The dark series continues

The latest gaffe in the series: Showkutally Soodhun who would have uttered disparaging words about a section of the Mauritian community

— Editorial by M.K.

What is being projected on the national scene presently and since quite some time now is clearly a picture of a country bereft of a firm hand at the top, and becoming more and more directionless. No week passes by without one or several members of the governing alliance, as also of the opposition – though to a lesser extent: remember the highly condemnable words of Mamade Khodabaccus against the Speaker –,  behaving or acting in a manner that clearly amounts to breaches of ethical norms.

After the episodes involving the Rutnah, Yerrigadoos, Tarolahs, etc., have been played out to the disgust of the people – there are also the others within or close to the governing alliance who have been hauled up before the Commission of Inquiry on Drug Trafficking on suspicions of unethical conduct and alleged involvement with drug traffickers, the Prime Minister is now saddled with the latest gaffe in the series. It is about the Deputy Prime Minister Showkutally Soodhun who would have uttered disparaging words about a section of the Mauritian community in relation to the allotment of NHDC housing units in Quatre Bornes.

The video recorded comments of the DPM – also self-appointed roving ambassador of Mauritius to the Middle Eastern countries as well as Minister of Islamic Affairs in the present government – are now available for public viewing on social media platforms. As it could be expected, and rightly so, members of the opposition parties have come out forcefully against these totally condemnable outpourings of Hon Soodhun, and called for his immediate dismissal as Cabinet minister.

It serves no purpose to equate the histrionics of Hon Soodhun with the buffoonery of long-serving court jesters in the service of erstwhile kings; this chap who had earlier blurted out the threat of gunning down the leader of the opposition, seems to have no compulsions in overstepping the bounds of decency and respect for fellow citizens with his brazen comments made with impunity.

It therefore came as no surprise that following police inquiry in the matter of threat against the Leader of the Opposition, the Director of Public Prosecutions instituted criminal proceedings against Hon Soodhun before the Intermediate Court for outrage against a member of the National Assembly in breach of the Criminal Code – yet he is still in office.

Reacting to the latest incident involving Hon Soodhun, the Prime Minister has made known his decision to take whatever appropriate action would be necessary after a duly conducted police inquiry. While this may be perceived by the public to be an excessively legalistic approach, given that for much less Hon Dayal had been sanctioned and made to step down, the Prime Minister’s inability and his apparent disinclination to crack the whip against certain serial gaffers within the ranks of the MSM-ML alliance are bound to raise questions in the public’s mind.

In the meantime, the list of politicians who appear unable to uphold the highest standards in personal and political ethics and get embroiled in matters that call for exemplary sanction is getting longer by the day. Since our political system is based on the Westminster model, we may derive some sense from what is currently happening in the UK. Mrs Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has lost two ministers in a week – one, Sir Michael Fallon, for alleged sexual harassment 15 years ago! He apparently touched the knee of a female staff who was by his side at a dinner; the other, Mrs Priti Patel, ‘was pushed out after she embarrassed Ms May by holding a series of unofficial meetings with top Israeli politicians, without telling Downing Street’, while she was on a private holiday in Israel. These two incidents are serious, but not despicable as those involving our current bunch of politicians, which also happen to be very serious. A government frontbencher there has commented that ‘There is cumulative effect and there is a danger for the Prime Minister that she could be perceived as having lost control of events’.

One could say the same as regards the Prime Minister here, the danger of a perception that he may have lost control of events. There have been too many accumulations, and this applies in particular to DPM Soodhun. If nothing is done and the police enquiries drag on, this danger will go on increasing for, at the rate that such assaults on the moral atmosphere of the country are taking place, that latest one does not seem to be the last. The dark series in all likelihood will continue. Or, would the Prime Minister be contemplating a political solution before the next general elections for him to conduct the necessary purge within his party? That remains to be seen.


*  Published in print edition on 10 November 2017

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