Mbabane: We are already halfway into the year 2020, and judging from the social, economic, upheavals engulfing not only our country, but also the whole global community, the future of our world does not look very rosy, or promising.
At the centre of all the ongoing turmoil, lies the ravaging, global effects brought about by none other than the deadly COVID-19 virus. The advent of this insidious enemy of mankind that has brought about misery, pain and confusion to the world’s inhabitants. Families around the world have lost husbands, wives, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends. Communities have lost thousands of their members to the deadly tentacles of this pandemic. The million-dollar question is: when will (that is, if it will) it all end? What will be the costs all global countries will be counting long after the virus has run its course? Will the global community ever recover from the brutal effects of the pandemic?
I am no economist, politician, scientist, prophet or whatever, but my two cents worth of opinion urges me to declare that, in terms of both economical, social and other costs, these will be phenomenal and we have certainly crossed the Rubicon of our normal existence as humans.
Granted, it is not the first time for the global community to experience devastating pandemics. Consider, for instance, the1918-1920 Spanish Flu, which, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, swept across the global world, leaving in its wake a trail of destruction. Although the numbers of reported casualties vary, records show that no less than 50 million of the world’s population succumbed to the effects of the influenza. Few, if any members of that generation, are still alive today.
The current COVID-19 crisis caught many global countries by surprise, including our own kingdom. Even those countries with strong healthcare systems, were caught napping and powerful leaders of especially First World countries, made botched decisions in their futile attempts to contain the ravaging effects of the virus. Powerful world leaders like Donald Trump of the giant United States of America and others, took decisions that proved very costly to the health of their citizens.
The USA is under an onslaught of the virus and the numbers of infected and dead are frightening. President Donald Trump faces an election this year that may render him a loser because of his initial handling of crucial decisions pertaining to the reality of the virus.
One other leader who defied all logic with his pathetic denial of the reality of the virus, including his refusal to insist on lockdowns and his people wearing masks, is Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro. He poured scorn on lockdowns, describing the virus as a “little flu”. His insistence on putting the economy of his country’s ahead of the health of his people, has cost his country dearly in terms of the numbers of infected and the dead. It is said Brazil’s hospitals are at breaking point as the numbers continue to spiral up. Outside the USA, Brazil has the worst world outbreak of the virus with over 1.75 million infections and around 70 000 deaths. As fate would have it, the COVID-19 finally caught up with him. After fierce opposition to lockdowns, firing health ministers and spitting on the wearing of masks, he recently tested positive. A classic case of, “you reap what you sow…”
Locally, the numbers are spiralling. It is frightening. No one, including the very leaders who perennially fail to invest in a sound health infrastructure system, is safe. As a result of our government’s stubborn reluctance to invest in crucial, health infrastructure, the health of a nation is under threat. Coupled with a lack of a sense of urgency by some of our citizens to strictly adhere to some of the stipulated, preventative measures aimed at preventing the spread of the deadly virus, the writing is on the wall that we are in for a torrid time.
The start, stop, and go, lockdown restrictions from a seemingly confused and overwhelmed government, is not making any sense and matters any better. There is a stark and wide-open division between crucial stakeholders. The teacher’s union, Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), is at loggerheads with government, not seeing eye-to-eye concerning the opening of schools.
The union has taken government to court and the public is watching from the sidelines with unabated breath. Meanwhile, COVID-19 is not prepared to halt its destructive path and respect the court’s decision. Numbers of infected teachers and a few pupils are worrying. Who knows, how many numbers of infected in the education sector will it be by the time the courts issue a verdict?
On the other hand, the outlook does not look too good in the business sector. Some businesses have suffered badly during the lockdown restrictions. Some have been badly bruised in terms of profits; others have surely folded down. Workers in some businesses have borne the brunt of the lockdowns, with some possibly laid off. Lord have mercy, on businesses like those selling and distributing liquor. Most of their staff are idling at home. We are a country whose workforce has extended families. The closure of such businesses has surely affected scores of families. Distribution of meagre food parcels by our stingy government is embroiled in controversy. Allegations of corrupt distribution of food parcels and money donated by benevolent donors, are rife. Corrupting – a national pastime – is rampant.
When will it end, we ask, rhetorically?
As imfucuta, we can only pray our loving God will finally come to the rescue of His people – the destitute and vulnerable. Relying on civil authority has proven to be folly numerous times in the past. Our lives are in God’s hands, and to a lesser extent, in our own hands. We can beat the spread of the virus by intense, humble and earnest prayer, strictly practicing and adhering to the laid down, preventative measures. As people, we hold our destiny in our own hands.
And yes, let us not underestimate the power of prayer. Let us humble ourselves before a God who holds the keys to life and death. Let us all in truth, in spirit and in unison, confess our sinning before Him. Looking for human solutions to a war bordering on our reaping what we sow as a sinful and broken world, without involving Him, is a lost course.
Stay safe. Wear your mask. Practice social distancing, stop social drinking in groups – that’s the message.
Contact Mkhovu Zwide @ 79470985