So what now? End of 2014 political circus started on the wrong foot with betrayal of the word given to an elderly statesman who was invited to leave the Château for a Remake 2000, then dumped like a vieille chaussette, as the French say (hardly acceptable in good old Mauritian culture!), with shameless on-again-off-again talks between the two Liders Maximos, King Lion, depicted as a shrewd strategist by political analysts, and King Shark, adulated grand homme forever by both disappointed and angry militants, if we go by the love letters published in the press by male followers to their idol! A bit embarrassing reading those male-to-male love letters and the culte de la personnalité that oozes from it. Better for the fellows to worship women folk; they dream of receiving tearful letters from the machistic lot!
Back to King Lion, the unbeatable strategist. Well, diehards toured villages and towns in a festive atmosphere, driving proudly around, horns blaring along roads decorated in red and purple, pumping fists into the air, giving everyone the thumbs-up hand gesture for victory. And what with their overwhelming numbers and a fleet of cars at their disposal, they were going to make a short work of E-day.
The trouble in press comments in the French language is the repetitive use of words like ‘autopsie’, ‘post-mortem’, and soon we will read ‘traversée du désert’, ‘porter la croix’ conveying typical cultural traits of the language together with the religious connotation that atheists define as a sordid fascination with suffering and death and the ‘sado-maso’ factor, which journalists had better spare the public of.
As islanders and descendants of cane field labourers, we are more attuned to metaphors relating to the sea and agriculture. The most popular metaphor and fatal, too, was used by the outgoing PM to the effect that he went fishing for a big shark with a most enticing bait must have been humiliating for MMM supporters, and shocking to his own followers who believe that there should be at least some decency and respect between election partners.
The PM was so confident in his popularity that he felt comfortable in taking Machiavel’s teachings to the extreme. Both leaders have gone beyond decency and self-respect. Big shark or not, sycophants and yes-men did not warn the PM that a storm had been brewing from afar and a wave of discontent was rolling forth to rock his boat. The public had no qualms about giving them a ‘baté bef’, a most unexpected thrashing which sent them to the ‘caro cane’.
To be fair, the overall economic performance during the last few years was comparatively not better nor worse than other emerging economies characterized by huge disparities between the few super rich and middle- and low-income categories. The economy has been kept afloat. If developed countries, mostly in the West, did not provide safety nets to their people in terms of unemployment benefits, family allowances and financial help to students, there would have been mass poverty and probably, revolutions in these countries. France, for instance, hands over 33% of its budget to social aid, which is a short-term solution, and keeps harassing the well-off with heavy taxes, which is also disastrous.
The harder the fall
But to come back to our Liders Maximos, they were both living in an ivory tower, blind and deaf to criticisms, cut off from the public, as if they owned the country and its people. Indecent salary hikes for MPs. Suspension of Parliament and long vacation for the elected representatives of the people at public expense. Never seen in the history of this country. The main grievance against the outgoing Leader of the Opposition is that he was simply not doing his job for the past few years. Opposition came mainly from the media, trade unions, smaller parties and the public.
Abusive use of TV to an extent never seen in this country, television fee tripled on electricity bill sans crier gare, absence of labour laws to protect the most vulnerable social categories, increasing national debt weighing heavily on the next generation, lack of transparency in governance, audit reports shelved away and so on.
No accountability to the public. The feudal and colonial mindset of overlordship, high-handedness and authoritarian rule seep through the project of the Second Republic project with a more powerful President. It just makes us think that there is a breed of politicians who not only like to be loved by the people but gradually, aim to be feared by them. Totally insecure. Just like Nero in the opening scene in Britannicus. Las de se faire aimer, il veut se faire craindre.
The downfall started with the publication of photos of a private party. Needless to say, Mauritius is not puritan America, but however, the public expects lofty standards of behaviour from those in whose hands they entrust the destiny of the country.
The public does not go along with the Sarkozy style of lavish spending, taste for luxury items, self-image built on Rolex watch and such like which the French call bling-bling, replicated in Mauritius at a time when we are lamenting a loss of values.
Add the list of alleged corruption cases and suspicious self-enrichment with culprits shamelessly smiling at the camera. How effective will the fight against corruption be is anybody’s guess, bearing in mind that the issue is a Herculean task in India where both the Congress and the BJP have a number of skeletons in their cupboards. So despite the no nonsense and ‘péna cata cata’ approach to governance of the present government, significant extra-parliamentary opposition is expected from responsible politicians hailing from small parties to keep an eye on the government, as Roshni Mooneeram stated.
Lindsay Collen, Jack Bizlall, Rajni Lallah, Alain Ah-vee, Sheila Bunwaree and others should be encouraged to run for municipal elections while preparing to jump on the national stage in the years ahead.
* Published in print edition on 19 December 2014