Two reasons why a Labour-MMM coalition is vital… they say!
The die is cast. Navin Ramgoolam has decided on his best coalition for the next general elections. It is now time to reflect on the public moves made by some people and “une certaine presse” to force a Labour-MMM coalition down our throat, to draw lessons and to ensure that our nation keeps on track in the matter of progress, against all odds, maybe slowly but surely. The first reason in favour of the Labour-MMM coalition was for “linité national”. If I get it right some people in and/or around the MMM argue that the Labour Party represents the majority community and the MMM represents the minority communities and that the only way to forge “linité nasional” would be to get them together. And they said it very seriously, in a convincing tone and repeated it long enough to make sure we understood. I bet if this argument was from me, I would have been burnt down in one or the other of “une certaine presse” as “kominal”, or even better: “sekter”. But just because this argument emanates from these people, it is certainly not a communal argument. It is the obvious reality “lor terin”.
Well, the Mauritius Labour Party claims to be a national party and, as such, is representative of all Mauritians. I do not know of any squad at Guy Rozemont Square to filter specific profiles of Mauritians in and/or out. People are free to join hands with the MLP and contribute towards realizing its goals for the nation.
The election for independence in 1967 was a tough one. Gaëtan Duval played all his trump cards and came out with slogans that divided the nation on communal lines. Many chose to leave because they sincerely thought Mauritius had no prospects for them. I guess it may have also boosted up those who stayed to fight for a living in difficult conditions. However, Gaëtan Duval did come back and helped immensely to pull the country forward but could not pull back his followers, most of whom ultimately floated to the MMM.
Admittedly, the MMM does not want to be a sectarian party either. The party I knew chanted “enn sel lepep, enn sel nation” with conviction; indulged into scientific communalism in a sincere aim to ensure arithmetical representation of each group and in the 70s, pulled followers from across the island. But the successive moves of Paul Bérenger at each election to always put forward a Hindu having the “correct (caste) profile” as (puppet) prime ministerial material blatantly contradicts his readiness and/or willingness to be a leader for all Mauritians.
The State’s responsibility is to offer equal opportunities to ALL Mauritians. Since independence all schemes and decisions including free education, services under the welfare state, incubator plans, and free transport for students and senior citizens, etc., are meant to be inclusive. Some Mauritians organized themselves and used the opportunities constructively. Others, for various reasons including irrational and emotional ones, cannot harness all the opportunities offered. In some cases, it seems that they even refused the opportunities offered by the leadership for concrete empowerment. I am not sure I understand why. Some intellectuals claim it is a cultural problem rooted in history. If this is so, how can one blame any government? Beyond equal opportunities, through the National Empowerment Funds and the Corporate Social Responsibility, the nation has ungrudgingly supported many means of positive discrimination in favour of vulnerable groups and to alleviate absolute poverty. I feel it is very difficult to do much better even if some regular fine-tuning of objectives, procedures and methodology may be required.
Father Grégoire, from the US, doubts that this coalition may represent “linité national”. Thank God, “linité national” is not a commodity that any government may switch on and/or off. “Linité national” is the people’s deep aspiration. It promotes the best government that the country may aspire to. “Ask not what the country can do for you but what you can do for the country,” stated a famous US President. I only wish that all those who long for “linité national” would contribute towards its realization through the ballot box, and not through misleading headlines.
The second reason in favour of the Labour-MMM coalition was that they alone have the competences to manage the affairs of the country. Everybody else is either a “London Boy” or “enn pares” or “enn koronpi”. I am not in a position to provide an exhaustive list of terms used to discredit people. The MMM and “une certaine presse” use all their fire power to say, prove, demonstrate and illustrate that anyone who does not agree with their point of view, their reasoning, their decision or their interest is either “une bombe communale ambulant” or “enn limité intelektiel” or “enn kretin”. There are so many names they have called people in this country. There is “un certain mépris” in the tone and in the way they address people. Not all of us have been able to live through this “lynchage en public”. Some have quit, some have died, some no longer have the courage to fight, some have joined them again, some are dormant and will come out with books and biographies. Anerood Jugnauth said recently that he does not want his only son to live through what he has lived through. He said better be “in karo kann” than sustain that experience anew. He should know. He has been President of the MMM, then its first Prime Minister, then an opponent for years. He has also been in coalition with the MMM and was President of the Republic of Mauritius while Paul Bérenger was the Prime Minister.
I must say I was once tempted by the promises of the MMM. It may have been youth or peer groups or the newness of the experience or the press coverage. But the more I moved closer to the top, the more I felt it was just rhetoric. The way Anerood Jugnauth was treated in 1982/83 was the last straw. The MMM concept of having a Hindu as puppet Prime Minister and then use the second position in the hierarchy to pull things in any direction is not only against “linité national” but can hardly be proof of any extra competence. I said: “Plus jamais ça!”
Whatever they say, we have the competences too. Even if experts predicted doom and the so-called elites left, Mauritius has made tremendous progress as a nation since Independence; our resilience in the face of the international crisis has been acclaimed both in the region and at the international level and our propensity to sustain a democracy against all odds is evidence of our level of maturity.
Further, we treat people correctly. We agree to take on board all those who wish to contribute towards the common good. We agree to disagree when the need arises. We do make mistakes sometimes but we always take responsibility for them with humility, respect and tolerance.
We are humans. We can express and demonstrate solidarity. We can also endure difficult times, pull resources together, pray together and show persevere, discipline and rigueur to achieve our goals.
We can also recognize lies, bad faith, hypocrites, arrogance, “mentalité dominer”…and we do not like them.
Against all odds, this country has moved ahead steadily since Independence. Much has been done. Much more is yet to be done.
We are all for “linité national”, equal opportunities, equal rights, sustainability of our environment and the common good.
Together, we can do much more.