Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking once wrote that “life on earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster”.
Even he, however, could not have predicted the last five months of our global history. In just five months, COVID-19 has effectively brought superpowers and developing states alike to their knees.
Thousands have been infected, thousands more have died and economies have crumbled, leaving millions vulnerable.
Even in these trying times, however, some countries and communities have survived and have returned to their pre-pandemic lifestyles. Countries like Singapore, New Zealand and Iceland have been praised for their ability to flatten the curve and protect the lives of their citizens.
What has made the difference? Leadership.
At a time when he should be reassuring and inspiring the citizenry, the prime minister has created an environment of fear, anxiety and government distrust.
At a time when social safety networks, funded by taxpaying Bahamians and residents, should be coming to the aid of the people, they, too, have failed to offer relief in a way that also preserves the dignity of the population, subjecting them instead to delays and long lines.
In response, Bahamians have been forced into the streets to protest the state of affairs. The fact that Bahamians are willing to risk their very lives to demand more of their government is a clear indicator of the levels of suffering and frustration we all feel.
I, nor anyone in the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), labors under the delusion that there are easy fixes to the impact of the global pandemic.
As an organization, we’ve witnessed first-hand the level of hopelessness in our country.
As an organization, we have sought to help feed scores of families in vulnerable communities across the island of New Providence and across the country, but the reality is this is not a job for one person or one organization.
What is required of our current leadership is a willingness to listen to the voices of the people.
What is needed is widespread consultation and the inclusion of creative and talented young people in an effort to find fresh and innovative strategies to combat COVID 19. What Bahamians expect and deserve now more than ever, is leadership that is passionate and empathetic, honest and committed to the task at hand.
We call on the prime minister to finally engage a team of qualified experts and laypersons to form a new and improved competent authority that can assess the recommendations of health officials and implement those recommendations in a way that meets healthcare objectives without doing unnecessary social and economic damage.
I would also like to echo calls from the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and others who have called for the government to release a detailed plan of action surrounding the resumption of commercial enterprise. What cannot be allowed to continue is this level of uncertainty which threatens to derail any potential economic growth that could have been achieved this year.
Historically, it has been in moments like these that we have seen true leaders emerge and do not only what is necessary but what is in the best interest of the people. It is my hope that the men and women tasked with leading us through this difficult period in our development will rise to the occasion.
— Buscheme “Busch” Armbrister, deputy leader
Democratic National Alliance