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Opinions of Thursday, 21 May 2020

Columnist: Theodore Dzeble

Pandemic politics


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“In boundless joy, we all praised the President for his yeomanship when he locked down this country because of two cases of COVID-19, and zero deaths! But considering the number of cases on the scorecard now (over 6,000) I don’t know whether to rejoice or cry out loud over the initial exaggeration!”

This must be a great time to be in Government, at least politically, but a bad time to be in opposition!

Since the emergence of coronavirus in Ghana a couple of months ago, the Government has had the first and the last word on all matters pandemic, while the army of opposition forces led by the NDC consign themselves merely to peripheral relevance by throwing hazy stones from the touchline into the goal post in vehement frustration at being severely overlooked in the national discussions, and only flimsily consulted in laxity.

But the NDC would have behaved similarly if the tables were turned.
So to make himself relevant and to keep his party in sight, former President, John Mahama had to chew the cud many nights to conjure innovative, creative ways to make himself competitive. And mind you, this is an election year, the biggest year for all political parties, great or small.

He tried to tell the other side of the pandemic story, but he was too sensitive and too careful not to provoke public sensibility about the pandemic and incur mass censure in a crisis year.

So his punches were a concoction of gentility and decorum ? let’s call them a gentle rap tap on the arm? which made the President and his team laugh all the way to their dining rooms!

The general mood of the public for safety, self-preservation and for putting food on the table in such a calamitous election year has rendered unnecessary and altogether redundant (at least from the point of view of the opposition) any serious pandemic politicking! But this has provided an alibi for the government to reign undisturbed, unruffled, peacefully ? cashing in on the pandemic for partisan political gain.

Issues of corruption, glaring cases of abuse of incumbency, soaring unemployment figures, unmotorable roads, pending cases of schools under trees and all manifesto failures are no longer trendy discussion points these days.

Even the media, our last hope against constitutional dictatorship is thunderstruck by COVID, nothing will make its way to the front pages of our national conscience unless it is corona-infested. Everything is pandemic compliant these days!

Thanks to COVID, Akufo Addo and the NPP have undertaken unprecedented suo motu, unilateral actions probably unequalled in the history of this country. Within the past seven weeks or so, the President has transmogrified into a serial presenter on our screens and radio sets, locking everything down first and putting the keys into his pocket and giving us reasons thereafter.

And whether you agree or disagree with him is irrelevant.

“In boundless joy, we all praised him for his yeomanship when he locked down this country because of two cases of COVID-19, and zero deaths! But considering the number of cases on the score card now (almost 5,000) I don’t know whether to rejoice or cry out loud over the initial exaggeration!”

And yet, never before has the opposition looked so disoriented, deflated, almost disenchanted in an election year. On the contrary, the President is riding on the virus to launch his campaign strategy.

I think the 88 hospital project is a convivial electioneering masterstroke! And anytime he has dispatched innuendos at his detractors, I looked for the cameras to see the distortion on the face of General Mosquito!

But COVID-19 has not been all doom and gloom! At least the ban on social gatherings has given us some temporary political peace. At least it has rolled back the campaign insults and vilifications a few more months. Let’s be thankful and pray the peace would endure, before the electoral forces plunge us into yet another electoral pandemic!

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