A State of Malfunctions


In Dec 2019 the people had pinned their hope on the Pravind Jugnauth-led government to change course and reverse the trend that had marred the proper running of the country’s institutions.

But that was soon dashed in the wake of the appointments in different institutions of the country and which continue to this day. The same pattern is seen, despite the electoral assurances given from one election to another, for remedial changes and doing things differently. The renewed pledges for transparency, meritocracy and competence soon gave way to the old habits of appointing relatives, political sponsors, field agents and such others. The government has forged ahead regardless of protests from civil society, the press and opposition parties.

The same attitude continues to this day. The same story has been replayed in the series of scandals that have rocked the government since it came to office: its handling of the Wakashio oil spill, the St Louis Redevelopment Project, the disbursement of public funds by the Mauritius Investment Corporation Ltd, the dysfunctions in the National Assembly, the never-ending inquiries of its anti-corruption commission, the failure of investigative authorities to hold accountable those close to power, etc. The government presses on regardless of civil society protests and calls for the promised transparency in the functioning of the country’s institutions.

We will not prejudge nor speculate on the outcome of the further investigation called for by the Inquiring magistrate and the DPP into the death in mysterious circumstances of the former MSM activist Soopramanien Kistnen, which seems to be connected with the emergency procurements of medical equipments and drugs, or the investigations of the police into the cases of what appears to be serial suicides, etc. The Commissioner of Police had made known when he was heading the Force in a temporary capacity his determination to go to the bottom of these cases. Now that he has been appointed in a substantive capacity, we trust he’ll do what is required to reassure the population that law and order will be abided by one and all.

Thankfully the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Judiciary have more than once stepped in to uphold the Constitution and safeguard the country. The most recent example was the Supreme Court, in view of “glaring discrepancies” in vote tally sheets, ordering on an exceptional basis the recount prayed for in the electoral petition of Jenny Adebiro in Constituency No19 for elections that were held more than two years ago. If vote tally sheets in other petitions reveal such happenings elsewhere, and even without the further discrepancies observed at recount, we fail to understand how the Electoral Commissioner can continue opposing such recounts elsewhere or avoid giving his explanations in Court.

This can only reflect poorly on the state of malfunction of public sector institutions, even in matters that should have attracted earnest corrective actions as highlighted in the next editorial comment.

* * *

More disasters in our territorial waters

Even if we accept that neither the National Coast Guard, nor the Mauritius Port Authority, nor the echelons to the National security Adviser, nor the professional manning of our maritime radar surveillance system, nor the functional state of several helicopters and aircraft stationed at Plaisance were at fault in the wreckage of MV Wakashio and its oil-spill while authorities waited on various “expert advice”, even if all that were true, we would have expected an active inquest, a report tabled and recommendations to have been finalised for the more secure management of our territorial waters.

If such a report exists in some private quarters and ministries, we would suggest that it be made accessible to knowledgeable outside input from those who may enrich its scope and effectiveness. More importantly we expect the Minister to whom such responsibility has been ascribed to indicate what we have learned and what new protocols have been implemented given the disturbing fact that more than five beachings of trawlers and fishing vessels have been reported since that disaster, the last ones in Pointe aux Sables.

* Published in print edition on 25 February 2022

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