Out of control, under control

Every society needs to be confronted with rules, ours is not

Face masks are part of the new normal
Face masks are part of the new normal

Yesterday’s announcement that the number of COVID cases have hit the 204 mark can no longer be blamed on the people.

Every society needs to be confronted with rules and barriers. Ours has not. Now it is evident that the situation is out of hand. As I speak, the only measures that are in place are the masks. Nothing else, everything is business as usual.

And this is a problem.

The doctors and nurses are right in expressing concern that the enforcement measures are too weak.

We need to see some serious action. If the cold weather sets in we will be facing innumerable cases, hundreds of people will be in self-isolation or quarantine, and the limited functionality we have as businesses will evaporate.

There is no need for Charmaine Gauci to appear anymore on our screens. She says the same things and repeats the same mantra every single time she appears… but she has no real say in what happens, for the decisions being taken here are political.

My question, and this is not to Gauci, but to the top brass who take the final political decisions: if in April 2019 we had imposed restrictions which had included a partial lockdown, limits on the mobility of elderly over a certain age, closure of retails outlets and gyms, apart from the closure of the airport, why are we being so laid back now with a far worse situation?

It is simply not logical.

This summer we all came together and converged with a rant and endless diatribe against the opening of entertainment places… and blamed the outlets for the surge of COVID-19 cases in summer. But those cases were chicken-feed compared to the numbers we have today.

And surely the latest cases cannot be attributed to the excesses of youth in summer.

Even the level of enforcement cannot be commended in any way. We are facing a pandemic crisis without precedent, one that could bring our health services to its knees and if that happens, the proverbial shit has really hit the fan.

The actions that need to be taken now, cannot be half-baked. Last Friday’s measures were half-baked.

Across Europe, people meeting people are being controlled and, in some cases, stopped altogether.

Here we live in the false hope that things will get better, even with feeble attempts to control the behaviour of the public.

But we need to take action, fast. In the last months, COVID-19 deprived us of our livelihoods, and more importantly of a normal life, a stunted education for our kids and the horror of not being able to say goodbye to our loved ones as they died a slow death.

Today thousands of elderly in private and state homes and in their private residences are being deprived of the chance to meet their loved ones.

The fact that the pandemic is out of hand makes it ever more difficult. Now is the time to act. Half-baked measures are not for COVID-19.

Cabinet changes

The co-option of Clyde Caruana and Miriam Dalli to Robert Abela’s cabinet is indicative. It responds to a reality facing Robert Abela, who is experiencing a serious deficit in managing the country.

There is little doubt that Muscat’s Cabinet then was driven by Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi, apart from two or three ministries such as those of Ian Borg and Chris Fearne.

Abela now needs to respond to a growing need to have capable individuals who will tackle the growing pains in running the economy and take everything forward.

But he has one major problem, that is, the evident management deficit with many of the current ministers and parliamentary secretaries.

As I write Abela’s mind must be in state of complete flux. He is wondering which of the ministers and junior ministers needs to be axed – for political and administrative expediency. I could mention a few politicians who need to be axed, some of which have never been fit for purpose.

The reshuffle in the Cabinet, as we will see it, will also confirm that the date for the next election will not be in the next months.

Robert Abela has always favoured a legislature that extends over the full five-year term. But in bringing in new blood and faces, he hopes to reinvigorate the Labour government and party just as Nationalist leader Bernard Grech’s election as leader will serve to regroup the PN and improve its electoral chances.

Robert Abela can blame COVID-19 for a very difficult year, but COVID-19 provides Abela with a great political opportunity to show how he can weather the storm in these conditions and to surround himself with the right people.

Our economic revival in a post-COVID scenario is crucial for Abela and his political success.

As in all things, a day in politics can change everything, more so when the goalposts are always changing.

The other very important consideration for Abela is the effective closure of the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder, or rather the arrest and arraignment of all the culprits in this horrendous crime.

Abela cannot afford to go the polls with this murder over his head and still unsolved and with the perceived villains still on the run.

He must demand a clear explanation of the state of police investigations and to drive through the necessary criminal justice reforms that will bring to justice the perpetrators. Is he willing to be the prime minister to bring this matter to closure? He has to start right now, by giving the police the right to tools to take action.

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