Yesterday’s admission by the government spokesman that the competent state services and officials made mistakes in managing the massive wildfires came straight on the heels of the PM’s own personal apology.

It is somewhat comforting that in an era characterised by facile criticism and the shifting of responsibility the government has “boldly and honestly” engaged in self-criticism.

For that self-criticism to be persuasive, however, it must be specific.

The errors to which the prime minister and the government spokesman referred must be analysed and those who committed them must be subjected to sanctions.

Naturally, this process cannot take place in the hour of battle. The citizenry will have to wait until the fires have been extinguished in order to be informed of what went wrong, in which areas evaluations of the situation were flawed, and which officials did not fulfil their duties.

As regards the disastrous wildfires of the last weeks, the government managed to successfully prevent the loss of human lives, in contrast to the deadly Mati wildfire in which about 100 people died three years ago.

Yet, that is not enough to characterise the performance of the state as successful.

What is needed now is not a settling of accounts between parties or for them to make gains on the political chessboard.

The paramount objective now is to ensure there will be fewer mistakes in managing the next crisis, and smaller disasters.

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