The government Ministers who partied with Shenseea at her Alpha release party were slapped with hefty fines by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Events are not yet legal, and when Shenseea held her album release party, it was in violation of Jamaica’s Disaster Risk Management Act, DRMA, which prohibits events, prohibits the gathering of people beyond 15, and also mandates wearing a face covering.
However, Shenseea’s Alpha album release party was generously attended by socialites, other entertainers, and artists like Sean Paul, Shenseea, Ce’Cile, London On The Track, and others on Campbell Boulevard in Kingston.
Among the cheerful faces at the event was second-time offender Floyd Green who was caught last year breaching the DRMA. Instead of being fined and charged like every other Jamaican, the Minister was dragged on social media, and he only resigned as Agriculture Minister after public pressure.
Green was seen in the company of his wife, but the important guest list didn’t end there as the portfolio minister Babsy Grange, Minister of Entertainment and Culture, National Security Minister Horace Chang, Finance Minister Nigel Clarke, Health Minister Chris Tufton, and Opposition spokesman for Culture, Lisa Hanna were all seen at the event maskless except for Babsy Grange. The presence of the government ministers has caused the government serious embarrassment as Jamaicans who have committed similar offenses continue to attend court and face consequences.
The photos of the elected officials at the party have been shared online, causing harsh criticisms by Jamaicans who spoke on the hypocrisy of the government.
On Thursday, during his sectoral presentation, the Prime Minister offered a solution to punish the Members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers.
He announced that each Minister is to be fined $100,000 for being at the event not wearing a mask and that the money is to be donated to charity or defense fund for anyone charged under the DRMA.
“But with what I saw yesterday where some people were star-struck and forget their senses, I believe they should be fined. Minister Grange who is used to being among stars and kept her mask on I am appointing you to collect $100,000 from every Minister and Make a donation to a worthy charity or to the defence of anyone who is so charged,” the Prime Minister said to much laughter and guffaw from his fellow politicians.
However, Jamaicans reacting did not like the approach by the Prime Minister. Local newspaper, the Jamaica Gleaner, shared a story from a man who was arrested on Tuesday night while attending an event and thrown into jail for not wearing a mask.
Devon Lambert of White Horses, St. Thomas, said his son could not find the funds to pay the $200,000 fine, and as a result, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail for mask-wearing and no-movement day breaches. Breaches under DRMA can result in fines going up to $1 million with a maximum prison time of one year.
In the meantime, Jamaicans were harsh as they bashed the Prime Minister and his Ministers for flouting the law in the face of Jamaicans.
“I think everyone currently charged before the Court under DRMA should just get a bly,” one person said.
“What i loved seeing was the health minister at an entertainment venue (no mask) with 500+ people in attendance (with not a care in the world) while 2 months ago he was on the news saying those out at parties (helping the spread) lol. But those rules made are for Us not for THEM,” another person said on Twitter.
“This issue should not be swept under the carpet, as it is a clear display of class prejudice in Ja. This isn’t the first time that this particular location has hosted a big event despite Covid19 restrictions, without consequences. Obviously money and privilege are at play here,” another person said.
“What’s new? The policy makers are usually policy breakers and they get off scotch free. But the little poor man and woman suffer and pay the heavy price. Truly pains my heart to see the inequity and injustice,” a third person added.
“This is a government without morals. The sooner people realise that the better. In any decent country, half the cabinet would have resigned or be fired Tuesday night. But this is Jamaica,” responded.