Suruwa B. Wawa Jaiteh
Because of our unending love for American culture and ideals, the African leadership and Africans in general have for too long been blind to the danger United States President Donald Trump poses to lives, peace and progress not only in his own country but in the rest of the world. The terrible events we have witnessed in the past weeks should convince us all to demand that the US to remove its divisive, misanthropic leader, and begin the process of repairing the damage he has caused.
As everyone by now knows, the widespread and often violent protests that have virtually paralysed hundreds of cities and towns in the US were sparked by murder of an African-American named George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During the process, Momodou Lamin Sisay, a Gambian, was gunned down by a trigger-happy white American policeman.
The incident which was brazenly carried out in full view of the public and captured on video by dozens of witnesses, is only the latest in a long string of violent deaths of African-Americans in similar circumstances. Most of these killings have been carried out by police forces and others by racist civilians. The resulting unrest is the worst seen in America since 1968, when racial tensions and dissent against US involvement in the Vietnam War led to similar widespread violent protests and rioting.
Racial tension, particularly involving African-American people but more generally including any “people of colour,” has long been a disturbing undercurrent in American society. It has metastasized destructively under Trump, however, who has encouraged racial aggression in a variety of ways to maintain a political base, including demonising immigrants and subjecting them to inhuman treatment, and branding the current protesters as “thugs” and “criminals.” Trump’s assault on his own people mirrors the offences he has carried out against the world at large. His constant verbal attacks against a free media have manifested themselves in dozens of physical attacks against journalists by police force in recent days, within the past days and weeks, both the German and Australian governments – two of America’s strongest allies – have formally announced investigations into incidents in which reporters from their countries were attacked by police.
His excesses go far beyond that, there seems to be no principle of civilized decency and global cooperation that he has not actively sought to destroy.
He has worked to defeat global efforts to combat climate change, first by removing the US from the Paris Accord, and then by getting environmental protection regulations in his own country.
He has attempted to disrupt global free trade by removing America from productive trade agreements and provoking a trade war with China. He has actively worked to increase the risk of large-scale global conflict by abrogating the Open Skies Agreement – a measure meant to reduce the risk of nuclear war – by signaling his intention to allow the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, or start, treaty to lapse later this year, and indicating he might order a resumption of US nuclear weapons testing.
Trump has even worked to ruin mankind’s “final frontier,” trampling nearly a half-century of amazing, peaceful international cooperation in the exploration of outer space by ordering the creation of a farcical military “space force.”
In perhaps his worst affront, Trump has, in the worst of the worst global pandemic in a century, ordered the withdrawal of the US (and its substantial funding) from the World Health Organisation (WHO), for no other reason than its guidance conflicts with his political goals to “reopen” the US economy and thereby secure his reelection.
Were this unworthy president and thoroughly despicable person a pox on his country alone, we could perhaps observe in silent sympathy for our American friends and let history take its course. But to remain silent in the face of tyranny is to be complicit in it. We must condemn racism, exceptionalism and disrespect for global efforts to heal the environment and build a healthier, more peaceful, more productive world.
In a few months’ time, the American people will have the opportunity to reject Trump and elect a leader who stands for inclusiveness, cooperation and compassion. We implore them, for the sake of the entire world, to do exactly that.
The longer the development crisis continues, the less likely a V-shaped economy recovery will happen. As such, our economic planners should revisit the mid-term and long-term development plans and factor in the lingering health threat.
Many hope that the economy bounces back with vigour when the pandemic wanes. But as the World Health Organisation reported, the crisis may worsen. The longer the pandemic lasts, the weaker economies will be, and the weaker they are, the longer their recovery.
Like in all other countries, hopes of a quick recovery are buoyed by sound economic fundamentals. Our gross domestic product (GDP) rate was among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa before the advent of the “ill-gottener” APRC regime. Increased public spending on human resources development under the Train, Train, Train Programme complemented the key driver of growth – increased production and productivity growth in the agricultural sector, 25 percent self-sufficiency in rice and 80 percent self-sufficiency in coarse grains and remittances from the diaspora.
Obviously all these changed when the ill-gottener APRC regime took over followed by the coronavirus (Covid-19). Along with other countries of the world, we had to take aggressive measures to contain the outbreak. With prayers and the guidance of our extremely young, uniquely honest and outspoken Minister of Health, the situation was brought under control in terms of the toll on human life. During the lockdown, a significant percent of the economy was shut down. It was no surprise that the GDP for that period must have contracted. Also, the GDP forecast for the remaining months of 2020 must be negative.
Our economic managers hope that the economy will begin bouncing back in the third quarter. Perhaps. While cases are still scarce here, they are increasing around most parts of the world, and so real recovery may not start until a vaccine or effective treatment becomes available – probably in 2021.
Vaccine development takes time, because scientists need to ensure the preparation’s efficacy and safety. We need to remember the controversy involving the anti-dengue vaccine, which was hastily administered to school children in some parts of the third world and was later blamed for many of them dying. Proper testing of vaccines/drugs takes time, so do mass production and distribution.