The second televised pre-election duel between Hristijan Mickoski and Zoran Zaev began with the opposition leader confronting Zaev with the exceptionally bad results of the Government in handling the coronavirus epidemic.
We hold all the dark records in deaths and in the infection rate and that is due to the fact that the Infectious Diseases Committee decided it prefers to deal with politics than with providing expert opinions, Mickoski told Zaev during the MRTV debate.
The Committee of experts, that was supposed to guide the Government’s response, decided to support the political interests of Zaev’s SDSM party, proposing that the restrictions were lifted at a time when Zaev demanded quick elections. This move coincided with the huge Second Wave of the epidemic. Later, an ethnic Albanian Committeee member publicly bragged that he got his colleagues to open the borders so that more ethnic Albanians from the diaspora could fly into the country and vote, electing more Albanian members of Parliament.
Neither Zaev nor his Healthcare Minister Filipce will be in a position to decide on public healthcare after July 15, Mickoski said.
VMRO-DPMNE was proposing to postpone the elections until August or September, hoping that the epidemic would be under control by then, but Zaev demanded elections as early as June, hoping that the initial rallying around the Government by the panicked citizens and the very low turnout will go to his advantage. Mickoski asked him how is it possible that SDSM wanted to postpone the elections, originally planned for April, because there were 20 to 30 patients diagnosed each day at the time, but insists it is safe to vote at a time when the number is well over a hundred new patients a day.
The opposition leader pointed to the numerous corruption scandals in the public healthcare system, where the key person, Zaev’s childhood friend Den Doncev, who lead the FZOM public healthcare fund, had to resign after being accused of racketeering a dialysis provider, and Minister Filipce was revealed to be building huge villas near Skopje in a joint venture with a major subcontractor for the Ministry.
Your legacy in the healthcare system will be all those murky procurement contracts you approved, Mickoski told Zaev.
Zaev responded that he is pushing for financial rewards for doctors who are fighting the virus. Mickoski replied that VMRO-DPMNE made that proposal early in the epidemic, and it was rejected, but is now being brought back in time for the elections.
In May you declared victory over the epidemic, and now we have triple digits of newly infected patients and last week we had the most deaths in one day – 15. You were predicting 2.000 infected overall. We now have 7.000, Mickoski told Zaev.