Quotas for women

Points to Ponder

By Lex

A First Point: Every year we hear our politicians waxing eloquent about the unfair treatment meted out to our better halves otherwise known as the weaker sex or the women as opposed to the men.  

The talking goes on for a week or so when our politicians solemnly say that the lot of the weaker sex should be improved, such a percentage of seats should be reserved for women in different spheres and such other stuff. After that crucial week, it is business as usual and the politicians are satisfied for having raised the issues and let them simmer till next year.

And the women, especially those who attend the various meetings, go back home satisfied.

Some women who are of the virago type, who want to take the place of their men folk, do not understand the psyche of normal women nor of normal men for that matter. Nothing should be forced on women nor should men be made to do whatever is contrary to their nature — at the end of the day, both would be miserable in life. Let things move on slowly, at their own pace, and progress in life will for sure come at the right time.

Paul Bérenger has said that the MMM has now decided that one third of the members in its central committee should be female members. Why one third and not fifty per cent? It would be fairer to the women in the party to have an equal number of members with the men. Is this how the MMM treats its women members? Because the Labour Party has decided nine years ago that it reserves thirty per cent of the seats in its executive committee for women the MMM will now be the copy cat?

The Labour Party has amended its constitution nine years ago to provide for a third of the executive members to be women. Do we feel any difference? Or rather, do the women feel any difference?

Let me ask a very pertinent question to the leaders of all the political parties. Who are the members of the respective parties who have no respect for their wives to start with and then for other women? I have been told that many politicians have no respect for their wives but yet they are in the forefront when the question of promoting the cause of women is being discussed.

I am not judging those “macho” men, maybe they have their reasons to treat their wives as they do. I remember one Member of Parliament saying with all seriousness that his religion allows a husband to beat his wife, provided he does not beat her in and around her face. He is entitled to “correct” her with a stick. So he said in the National Assembly.

And then I have read that among some Chinese, if the husband does not beat his wife, this is taken to mean that the husband does not love his wife. I do not know whether such a custom still prevails.

Maybe the Mauritian politicians have some unknown custom that allows them not to love their wives. I am mentioning politicians because they are the persons who are supposed to set the good example.

Seriously, the quota system would not do any good to either the women or to the men. Let the best person do the job. If more women are better suited to do politics than men, then so be it. Imposing a quota system is simply dividing society where division should not exist. If some men want to do the wifely duties at home and the wives impose on their husbands that they should look at the outside manly duties, this is a matter between the husbands and the wives, but do not impose this on every male and female for that matter. Nature will not tolerate this system. 

Party politics and communalism 

A Second Point: Everybody, from foreigners to most of our own citizens, tend to agree that we live in a democratic set-up where the electors are called upon to exercise their democratic right to choose a government of their choice. The elections are conducted in a free and fair manner and the reports of the international observers of elections can bear witness to this fact.

But some local politicians, those who cannot get elected or whose parties cannot win a majority of seats in Parliament cry foul every time that they lose against the Labour Party and its allies. Their complaint? They say that the Prime Minister stays year in year out.

Democracy dictates that the party that wins more than 50 percent of the seats at a general election has the right to form the government. And the leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister. What is there to criticize in this formula? If you believe in democracy, you have to accept the verdict as decided by the electorate.

But those people who are against the Labour Party say they do not want Navin Ramgoolam as the Prime Minister, the want somebody else to take up that post. But the Labour Party chooses him to be the leader, who are they to dictate to the Labour Party that they should choose somebody else?

And then they talk about communalism, implying that the Labour Party wins the general election because it would practise communal politics. According to those same people, the MMM does not practice communalism, nor do those who vote for that party! And they want to replace the actual Prime Minister with somebody of their choice! And who would that be? Apparently, Paul Bérenger. But that will only be possible if the MMM wins with a majority of seats. This is what democracy is about. I do hope they understand what I am writing about.

Before accusing the Labour Party and its followers of practising communalism they should look in their own midst first. They should start with the private sector; they should try to find out how workers are recruited and with what qualification and at what level. I think that it is time to ask the private sector to publish the names of all the recruits with their qualifications at all levels of appointment. I bet that those responsible will never dare publish such a list because communalism is rampant in their midst.

I am fed up of reading about communalism in the Labour Party, about the fact that the Prime Minister has been too long in the post and that he should make way for somebody else, maybe Paul Bérenger or Pravind Jugnauth or somebody else because they want some change. What prevents those supposed intellectuals to fight the next general election by forming a party of their own or joining a party that accepts them and their lopsided ideas, win the election and form the next government and do what they are talking about. Till then, they can only talk. But I ask myself whether they are courageous enough to join politics and fight the election as all good politicians. My friend Ramsewok is far better than they seem to be.

People have been talking a lot about proportional representation. The PR is the system that will make the majority become the minority, and those who are against the majority are working hard to bring in the system in our electoral laws. We know who they are. But first they should tell us where their system has met with success.

And those who want to diminish the importance of the minorities in our electoral system want to do away with the Best Loser system. But we want to preserve the importance of the minorities. Some people will never understand our history from the days when our ancestors came from far-off lands to make of Mauritius the land that it now is. Ask the foreigners what they think of Mauritius and how peace and good governance have brought it where it is. 

Creole at school 

A Third Point: It is good for some people that the Creole language is being introduced in our schools. But I still do not understand whether Creole language will be used as a support language to teach other languages, the science subjects or the social sciences, or whether it will be taught as a language proper.

If government chooses the first option, it will be of benefit to the pupils. If government goes for the second option, then I have a feeling that it is looking for trouble. Whatever the Minister of Education may say, there is still no standard form of writing the Creole language. Right from the days when Baissac wrote his book till now, all those who have written in the Creole language, have used a different method of writing. Even the Bible that has been translated in Creole recently has been written in a different way than other writings.

Dev Virahsawmy rightly has his method proper to himself. He has done a lot for the Creole language.

We cannot blame all the writers for not using a common, standard form because there has never been a standard form. What are we going to do with all those books written in the Creole language that now have acquired a historic and other values?

Is government ready to teach the teachers how to write correctly the language, then to ask the same teachers to write the text books which will be used in the different schools, keeping in mind that 90 percent of the words used in the Creole language are directly derived from the French language? Teaching the language, what would this lead to?

The other day, I was watching television and the programme was in the Creole language. The programme was being presented by a lady of the Creole community and members in the audience were also of the same sex. The person presenting the programme was speaking as if she would have preferred to use the French language. Those in the audience also acted in the same manner, as if they had difficulty with the Creole language. And I started wondering whether the persons for whose benefit the Minister of Education is introducing the language agree with him. To me the answer is clearly no, because the Creole population wants to progress in life. They say that those who want to impose the Creole language on their children do not themselves speak the Creole language at home, they prefer to speak in French. Even to their dogs they speak in French: “Médor couches toi” or “Médor viens ici”. Otherwise how can they keep those at the lower rungs of the social ladder in their place? They might lose theirs.

* Published in print edition on 18 March 2011

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