With great power comes great responsibility

Last week the editorial in this paper posed a query: ‘Are we losing our way?’

We are afraid that in fact the malady may be worse – in fact, we may well be losing our soul. Against the backdrop of an entanglement revolving around the Medpoint Hospital, with origins that are obscure but not difficult to plausibly surmise, day in day out we are being offered the spectacle of a quasi-fratricidal war which is being pursued with no holds barred.

It seems that the final outcome being sought is mortal blows that will result in mutual self-destruction. In the process, by focusing on the survival at all cost of the established leaderships, the interests of the common pool of voter base – and by extension of the country at large — has simply been forgotten, as the editorial pointed out.

What is very foreseeable if this mortal combat does not end is the destruction, along with it, of the common voter base. Into this void will march in the opposition. And the currently warring leaderships will be ejected to the carro canne for years to come. Since the future of sugarcane is itself on the wane, and what with a disintegrating voter base, they are not likely to surface again.

The editorial also posited that there were larger, more issue-based motivations that drove the agenda of the founding leaders of the political parties. It was these that set the basis for our take-off and nation-building in the earlier years of our struggle and our march towards independence. Inasmuch as the securing of power was needed to bring about the social, economic and governance transformations for the country’s inclusive development, the focus was not so much on power per se as on what positive changes that power could bring about for the betterment of the citizenry.

Barring the relatively few, consisting of essentially the large-holding plantocracy, the voter base that constituted the majority of the citizenry belonged to the low income strata who were struggling to make ends meet, to gain access to proper education and health care, to ensure a better future for themselves and their children at a time when the contours of such a future for their coming generations were completely blurred. That future, in fact, looked very bleak.

Looking beyond themselves, and in a bid to fulfil the basic aspirations of those who had confidently handed over to them the reins of the country, these leaders cast their nets wide to rope in men and women of goodwill as they geared the country to build competence through nascent institutions such as the University of Mauritius, the Mauritius Institute of Education and others, extending the range and type of banking services, among other things, and also engaging with friendly countries in these endeavours of construction of a newly-independent state. Over the years, all this helped to lift the sunken boats of the many who had trusted them to higher tidemarks.

Alas, that voter base looks set to regress by the way things have been happening in the recent past, which amounts to its betrayal by reneging on the foundational values and ideals that animated the leaders of old. The perception has been created that to get on in life one must hang around the political leadership, fawn on it and exhibit the trappings of closeness to power, and that such behaviours are a substitute for honest-to-goodness hard work and perseverance as used to be traditionally the case. By encouraging hangers on, gratifying rent-seekers, indulging in distractions and pursuing power for the sake of power, there has resulted a collective failure in consolidating whatever hard-earned gains that had been made by the voter base.

The issue is when will this warring end and the attention redirected where it should be, namely to the concerns of the voter base that, for a start, needs to see a strong, renewed leadership in place, and articulating a clear and inclusive projet de société?

Since the crux of the tug of war seems to be the price paid for the Medpoint Hospital, a solution must begin there, keeping in mind a few points:

  • Medpoint was up for sale;
  • The technical advice was not averse to acquiring it, although for non-geriatric use;
  • The equipment in it was not worth a dime, being obsolete;
  • The initial evaluation, which seemed quite reasonable, was for Rs75 million.

The way out is therefore for the government to get back the excess money (Rs 144 – 75 M), put it back into the Consolidated Fund, and get on with the project of making Medpoint a Cancer Hospital.

If we proceed in this manner, the country does not need to waste precious time and even more money on a Commission of Enquiry which will not come to any fruitful determination.

It’s time to get Medpoint off our backs and off the national screen, and get on with winning back through trust and demonstrable, sustained engagement with them the voter base that has been left adrift. It deserves more consideration and sincere commitment to its cause than has been on display, failing which there can only a lose-lose and not a win-win future for both the existing leaderships and the voter base.

* * *

Ghunsiam Jhuboo’s latest book

Starting his career as a Secondary School Teacher in 1957, Ghunsiam Jhuboo taught languages, mainly English at Mauritius College, Trinity College, and Islamic College. Even before 1968 when he founded the Ambassador College in Curepipe, he had already graduated from London University in English, History and French.

His favourite subject had always been English Literature. His love of the language of Shakespeare, for whom incidentally he has had a special inclination, drove him to publish, until 2008, six books.

He has now come up with a seventh one, titled ‘The Phoenix and The Horizon’. As the blurb on the back cover notes, ‘Ghunsiam Jhuboo, the author, finds that the fields of exploration are so vast that the need to give them different headings and subtitles has had to be adhered to. He assures his readers that, as usual, he has honestly respected the calls of the human heart.’

His choice of topics and themes reflects this wide range, with introspections and retrospections about individuals, events and places far and near, stretching from Mauritius through England to Canada with its majestic and unforgettable Niagara Falls.

He covers different subjects of topicality in various fields, including health with an essay, for example, on Euthanasia. No need to say that educational topics hold a pride of place in this collection of writings. Meanderings would perhaps be a better description, for on many an occasion the author lets his imagination fly, and takes the reader along to dream with him!

Nothing better than a dream to give us wings, even if they are imaginary!

 

  • Published in print edition on 17 July 2015

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