Prime Minister Andrew Holness has sought to repudiate recent reports which asserted that he is interested in commissioning incarcerated deejay Vybz Kartel to be a part of his government’s Every Vax Counts Campaign.
On Monday afternoon, Holness, via his social media pages posted a video clip of his interaction with a newspaper reporter, who had brought up the subject last Friday at the Caribbean Palms Community Centre in St Andrew South West, a constituency represented by Dr. Angela Brown Burke, where the Ministry of Health and Wellness was undertaking a vaccination blitz.
The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper and this publication had concluded that Kartel ‘may have a role to play in the Government’s pro-vaccination campaign’, as Holness, in responding to a direct question about engaging the Gaza boss, “did not rule out the entertainer’s possible involvement in rallying Jamaicans”.
However, on Monday Holness was on the defensive, and though not addressing the reports frontally, declared that he was launching a new social media programme to disavow any misprint or misquote of his utterances going forward.
“Today we launch a new feature on my pages called, “What Did I Actually Say”. Too often statements are attributed to me when I made no such statement. While everyone is entitled to their own interpretation, they must at least have regard to the facts. Here is what I said; draw your conclusions,” Holness wrote under a video clip of the question being asked by the reporter and the lengthy response he gave.
Today we launch a new feature on my pages called, “What Did I Actually Say”. Too often statements are attributed to me when I made no such statement. While everyone is entitled to their own interpretation, they must at least have regard to the facts.
Here is what I said. pic.twitter.com/VvpkwYxXJ0
— Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM) September 20, 2021
In his response though, Holness had sidestepped the question and made no mention of Kartel, explicitly or implicitly. Speaking in general terms, he had said, among other things, that: “In a national emergency such as a pandemic, we in the Government of Jamaica would enlist the support of all well-thinking citizens in encouraging persons to take the vaccine…”
Holness’ reserved response and subsequent rebuttal, is a far cry from that of Chairman of Jamaica’s National Health Fund Howard Mitchell, who was desirous of having Vybz Kartel at the forefront of the Ministry of Health’s Every Vax Counts campaign, according to Professor Carolyn Cooper.
Days later Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton had told The Star tabloid that he would love to see the Any Weather artist take the vaccine as well as become an influencer. In addition, Opposition Spokesman on Health had also said that he would be in support of any Vybz Kartel “jingle or song aimed at encouraging Jamaicans to get vaccinated”.
Holness’ post had polarized responses on Twitter on Monday, as some users said that his response to the reporter’s question did not confirm or deny that he wanted Kartel on the Vax campaign, while others accused the media of spreading falsehoods.
Twitter users Sandy Golden and Cmac were among those who joined Holness in rubbishing the news reports.
“The media said that PM endorsed Kartel to do campaign to encourage Covid vaccine. Where in this statement did the PM say this. The media these days are something else. FAKE,” Sandy wrote.
“The media continues to spread LIES and PROPAGANDA. Had they taken the higher ground in educating and encouraging ppl the importance to get vaccinated and to unite during this pandemic JA would be in a much better place today,” Cmac stated.
JawlettePP5, though, was not impressed with the response Holness gave in the interview.
“After all that talk respectfully you’ve not answered the question,” she wrote, while dante_blackwood added: “@AndrewHolnessJM, u have a tendency to talk nothing but f_kry, pretty it up using some big words as the ordinary individual cannot comprehend, but make note, we know u a chat faat”.
“Yah i hard what you said and I see that you tried really hard to ignore the question and mentioning Vybz Kartel name but you still said you want everyone to get on board so to me that means you don’t mind using the his name and Brand to get people to take the vaccine,” Leah wrote in response.