The Coronavirus pandemic has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives across the world, with Europe bean heavenly hard hit. The pandemic has found its way to Africa with South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, Egypt, Burkina Faso, and Rwanda the high-risk countries with over a hundred cases recorded. The pandemic has shocked the world with great impacts on the world’s economies.
The narratives of this global pandemic including African countries such as Somalia sending medical to Italy one of G- 8 giants that has one of the world-renowned medical systems; Mexico rejecting USA citizens from entering their countries. Are indicating of new world order and devastating impacts of COVID- 19 on so-called bigger blogs of the world.
Although Ghana recorded 195 COVID- 19 cases with 5 dead and 8 fully recovered, political commitment is quite encouraging. However, much is still left to be desired. The inadequacy of ventilators is a worrying concern, even though all Ghana cases are said not to be in critical condition, the availability of 67 ventilations for a country with a population of 30 million is woefully inadequate. As a measure of preparedness, we need to be more proactive in getting our country readier to combating the pandemic in terms of logistical support and the other end protect the ordinary citizens from market exploitations.
The failure of the government to roll- out a clear road map on how to take care of vulnerable households in terms of nationwide lockdown is a big issue. The lack of adequate data to support the numbers of vulnerable households further exposes our institutional bottlenecks. The establishment of the COVID- 19 funds is in a good direction, the issues of transparency and ill attitudes of our politicians is a worrying trend when it comes to expenditure and spending. Though a financial commitment is needed to fight the pandemic in terms of preparedness, isolation, quarantine, surveillance, case management, screening, and testing as well as monitoring, the government has given in to too much borrowing from the World Bank and International Monitory Fund (IMF). The individual donations and redirecting the budget of the Ghana National Identification Authority and Electoral Commission budget would have been quite enough to strengthen our preparedness. Ghana is already in debt distress and the alarming rate of accumulating more debt could further plunge the country into an economic crisis.
Even though we have lost faith in our politicians, we hope that these resources would enable the government to scale up preparedness to have a unique national combative strategic action plan against COVID- 19. There is a need for the government to design national comprehensive plans and efficient decentralized local plans to the regional and MMDAs for an effective action plan on combating COVID- 19.
We cannot borrow more money to fight the pandemic coupled with cooperate support and yet focused only on Accra and Kumasi given the fact that, Northern parts of the country population has become more vulnerable as a result of exodus because of the partial lockdown imposed on parts of greater Accra and Kumasi.
Another group, that service remains very critical in these trying moment of our country are businesses, especially market women. What should have been an opportunity to show compassion and strong bond of nation-building, businessmen and women rather took advantage to make more super abnormal profits. Though economies ‘theory of consumer behavior’ best explains this scenario, nonetheless, the price hack and sales of expired hand sanitizers and other lotions as sanitizers in this crisis period is not only greed, rather wickedness and a lack of morality.
Sadly, the behaviour of market women shows they are happy that, coronavirus has hit our country Ghana and for that, matter the economic gains is their priority. It is indeed a fact that business is for-profit maximization, however, in this situation of a global slowdown and lockdown market women should have a sense of patriotism and appreciate the fact that we must support each rather than exploiting the poor masses. If you cheat someone just because there is a demand for foodstuff, remember, that, we are all vulnerable and so if the persons cannot afford much and die of hunger your customer has reduced. Market women must be told.
We must acknowledge that tagging politicians, and civil and public servants as corrupt is not the case in Ghana now. Coronavirus pandemic has opened another page in our life to realize that, the informal sector has a lot of greedy and selfish people and the situation could have been worse off if they are at whelms of power. I feel sad at this moment that we are taking advantage of a crisis to accumulate wealth.
I entreat the government of Ghana to draw lessons from the Rwandan government crackdown of business that has inflated prices by handing them punitive punishment to serve as a deterring to others. We must as well relive the approach of 1982 food crises price control system government had employed to crack down on business for price hacks to exploiting the masses. Although the regimes are not the same, democracy does not mean the free will of exploitation. I have the belief that price increase at this moment is not because of market interaction, rather weak regimes that have one eye focus on fighting the pandemic and the other focused on the next election and therefore been afraid to call the market woman to order.
Ghana is heading to a looming danger of food insecurity and this could lead to more exploitation if stiffer measures are not put in place to curb the price hack. Also, the government of Ghana getting more loans to fight the virus is welcoming. However, we must put the necessary check and balances to ensure transparency and accountability. We have so many regarding the perception of corruption. Let not allow this to become one of the many issues of corruption allegation after we win the battle against COVID- 19. With strong commitment and unity of purpose, we shall prevail in the fight against coronavirus.
May Allah saved us from the coronavirus pandemic.
Author; Tahiru Lukman
Email: [email protected]
Position; Youth Activist, Dev’t Consultant & Pan- African Writer