Over the past few years, the public has had occasion to reflect upon the quality of politics which has been applied in the running of the country. The perception, if not conclusion, is that it has not had the expected positive impact on national affairs.
External factors have certainly not favoured a more assertive outgoing of initiatives by the private sector. With the global economy performing at low key for so long now as a result of the pandemic, it stands to reason that new business opportunities cannot be easily spotted.
This situation is compounded by the fact that we have actually identified how to break away from the current economic gridlock – adding new economic activities to those we have by enhancing our comparative advantages, opening up more to other than our traditional markets, churning up local skills different from what we’ve been doing so far to better match demand with supply in changing global conditions, intensifying our international networking to increase and build upon our existing economic scope, etc. – without putting in place the first signs of the confident platform on which to do all this.
In the absence of concrete results, the public have started doubting the capacity of our politicians to live up to their expectations in all these respects which, after all, are spelt out by the political leaders themselves during their electoral campaigns and thereafter repeated on official occasions regularly. The more politicians have tried to rationalise poor decisions they’ve taken, the more this feeling has actually sunk in. The more they have fetched odd reasons to explain away things, the more it has eroded faith in their good intent and capabilities.
The more aberrations of the past have been repeated, the more people have doubted whether we’ll not keep seeing more of the bad things of the past… And wondered if the country’s superior interests will not ultimately be relegated behind other lower priority pursuits?
The public is “cautiously optimistic” that, given the parlous state of affairs, a politician may finally emerge from the ranks who might summon up control and real governance among the ruling politicians. Because, people feel, short of a “ressaisissement” from the power-game equation from which politics has been done so far, we’ll keep drifting away from our real social and economic objectives. Our key institutions will keep being “instrumentalised” for sheer political purposes.
Politicians in the “values” they now incarnate have become more important than the State the government of which they have been entrusted with. The earnest political establishment of years past which had seen us through in post-independence days suddenly became something of the past. Whims and caprices of individual politicians overtook the values sober political leaders of the earlier generation had incarnated.
We may perhaps take cynical comfort from the fact that, with the coming on the scene of unpredictable and temperamental politicians of the calibre of Donald Trump and several other right wingers in Europe, Mauritius would not be alone in having a high price to pay for electing politicians who don’t have “l’étoffe” to manage the country’s affairs more soberly and with a clearer sense of the direction in which to steer the country and the strategies need to reach there.
The basic issue remains how to encourage or facilitate the emergence of a new breed of political players who would genuinely have the people’s and the country larger interest at heart and engage themselves to fulfil this end. The imperative is still to change the way of doing politics, which has been promised so many times. How long more will we have to wait?
* Published in print edition on 27 October 2020