There have been 22 deaths confirmed and many injured and one person missing, after the lasts week's storm (August 6). Skopje's surrounding villages are still in ruins and mud and an increased risk of diseases has been recorded. That is the image of contemporary Skopje in August 2016. The villages that were struck by the storm still smell of death, ashes and diseases. While experts unquestionably point to the failures of the government at all levels, Gruevski finds himself in the role of a conductor of the government orchestra, though it additionally shows that institutions do not function.
Flooded area – a political arena
The flooded areas have revealed the misconception on the flawless functioning of the government of VMRO-DPMNE and DUI. From the pink paradise, ignorance and lack of care have risen to the surface from the mud, with the spending of public money for megalomaniac projects (the construction of the Panoramic Ferris wheel is underway). Even the most loyal party soldiers have become aware that the institutions in Macedonia do not have the capacity to deal with the aftermath of the disaster that hit several settlements, which would be in a far different situation if there was some kind of prevention and timely reaction, following some minimum standards, at least.
Nevertheless, Gruevski does not surrender. Ever since he returned from his vacation in Antalya (Turkey), he conducts an everyday show, followed by the pro-government media, taking every opportunity to present himself as a savior. In presence of TV camera crews he keeps commanding officials to provide relief services.
In the analysis for CIVIL, the political analyst Dr. Saso Ordanoski states that in such crises, when citizens face horrible disasters due to inefficiency of the system, that there has to be accountability from the government.
And while activists are struggling with the ruins and the mud, and are helping in clearing the terrain, the parliamentary group of SDSM proposed an extraordinary parliamentary session. And, there, the comments of the ruling party's MPs was that demanding accountability at this moment is “irresponsible and uncivilized”. It was only after the eighth day following the floods that the Parliament held a session and adopted relief measures. The public, on the other hand, is rightfully criticizing politicians that they are competing for political scores, at the expense of the victims’ tragedy.
The relief efforts of VMRO-DPMNE have party colors, citizens demand a stop to the government farce
Citizen activists on the social networks intervened immediately, right after the fllods took place. They've got organized and have begun collecting humanitarian aid, donating and distributing water, food, hygiene items, clothes… But, in conditions of a paralyzed and politicized system, the assistance cannot be fully successful. People are starving and are getting sick. A woman was poisoned and was urgently hospitalized, while many families complain that they still have not received any help.
In attempts to “rescue its reputation, battered by the inefficient fellow party colleagues who are officials in relevant state institutions”, VMRO-DPMNE has now ordered all officials, horizontally and vertically, whether they like it or not, to donate 30% of their salaries as humanitarian aid. And if the state led by VMRO-DPMNE fails, then the strong party machinery of VMRO-DPMNE demonstrating its quasi-solidarity will not fail, because they are aware that they need to gather electoral votes. Citizen activists accuse that now even the humanitarian packages have a party color. In the meanwhile, citizens demand a fair distribution of donations, and a stop to party discrimination. Many citizens, and even government and party activists, say that the only cure for them and the state is VMRO–DPMNE and DUI to leave government. They do not hide anymore that their leaders have been promising projects in these very rural areas for years. Apart of promises nothing happened; they are now drowning in mud. Some of these people have been left without a roof, and with no means for survival at all, as a result of the lack of quality infrastructure and clogged river beds and channels.
SPO struggles for media regulation as well
The Association of journalists of Macedonia welcomed the decision of the Special Prosecutor’s Office to demand from the Basic Public Prosecution for dealing with organized crime and corruption to take over the case of journalist Zoran Bozinovski, who in custody as of April is, on suspicion of committed three crimes, in the case "Spy".
Macedonia is ranked at the 118th place according to media freedom in this year’s report of the organization “Reporters without a border”, coming behind Zambia, Nigeria, Congo and Qatar. In the elaboration of the report, it states that slander had been removed from the Criminal Code in 2012, but that charges had been replaced with civil lawsuits, with possibilities for high penalties and creating conditions for imprisonment of journalists and media owners.
Minimum regulations in the media sphere prior to the elections, should be brought by the ad-hoc body and chief editor of MRT, although experts have doubts in this effort of the four parties signatory to the Przino Agreement. This doubt is asserted with the current government occupation of the media sphere, at all levels. Even in smaller communities, media editors write, create and manage the websites of the municipalities.
The SEC does not provide information on revision of the Voters Register
The parties demand and announce elections, while the State Election Commission (SEC) remains “deaf” to the insisting for civil society organizations and the public to receive relevant information on the situation with the Voters Register. Only 4.400 citizens of the list of 39.502 controversial voters have registered until now in the SEC. but, what about the others? Who will guarantee that all “phantoms” will be cleared from the list, when reactions just do not stop – is just one of the open issues.
Macedonia, 15 years after the Ohrid Agreement
On September 8, we will mark 25 years of independence, whereby on August 13 we marked 15 years since the signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. The Agreement was not only supposed to put an end to the war conflict, but was also supposed to be a foundation for interethnic cohabitation in Macedonia. Unfortunately, even after a decade and half, citizens are still struggling for basic human rights.
Will there be an agreement for an election date and a new transitional government?
There are two more weeks remaining until the announced meeting on August 31, when it is expected for the leading four parties VMRO-DPMNE, SDSM, DUI and DPA to set the date for early parliamentary elections and for forming a transitional government. For the EU and the US, it is important for conditions to be created for credible elections, which should be provided by a transitional government.
In the absence of reforms, both at the institutional and inner-party level, the state, which seems to have “disappeared in the floods”, with unfinished cases and obstructions in the work of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, in which Gruevski and his closest associates are the main actors, with media whose owners are government vassals, with a Voters Register that is not very promising, leaves Macedonia facing a deep uncertainty.
By: Мonika Таleska
This post is also available in: Macedonian