The Undecided Voters

Political Caricatures

By L.E. Pep

There are claims that undecided voters presently make up some 50% of the total electorate. They have not yet decided for whom to cast their vote or which party they’ll be backing on Election Day. They are sitting on the sidelines and listening attentively to the electoral promises of the different parties. Some do not even know if they will be voting at all. Many are turned off by the present personal attacks being posted on social media platforms and in online papers, which are pushing to the background the issues that ought to be debated. But there are also many voters who aren’t happy with the status quo and do not as yet see a convincing alternative, thus the likelihood that they may not cast their votes at all.

A middle-age voter argues that “I will abstain. Candidates have a double language. Politicians sell dreams and we fall into the trap. Once elected, they will not do anything for us…” On the other hand, a youngster affirms that “I will not vote. The politicians are all the same. On the eve of the elections, they promise us wonders. But the beautiful words are only wind. That’s why I will not vote. No party seems to me willing to provide the real needs of society and of young people.”

And many are uncertain about which leader is the best candidate for the prime ministerial post.

But the fact is: if you don’t vote, your reality is being written for you. Whether it’s about pensions for senior citizens or youth unemployment, the drug issue, the environment, or the economy, chances are there’s something that matters most to you right now. Check the party manifestos, listen to some of the leaders and read or discuss with some of your friends on what is happening in Mauritian politics and the choices in front of you. Then, just get out and vote.

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Legislative 2019: Lalit wants fair treatment from the media

The Lalit party wrote to private radios and MBC management to demand more discernment in the time allotted to the different political parties during the election campaign. While recognizing that there are a number of parties in these elections and that it is difficult to cover everyone, Lalit has provided some guidelines to help media people in the allotment of time to political parties.

Lalit has already published its 56-page programme for the elections, unlike the other parties. The party is also known for having always fought against the Best Loser System. It has also proved over the years that it is not a sectarian, ethno-religious or communal party. On this basis, the party can claim for appropriate airtime for these elections, it says. Lindsey Collen wants these criteria to be made public by private radios and the MBC so that all the parties are informed.

Finally, while recognizing that the print media does not operate under state supervision, Lindsey Collen invites journalists to show ‘more transparency and balanced reporting’ in their political coverage.

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Legislative 2019: XLD confident in the reassuring solidity of Alliance Nationale

“One of the reasons we have worked out an alliance with the Labour Party is the reassuring reliability of the alliance that will last for its 5 years,” said Xavier-Luc Duval, PMSD leader, at a meeting at Constituency No. 18 on Monday, October 21.

For the PMSD leader, one of the major problems in the country is housing. This is one of his priorities once in power. On the old age pension, which has become one of the most contested electoral issues, the Alliance Nationale will be announcing a consequent increase in the coming days, with the release of the party’s election programme. He has shown his concern for the ravages of drug abuse and has promised the setting up of real rehabilitation centres for drug addicts and tougher penalties for traffickers.

Arvin Boolell, for his part, said the sewage problem is also a priority for the next government while Rama Sithanen laid emphasis on job creation, which according to him is ‘one of the biggest failures of the government’.

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Leak of Ramgoolam’s bank documents: ICAC comes out of its slumber

‘These documents do not emanate from the ICAC,’ the anti-corruption commission said in a statement on Monday October 21st. It was reacting to the leak of bank documents that belong to the Labour Party leader Navin Ramgoolam, who denied their authenticity.

In its statement, the anti-corruption commission claims to have conducted an internal investigation, which reached the ‘irrefutable’ conclusion that the documents made public do not come from its offices. The Commission ensures that its investigations are ‘governed by a process of strict confidentiality’.

The MSM-ML has systematically undermined the independence and credibility of our institutions, by putting blatantly partisan people at the head of some of our key institutions, who have behaved as outright political agents. We trust that ICAC does not nor will it “get figir” when conducting such inquiries. Our country’s reputation as a law-abiding jurisdiction is at stake.

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Michel Chiffone (ReA): « The outgoing government has wrecked our democracy »

‘The outgoing government has wrecked our democracy,’ said Michel Chiffone, expressing his anger after his candidacy was rejected when he registered for the general election on Tuesday, October 22.

The Rezistans ek Alternativ activist encourages young people to sanction the government of Pravind Jugnauth by voting against them.

Like him, other members of ReA were snubbed by the Electoral Commission for refusing to declare their community belonging which is mandatory for any potential candidate the general elections.

Ashok Subron, David Sauvage and Michel Chiffonne are, for now, the only ones to have suffered this fate.

‘This is a serious day for democracy,’ said David Sauvage.

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No new EIA licenses without the ESA bill

The NGO, Eco-Sud, has presented its electoral manifesto to the public. It revolves around the need for politicians to come forward with a new version of an Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) Bill. In this context, a debate will be organised on 31st October with the leaders of the different political parties.

Sebastien Sauvage, one the leaders of the NGO, would like to see politicians taking the commitment to protect our ecosystem. He points out that the civil society is a signatory to this manifesto which calls for the protection of our environment because Mauritius has been designated as the country with the World’s Highest Risk Index in Africa.

Currently, 90% of mangroves are being destroyed; we use two kilograms of pesticides per person per year. According to Statistics Mauritius, 6.6% more pesticides have been imported during the last 20 years, the bat population has decreased by 80%, there is a lack of oxygen in our lagoons, 14% of our wetlands are affected and 60% fragmented, our level of urbanization is 36 times higher than the world average and only 4.2% of our endemic forests are left. Many sensitive areas are privatized and are being threatened with extinction due to real estate development projects.

Every political party has been asked to sign the manifesto and to commit itself to protecting our ecosystem. In the meantime, no new EIA license should be issued for projects that are close to the ESAs. To this day, several organizations have signed the electoral manifesto of Eco-Sud, states Sebastien Sauvage. Among these are the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society, Syndicat des Pécheurs, Aret Kokin Nu Laplaz, and the General Workers Federation. “The manifesto will be available on our website and we are requesting our citizens to support it,” he says. The debate to be organized on October 31 will focus on the management of coastal resources.

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Falling back into poverty: Increasing risks ahead

Joe Lesjongard believes that the outgoing government has shown the way to achieve the goals set by the World Bank, which consist, among other things, in eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 with the introduction of several socialist measures. For the outgoing MSM MP, measures such as the minimum wage, the Negative Income Tax and the increase of the old-age pension show that Pravind Jugnauth is a humanist and socialist.

But others were quick to point out that workers are paying a high price for the increase in minimum wage. It has led to increasing risks for workers losing their jobs as the rising labour costs have, to some extent, undermined the international competitive advantage of the textile industry which experienced a high negative growth of -6.8 in 2018 and is expected to continue declining by -1.4% in 2019. Job losses in the “Wearing Apparel” sector amounted to 3870 jobs between June 2018 and June 2019. In 2018, some 15 firms closed down and the wearing apparel enterprises registered 2487 jobs losses. Workers are indeed paying a huge price for the government’s version of humanist and socialist policies.

The promises of generous old-age pension increases are not sustainable given the already high level of debt and budget deficit. Government will have no choice but to cut down on other social programmes and priority expenditures, increase the VAT rate and may even have to further depreciate the rupee. All these forceful measures will undeniably impact the purchasing power of workers. And very soon they will come to realise that the so-called humanist and socialist promises were just overblown bags of wind and that the consequences of such economic irresponsibility are finally borne by the workers themselves.

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Quote: John Bellamy Forster, environmental sociologist

“In terms of coral reefs and all the dangers to the ecosystems, Mauritius is one of the countries most at risk.”


* Published in print edition on 25 October 2019

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