Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday criticized Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis for giving an exclusive interview to the state-run ZNS network and suggested that Minnis is avoiding the independent press.
“…It is very difficult to accept that a state-owned corporation would be as probing as any of the other independent organizations in their inquiry into what is happening,” Davis said.
“And so, again, it would not inspire the kind of confidence if the inquires are being done by someone who is employed by you.”
Minnis recently gave ZNS a one-on-one interview, his first since Dr. Duane Sands resigned as minister of health.
Davis said it appears that Minnis stopped holding press conferences to prevent the press from probing the events that resulted in the resignation.
On April 30, The Nassau Guardian revealed that several Americans, who have Bahamas residency, were permitted to disembark on New Providence despite the closure of The Bahamas’ borders.
The incident, which Minnis described as a breach in protocol, was met with widespread public criticism.
Sands resigned four days later.
“I guess it would not be unreasonable for you to probably infer or assume that they stopped to avoid any further inquiry on that matter,” Davis said.
The prime minister’s most recent press conference was held on April 19.
Minnis held six press conferences since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced in March.
The Office of the Prime Minister has not indicated when, or if, any more will be held during the pandemic.
Davis suggested that this devoids the public of government accountability as the country grapples with a health crisis that has killed at least 11 people locally.
“It just tells you that we’ll never know whether they’re frank, honest and transparent on the accounts that’s being given,” he said.
“…The only way you can have confidence in the fact that they may be is through testing and through questions being asked, particularly through the press. That is usually the purpose of the press being present, being able to test and ask questions as to what is happening.
“That lends some sense of accountability towards what is being said because people would see the responses to questions and inquiries being made by the press, and that helps to convey the appropriate messages to our people.
“That’s why I continue to say the press has a very important role in our society to ensure that decisions taken are questioned and that they are in the best interest of common good.
“The only way you can know that is by inquiring into the whys or whens of the decisions.”
Prior to his resignation, Sands attended nearly all of the Ministry of Health’s weekly press conferences.
Minnis has not attended any of the three press conferences held since assuming the portfolio of minister of health.