Urgent need to take the bull by the horns

The present government has run into the 10th month of its five-year mandate. Were it to collect itself and address the real work on its hands, it has quite some time to set the country on a far better course than the one it was drifting into just before the last elections.

It is unfortunate that, in its zeal to clean up and eliminate for good its political rivals, it has travelled far in a direction that was not warranted. It has targeted what it believed to be serious flaws in the country’s setup without going about this business advisedly. This is why it has brought in the wake of the actions it has undertaken a lot of casualties.

Jobs have been lost. The country’s reputation has suffered a serious blow by self-inflicted blows. Companies have been jolted up without prior consideration of what was the best way both to get rid of rubbish and to build up simultaneously a solid policy architecture for economic growth to peg itself on to. In a world that is losing confidence about the future almost every day, the government did not think it fit to build up that element of confidence over here so that business could proceed apace, at least on a couple of strong economic pillars to begin with.

Many institutions were ruffled up in the process. This included financial regulators who were publicly taken up to task for their alleged inefficiencies. Even the Mauritius Bar Council and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions were taken up in the storm that was let loose. Special Administrators appointed by the government itself were not spared being publicly flayed for their alleged failings, barely months after their appointment.

It doesn’t require too much insight to come to the conclusion that more damage has been wrought on the foundations of the economy than what – if anything – was being added to the economic edifice of the country. Sectors of economic activity that had been running out of steam did not find new openings being made for them. Investment stalled.

There is scope therefore to stop the wayward train that has seized the governing apparatus and to redirect energy to specific areas of activities which may actually take off and induce the good feel again. It is not too late for government to veer from its usual doings and proceed soberly towards more concrete action likely to regain public confidence.

While the Prime Minister was here, there were a few ‘dérapages’ by certain ministers seeking to justify decisions taken by them which were seen by the public as aberrations and essentially conflictual. For example, the police seized up an attorney on arrival at the airport apparently to frisk about freely in his documents in the quest allegedly for compromising materials he might be carrying that could help to indict the former Prime Minister and his close associates. This was gross transgression, which decent citizens interpreted as power having travelled too far in the direction of abuse.

When he was absent, more of the same has come about. The governmental team appears to be as unstitched together as before. Rivalries have been publicly displayed by individual ministers. Parliament has – when it resumed finally – not been calm and poised as it should have been. There have even been fights lately in Parliament despite government commanding a significant majority. It has appeared as if there are several levers of distinct power within the governing group, each one trying to outshine the other or to assume postures that are unbecoming of well-groomed parliamentarians.

The objective should clearly be to put a stop to all these elements of unnecessary arrogance, abuse, not knowing where exactly where one is headed for, incompetence of individual decision-makers and the sense of public denial all this has already been provoking on a large enough scale already. The climate of fear and arbitrariness that has come about deserves to be abated as soon as possible. The government would then have enough time on its hands to address firmly the real work it should have been going for.

Mauritius has had enough of throwing out one batch of politicians from power and replacing them by another. It would be something quite in favour of the country if, instead of indulging in this futile game of perpetual replacement of incumbents, we decided to shift the focus from all the futile aggressivity that has become the norm.

In this regard, the government could take a fresh look at its Programme, identify a few items of work that can be executed as platform for further growth and get on to it with the appropriate policies. We need to do only those things that are do-able in the current circumstances. That will mean some will have to move out of the limelight that they’ve kept occupying and leave it to others to do the concrete work of reconstruction for the good of the country.

It is quite important in this context that someone like the Prime Minister called all his troops to come under his unified command for the execution of work, miles away from all the rhetoric which has already wrought so much havoc whether it be in the field of jobs, the country’s good standing and the earnest with which those vested with the highest offices of the country were expected to conduct themselves.

  • Published in print edition on 9 October 2015

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