A speech of the prime minister of a hypothetical country

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I am here to ask for your forgiveness. In fact, considering the number of blunders my colleagues and I have been accumulating since the beginning of our mandate, I am having to become an expert in the business of apologising. But today, I will restrict my apology to Covid-related mishaps.

I can’t disagree with anyone who is critical of the way we have been handling this second wave. In fact, I am so embarrassed by the number of mistakes we have made that I have been running away from you. I can’t look you in the eye and keep pretending that all is well.

I let you down by allowing the virus to enter a country that I had been bragging all along was Covid-free and then Covid-safe after I had subjected all of you to a kind of lockdown that has wreaked terrible havoc on your psyche and on the economy, and during which we, by the way, did totally unacceptable things we are still paying for.

I also owe you an apology for the gross spin-doctoring that has led to the belief that I am some sort of a demi God capable of eradicating a virus that even the most powerful nations are still struggling with. The result of that propaganda we worked so hard to spread is that you are not taking the virus seriously this time round. We are still working on a plan to get us out of the situation but frankly, with the limited brain matter we dispose of in government, we are struggling. I ask for your forgiveness and that of the opposition that offered to join us in a debate about how to get out of this crisis. My refusal to include them in what concerns all of us is the result of insecurity, arrogance and indefensible hubris. Please forgive me.

I have tried to do a good job looking after this country but my priority of remaining in power has always gotten in the way. So I have surrounded myself with very nice people – I really have nothing against the way they treat me – who are doing their best for themselves and for me. It’s just that their best is not good enough for the country.

To the dialysis patients and their families, I would like to express my real sorrow for the pain I have caused. We have sent patients unable to look after themselves into isolation and we left them there to manage in whatever way they could. We knew they had a special diet to follow and strict eating times but we gave them what was available when we could. We knew they were vulnerable but we exposed them to more risk by hauling them off to quarantine in cramped up busses. Many got infected and needed more help which we were unable to provide. There is nothing the bereaved families can say that I can disagree with. The way we treated our citizens is indefensible and the way we communicated was very insensitive. I accept responsibility for that.

Our arrogance and denial have prevented us from doing the right thing: commiserating with the bereaved families. So I am now offering my sincere condolences to you. I share in your pain, loss, agony and even anger. I wish you a lot of fortitude. I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt we brought on you. I can’t forgive myself for any of this.

There is no nice way of saying we have wronged you but I hope you can feel that my contrition is real. I hope to regain the trust you have lost in all of us.

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