Editorial

Pressures for a Political Alliance 

One would have observed the amount of pressure being put in during recent days by part of the media to bring about a political alliance between Labour and the MMM for the next elections. Admittedly, the pressure would intensify the more the potential ally, i.e., Labour, would not be responding positively to solicitations. In fact, both the leaders of Labour and the MMM have admitted that there have been parleys to this effect. The demarche was preceded since some time by calls from some past MMM political leaders for such an alliance. This overall stance adopted by the concerned media and those leaders is tantamount to a tacit recognition that the MMM cannot make it if it goes alone to the next polls. The party must have lost its momentum due to various erratic courses adopted by its leadership in relation to its own members as well as in regard to its dealings with potential political partners or by failing to adopt the sharp opposition that several stuations demanded. The appeals being made also recognise that it is the wish of some backers of this party that it would be in their best interest to have such an alliance and that the MMM would do well to put itself in a position to share political power rather than stay out of it altogether.

This kind of canvassing makes sense if one recalls that the relevant media have since quite some time been targeting the MSM, marginalising its news coverage and, as far as possible, bringing it to the fore only in negative limelight. They have thus helped to burn the MMM’s boats for a possible alliance with the MSM, perhaps finding Pravind Jugnauth less accommodating than Navin Ramgoolam. There was barely any other choice left to them than to seek an alliance with Labour for the MMM after having pitched up to a crescendo every source of difference between the MSM and the MMM in the past months.

Against this background, any claim about political or social stability or inclusion of such or such a group in political power, when the MMM is part of the power equation, is mere chaff. Is there political instability or social instability because the MMM is not in the current political alliance? There is nothing of the sort. Are the components forming part of the ruling coalition creating instability within the alliance? They are behaving just like the MMM would have done had it been the alliance partner instead of the others: that is, they have been exerting influence to get certain advantages for friends and cronies while sticking to the general framework. Like governments in the past, they have awakened to the need to mark their direct presence vis-a-vis voters in the final lap before the elections as it has always been the case. They have held together for nearly 5 years now whereas the MMM in past coalitions was so overbearing that it could not stick together the course of the whole mandate.

It has been also argued by the same protagonists that an MMM-Labour alliance would be welcome as it would once and for all put behind the ethnic pattern of doing politics, contrary to what has been the case since 1967 at least. Really? Nothing of the sort was achieved with past similar alliances. The question to ask is: does not the force of the MMM rest on the principle of ethnic apartness? Will it not then continue to represent the ethnic caution for its voters even in a possible coalition with Labour? How will such a fractured polity make a genuine contribution to smoothing out the ethnic differences which generations of politicians have artfully cultivated and maintained to get to power?

The whole of this device could finally mean that there is a conditioning of the people’s mind being made to make them accept such an alliance. This also means that there are superior other interests at stake which could be satisfied if such a political alliance were to materialise. Another implication of the efforts being deployed in this connection is that the interested parties can hope to get certain advantages with a possible Labour-MMM alliance which they cannot secure if Navin Ramgoolam were not sharing the wheels of power with Paul Berenger. For example, once power is regained in such an alliance, it could be employed to shift back to the MMM some traditional past MMM supporters at Labour’s expense. The MMM has shown to the MSM what it is capable of when it comes to poaching away its so-called diehards.

The people should bear in mind how easy it is for politicians to make them believe that an apple is an orange or to make them fall in line with whatever decision the politicians and their friends take to perpetuate themselves in power. Most of them are easily manipulated and influenced by the greed for personal advancement. In this case, politicians may make them accept that both are fruits after all. People are gulled into accepting the most ludicrous of such propositions because most of them have been converted into what is called in our high imagery Creole language “rodere bouttes”. They have no edifying social objective to pursue which transcends their private seeking. Even highly regarded social institutions of the past have become victims of this mentality. If there is one point where our education system has disserved Mauritius fully, it is in failing to inculcate strong values to believe in firmly even if it comes to spurning temporary private benefits. We despair because, without re-introducing that strong sense of values, the clannish behaviour that has made ethnicity an unavoidable political cornerstone will not disappear from the scene.

Labour has contented itself merely to react each time canvassers have brought up lately the view that an imminent MMM-Labour alliance would be in the air. One can understand that political tactics both vis-a-vis the rank and file of the current alliance and vis-a-vis potential allies would make Labour give out a feeling to all concerned that any alliance is possible. This would weaken the bargaining power of one and all. It would also strengthen the hands of the party leaders in the matter of allocation of tickets for the next election.

But it also weakens the party’s outlook in the public. This kind of vacuum lends credence to the view that the current alliance in power would have been poorly stitched up or is made up of individuals less capable than what an alternative alliance could deliver. Certain or many of its members would be fit for being disposed of. In other words, the situation creates the impression that the better performers are lying outside the fold of the members of the government in power. The effect is to erode the team aspect of the members of the government even though it centralises all power in the party leader. The image of flimsiness of the government alliance thus projected by not denying firmly all the talk about a possible alternative alliance with the MMM helps to undermine cohesiveness of the government team.

If, on the other hand, it is in the interest of the private sector to get more by forging a different alliance, frankly, its appetite is too large, given all the advantages that have been conferred upon it during the past four and a half years. It should not take an even stronger insurance policy by trying to bring in the MMM as a caution; the government has delivered predictably more than what it could have hoped for. However, politics is also about the preservation of power for the party and giving as strong a personal grip as ever to the leader: we should therefore accept that the most unwieldy of alliances can be formed. The only losers will be the people.  

M.K.

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