Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Minnis gave a highly anticipated national address on August 9 2021, and to the dismay of some, and the expectation of others, curfews were tightened as a mitigating measure to COVID-19. With all eyes on restrictions, this was the only takeaway for many as social media was subsequently flooded with debates and speculation around our national progress, or lack thereof, with governance in the time of COVID.
There is however, a lot more potential good that came out of the address from a good governance perspective than many realize. I dare to say, hats of to Dr. Minnis for continuing to stride in a better direction given that:
1. A definitive end to the Emergency Orders of November 13 2021 was announced. This matters because the Constitution protects our Freedom of Movement, Worship, etc and can only be trumped during the state of emergency. Long overdue, but our rights must be restored. It also limits the concentration of power by putting a deadline to that level of power in one person. Let’s monitor this closely Bahamas.
2. The PM referenced new legislation to help manage emergencies. This move, if executed correctly, should help to de-politicize the management of this and future emergencies so it doesn’t feel like a game of cat and mouse between the governing party, opposition, third parties and the emotions of the citizens. I also add that it was noted that extensive public consultation will be done around this. Should this consultation be executed fairly, transparently and effectively, we will have a much better outlook.
3. There will be enough vaccines for anyone that wants to get vaccinated to be able to. The PM also definitively stated that vaccines will NOT be made mandatory. This was an incredibly important stance to take as our freedom of choice needs to be supplemented by both an adequate supply of vaccines for people that want them, and a commitment to allowing people to choose for people that don’t.
4. This one is sketchy and totally my optimistic opinion, but with a November end date for the Emergency Orders, it is unlikely the election, which we are NOT ready for in any sense, will be before then. This will give political parties leeway to be more calculated, given the disarray they have been functioning in due to mounting uncertainty. Political parties and independent candidates have a right to adequately prepare and be informed of the process too.
Good Governance is just as much about the landscape as it is the decisions that are made. We must continue to press for measures that improve ways by which leaders make decisions and consult the public in the best interest of all Bahamians.
Sidenote on vaccines: For those waiting on alternatives to the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Pfizer vaccines arrived on Thursday August 12 2021! It was also announced that the 1-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be in country by the end of the August.
If you won’t get the vaccine, remember it is one thing of a list we all need to adhere to. Wear your masks, maintain social distance, wash your hands frequently, sanitize, avoid social gatherings and work from/stay home if you are able to. #242Strong
Let’s stay plugged in everyone.