schools, at funerals, in barazas, in homes all night and so on. How the pandemic has not swept thousands of us, if at all the factors of spread such as not wearing masks were true, only God knows.
This political behaviour prompts the question whether in the first place our leaders believe there is Covid-19. Most of us know a person who has contracted the disease or who has passed on from what we believe is Covid-19. Again, we thank God that most of those who get infected recover much as there is no cure – vaccine or otherwise.
Sadly, we know people actually die after contracting coronavirus, if not in our country then at least in Europe and the US. But reading from the big screen – the political arena – there is reason to imagine that the fear of Covid-19 is not quite founded. Perhaps, as conspiracy theorists argue, this entire thing called Covid-19 is a hoax. However, at this point of the history and spread of the pandemic, it beats logic to buy into conspiracies that expose us even more.
In many parts of our country, people behave as if there was never such a thing as Covid-19. Much as we know we have to live with it, an outright disregard of preventive measures against the pandemic spread means that by and large, we have given up on either the existence of the virus or surrendered to fate should it come knocking.
Or perhaps some of us fear for the worst when in fact the pandemic is just like malaria. Some people will contract it while others won’t. As if to buy into this school of thought, some countries in Africa such as Tanzania have placed trust in God even as they take some precautions on the ground. On the other extreme, countries like Germany have successfully managed to minimise the spread because their citizens take threats to public health seriously.
It is for this reason that I find it difficult to buy the argument that we should use the projected Sh14 billion to fight the pandemic. If our leaders cannot fight the coronavirus spread with what we have that does not require funding, including personal responsibility to avoid crowded places, wearing masks as appropriate or washing hands, how on earth will Sh14 billion change our behaviour? What will the money be used for that the billions already raised could not do?
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Many hospitals are ill prepared to handle ordinary diseases, leave alone Covid-19. What improvements did the billions raised make? One will ask further, where is the Sh14 billion projected for the referendum going to come from?
My guess is that it is the international partners who will provide it or as usual go out there and borrow. Will the international partners then provide the Sh14 billion to fight the pandemic because we have shelved the referendum?
Our leaders should just make up their minds and tell us if we have flattened the curve and carry on with our lives. It is unfair to be pushed to think there is a problem when perhaps there is no such problem. Alternatively, have we accepted that Covid-19 is here to stay and moved on? Either way, we need clear government direction that the leaders themselves believe in.
Dr Elias Mokua is Executive Director, Loyola Center for Media and Communications
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