Political Games

A spate of negative events is back on the political screen. The Opposition is busy picking up on each one of them with a view, obviously, to undermine the credibility of the government. It began with events which took place in the aftermath of municipal elections at the Municipality of Vacoas-Phoenix last year.

The most recent has to do with a road accident in which the Attorney-General was involved in the town of Quatre Bornes the week before last in which, it is alleged, he would have assaulted the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident. In between, there have been issues relating to an investment undertaken by SICOM in the Cybercity, the flooding of Port Louis on February 13th and March 30th, an alleged sexual scandal involving a trainer and a minor student at the Mauritius Institute of Training and Development, a road accident in which a bus of the National Transport Corporation overturned, killing ten persons on board, and the proliferation of some Ponzi schemes whereby the promoters have swindled away significant sums of money from those who have been fooled.

The succession of events going along this trail has created a general perception that there may be more such things that the Opposition is likely to dig up in time to come. This may not be true but the perception has been created. Well, it is the job of the Opposition to make a hue and cry whenever there are problems around. The government’s job in such circumstances is to prevent a build-up of recriminations against potential shortcomings for which accusing fingers could eventually be pointed at it. This is because it pays a heavy price in terms of lost credibility whenever those it has put in charge to manage one portfolio or other proves to be inefficient and, at times, so inept that one would be led to wonder how the person in question may have come to occupy a position which he handles so clumsily. Yet, governments know all too well that it is poor strategy to make themselves more vulnerable by insisting on doing the very things which the Opposition will jump on to keep building up its own story about a certain perception of the government.

So, is the Opposition creating an indefectible strong image for itself by undermining the government on all those occasions? Nothing says so on the face of it. While the Opposition has found it easy to criticize, it has found it more difficult to formulate solid propositions of its own as to how it would take on the numerous challenges facing the country. Fault-finding may be useful for it to assert itself but it is not a sufficient reason for establishing the view that the Opposition could do better in the management of public affairs than what the government is currently doing. No one has an idea as to how the Opposition would steer differently and more effectively the affairs of state were it placed in a position of command. Does it have the required resources to look more deeply than the government into the problems confronting the country at present and, hence, break new grounds with infallible policy-making? It has not demonstrated anything of the sort. If it cannot tackle problems and propose the implementation of credible alternative solutions for the country, there is a risk that, if it is in power, it will attribute its lack of success to the failings of its predecessors, which is usually a hollow excuse for non-doing. For all we know, the Opposition team is fast ageing and still adept at political artifices which prevailed sometime in the past. It lacks the grit which convinces the people that it could overhaul the country’s weakness into strengths and opportunities.

The main political Opposition is made up of what is called the ‘Remake’. Its major component is the MMM. The MMM knows that its ally in the Remake, the MSM, cannot go it alone to the polls; a political alliance is essential for this party. It is the MMM therefore, that has the decision on the future of the MSM. This weakens the MSM vis-à-vis the MMM in public view even in alliance and despite the fact that the leader of the Remake is SAJ. This situation makes the MSM dependent on the ‘bonne volonté’ of the MMM to define itself vis-à-vis voters.

On its part, the MMM saw a major change in its leadership when Paul Bérenger had to cede the party leadership to Alan Ganoo due to his ill health. It is sheer truism to state that, deprived of Paul Bérenger, the MMM does not have the same public adherence and leadership dynamism as it used to have when Bérenger was actively leading the Opposition. Other long timers from the party do not carry conviction enough that they would be having a cohesive plan of work to renew the strength with which the party was operating when it was at its peak. There is a risk therefore that the energy and drive with which the MMM has been led so far will peter out in the foreseeable future in the absence of a self-administered ‘magic potion’. There is nothing to indicate anything of the sort at the moment.

In that case, the MMM will have choices to make about its future. It will have to decide whether to pursue its alliance with the MSM or, use an opportunity to repudiate this alliance so as to join hands with Labour. Before and after the elections of 2010, the MMM, even with Paul Bérenger at its helm, has tried to negotiate an alliance with Labour. Were the party to go on weakening in the future, it may have no alternative than to consider this choice again, dropping down the MSM as it has done in the past. The hammering of the government it is delivering at present may well turn out to be a ploy for forging an alliance with a government that would be finding itself confronted with weakness due to happenings the sort of which we have been seeing of late and which the Opposition has been cashing on so profusely. If that were to happen, voters would smell something of a ‘déjà vu’, a game that has been played time and again.


* Published in print edition on 17 May 2013

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