Politics – A Dangerous Game

Points to Ponder


A FIRST POINT: Last week’s papers report that Ashock Jugnauth, the leader of the Union Nationale, which had been in an alliance with the MMM for some time, has decided to join the Labour Party-PMSD bloc to fight the next local government elections.

Why has the leader of the Union Nationale decided to give up his association with Paul Berenger? He has not revealed it publicly, but we can guess as to what may have happened. Paul Berenger must have thought it politically more profitable to rope in Sir Anerood — at the expense of Ashock Jugnauth — into an alliance with his MMM to ensure victory at the polls. But he seems to forget that it is Sir Anerood who will call the shots in the event that the MSM-MMM alliance were to win the next general elections. We must understand that the Sir Anerood of 2012 is not the same Anerood Jugnauth of 1982. He was then playing second fiddle to Paul Berenger, who in fact has always been, and still is, the real and sole leader of the MMM. History has taught Sir Anerood a long lesson and we can say “qui s’y frotte, s’y pique”.

Paul Berenger knows full well the relationship that binds Sir Anerood Jugnauth and Pravind Jugnauth as opposed to Askock Jugnauth and Sir Anerood Jugnauth. They are as bitter enemies today as they had been on good terms earlier, politically speaking, of course. We like to see members of one family sticking together, through thick and thin, but as far as Askock Jugnauth, on the one hand, and Sir Anerood Jugnauth and Pravind Jugnauth, on the other hand, are concerned, we are sorry to say that Paul Berenger has had a hand in driving a wedge between the two brothers and between the uncle and the nephew.

I do not know whether Ashock Jugnauth was driven out of the alliance with the MMM or whether he left of his own accord given that he was made to understand that the MSM was getting hitched to the MMM. However, this is a thing of the past and is neither here nor there. But we know Ashock to be a man of principles, and he chose to move away — from the MMM and the MSM, and from Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Pravind Jugnauth and Paul Berenger.

Just imagine how dangerous a game politics can be. It has separated brother from brother, uncle from nephew and friend from friend. But do we have to blame politics as such? Or should we blame the politicians who indulge in a game where the players do not understand the meaning of sincerity, friendship and, above all, of the relationship that should exist between relatives? Some say that politics is a very noble game when it is played according to the strict rules and the rules are observed.

I will just request readers to reflect on the following: are there some behind-the-scene moves to bring together the Labour Party-PMSD alliance and the MMM for the next general elections? Are things moving in the right direction between the MMM and the MSM? It would seem that things are not as they should be, especially after some MMM stalwarts have expressed their unhappiness with the MMM’s supposed leaders. Eventually, it seems that the MSM will be left in the lurch.

I do hope that Paul Berenger is back on his feet — now that the meeting is over and that he has been discharged from the clinic. Unfortunately, only third-rank members, namely Rajesh Bhagwan and Reza Uteem, represented the MMM at the MMM-MSM meeting.

Why pay high prices for oil?

A SECOND POINT: Are we consumers going to be saddled for long with high prices for our “essence et diesel” inspite of the fact that oil prices on the world market are going down at a faster rate than we thought? The price of crude oil has fallen by 30% between February and June in the United States. The price at the New York Mercantile Exchange, the price per barrel, was quoted at $78 for delivery in August – down from the February price of about $110 per barrel.

The economy of the United States is not growing, Europe is in a recession, the BRICS countries are not doing well as it was expected. A slow down or negative growth will imply less energy consumption and consequently lower oil prices.

Who has been gambling with the price of the oil that we import? Those persons who have been gambling must be made to account for their actions. How much money have we lost due to their ridiculous gambles? If their personal money would have been involved, would they still have gambled? Either they are good at their jobs or they are not. In the case of our oil, they have shown that they have been grossly incompetent. Are they still working at the State Trading Corporation or at Air Mauritius? When are these two organizations going to take appropriate disciplinary measures and punish those incompetent officers? Why are they still in post? They must be made to pay for the loss that the country has incurred.

But then what about the chairpersons and the members of the boards of these organisations? I am told that some of them are among the finest intellectuals in the country and I am sure that they can, if they so wish, put some order in the organization they serve. But do they have the guts to call the general manager or whatever person who is responsible, to order? I am sure they are not on the Board to satisfy the whims of the politicians or others who have nothing to do with the organization.

* * *

Squatters on State Lands

A THIRD POINT: We know that government controls a large part of the lands that forms the territory of Mauritius. As an example, we can mention that about over 75% of the lands in Rodrigues fall under government control. The other islands are totally, or should be, under State control and nobody can say that the lands belong to him, unless the government has given him a lease thereon or has exchanged or sold part of it, under special conditions. Some people are saying that some islands belong to them, I think the authorities must tell them that they have no rights whatsoever on those islands; the State has all the rights. The record must be set straight once for all.

We have a Ministry of Lands and it is for the minister to look after all the lands under government control. His technicians are mainly qualified land surveyors and they in turn have a small army of officers and others who help them to perform their tasks efficiently. They are also helped by Police Officers and the Court whenever the latter’s services are called upon.

How many persons are squatting on State lands as at present? It would appear that those persons who have the responsibility to control access to State lands are not doing their duty properly, and that is why we have so many squatters presently on State lands. Why is the minister not instructing all his officers to take the necessary measures to evict all squatters?

I know that there are some politicians, from all parties, who will try to impress upon the minister to adopt a soft approach vis-à-vis some squatters — because the latter happen to be “their people”. But is the minister man enough to withstand such pressure? Can he tell the politicians who are interfering in his work that he will do what he is mandated to do and that he will go according to what the law says? We have yet to be convinced that we have such a minister.

* Published in print edition on 29 June 2012

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