Harmonious Coexistence


Some recent events in the country and the way the authorities have reacted to them or failed to react, in particular to the disturbance at the Citadelle last Saturday in Port Louis – where a group of hooded persons forced their way past security and entered the hall, prevented a singer from performing a number they objected to, and ordered the audience to evacuate, should call into serious questioning the principle of rule-of-law. Irrespective of their political affiliations or communal belonging, if the citizens of this country do not feel protected by a uniform and strict application of the rule of law, then there will be little confidence left on which to do business in general and in the future prospect of harmonious coexistence that has allowed the country to grow and prosper.

We have seen the troubled background against which elections are usually held in so many places in Africa and elsewhere. In Haiti, mob violence has been a recurrent feature: departures from universal norms of good governance have been the rule rather than the exception. The consequent anarchy has compromised the country’s future and made it one of the poorest nations on earth – and the poorest in the western hemisphere. We are far from that situation in Mauritius, but our credentials as a rule-of-law country should not be allowed to be undermined by the absence of sound decisions by those who have been entrusted with the execution of official duties. There is a serious risk that any distraction from our main national concerns towards issues that may not be relevant to the local context, or imported from foreign shores, will result in a loss of focus on what really matters for the continued progress of the country. The law and order situation should therefore be impeccable and rigorously maintained.

It would be well to remember that research conducted in different societies afflicted by conflicts and tensions indicates that it takes only a small group of trouble makers to challenge the established order, and disturb or indeed to nullify all that has been laboriously built up by all citizens over several decades. Without going into alarmist conjectures, what happened at the Citadelle last week appears to form part of a persisting mindset of intolerance towards what is perceived to go counter to established beliefs in some quarters. The democratic right to free expression, as enshrined in our Constitution, must not be denied to any party, as long as this freedom is not stretched into a licence to say or do anything. Hence the need for a strict regulation so as to curb such a tendency. In the same breath, it would be appropriate to call upon the authorities to enforce vigilance over social media platforms that have a very far outreach, in a bid to prevent excess and provocation. All this forms part of the broader law and order situation that must at all times be secured. 

It bears repeating that there is a broad consensus among all our citizens that nobody wants a disturbance of the comfort of peaceful living that is allowing us to prepare for a safe and sound future for our children. We are a mature society that has come to accept that social harmony is an absolute must, and we realise that we sink or swim together – after all, we have nowhere else to go.

The opportunities for that kind of future are shaping up and neither the authorities should, nor the citizens will allow them to be undermined by forces based on prejudices and reflexes that belong to another age and time, and which have no place in our forward-looking scheme of things.


Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 27 October 2023

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