“When beggars die there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.”
— W Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
The African Business Leadership award of Outstanding Bank Governor award by the Panel of the African Leadership Magazine was conferred on Saturday 25th July 2015 at the Metropole Hilton in London upon one of the country’s intellectual leaders, Manou Bheenick, former Governor of the Bank of Mauritius. The citation for the award referred the variety of his brilliant academic, public service and high level Ministerial and Central Banking career. This new award comes on the back of that of African Central Banker of the Year some three years ago by the prestigious international financial magazine, The Banker.
Manou Bheenick received the London award of 25th July last in absentia, being under arrest in Mauritius for provisional charges yet to be proved in court and finding it too onerous to have to go through the maze of court and administrative processes to be allowed to travel out of Mauritius. It fell on Professor the Honourable Vishnu Persaud to accept the award on his behalf.
In the acceptance speech, the latter cited a statement by the venerable former President Obasango of Nigeria to the effect that “the most stultifying problem in Africa right now is leadership. It affects the lives of the majority of Africans from the cradle to the grave.’’
He also referred to the excellent past track record of Mauritius in the context of the contemplated “Africa Rising”. He mentioned how, “though a small state, Mauritius has been in the forefront of that rise. In terms of policy indicators and achievements such as inflation control, a business friendly environment, innovative policy changes, economic stability, economic restructuring, sound monetary policy, steady economic growth, and responsive policy changes in recent years of turmoil in the world economy, Mauritius has stayed the course and has come through excellently”.
In this context, he stated how the former Governor had contributed his own to this edifice: “Mr Bheenick has made a great contribution, through the Central Bank in terms of monetary policy, in being a fierce defender of the Bank’s independence, and through improved banking regulation and support for the burgeoning financial sector.” Adding that “a real intangible (contribution of Manou Bheenick) was his great contribution to economic thinking in the island and the level of economic discussion through Central Bank monetary policies and research, and his pronouncements through his many local and international lectures, and through his exposure of Mauritians to eminent thinkers from abroad, whom he invited to Mauritius”.
All this is borne out by facts, notwithstanding Manou Bheenick’s local detractors. The most telling remarks of Prof the Hon Vishnu Persaud at the acceptance ceremony was his concluding statement: the award “provide(s) not only recognition, but also that independent objective assessment, which provides balance, and keep(s) at bay distorted local judgements arising from politics and professional jealousies, which can become prevalent and sometimes reach despicable levels”.
This was another occasion for Manou Bheenick to shine internationally and, together with him, the country. Fate has it however that he decided not to go through the complicated tangles to secure his release for foreign travel but Professor Vishnu Persaud has done justice to the cause. A day will come when Mauritius will allow true leadership to manifest itself for the country’s greater good.
- Published in print edition on 31 July 2015