From Crisis to Crisis

Editorial

Since practically the beginning of the year, events unfolding in national affairs and being laid bare in the public domain have forced the citizens to reflect upon the type of governance – which is a direct tributary of its political mode – that is being applied to the country’s affairs. The expected positive impact that was pledged afresh during the electoral campaign that led to the renewed victory of the incumbent regime has not materialised. On the contrary, it seems to have got even worse. Newer aberrations have found their way with those of the past, and have given rise to the rising concern that the country’s superior interests have now been relegated behind other lower priority pursuits.

The loss of a true sense of orientation has been with us for quite some time in years past. One example often cited is the ease with which the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the House of the previous LP government had jointly paralysed the House for a year, as they sought to negotiate a political arrangement which would have made them align for the next polls. That, however, now pales in comparison to what all has been happening since then to this day. The long list of endless affairs that started during the previous mandate and keep on happening to date has ingrained in the people’s mind the fear that the virus of favouritism and corruption appears to have so infiltrated the polity that it looks set to establish itself, Covid-like, as the ‘new normal’ way to proceed in running the affairs of the country.

It bears repeating that on this score, the record of ICAC leaves much to be desired. Indubitable testimony to this is its inexplicable turnaround in the MedPoint case. And there are other cases which have thrown a shadow of doubt on its will to effectively deal with corruption – namely the list of affairs where to date it is not known where its inquiries stand, such as the Dufry scandal (2015); the Alvaro Sobrinho scandal (2018); the Sugar Insurance Fund Board’s highly excessive overpayment of land v/s valuation scandal (2018); the Choomka affair (2017); the Yerrigadoo/Bet 365 scandal (2018); the Glen Agliotti affair (2019), etc.

All these pending inquiries highlight the absence of a credible and respected investigative agency capable of handling white collar crime independently of political proximity. We also need not recall either the absence of concrete results in many high-profile drug importation enquiries, nor the major cases where no inquiry has even been felt necessary (high-risk loans at the State Bank of Mauritius, or high-voltage financial losses of the national carrier) and the general absence of any prosecutions, still less sanctions, in all the aired high profile cases of white-collar crimes. We now seem to have hit rock bottom with the latest case relating to the death in suspicious circumstances of a political activist, which is now the subject of a judicial inquiry.

There is a bitter feeling that any means can be applied in the pursuit of mammon. We are not likely to be done any time soon dealing with the consequences of the Covid crisis. The last thing we needed is another crisis that can be as earth-shaking for the future of the country. Without prejudging the outcome of the judicial inquiry, the Kistnen case appears to belong to this category.

If there is no change in the mindset and the manner of running the country, only a miracle can save us from riding headlong towards a precipice. But miracles are figments of the imagination, so we are left with the only alternative of radically rethinking its future course to salvage the country. Will this happen?


* Published in print edition on 11 December 2020

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