There is a parallel between the way events are rolling out in our country and in America. Though it’s nothing to be proud about either way. In 2016 Donald Trump came in as the new President with a bang of victory and he is soon to leave office after triggering a bang of violence on the Capitol, the citadel of democracy in his country. Inspired by him, a rowdy, armed crowd stormed in to disrupt what was, after all, still his own government in session to take a final call on the election results held in November. What has been deemed as sedition has nullified any whiff of good that he may have done, policy-wise, to his country during his four years in office. And he is likely to leave in ignominy, with the sword of Damocles called impeachment hanging over his head.
In November 2014 the local ruling dispensation was returned with a bang too, a landslide that took on an unfolding pandemic and achieved relative success in controlling it. It has ended 2020 with a different kind of bang, a negative one like Trump’s. And very loud too, with many rattling skeletons tumbling out of the procurement cupboards and mysterious deaths by violence. Louder still the military deployment at Port Louis for appearance in Court of a Minister for an alleged criminal offence.
Drowned in all this noise is whatever good the government may claim to have done to the people since its installation. As we start the year 2021, the murky and sordid details of several investigations that will be under way and the morbid accounts of what will be transpiring in the court cases will keep occupying media space. This is compounded by the lid on needed information that was being clamped in our own paler version of the temple of democracy which has now gone underground for three months. More darkness. Oh Transparency, where art thou?
Instead of fulfilling its due role of meeting the needs and expectations of the people, politics will be increasingly concerned with defending the indefensible as it tries to salvage the lost reputations of those that are savaging it, diverting its energies and resources away from attending to the issues of more immediate importance and relevance to the livelihood of the masses. The opposition will have no choice but to keep responding in kind so as not to be left behind and to mark its presence.
Jobs lost, swelling unemployment figures, industries shutting down, our receding international image, being on the European Union black list – will they get the serious attention and the thinking that they deserve so as to find the viable, short- and long-term solutions that they are crying for? There is real risk of loss of focus as we will continue to grapple with the problems that are being generated from within the ranks of government, which we could mercifully have been spared of.
If. If only instead of deviating from established procedures and abiding by sound governance principles those in power had continued to build up on the goodwill and trust they had been granted at the beginning of their mandate. Today they might have walked freely anywhere in the country with heads held high and without the need for a quasi-military shield to guard them from contact with the very people they go to beg for votes.
Continuing down this road forebodes the advent of another troubling year on the political and economic fronts, with a disintegrating social fabric, all of which threaten to take us to the rock bottom.
* Published in print edition on 12 January 2021