It is traditional that the party that forms the new government after a general election gets what could be called a grace period during which the party is allowed to carry out its activities without being heavily scrutinized. The media is usually exhausted immediately after an election anyway, and indeed it is a time when everyone needs a breather, but of late too often the new government is raring to go, and it is not always in the service of the people.
The outgoing government, the UDP, came to power on the promise that it would root out corruption, but as one after the other of their members helped themselves to the nation’s assets their song changed, to “corruption will always be with us”.
The UDP has been in power for 13 years, after winning three consecutive general elections, and keen observers point out that the seeds of what has become a most corrupted band of leaders, were sown way back in their first administration.
The UDP swore they would conduct the business of government in a transparent and accountable manner, and we made the mistake of believing them, of being too hopeful that they were who they said they were. They were not who they said they were, and we are left to bear the cost – the loss of national assets, the increased poverty, and the loss of respect on the international stage.
Belize is a country with a heavy debt burden, and the hope we had 39 years ago that independence would bring increase to all of us is on life support.
We hire a government to provide for the people, a job that involves taking our people out of poverty, improving our health, education and so forth. A victory at the polls can’t be an opportunity for area representatives and their relatives and cronies to feast off the assets of the nation, as this last government has done. It is not only morally and legally wrong, but our country also can’t afford it. For that reason no new government in Belize should be allowed a period when they can manage the people’s assets while not being under heavy scrutiny.
Everyone can “win”
The PUP says we should vote for them to form the next government, that if we do so, all of us will win, “everybody fi win”, and to some of us that is an empty slogan because we have never known winning. We’ve been losing so long, losing and losing, that the only way we’ve been able to see victory has been to get a visa to the United States. The USA is no longer an option for most of our people, so we have to increase our efforts to make it happen at home; we have to increase our efforts to make a Belize where everybody wins.
Looking at the here and now, there are many areas where all of us can, should win, will win if our leaders are sincere and have the capacity to make our economy grow.
There is no reason why every table in Belize shouldn’t have enough healthy food; no reason why every hardworking Belizean shouldn’t be able to own a good, comfortable house in a big yard; no reason why a young Belizean who aspires to higher academic or vocational education should have difficulty paying the school fees; no reason why there isn’t a health scheme to help our sick children so that their parents, who are already suffering extreme emotional pain, don’t have to carry the financial burden alone.
We have been losing because our leaders have been failing us. We need capable, sincere leaders who believe that they must be transparent and accountable when conducting the people’s business; we need leaders who, because their interest is for the people, not self-enrichment, will help ensure that the checks and balances in our system are functioning properly.
There are so many areas where we can win, where we must win, and we will if we get a government that is serious about making all of us share in the abundance of a country that God blessed with “wealth untold.”
Be safe when you go to vote
The authorities advise that when we go to the polls tomorrow, we must be especially keen on following all the safety measures, to protect ourselves and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Our first four defenses against the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) are to (1) maintain a distance of six feet between ourselves and others when we are in public places, (2) frequently clean our hands with soap and water or a sanitizer, (3) make sure our hands are clean if we need to touch our face, and (4) wear a mask that covers our mouth and nose.
The authorities say that there will be sanitizers at the polling stations, but we are advised to bring our own along. Doctors say that some persons have the disease but feel no symptoms or show no signs of being infected, yet such persons are capable of spreading the disease, so we must consider everyone in the line as infected. We’ll be very safe if we follow all the safety measures.
It’s part of the business of the media to do live interviews. It is essential that such persons keep their mouth and nose covered with a mask and that persons being interviewed also cover their mouth and nose with a mask. The ordinary masks we in the general public use are capable of preventing the particles of SARS-CoV-2 from escaping if we are infected. The virus is more likely to escape into the air when we talk or are breathing hard, so if we are graciously giving an interview, for love of everyone, we shouldn’t chin our masks.
All of us should strive to keep our talking to a minimum. Going to the polls is an occasion during which we like to chat with our friends, but this year, for love of others and love of our country, we must keep our tongues still. Say hello with a fist pump, a fist bump. Be safe.