Mauritius Times – 60 Years Ago
The municipal elections are over. Labour has been returned with an overwhelming majority after one of the fiercest electoral battles this country has known. These elections teach us many lessons. At this stage when a new era opens at the Municipality of Port-Louis it will be fruitful to look back at the programmes of the two major political parties, their election tactics and analyse the results.
We should congratulate the Electoral Commissioner for his organisation on election day and after. We are convinced that the new system could be considerably improved but it should be admitted that the Electoral Commission did a very good job within the short time at its disposal. The Police deserves to be commended for the way they maintained order and tranquility. The public behaved in such a manner that no one would dare to call them immature and unruly.
The success of Labour
Labour has come out successful mainly because it has a solid programme to present to the electorate. The inhabitants of Port Louis have been for a long time promised everything and given nothing. The housing problem is as acute as it was ten years ago inspite of the fact that the government put about 5 million rupees at the disposal of the Municipality. The roads are a disgrace to the capital. The water supply is so inadequate that many people are tempted to ask themselves whether they are living in a civilized country. Labour has promised to look into these questions. The Labour candidates explained that programme in details and the people have given them a mandate to carry out that programme. It is up to them now not to lose that confidence.
The defeat of the Parti Mauricien
The Parti Mauricien owes its defeat to the absence of a concrete programme. Though the Parti Mauricien was presenting itself for the second time before the electorate yet the same men had been in power at the Municipality for a long time and were naturally expected to show results. This they could not do in a manner to convince the electorate. Their election tactics were disgusting. They proved what Mr Henri Latham Koening said a few days before the election: the Parti Mauricien has no programme for social and economic uplift and had been created because the Labour Party existed and had to be fought.
While Labour was busy telling the people what they were proposing to do and persuading people to vote in its favour, Labour’s opponents were indulging in mudslinging in a measure unknown before. Of course, those Labour candidates who were personally attacked reacted violently in their meetings. One candidate of the Parti Mauricien went so far as to threaten the electorate. Wives will become widows, children – orphans. Money was distributed lavishly. The Parti Mauricien invoked Hindu hegemony to frighten the non-Hindu electors. During their house to house visits, some Coloured candidates of the Parti Mauricien did not hesitate to tell the electors of the Coloured population that they should vote for Christian candidates. There were posters asking Christian electors to vote for Christians only. Those people forgot that voting for Christians only meant voting against the Muslim and Hindu candidates of the Parti Mauricien as well.
An agent was let loose in the streets of Port Louis on the eve of the elections with a statement signed by a ‘dynamic’ candidate of the Parti Mauricien insulting Dr Ramgoolam in the most vulgar manner. The verdict of the electorate has been hard but clear and unequivocal and the leaders of the Parti Mauricien should always remember it.
The defeat of Mr Mohamed
Mr A.R. Mohamed came out 25th. If one analyses the figures, one cannot but come to the inevitable conclusion that Mr Mohamed has been the victim of the anti-Indo-Mauritian element in the coloured and white sections of the population. When the votes of the Muslim candidates of the Parti Mauricien increased, there was an almost proportional increase in the votes of the Coloured and White candidates of the party. That proportional increase was not visible when, at certain points during the counting, the votes of some coloured candidates of the Labour Party and of all the coloured and white candidates of the Parti Mauriticen increased in a greater measure than the votes of the five Muslim and one Hindu candidates of the party of Mr Jules Koening. This proves that the Muslim community gave all it could to the Parti Mauricien but did not get what is should have got. There was a good number of plumpers in favour of the four White candidates and this no doubt helped the White community to achieve a 100% success.
Responsiblities and power
Labour is in power for the first time in the history of the Municipality of Port-Louis. The Labour Councillors have great responsibilities and how they would face these depend on unity in their ranks, good planning, hard work and a clean administration. There are rumours that the Municipality is bankrupt. They should not sit there and just do what the conditions obtaining there allow. They should let the public know what they have taken over and we suggest the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry to enquire into the financial position of the Municipality.
Labour councillors, go ahead!
You longed for power. You have got it. Go ahead with honesty of purpose and fortitude. You have the good wishes of the inhabitants of Port-Louis and they have confidence in you.
* Published in print edition on 23 November 2018