System Lockdown

Editorial

Around this time last year, the whole world received a shock in the form of an unfurling epidemic originating from Wuhan in China, what has since come to be known as the Covid-19 pandemic. The Covid-19 is a deadly virus, having killed nearly two and a quarter million people worldwide to date out of the 103 million affected. With the new more contagious variants which have already spread to more than 60 countries, these numbers are likely to shoot up.

The other aspect of Covid-19 is the mystery about its exact origins, an accusing finger being pointed at China by several countries which have forced the WHO to send a delegation to Wuhan to address this issue. It is currently on site and the whole world is in expectation of the answer to the mystery of origins.

In Mauritius, in addition to that shock – the Covid pandemic – we have been subjected to other shocks as the year 2020 rolled out. The first one was the shipwreck of the Wakashio oil tanker off Mahebourg; the next one was our country being put of the FATF black list by the European Union; the third one the revelation that obscure companies and entities which had nothing to do with medical supplies being heavily involved at equally heavy cost to our national treasury in the emergency procurement of medical and health equipment needed for the pandemic; and the last one the series of deaths which information filtering out has shown to be related to the emergency procurement process, and to the electoral expenses in the No. 8 constituency during the general election of November 2019 allegedly in excess of the amount permitted by the law.

When the public started to ask answers about the Wakashio incident, there was a muted official response. After some time, this resulted in a massive street protest on the pattern of the Black Lives Matter or BLM movement that had shortly before occurred in the US. And to date, the country is no wiser about what went wrong to cause the shipwreck. Will the current officially commissioned enquiry under way provide the answer? We will have to wait.

In parallel, soon the few seemingly isolated deaths began to fall into a pattern more suggestive of murder than suicide. The breaking point was the discovery in a sugarcane field in Moka of the burnt corpse of Soopramanien Kistnen, an MSM agent of the Minister Yoginaden Swamynaden.

More such deaths have taken place since, and the crime branch of the Police has been under fire for what is perceived as either stalling or not properly investigating these deaths, but perhaps more damning, being in a hurry to announce them as suicide cases.

The investigations carried out by the team of lawyers calling themselves the Avengers, who have taken up the case of the widow of the victim, have uncovered incriminating evidence against such hasty conclusions. In a meeting at La Louise in Quatre Bornes during the weekend they have made a series a 22 revelations each one more damnable than the other, and have said that they will come up with more in due course.

On the other hand, on the official side, there is a worrying paucity of information. Little or none is forthcoming from the Police, which is allegedly not conducting the enquiries that are mandated, such as the one requisitioned by the Electoral Commission about the excessive electoral expenses. As a result the DPP’s office cannot press charges in case breach of the law is suspected.

Exasperated, the public can only conclude that the system is locked. This seriously affects further the credibility of Mauritius as a jurisdiction, tarnishing its image at a time when we need to pull out all socks to garner our dwindling financial resources with the economic battering we are reeling under from the Covid pandemic.

The other dimension to this disturbing evolving situation is the political one. The Avengers have allied with political groupings to give additional credibility to their fight for justice for the dead victims, of whom the Kanakiah case appears to be the next one emerging as a priority. But as well, they announce thereby their objective of leveraging this battle as one that will directly challenge the legitimacy of the current regime.

This is no doubt a serious contention. In the political life cycle of Mauritius, a new formation has appeared at approximately every 40 years. Can this new grouping constitute such a development? This remains to be seen. But the pressing business is to solve the mystery of these ‘suicide-murders’ – another parallel with the Covid pandemic whose origins are yet to be definitively established. Will the system be unlocked to provide the clues?


* Published in print edition on 2 February 2021

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