The clock is ticking and the countdown has begun for the people and their elected representatives. Will the latter provide the needed oversight and initiate the steps
to meet the citizens’ just expectations as they
enter their third year?
All over the world, common to all elected governments is that by the time they are in mid-term, their popularity dips in the polls. What happens next is that, since they cannot yet be voted out, the people express their frustration or anger when local or regional elections are held by voting for the opposition parties. The reason is simple: the ruling party is labouring to fulfil the promises that were part of the rhetoric at election time, and with only so much time remaining to complete the mandate, the people realise that all their expectations are unlikely to be met.
While it is a fact that citizens have some legitimate expectations, campaigning politicians add some more of their own to the citizens’ basket, which has an enhancing effect on their existing ones. And then the onus is on the incoming government to give effect to what has been promised, since it remains the ‘indispensable conduit of access to such state resources as taxation revenues, law-making powers and policing’.
In December 2014 we Mauritians decided to change from one political alliance to another, on the assumption that it was a shift to another kind of politics, implying an alternative, better way of doing things and of running the affairs of State for the benefit of its citizens. Initially, actions taken that were loudly and widely publicised gave the general impression that this in fact was the case. And we were confident enough that the same mindset would be sustained throughout the mandate. We had seen how in the past every incoming regime swept with a new broom, only for the old ways to surreptitiously make a comeback again – but surely, we told ourselves, this time it would be different?
Alas, events that have taken place since then have gone counter to the expectations that were built up in the citizenry. This is compounded by the latest split in government with the PMSD walking out, the internal bickerings within it and the ongoing scenario to reconstitute a three-quarters majority in Parliament. Under these circumstances, who can blame the citizens if they go back to the old cynicism of bonnet blanc blanc bonnet?
Given the morosity and a general sense of uncertainty about the future that the current situation has engendered, citizens require some assurance from both the public and private sectors, and civil society too on several counts, amongst others:
• That there are adequate systems and structures to ensure the running of institutions in all transparency, objectivity and with accountability;
• There will be absolutely no political interference in the running of these institutions, including threats that may silence officers into submission;
• That awards of contracts will be made on the basis of objective criteria that will be strictly adhered to, and that there will be no arm-twisting to suit lobbies or cronies;
• That banks will safeguard our money, and not siphon it elsewhere locally or abroad; that judicious use will be made of taxpayers’ money;
• That the insurance companies will honour the terms and conditions of schemes that they propose, that they will not put the onus on citizen-clients for not having been properly informed of the fine print clauses in fine print ;
• That the lawyer or attorney will not take us on a spin and truly and honestly fight our case and obtain justice, rather than compromise in tacit collusion with the counterparts;
• That the civil servant that we face across the table or the window will not sabotage us through rigid procedures and delaying tactics;
• That the media will not dabble in sensationalism and ‘fake news’ but instead provide us with the real news, will verify facts before presenting them as information written in stone, will not conduct trials and make judgements but instead leave that to the law courts, will not falsely accuse and tarnish a person’s good name and relegate any rectification to the smallest print in the most remote corner of a newspaper;
• That the health professionals will look at us as human beings in distress who need support and due treatment, and not burden us with unnecessary and costly investigations. That they will not prescribe treatment that will be worse than the disease, and that they will inject compassion in the care which is our due;
• That patients will not pressurize doctors to do unnecessary X-rays, scans, blood tests because their friends or relatives have had these done too;
• That patients will await their turn and not jump the queue when they come to hospital or health centre , in the same manner as they follow the rules in other places, such as the bank or the post office;
• That teachers will teach with passion and interest especially with the Nine Year Schooling project having been introduced, that students will be respectful of their teachers and accept the need for discipline and order in the schools and colleges. That the ‘ministry’ will not tolerate indiscipline and side with pupils who have political connections?
• That parents will fully assume their role and responsibility as regards the behaviour of their wards, and that they will not bully the teachers or principals – and that too in front of the unruly student – who are doing their level best to inculcate values and impart education that will prepare their wards for life;
• That priests will not exploit the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of people who are seeking solace, and that they will refrain from paedophilia or sexual exploitation of women who come to seek succour in prayers;
• That the policeman who books us will be doing so genuinely and not seek a bribe.
The clock is ticking and the countdown has begun for the people and their elected representatives. Will the latter provide the needed oversight and initiate the steps to meet the citizens’ just expectations as they enter their third year? Let us hope that we will start getting the answers before it is too late.