Like a diabetic wound that grows more putrid by the day, crime in Jamaica continues to defy solution, hence the debate over the states of emergency (SOEs) — to be or not to be — is a wasteful exercise in petulance.
All it can do is satisfy the insatiable appetite of politicians and their rabid supporters to seek to gain political points, with an eye to the next elections, irrespective of the incessant blood-shedding and the pall of fear over our nation.
That is why the handling of the SOE can be nothing more than a political football — the Government declares a state of emergency because it has run out of options in stemming the runaway murders, and the Opposition votes against it, hoping to embarrass the Government.
In this context, the search for lasting solutions can only be half-hearted and short term, even while our current crop of leaders fool themselves that they are noble people with an unselfish desire to serve their fellow men.
The prime minister, in declaring the last seven SOEs all at once, had the temerity to ask the country to believe that, in the face of cold, hard facts pointing to the contrary, his Administration has done “a very good job” in managing the country's crime rate.
Moreover, he assured us: “The commissioner of police, the minister of national security, the chief of defence staff have all been doing, in my judgement and grading, a very good job with the resources [that they have] and the particular circumstances, which are, in some instances, unique to Jamaica and very extreme…”
Maybe, we should not believe our lying eyes and ears that up to November 12, 2021, the murder toll had jumped by 10 per cent over the same period last year, with 1,240 Jamaican lives lost and 1,200 people shot and injured in the period.
The question for the prime minister is: if his Administration and the leadership of the security forces are doing so well, why is there a need for another state of emergency, and why suffer the embarrassment of having the Opposition vote down an SOE?
Conceivably, the answer to the first part of the question is easy — raw propaganda. The second part is more complex — perhaps the Government is bankrupt of ideas to fight crime more effectively, or it was a manoeuvre to make the Opposition look bad for voting against the SOE. It may be both.
If the Government and the Opposition were seized with the urgency of bringing down the murder rate, their approach to the issue would have been seriously different and far more sincere.
The Government, knowing that the Opposition had signalled it would not support the SOE declaration and that, in any event, the awaited Supreme Court ruling might put an end to the SOE as implemented, should have negotiated with the Opposition in good faith, on a matter that should not have been politicised in the first place.
For its part, the Opposition should have seen that, in the absence of the crime plan that it has been hollering for, it is better to have a state of emergency, than nothing at all. Whatever decision it made, the country should not be left at the mercy of the bloodthirsty monsters roaming freely.
We demand that our leaders bring an end to this destructive political football game at once.