Points to Ponder
A First Point: Politics is not moving as intensely and as fast as we would have liked. The MSM is in organization mood. The leader of the party has cleared one sticking point concerning the leadership of the party. I was under the impression that Pravind Jugnauth had given up his post of leader in favour of Sir Anerood Jugnauth, the erstwhile leader, when the latter gave up his position of President of the Republic.
Now Pravind Jugnauth has cleared the air: Sir Anerood is staying away from the recruitment exercise of fresh members, especially those belonging to the minority sections of our population, which means to the exclusion of the majority section. Pravind Jugnauth says that Sir Anerood is the leader of the ‘Remake 2000’.
Paul Berenger is the leader of the MMM, that is clear. Pravind Jugnauth is the leader of the MSM, so we understand. And in between is to be found Sir Anerood Jugnauth. He is the leader of the ‘Remake 2000’, but he does not have a party to lead and therefore he cannot give any order or instruction to Paul Berenger or to Pravind Jugnauth, because each of these two leaders has his own party to listen to and to give whatever order he thinks fit depending on the circumstances.
This arrangement leaves Sir Anerood in a very difficult situation. How can a politician who stands alone, who does not have a party, claim to be the candidate of an alliance between two parties? He is a kind of stranger between these two leaders of the parties. There is something that is not clear, and I fail to understand the reasoning of these two supposedly experienced leaders, therefore I would request somebody to explain to me what is happening.
I do not also understand the political behaviour of Paul Berenger at the moment. He used to show a certain degree of political maturity in the past. I do not understand how he conceded 30 tickets out of 60 to an eventual ally. Why did he start talking politics with Navin Ramgoolam and put a temporary stop to the ‘Remake 2000’, sending jitters to the MSM? Is he serious about the ‘Remake 2000’ on the terms that have been disclosed, to start with Sir Anerood Jugnauth as the prime ministerial candidate and as the Prime Minister for at least for three years, in case they win the next general election and the MSM being given thirty tickets? Both the followers of the MMM and the MSM are anxious to have these questions answered.
The opinion of the ordinary Mauritian is different from that of the leaders of the MMM and the MSM. They say that both parties are taking the public for fools, trying to make them believe in what every child knows to be mere falsehood. At least for once they must tell us what is the real situation and then wait for the reaction of the public. Members of the public generally are more intelligent than what the politicians think, but I can say that they are far more intelligent than most of our politicians, all parties lumped together.
* * *
Of pension and compensation
A Second Point: Our citizens who are over sixty or sixty five years of age depend in some cases on their pension to live. The older they get the more expenses they need to incur especially in terms of medicine, care and the people who look after them. An old friend of mine paid me a visit and he had a sad story to tell.
He has worked hard during his entire working career and has retired on a good pension. He was leading a rather comfortable life, with five persons working for and with him. There is a part-time driver, a maid who looks after his household duties during week days and another during weekends, then there is one person who comes in the evenings everyday and he has a gardener. They are all part-time workers except for the maid. He pays all of them as much as he can and everybody is satisfied. Every year he gives the workers an increment and their end-of-year month.
He now says that it is not possible for him to continue employing all these persons and there is a very good reason for this. Every year, the Minister of Finance decrees the amount of compensation that everybody should be given. Unfortunately, those receiving above a certain sum were not given any compensation. But my friend says that he had to pay the compensation that was due to his part-time workers though he did not receive any compensation, according to the decree of the Minister of Finance.
He is out of pocket by over one thousand rupees. If he did not have to pay to his part-time workers, he would not have been out of pocket, though he would not have received any compensation. He is the loser on two scores. He wants me to put a question to the Minister of Finance. Is it fair and reasonable to continue giving compensation when my friend has been deprived of his compensation and also how is it possible for the Minister to explain this discriminatory treatment that is meted out to so many of our citizens? I would suggest that those who were deprived of their compensation should be reimbursed for the loss of last year and they must be given their due this year.
My friend is asking nothing more than what is due to him, to continue employing who are now working for him and also to allow him to continue leading the same kind of life as before. How can the Minister of Finance frustrate the expectation of those who have earned their pension by dint of hark work and their compensation to which they must be entitled as any pensioner?
I agree with the contention of my friend and I do think that he has a good case. Will the Minister of Finance listen to the voice of reason?
* * *
Legislation for thieves to compensate victims of praedial larceny
A Third Point: Praedial larceny is the theft of agricultural produce or livestock. It is generally admitted that such thefts are on the increase manifold. The thieves range from those who do not work or those who do not want to work and others who have a thieving streak, those who sell agricultural produce on a regular basis and who, instead of buying the produce that they sell from the producers, prefer buying it from the thieves.
A vegetable grower I know was happy to notice that his pumpkins were getting bigger and bigger. About fifty pumpkins were ready to be harvested and the planter thought that he would first perform the relevant puja before harvesting. Unfortunately, a few days before the event, thieves came to his field at night and they stole about twenty of his pumpkins, each weighing about thirty pounds.
The planter was feeling fed up with the whole business of planting, harvesting and selling what he had planted. The thieves should have come to his plantation in a van or some other means of transport to carry away those heavy pumpkins and they spent their time to pick the best of what they stole.
What can be done to check cases of praedial larceny? I have said it, and I repeat it here, that the system of punishment in all criminal cases should be reviewed as quickly as possible and in most cases the fine that is imposed should be increased several fold. And this is the job of the politicians. But would the politicians really try to bring down the number of praedial larceny cases, and for that matter, all criminal cases? I wonder. A prison sentence is looked upon as a moment to rest, to renew contacts and generally to have a good time.
Several accused parties found guilty are fined but they tell the Magistrate that they cannot pay and they are prepared to go to prison. Why? The reason is clear. This is not what a prison sentence is about. The treatment should be such that a person will never want to go to prison a second time, but here a prisoner goes in as if he is going to his father-in-law’s house, where he is given the choicest dishes together with other goodies, and his close relatives are given a pension.
We are talking of praedial larceny. On the administrative side, everything depends on the Commissioner of Police. So far as I know, there is no Policeman who has the experience of catching those who commit praedial larceny. Therefore the suggestion is that a unit be set up just to look after praedial larceny. Let the members of this unit be busy in all the places where vegetables and fruits are cultivated and where goats and fowl are raised. Such a measure will at least put a slow down the nefarious activities of those thieves.
Further, government should come up with legislation to compel the thieves to compensate the victims of larceny and other criminal offences. This should provide for compensation without going through a second case to be lodged by the victim. The conviction should be good enough for the thief to compensate the victim on an assessment by the Magistrate who hears the case. What does the Attorney General think of such measure? After all, he is the chief legal adviser of government.
* Published in print edition on 14 September 2012