Whither now?

Despite the hope of order coming back in the ranks of the government with the return of Pravind Jugnauth to the Cabinet, the situation seems to be far from settled. Dissonance in one form or another has kept surfacing up. If it is not about Kailash Trilochun, the erstwhile legal counsel of ICTA, it is about the want of a firm control of diverse slippages on the part of certain members of the government. Persons like Showkutally Soodhun are always present to provide grist to the scandal-churning media mill.

One way or other, whatever little action the government has been doing to turn the situation in its favour is soon overwhelmed by other slippages. A couple of weeks back, there was the rumour of a political alliance in the making between the opposition MMM and the MSM, on the back of evident overtures made to Pravind Jugnauth by the MMM leader following the budget speech. The MMM had taken care to cast doubts on SAJ’s leadership qualities, thus helping to push Pravind Jugnauth to the forefront, in the teeth of reservations made previously about the lack of an outright public mandate for the latter to take the helm.

The MSM has now given the assurance to its coalition partner in government, the PMSD, that there is nothing of an MMM-MSM alliance in the offing. The PMSD feels no longer threatened about the said covert dealings of the MMM with Pravind Jugnauth. After this, the MMM now appears to have taken the cudgel against the MSM leader again, having failed in its attempt to secure a foothold on the government side or to destabilize the government coalition.

The assurance given to the PMSD must have dashed the MMM’s hope of introducing further disruption in an already self-dislocating government machinery, which has time on its hand to openly dispute the appointment of a press officer to one of its ministers. Nothing could have projected more openly the clash of personalities having taken form in the ranks of government members. This insalubrious situation drowns any hopes one could have entertained about the government’s determination to achieve even a few of its Vision 2030 goals.

As if it were necessary, this manner of trivialisation of the political process has clearly projected in public that political leaders put their own political survival above all other considerations. They thrive on the amount of discontent their adversaries arouse in the public. The Labour leader, Navin Ramgoolam, has been seen to be gathering sympathisers to his cause again after his severe defeat in the polls of 2014 against this background of petty politics being delivered by adversaries.

It is not that there would be a shortage of real national issues to address. There are plenty of them, beyond bringing “socio-culturals” to the front stage. The economic machinery is faced with what appears to be a daunting global situation. Remedies are taking time to be applied. Clear signs of distress in the social construct have been showing up. Drug merchants have been targeting the youth with synthetic drugs. There have been cases of deaths due to this. Delinquency has increased, sometimes involving violent deaths of victims of larceny. Unruly driving continues to claim victims of its own. While some of the public institutions are doing their best to contain all these aberrations, there is a feeling that no significant dent is being made to address issues which matter.

After going through a period of over one year when the government itself seemed to have become a disruptive element with regard to the economy, it appeared to have collected itself after the last budget. To no avail. The rampage has resumed, not only by distracting attention to something like the futile Bhadain-Sanspeur clash about Heritage City. If it is not Soodhun who is stealing the limelight for inconsequential matters, it is something as trivial as a minister’s choice of his press attaché. The worse may come if Mauritius is summoned to pay compensations for bad decisions taken against business without respect for due legal process.

No one needs a voluminous display of politicians’ egos as the way forward. Yet, this is what appears to be happening. Any focus on serious matters is thus being lost from time to time. Is this because those who are in charge are afraid of being asked to execute proper action to at least straighten out the economy? Is there an assumption that the public will trust the government team again, being short of a valid alternative to govern?

The current situation in which there appears to be no clear pragmatic orientation of the political factor is untenable. The world outside is too full of challenges to warrant complacency on our part.

Yet, when it should have been a matter-to-fact issue to address right at the beginning the foot-and-mouth disease that has affected cattle, much to the dismay of the public, an investigation is only now being set afoot to determine the negligence of duty by certain persons which would have allowed the disease to spread out over here for not having been stopped in Rodrigues where it first erupted, despite orders to this effect.

All these events show that the ship of state is badly needing to be steered back to stability at least. Various disruptive currents which have shifted its course without rhyme or reason hither and thither since early April last year needed to be stemmed. This did not happen. On the contrary, those who played havoc with it still have sway, as if forces within the government were being pitched against each other as the way forward.

A storm is gathering on the international front. We seem to be not conscious of it. The question arises if we will continue to have more than one captain to steer a disorderly course. If so, we’ll have no one but ourselves to blame for the sense of loss of orientation we are getting day after day.

M.K

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