COVID-19: A Disease of Everyone, Everything and Everywhere; and Election: Tigray Deserves “Policies” More than “Cry Fouls.”
Yes, Tigrai will rise, shine and make another history but if and only if every Tigraian clearly understands and foresees the dire consequences of failing to fight against COVID-19 and the wishful unitary preachers, deceivers, plotters, betrayers, thugs, and shithole politicians whose only dream is power by hook or by crook. It is sad and painful to see this group blindly, greedily and speedilydriving Ethiopia either into a dictatorial rule or towardsa dangerous and irremediableethnic conflicts, civil wars andbalkanization.
The situation is getting tougher and tougher but Iam strongly confident that the Tigrai people will continue to stand firm, remain strongly bonded and united in one sprit for a cause, and uphold their long-established and time-honored intrinsic traditions of integrity, resilience and resistance to sustain difficulties and defeat their enemies.“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”Unity is strength! unity is power! A united Tigrai will win!!!
In regards toa few deviant Tigraians, please think twice and free yourselves from the spider web you are trapped in. Don’t continue to serve the prats and puppets being engulfed in their tit-for-tat, hodge-podge, awkward, and reckless politics. Don’t allow yourself to be on the wrong side of history. If your intention is only to revenge TPLF, it won’t help you win the political war and the hearts and minds of the Tigrai People. My university professor used to say, “If a donkey kicks you, and you kick the donkey back, then you area donkey too.” If you think TPLF is bad and tyrant, you need to be good and democrat. Otherwise, what you mouthed off so far hasn’t proven and reflected anything of good and democratic nature.
COronaVIrus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): A Disease of Everyone, Everything and Everywhere
SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. The name coronavirus is derived from Latin, corona, which means “crown” or “halo” (characteristic appearance seen by electron microscopy). COVID-19 has become an absolute monarch,crowned to invade and rule everything, everyone and everywhere. It has surfaced as a disease that affects and impacts every aspects of human life. It has changed the way people interact and relate each other. It has affected people’s work and life styles. It has impacted society’s time-honored traditions of celebrating, grieving and mourning. It has severely disrupted the teaching-learning process, productivity, income, business, and investment. In short, COVID-19 has impacted everything-social, political and economic aspects of everyone and anywhere.The world is in a state of anxiety and confusion because it lacks effective weapons and ammunitions to defend this boundless and borderlessinvasion.
While majority of the COVID-19cases get well with rest, by keeping themselves hydrated, and using medications to help reduce fever and relieve pain, COVID-19 causes serious illnesses and deaths in some patients, especially in elderly and in those individuals with pre-existing comorbid conditions. As of today, there is no any drug proven to cure or a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Drugs such as hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine and remdesivir have been authorized for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, FDA has recently revoked the EUA use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine because these drugs lack any evidence of effectiveness. Remdesiviris still in use in suspected or confirmed severe COVID-19 cases because some clinical trials reported that it shortens the time to recovery in hospitalized adults.
Another drug of interest is dexamethasone. A preliminary result from the RECOVERY Trial reported dexamethasoneto be helpful by reducing the risk of death among patients with severe respiratory complications. A number of clinical trials are underway in search of drugs to cure or treat and a vaccine to prevent the infection. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!!
One of the challenges associated with COVID-19is that individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 may not see the symptoms immediately after being exposed. The incubation period (period between exposure and the appearance of the first symptoms) is on average 5 days but can take up to 14 days and even longer, in rare conditions. This means that during the incubation period an individual may stay pre-symptomatic (develop symptoms later) but transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others, prior to the onset of symptoms. Many patients who have SARS-CoV-2 exposure/infection may remain asymptomatic (never develop symptoms) but transmissions of infections to others continue to occur silently while others may develop and experience clear signs and symptoms of COVID19 and transmissions to others occur concurrently in absence of precautionary measures which include but not limited to frequent hand wash with soap; avoid to touch eyes, nose, or mouth with un washed hands; covering coughs and sneezes; and avoid close contact with sick people.
Some countries have effectively controlled the spreadof SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 by applying strict measures such as large-scale testing, quarantine(separate and restrict the movement of people exposed to SARS-CoV-2 infections to see if they become sick), home confinement, isolation (separating sick people), contact tracing (process of identifying people who may have come into contact with an individual with SARS-CoV-2 infections/COVID-19), social distancing/physical distancing, personal hygiene, wearing masks and gloves, and border controls. Some of these measures are very difficult to strictly and practically apply even in rich countries. The situation would be worst in socially and economically dis advantaged society. In many parts of the world, ingrained cultural and religious believes further complicate the problem.
For example, it would be hard to apply personal hygiene in an environment where water and sanitizing supplies are available in scarce or the supply is limited. The effectiveness of measures such as social distancing/physical distancing, self-quarantine, and home confinement would be practically tough to apply where housing is terrible and a household of multiple family dwells in a single house or hut (tukul); or where citizens depend on packed public transportations on daily basis; and where it is not an easy matter for people to cut off their longstanding cultural and religious beliefs and traditions of gathering in large groups to either celebrate, pray, grieve or mourn.
In absence of any government sponsored social or welfare supports and where the majority are leading a hand to mouth lives, it is understandable and becomes a must for the people to move around to earn money and support their lives. Thus, itmay not make any sense to tell the people stay in home confinement and strict their movements without offering any supports and options of subsistence.
The other measures are resource intensive and require a highly proactive and committed government to perform large-scale testing;establish quarantinestations, special isolation units, and effective contact tracing processes; procure personal protective supplies (facemask, gloves gowns…) in a sustainable manner; secure borders to control inflow of cases. The large-scale testing requires thegovernment to establish and organize as many numbers of testing centers as possible. Quarantine, isolation, investigation, identification, notification, treatment, monitoring, and follow-ups demand for a large number of human and material resources and temporary places to establish stations and units. Prompt contact tracing, communication and reporting ofcases and their contacts effectively break the chain of the disease and prevent further community transmissions but are resource intensive.
Social stigma is another challenge that adversely affects the successful implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures. Stigma hinders many from getting examined and tested despite apparent symptoms or they may be asymptomatic but know that they have contacts with infected individuals but remain silent to report. This situation further escalates the speared of the infection in the community. Thus, failing to report due to stigma should not be an accepted norm in Tigrai. There is no reason to feel stigma. It has nothing to do with anyone’s wrong doings and there are no any social, cultural or religious transgressions here. The Tigrai people should rather know that COVID-19, like any other disease, infects anyone, anywhere, and anytime.
There is a greater need for awareness creation and education of the general public because their stakes are high and their roles are rate determining when it comes to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 transmission and prevention.The public should be continuously educated and made aware of the mechanisms of transmissions and preventions. The community should be informed not to second-guess but immediately report whenever they have any suspicion of exposure/contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case or immediately report when they feel any symptom. The list changes from time to time but as of today the symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/COVID19-symptoms.pdf).
Importantly, every member of the Tigrai community has the responsibility and obligation to strictly follow any regulatory measures, policies, procedures and instructions provided and implemented by the government. Needless to say, everyone has the obligation to abide by their moral principles of nonmaleficence (avoid causation of harm on/toothers) and beneficence that calls for actions aimed at benefiting others (acts of mercy, kindness, generosity, altruism, love, humanity) in order to prevent further spread of infection and not to allowSARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19to cause more serious and complicated health problems, sufferings, and deaths on families, friends, and the community at large.
In a nutshell, successful executions of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 prevention depends not only on government efforts but also on the extent of cooperation, awareness, collective actions, full support,and active engagement of the general public. I believe, this not to be difficult to do in Tigrai because there exist effectively organized and easy and ready to mobilize community and well-structured and functional government system and information flow. These opportunities should be fully, effectively and efficiently utilized. Otherwise, the situation is a matter of life or death.
My final point regarding COVID-19. I haven’t convinced myself by the reason or I wasn’t able to see the relevancy of extending election in Ethiopia using COVID-19 an excuse. People are moving around for economic, social or any other reasons anyways. The PM himself is seen convening big meetings. Oh! Sorry, I totally forgot that he is a king above the law. Maybe I am wrong but have I heard him saying to the military community, “you must obey and implement any order/command without questioning, period!” Oh! Sorry again. I forgot that the PM is very effective in making absurd, erroneous, abrupt and spontaneous talks based on his greedy motives and myopic thinking. He is famous in changing his messages erratically depending on his audience in a hall. The PM, as French saying goes,“jumps from the cock to the donkey.”
In my view, extending election due to COVID-19 is nothing but a lame excuse.Apart from that, election is better managed than the crowds seen in places ofhigh risk transmission potentials (market places, public transportations and social gatherings) where the people don’t seem to properly follow the recommendations and abide by the rules of social/physical distancing. All I can say is that the PM is out of touch with reality.
Of course, it would beirresponsible, reckless, and inappropriate to arrange big campaign rallies/meetings of a large group of people while COVID-19 continues to remain as a public health threat. Thus, it becomes very essential for every political party in Tigray to have the responsibility of devising different campaign tools. Depending on who the audiences are, election campaigns can be carried out using posters, debates and advertisements on TV and radio, sound trucks, pamphlets, posters,internet, social medias, e-mails, texts, etc.
On election day, the public should be informed and advised to apply social/physical distancing rules. Maintaining lineups and extending voting hours can also help avoid unnecessary crowds and close contacts. Otherwise, I don’t see the relevancy of extending the election using COVID-19 as an excuse so long as you cannot strict the movement of people and forbid crowds at open markets, public transportation etc. So, why all these background noises? What is exceptionally different with election? People are moving and crowding anyways. Let me finish this with a translated Thai saying, “the hen sees the snake’s feet and the snake sees the hen’s boobs" to mean “two people know each other’s secrets.”
Election 2020: Tigray Deserves Policies More than Cry Fouls
In the past years, it has been a fashion to form a political party in Ethiopia and as a result, parties have mushroomed in large numbers. However, when it comes to policy issues and political ideologies they are either nearly identical or in most instances, very confusing for the public to tell what the differences among them are.
Many of the parties seem to have been established based on personal relationships or affiliations, or with a purpose to revenge or use the party as a platform to express resentments or point fingers on weaknesses and limitations of an incumbent party or I may be wrong, but as a source of income for living. What is not difficult to tell is that the number of parties is many not because the parties have policy variations but sometimes, due to individuals’ stubborn and unwilling behaviors and lack of wits and ability to compromise and accommodate minor procedural differences. Sometimes, they have been seen forming coalitions for the sole purpose of jointly attacking and blackmailing TPLF/EPRDF while they have absolutely disagreeing and contradictory political programs: one intends to reinstate a unitary government, the other dreams to establish federal system based on geography; and another wants the language based federal system to continue but hate TPLF…. Tigrai cannot afford to host this kind of political trends. Rather, it deserves civilized political discourses and parties of policies!!!
After all, a political party should be an organized group of people with roughly similar political agenda (https://www.britannica.com/topic/political-party/Parties-and-political-power) and as a prerequisite; a political party is expected to solicit and articulate ideas that can be converted into viable policy options. In other words, any party intending to run for a political power should have clearly defined and easy to understand policy options, formulated based on facts and realities to address voters’ burning issues; be able to explain how their party is different from others when it comes to issues that include but not limited to the economy, social affairs, health, education, infrastructure, environment, tax rules, civil rights, foreign relations etc.
Election is very important because it allows the people to exercise their democratic right to choose a political party of their preference. In order to do this, the public should able to clearly see, know and say about the similarities and dissimilarities of each party’s policies and programs. For example, party “A” may have a health policy that focuses on primary prevention (proactive) as opposed toa reactive policy which is usually designed to treat a disease and handle a situation at higher level tiers of a health care delivery system. Thus, the burden of proofis on Party B to convince voters on how its health policy is different from that of Party A.
Another possible policy argument can be a position that each party holds regarding government versus private sector roles. Should the government play a leading role in investing and budgeting services such as healthcare, education, infrastructure construction etc. or leave such responsibilities to the private sector by limiting itself (government) to regulatory roles? What economic policy is relevant and applicable? Neo-liberalwhere the private sector controls and manipulates the economy? Or Developmental State where the government plays a big role while concurrently allowing the private sector to invest wherethe environment is conducive? Or Socialistwhere there is a centralized government that fully is in command of the economy? Or any other? In any case, the policies should be easy for voters to understand, see and tell the distinction among the policies of each party.
Otherwise, pointing fingers at opponent’s weakness, malpractices and deficiencies, without having their own clearly defined alternative policy options, may not serve and offer any meaningful and reasonable purposes. For instance, criticizing and suggesting that malaria and cholera are killing people in Tigrai wouldn’t be a policy option. What would have been more appealing to voters is proposing a better alternative health policy that intends to practically address and resolve such health problems.
Make no mistake, there would be always scarcity of resourcesand budgetary constraintswhich would be common denominators to all parties intending to assume political power in Tigrai. Importantly, alternative policy recommendations should be somehowSpecific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART) taking human, financial and material resourcesinto considerations. Each party should propose their estimate of incomes and expenditures for each policy they intend to implement. Otherwise, in my view, cry foul by itself doesn’t outshine a political party from competitors but only their defined, well-articulated and differentiating policies.
As defined in the Cambridge dictionary, cry foul means “something that has happened is unfair or illegal” i.e. the accuser party declares and protests that an irregularity has occurred during a process or the process involves injusticeand treacherous actions. These accusations can be real allegations or imagined ones.
Cry foul exists anywhere in the world but is becoming a common phenomenon in poor countries such as Ethiopia, especially, every time election comes. On the surface, some parties seem to seek power through elections. However, at the same time they have been seen getting involved in clandestine plots of a subversive nature and disruptive activities instead of dealing with issues of necessities. Many of them even start to cry foul way far ahead of elections when they feel they will lose when failing to sell their ideas in the political market. The culture of conceding and graciously accepting the realities is lacking.
Now, the council of the Tigrai state has decided to conduct a regional election which is inconsistent to the decision of the Ethiopian House of Federation (HoF) which has extended the terms of the federal and regional lawmakers and the executive branch of the government. The decision of HoF is experiencing heavy public disapproval and push backs. Majority of the parties, scholars, lawyers, and the citizens at large have been and still are expressing their objections, concerns and reservations. Their reasons being thorough deliberations, discussions and debates by representatives of various political interests, and subject matter experts haven’t been made in effort to find a genuine solution to the imminent political and constitutional crises visa vis the COVID-19 pandemic.
The incumbent Ethiopian government has deliberately ignored and undermined any feasible alternative ideas and proposals, besides its encapsulated group. The PM’s proposed ideas: (i) to dissolve the parliament; (ii) declare a state of emergency; (iii) amend the constitution; and (iv) interpret the constitution are suffering from popular refutations and objections. Now, Ethiopia is in the verge of balkanization. Fear and frustration are growing more than ever before that the PM’s move will certainly lead to an irreversible scenario.
Despite all the clouds of danger, the PM and his affiliates have remained focused and engaged in spewing and sowing hate and beating a war drum to stir up conflicts and create chaos to interrupt the relative peace that the Tigrai state is enjoying compared to the other parts of Ethiopia. There are a lot of background noises and negative propagandas against Tigrai’s decision to comply with the election provisions and meet citizens’ expectation to exercise their right to elect leaders according to the conditions of the constitution. The PM and affiliates maybe are the first ones in history to oppose election. Threatening a state that seeks to undertake election is inacceptable by any measure of democracy.
Tigrai will rise, shine and make another history so long as Tigraians remain united and bonded together in one spirit. Unity is strength! unity is power! United we will win and a make difference.
Back to Front Page