Rodrigues: Johnson Roussety’s harebrained politics 

By Lex

Points to Ponder

A First Point: Johnson Roussety is up to now the Chief Commissioner and he thinks that he is the Prime Minister of Rodrigues and that he has the same powers as the Prime Minister of Mauritius. He tries to impose his harebrained politics on the government and he expects that the government must abide with his pronouncement and wishes.

We are all concerned at what is happening in Rodrigues, often known as our tenth district. A move is now on to prepare that part of Mauritius to clamour for its independence. The move will be put in motion sooner than expected. And the persons who are responsible are some of our politicians who thought, wrongly, that they would give to Rodrigues some sort of self-government and all local politicians will be satisfied with that. Those politicians who acted on such an idea have to accept the blame that goes with it. Some people even think that some in the power hierarchy in the past knew what they were doing as their loyalties lies with some foreign country. 

His behaviour shows that he does not have the necessary political flair to occupy the post he is now occupying. He seems to be very angry that the Minister of Finance has not given him all the funds that he had asked. He has given vent to his anger by criticizing the government, and more especially the Minister of Finance as well as the Prime Minister.

Johnson Roussety is not the leader of his party. He is occupying the post of Chief Commissioner courtesy of the party, the Mouvement Rodriguais (MR) and of Nicholas Von Mally, the leader. The latter is one of the Members of Parliament for Rodrigues, and he is a Minister in the government having the responsibility for Rodrigues and for Fisheries. He has shown a good political flair so far; he has been doing his job quietly and more or less efficiently. He has the necessary political experience and I am sure that he must have spoken to the Chief Commissioner about this latter’s behaviour. And it seems that the Chief Commissioner does not want to listen to him. When somebody gets bigheaded and does not want to listen to the voice of reason, it means that the political end of such a person is near.

As I said some time ago, you cannot be in the government and in the opposition at the same time. It cannot be that Nicholas Von Mally is in the government and Johnson Roussety in the opposition. The leader of the party must choose where the party must be.

It seems that the leader has decided that the party is with the government and it will so remain for the time being, therefore Johnson Roussety cannot be in the party. He therefore has a choice to make, he can sit as an independent or he can form his own party with those who think like him, that is to be in the opposition. Or maybe he may join the existing opposition, that is also an option for him. It appears that only one Commissioner is in his favour but it seems that that also is one too many.

We know that Rodrigues cannot exist as an independent country; it always has to be with some other country. Maybe some persons are thinking of attaching or re-attaching Rodrigues to France — you know the past always haunts you. Johnson Roussety has laid great emphasis on the Rodriguans being Creoles and that Rodrigues being itself a Creole country, as he said.

Those persons do not want Rodrigues to be a part of Mauritius but they would gladly hand it over to some foreign power. And some persons in Rodrigues have said that 90% of the people voted against the idea of independence for Mauritius.

This reminds me of the fear that was instilled in the minds of the Creoles immediately prior to independence, with the result that many of the Creoles, especially of the intellectual class, preferred to migrate to Australia and other countries rather live in a country controlled by the Asians, mostly of Indian descent. That prejudice is still there and they raise the alleged scare every now and then.

Let’s go for Stevia

A Second Point: I am quite sure that most Mauritians have heard of a plant going by the name of “Stevia”, a plant that comes from South America and is considered by the scientific community as being two to three hundred times sweeter than the ordinary cane sugar that all of us use on a daily basis. Cane sugar when used excessively is one of the causes of diabetes, a disease known as the Silent Killer.

Talk to any good medical doctor and he will confirm this fact. Furthermore, diabetes is an additional cause of blindness, amputation of the limbs and I do not know what other diseases. Do not take my opinion for granted, but ask rather what a good doctor thinks.

The plant Stevia with sweetness two to three hundred more sweet without the adverse effects of cane sugar or of corn syrup on diabetes is also zero calorie rated and it can control our high blood pressure as well. Why do we not cultivate Stevia for our use, especially that we rank first in the world concerning diabetes? It will be good for our patients as they will be able to eat as many sweet dishes as possible, prepared with such a sweetener, knowing that they are consuming Stevia and not the ordinary sugar or other sweeteners. It is well known that Mauritians eat more sweet dishes than other nations, except perhaps the South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, etc).

The Ministries of Health and of Agriculture must together come up with a plan to propagate the cultivation and use of Stevia. The Ministry of Agriculture must make available to every Mauritian, free of charge, or rather at minimal cost, plants or seeds of the plant Stevia, or the means through which the plant can be cultivated, and every Mauritian should be encouraged to grow the plant. This can be done everywhere, in the yard, in the back garden, on the balconies; it could also be grown on a large scale.

The duty of the Ministry of Health must be to come up with a policy whereby the diabetic patients will not only be told that ordinary sugar is a silent killer but also that they have an alternative sweetener that does not have the properties that will send them to their deaths sooner than expected.

When the sweetener extract of Stevia was analysed, it was found not only good for diabetic patients, it was found that it can also be used bring down high blood pressure, and those who suffer from overweight can use Stevia to bring down their weight. And it must not be forgotten that Stevia sweetners have so many other good qualities.

We know that the manufacturers of traditional sugars would be against this idea of giving up their money making business in favour of Stevia, because we would be hitting at their pocket especially, but government must think of the health of the population rather than the pockets of the sugar producers. People say that we do not produce enough sugar to satisfy the export market, so here is an opportunity to give satisfaction to those people overseas who relish our sugar.

Will the Ministers of Agriculture and of Health pay some attention to what we are suggesting concerning the health of our people and ways and means to wean them away from the ordinary sugar, especially in the case of all those in Mauritius suffering from diabetes, from high blood pressure and from obesity?

Spare the rod, spoil the boy

A Third Point: The results of the Certificate of Primary Education are out and there is a slight progress compared to the previous year in the performance of the pupils. I was expecting that girls would do slightly better than the boys, but that they have done so much better than the boys has come, to me at any rate, as a complete surprise. The gap between the boys and the girls is so wide that I wonder whether the boys are giving up their education. I am very glad for the girls and they deserve our best congratulations.

Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for the boys. I think the boys deserve the role that the girls have so far played in our society, that is they would have to be taught how to do all household duties, like house cleaning, cooking, doing the dishes, washing the clothes. The boys would not like this, but the parents are left with little choice.

On the other hand, the girls should be better prepared for a fruitful student life and should be encouraged and helped to pursue higher studies. The brother should see to it that the sister has everything required for her studies, prepare her breakfast and help their mother in all the household chores. In one generation, all husbands will become househusbands (instead of the traditional housewife), and the wives would be the main bread earners of the family. We shall then be moving into a full and real matriarchal society, not the so-called matriarchal societies that exist in some groups.

The wife will then order the husbands in every sphere and the husband will say, like a good and obedient husband, “Yes my dear, whatever you say. I am ready to obey your commands, however un-husband they may be. After all, I have pledged to be at all times at your beck and call. Your wishes shall be my command.” And the husband will in all humility ask the wife what he would prepare for dinner, and the wife will issue her instructions. And of course wives will be fully content with the situation.

To come back to a more serious vein, people blame the children for not studying hard enough in order to pass their examinations. Among the people who blame the children are the parents and the teachers. And they blame the “school”. Do they mean the school buildings or the area where the school is situated? Those who deserve the greatest blame for the poor performance of pupils are the parents and the teachers themselves.

So long as the parents will not take a serious and constant interest in the education of their children, they cannot expect the children themselves to show any real interest in education. The parents should be with the children and find what they are doing in school, and what their problems are, and they must also learn to trust the teachers. They must allow the teachers to punish the children who deserve punishment, and the parents should never go to the school and confront the teachers because the child has been given some form of punishment.

The teachers should do their best in the classroom, without any preference to any pupil based on any criteria like “les païens à l’arrière”. Any form of discrimination is disgusting and it should be banned from the schools.

And then teachers should not reserve part of their teaching duties to be completed in the course of the private tuition: they are employed to teach and to give private tuition at the expense of the State. They must complete the school syllabus in the classroom during official hours. Those pupils who want to take private tuition are then free to do so, but a pupil should never be put in the position where he cannot pass his examination without private tuition. This is against the ethics of normal teaching and those teachers who act in such a manner do not deserve to be in the teaching profession. And no teachers should ever force pupils, directly or indirectly, to take private tuition from him or her. Only those parents who feel that their children should take private tuition should approach the teacher. The teacher can help the parents about the performance of their children and let the parent decide.

If pupils do not do well, the blame should without doubt lie with the parents and the teachers. Both are to be blamed first and foremost. And in some cases, some pupils have some faults but these faults are because they are not punished when they should be. And here we cannot blame the teachers. We have to blame the authorities for banning punishment in schools. I wonder if the officers of the Ministry of Education have ever heard of the saying “spare the rod, spoil the child”. Without the collaboration of the teachers and the parents, we cannot expect any progress in the education sector.  

* Published in print edition on 23 December 2010

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