Doing politics more seriously

Politicians in the “values” they now incarnate had become more important than the State the government of which they had been entrusted with.

The earnest political establishment of years past which had seen us through in post-independence days suddenly became something of the past

Over the past 18 months, the public has had occasion to reflect upon the quality of politics applied to the country’s affairs. It has not had the expected positive impact on national affairs, to the point the PM himself has complained about the insufficient initiatives taken by the private sector to consolidate the economy on a stronger foundation.

External factors have certainly not favoured a more assertive outgoing of initiatives by the private sector. With the global economy performing at low key for long enough now since the crash of 2008, it stands to reason that new business opportunities cannot be easily spotted.

This situation is compounded by the fact that we have actually identified how to break away from the current economic gridlock – adding new economic activities to those we have by enhancing our comparative advantages, opening up more to other than our traditional markets, churning up local skills different from what we’ve been doing so far to better match demand with supply in changing global conditions, intensifying our international networking to increase and build upon our existing economic scope, etc. – without putting in place the first signs of the confident platform on which to do all this.

In the absence of concrete results, the public have started doubting the capacity of our politicians to live up to their expectations in all these respects. The more politicians have tried to rationalise poor decisions they’ve taken, the more this feeling has actually sunk in. The more they have fetched weird reasons to explain away things, the more it has eroded faith in their good intent and capabilities.

The more aberrations of the past have been repeated, the more people have doubted whether we’ll not keep seeing more of the bad things of the past? And that the country’s superior interests will not ultimately be relegated behind other lower priority pursuits? The uncertainty generated by these internal factors must have also weighed heavily on the private sector’s want of economic initiative.

This is the reason why the public is minded to see a departure from all the havoc done in past months with the coming of Pravind Jugnauth to the Ministry of Finance. It shows they are still hopeful the situation may be turned around to overcome the damage already done. This evaluation of the situation is without consideration of political gains the MSM and its allies could make in the process. It is grounded rather on the necessary repairs to be made to all the bad things which politicians have recently occasioned upon the economy and society.

The public is “cautiously optimistic” that, given the parlous state of affairs, a politician may finally emerge from the ranks of those in power who might summon up control and real governance among the ruling politicians. In this context, Pravind Jugnauth is seen as the last resort to instil a true sense of purpose and direction in government after so much misdirection of national affairs. Because, people feel, short of a “ressaisissement” from the power-game equation from which politics has been done so far, we’ll keep drifting away from both our real social and economic objectives. Our key institutions will keep being “instrumentalised” for sheer political purpose.

If it has come to this, the misdemeanours of certain of our ministers should not alone be to blame. The loss of a true sense of orientation has been with us for quite some time in years past. One example is the ease with which the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the House of the previous government had jointly paralysed the House for a year in the quest of a political arrangement from which to align themselves for the next polls.

The first 18 months may be considered a retaliation to the arbitrariness which had come to characterise the political establishment in past years. And a poorer continuation of the same within the setup of the new government inasmuch as its actions were directed – unwittingly perhaps – to sap fundamental confidence in the economy itself.

Politicians in the “values” they now incarnate had become more important than the State the government of which they had been entrusted with. The earnest political establishment of years past which had seen us through in post-independence days suddenly became something of the past. Whims and caprices of individual politicians overtook the values sober political leaders of the earlier generation had incarnated.

We may perhaps take comfort from the fact that, with the coming on the scene of unpredictable and temperamental politicians of the calibre of Donald Trump and several other right wingers in Europe, Mauritius would not be alone to have a high price to pay to politicians who don’t have “l’étoffe” to manage the country’s affairs more soberly and with wisdom enough. The imperative still is for us to steer clear of such immature manners of doing politics.

* Published in print edition on 10 June 2016

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