Just being elected doesn’t mean one is a leader

By TP Saran

‘Some will become fiery backbenchers; others are doomed to obscurity or scandal,’ as a newspaper in England put it in a short article about the ‘new MPs to watch.’ This is following the general elections which were held there one day after those that took place in Mauritius and that returned Labour to power, in an alliance with the MSM. In England Labour lost, as is well known already. But, as the newspaper wrote further, ‘Labour’s consolation for its loss of power was an influx of new talent.’

Unfortunately for this country, we cannot say the same for any of the political parties present on the national scene, namely that there has been an influx of new talent, whether they lost or gained in the general elections. As patriots, we truly wish we could have said as much. However, we have no choice but to face the ugly realities that are occupying prime space and time in the media. What have been on flagrant display are innocence lost and an abysmal lack of mental and emotional maturity. That’s what happens when our compass, ethical and otherwise, is limited to the sub-Saharan or middle-eastern perspectives.

For days now the attention of the whole country has been morbidly drawn to what is reported as a scandal relating to the alleged sequestration of a minor girl. Over the years we have seen members of the National Assembly involved in drug and other scandals, and heard – alas — a number of backbenchers who were as fiery as their interventions in the Assembly were empty. They have since gone into obscurity.

But since this breed keeps reproducing itself many others too will no doubt rise and then go the same way, without having made a dent on national life by virtue of their presence in the Assembly. Good riddance, would sigh some others who are not necessarily any better.

We have a grave deficit of true leaders in this country, and from what we can judge there is absolutely no indication that the current ones are leader 3.0 versions. It is sheer folly to expect them to be 4.0, towards which one would have expected they would be grooming themselves. They are going back to being 1.0 primitives, and as a result the country is adrift on many fronts, with no clear sense of direction at the fore.

We did have some fine pre-1.0 leaders. They had a vision which was shared with the people at large. The present dispensations have not communicated any visions that we know or can speak of. What type of society they propose, what are the big challenges that they anticipate in the days to come, how they are going to take us to a brighter future that we can be proud of as Mauritians. Instead of a vision they have objectives based on narrow agendas of self-interest, and the pursuit of these agendas will not allow them to commit themselves to any ideal: since they will themselves not live up to it, better therefore play safe and remain silent, keep plotting and concocting machinations in the dark.

Further, a true leader sets himself moral standards that others would want to rise up to, besides being a living example of values and qualities that admirers would wish to emulate and be inspired by, such as honesty, compassion, intelligence, unostentatious living. Those who have the slightest expectations in this regard will be sorely disappointed.

Loud mouthing and demagoguery, amongst other vulgarities, have substituted for mature contributions: witness the hullabaloo about the AH1N1. The colossal ignorance exhibited was itself scandalous, and makes the average citizen despair for his country. People who had no notion, not to speak of knowledge, of the terms they were brandishing about made a pathetic caricature of themselves. They talked glibly about depistage, testing for the virus, treatment of the condition – and the more they opened their mouths the more absurd they sounded. But they thought they were being smart! Talk of intellectual limitation!

We are paying the price for choosing rule by mediocracy and salacious titles as part of our daily breakfast.

* Published in print edition on 30 July 2010

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