Promises have kept being repeated in different forums and at every May 1st rally, as happened last Monday, but the reality does not match the rhetoric. Successive governments have done the same, so it’s nothing new, and it’s only a matter of degree
Because it’s nearly two and a half years since the Alliance Lepep was elected with a sweeping majority, and many of the promises made in order to come to power – which the people genuinely believed in – are yet to be fulfilled.
The promises have kept being repeated in different forums and at every May 1st rally, as happened last Monday, but the reality does not match the rhetoric. Successive governments have done the same, so it’s nothing new, and it’s only a matter of degree. Nevertheless, the onus falls on and has to be assumed by the incumbent government. It did acknowledge on Monday last that 2019 is not far away, and that there was urgency for delivery.
The first thing that comes to the people’s mind is the promise that the new government coming out of the December 2014 elections would not only be different from the previous one, but would demarcate from it by doing things differently.
For a while it did seem that this was happening, or about to happen, when a succession of provisional charges began to be made against a number of personalities, starting with former Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam, and extending to the former Governor of the Bank of Mauritius, and those associated with what has since become known as the BAI scandal, a number of high level civil servants and others. These cases with graphic pictures of arrests accompanied by timed releases of information from the police side made not only salacious headlines, but also boosted sales, helped further by the buoyant euphoria of the electoral constituency that had entrusted their future in the new dispensation.
However, as the provisional charges got dropped one after the other in a quasi-cascading manner when the matters were brought to court, the latest one being those against the Rawats, what the people had earlier perceived as genuine, lawful prosecutions began to really appear more like persecutions – as the accused had claimed – motivated more by personal factors than a desire to clean up the Augean stables.
In fact, this objective seems to be receding even further away when PNQs have uncovered scales of cronyism and financial disbursements of such magnitude as to be in total contradiction to the promise of reducing inequalities in our society, to ensure justice, equity, transparency and meritocracy. Add to that the tarnishing of the image of the country because of the dubious goings-on at the level of the Presidency, and we can understand why the people are now baying for another kind of blood.
Morality, which at time one did not rempli ventre (a stand which could be justified when people’s hunger had to be assuaged), has simply flown right out from the very roof of the country, where the guarantee of protection of the Constitution is supposed to rest.
Besides, the weaknesses and inefficiencies of the investigating arm of the police have been laid bare, heavily bruising their credibility, and for that matter even that of the office of the Attorney General going as far as Italy. How will the country recover from this blow, and who will pay for all the expenditures involved in these wild goose chases but the taxpayers? Will the initiators of these questionable charges (as they now look, given the determinations in the courts) be made to answer – and pay for their wrong moves, instead of burdening the law-abiding citizens?
So what hope is left for the people?
The “economic miracle” that was inevitable with the advent of the one who had engineered it 30 years previously, supported by a then dynamic new Prime Minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth? Unfortunately, this tandem, again at the command post December 2014, fell apart, with Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo having to be shunted to Foreign Affairs.
The leader of the MSM, Pravind Jugnauth presented a positive economic profile of the country at the May 1st meeting, with facts and figures: low inflation, low rate of unemployment, reduction of the deficit in the balance of payments, reserves of nine months of importations, etc. On the basis of these details, he stated that the modernisation of the economy is under way. It would be nihilist to suggest that this is not so at the macro-level given this rosy picture – but the people are concerned about what concrete impact this has on their lives? What about the rising cost of the food basket, which is claiming an increasing proportion of their salary, also inadequate in hundreds of thousands of cases? Save for the few who, well-connected and already having more than enough, are only extracting more from the public coffers legally or through legal loopholes, creating even more disgust among the people.
What about the promise of water 24/7? Halfway through the mandate, there is no firm indication of anything happening on that front. Except for firmly defending the President and her scarred image on May 1st, Minister Ivan Collendavelloo has failed to deliver on securing 24/7 water supply to ALL inhabitants of the country, despite his repeated pledges to do so. Instead, the CWA may soon pass into the hands of foreigners. In spite of this poor record, the leader of the minuscule party in alliance with a bigger party, the MSM – that all the same has another standing – is still occupying his ministerial seat? Why? Are the people only to dream about 24/7 water in their tap? What a shame, in a country that is currently the recipient of copious rainfall, which has reached 160 mm in one region over the past few days.
Much was made of the less than half kilometer (about 438 m) stretch of the new Verdun bypass that was damaged and needed repairs – and prompt restoration was promised. But the road users are still having to make do with an unrepaired road, and for how long more is an unanswered – unanswerable? – question. The people know that only this stretch out the nearly 100 km of new roads needs to be redone, and this has not happened, two and a half years since the government took charge. Will the Minister responsible give a firm timeline to those who need the answer, as their daily commute on that road is affected?
As regards the Metro Express, there has been enough of demagogy. It is accepted by all that we seriously and urgently need an efficient, comfortable, affordable, and speedy public mass transport system if we are not to be stifled under the weight of a growing volume of vehicular traffic. Will it be in place and operational before or by 2019? Another promise that needs to be delivered…
Two and a half years is not a long time, but with commitment and efficiency it can be made adequate to do what must be done to restore the trust of the public and kindle hope for a better future. And for everybody to look forward with confidence to 2019. Unless events happen that threaten the march of the economy and precipitate an earlier general election. And then the promises would have truly been broken.