New Zealand is an enigma. It belongs to the rich Global North yet it’s near the east-southern tip of the globe! It’s a Western country yet it’s to the easternmost part of this earth! It’s a sovereign nation….or is it? Under the tutelage of the Queen of England, it’s a monarchy, right? Well, wrong! It’s a “Realm” comprising a number of islands. The difference, search me! Whatever oddities, however, who’d believe that it’s a country where a man can be hired by ten people to take their Covi-19 jabs and he actually comfortably tucks them in, in a single day? That’s exactly what happened early this December. The man went to ten different vaccination centres as ten people’s “jab-taker” for hire. About the effect on him, opinions are divided. And whether his sponsors will be identified, that’s for the birds. Now, consider that New Zealand is one of the most organised of Western governments. And that it’s widely praised for a very low infection rate. With a population of 5 million, it has reported 12,500 infections and just 46 deaths, this far. But with this incident, only one as it may be, isn’t the reliability of its statistics thrown into question? Can its claim of 89% of residents being fully vaccinated be relied upon? In Rwanda we may laugh but maybe it can happen to us, too, although I cannot imagine how. Here, it’d mean the man belongs to Isibo, the smallest administrative unit. Since it’s composed of not more than 20 households, its residents more or less know one another. If they don’t, the Isibo head knows most of them or, if not all, knows someone who knows that whom she/he doesn’t. Which means any recalcitrant member of the unit who’s likely to accept multiple punctures in his body on behalf of others for pay will have been known even before embarking on their enterprise! In this age of advanced technology, moreover, the whole Isibo membership will have a social media platform where they exchange all titbits of information. Which means there’ll be no escape for that rogue member of their unit and none for those jab-dodgers. With these sub-villages, villages, cells, sectors, districts, provinces up to the central government working as if in what I’d call unending inter-cyclic motion, I see no escape route for rascals. Besides, in a society where, however rich, you can freely borrow something you miss from a neighbour and vice versa, you are family and will fight any wrong together. Where, before the Covid-19 pandemic, you met in church, Umuganda, Ubudehe, et al, at all levels of interaction, none can play such tricks on society undetected even for a few hours. Is this country a Utopia? Far from it. Rwanda has its own share of miscreants, conmen/women, thieves, robbers, corrupt elements and embezzlers in government and in institutions. Everywhere there are different unsavoury characters alright, but this country is not ranked among the cleanest, most orderly, least corrupt, etc., for nothing. Those wayward elements, be they at local or national level, in government or in institutions, civil society or the private sector, wherever, all must be accountable; the citizenry is watching. The citizens are watching because government has earned their trust. They know the effort it puts in working with them to save their earnings, to spend it thriftily, to live in a safe atmosphere, to realise progress, to do everything transparently and together to work for their common good. That’s how strong leadership comes in: never tire in inculcating into fellow citizens the ethos of one for all, all for one. And this ethos necessarily demands and creates strong institutions, which must be safeguarded. So, a fig for the man who came breathing fire for Africa to ditch “strong men or else”. Well, the “else” didn’t see light of day because we knew that the “strong institutions” he advocated for are built by “strong men” and “strong women”. The latter whom he could not remember to mention because a “Ms President” seems to be an alien concept in USA, thus far. But I beg your indulgence, for I digress. My laboured effort is in the service of expressing how people who’ve worked hard to build their brand of democracy, not the ‘do-what-you-will’ democracy constantly being shoved down our throats, do not allow any malfeasance, of whatever type and however minor. In the name of transparency also, every shot-taker must be properly identified. Our democracy doesn’t mean freedom to abuse anybody/thing. It doesn’t mean going on rampage breaking things or getting unearned rights destined for others. We may have religious and other zealots who may reject vaccination but, for that, if you are likely to put someone else in danger when you catch the virus, you’ll not escape the long arm of the law. Ibid if you take more than your due share of shots and deprive others of theirs. Taxpayers’ money has been expended to buy vaccines for such a number of citizens. That exact number must get their allotted jabs, not sink into one man’s shoulder. Un point un trait!