Leadership can be a lonely journey. And that might be the case for Prime Minister Andrew Holness who appears to be walking alone, as he navigates Jamaica’s response to coronavirus, which causes Covid-19. As the PM was forced to lockdown St. Catherine, a decision Holness must have labored over executing, has erupted a groundswell of negative feedback towards the Government he leads. The positive cases are approaching the big 200 mark with no clear indication, Jamaica is entering a total lockdown phase. While the pain of living under Covid-19 continues to spread island-wide, it’s the scenes of crowded supermarkets and public spaces which are a major cause for concern.
Social distancing, an approach that slows the spread of the contagious virus seems difficult for Jamaicans as they try to survive. These are real issues. Unemployment is up, salaries are cut and in some cases gone and some are forced to find hope alone.
The Prime Minister before the Alorica outbreak was considered to be doing a credible job on flattening the curve. Jamaicans approved of his handling of Covid-19. In the last few days, the positive Covid-19 numbers keep rising with no end in sight as Jamaicans on the streets present a looming crisis for the Government.
While the PM toured St. Catherine, his key point man in the Government’s Covid-19 response was missing in action. This has sent tongues wagging on Tufton’s absence. The absence of a press conference in four days adds to the pressure on Holness to show leadership. Many political observers have confirmed that the Government’s lack of communication has caused the Holness Administration to lose the communications narrative. The Government known for PR has seemingly gone quiet.
In the Gleaner today, the opinion headlines do not reflect a Government in total control. From the Gleaner’s editorial, titled, “IMF was the Only Option”, to Orville Taylor’s “Covid-19 Management: What Went Wrong,” to the Jamaica Observer’s columnist Norman Horne, writing “It’s time to lock down the country for 14 days.” Jamaica’s most trusted names in business and current affairs are rebuking the Holness Administration’s management of the lock down in St. Catherine and Covid-19 response. The ability for our leaders to judge the mood of the nation has been insufficient. Jamaicans are in full support of a total lock down of Jamaica. This is critical in protecting the most vulnerable and gives Ministry of Health officials adequate time to contact trace those cases and track Jamaicans at a faster rate in a bid to flatten the curve. A tweet sharing Bluedot’s latest poll shows 3 in 4 Jamaicans are in favour of a total lockdown. That is not shocking. One only needs to speak to their circle of friends to confirm this result, more people are open to a lock down as the numbers inch higher. However, the Prime Minister has always defended keeping the economy going. And Jamaica may need those BPO workers to keep answering the calls, as the tourism jobs have been wiped out by the coronavirus which causes Covid-19.
Jamaicans are Frustrated
Jamaicans are screaming with frustration as they question the Government’s intention. Will the PM shock the island to a total lockdown? What will that look like? Can the Army and Jamaica Constabulary Force enforce law and order in a lockdown?
While we patiently wait for the Prime Minister to address the nation, we can only hope and pray that he receives the best guidance to ensure Jamaica comes out on top of this pandemic that is crippling the global economy.
Dr. Chris Tufton Interview with Spice
While Jamaicans wait for their Health Minister and Prime Minister to share the same podium for an update, Dr. Tufton scheduled an Instagram LIVE with the Queen of Dancehall, Spice. The IG LIVE session was viewed by 68,491 viewers on the dancehall star’s Instagram page which has a following of over 2.6 million fans.
Based on comments online, many praised Tufton for the classic PR move to regain his pristine image which was pummeled by digital feedback. Moreover, there’s a vacuum relating to Government communications on the lockdown in St Catherine, a UWI doctor in quarantine, the rising positive cases, the deportees returning home, Jamaica returning to the International Monetary Fund and the overall Covid-19 response. Those questions cannot be posed with any merit by a dancehall artiste, which the Tufton fans seem to ignore.
Politicians are duty bound to the People of Jamaica with the Fourth Estate playing a critical role in holding our leaders accountable. Dr. Tufton was open as he wanted to be during the Spice interview. But time has come for Tufton, Holness and the Chief Medical Officer to update the nation.
As Jamaicans wait for the Government’s next move, was Tufton with Andrew Holness in St. Catherine? Is there a breakdown between both men? When is the next press conference?
Dr. Tufton revealed to Spice that cabinet will meet on Monday. Does that mean we hear from the PM on Monday or Tuesday? The longer the delay, the Government could lose all their gains with the People on Covid-19.