2022 – A Restive Year Ahead


Opposition parties are bracing for a restive and possibly turbulent year ahead. The Labour Party parliamentary leader, Arvind Boolell, says 2022 is going to be the year of ‘tous les combats’. On its part, the MMM, which has successfully nipped the budding challenge to the leadership of Paul Berenger following yet another debacle at the last general elections, is now inviting former MMM members – who it says stand by the same values embraced by the party – to come back to the fold, presumably with a view to bolstering the party’s firepower for the battles that will be waged in the months ahead.

Outside Parliament, Rama Valayden, Dev Sunnassy and Bruneau Laurette are coming together to form a political party.If it’s unlikely that Valayden and his newfound political comrades will seek any future political arrangement with the ruling party, it remains to be seen whether, despite their success in pushing the government to the wall with the Kistnen murder revelations and the Kistnen Papers relating to electoral expenses suspected to exceed the ceiling imposed by the law, they will be able to migrate from the edges of the political playing field and become a significant force in our local politics. To do so it can be assumed that they would be fishing in more or less the same electoral basin as the PMSD and the MMM while establishing their own identity and specificities.

This leaves us with the old and so-called traditional parties – the Labour Party, PMSD and MMM. If the latter parties had initially set great store by a successful legal challenge of the elections of a number of MSM candidates at the last general elections, the Supreme Court judgement, delivered in Aug 2021, which dismissed the petition of Ezra Jhuboo, an unelected candidate in Constituency No 14, Savanne/Black River, seems to have set a trend: it would appear that the other 10 or so electoral petitions are likely to be dismissed. Even if facts may be different in each case, argued Lex in the columns of this paper earlier this year, other judges would not lightly overlook the reasoning given in the Jhuboo judgment, adding that ‘possibly all the petitions asking for a recount on the same grounds as that of the Jhuboo petition may be thrown out by the other divisions of the court’.

Moreover, opposition both inside and outside Parliament has not been able to challenge and put a brake to the MSM’s questionable governance of the country, fully protected as it were by the institutional dysfunctions that have put the governance system in the country under lock. To wit, the failures of effective police investigations, a complacent ICAC, a perceived bias of communication and internet regulatory authorities, and an overbearing Speaker in Parliament.

Notwithstanding the inability by the opposition to effectively challenge the government, the way out of the present rut can only be political:the need for an effective opposition in our democratic set-up cannot be stressed enough as a major tool for the checks and balances required in governance especially in the face of a government that gives the impression that itwill soldier on, undeterred by civil society, media and opposition condemnations of its governance. Fundamentally, it is our parliamentary democracy that has been the key instrument that has led the country to its current state. It is the main political instrument that we have at our disposal to give overall orientation to the polity and to the affairs of the country, and to help us reach the goals that we would wish for a better collective future.

The MSM has chosen its adversary for the next elections: Navin Ramgoolam, convinced that he would constitute the Achilles’ heel in an enlarged opposition alliance. It seems that the MMM leader earlier shared the same view, with his insistence for an opposition “pas à n’importe quelle condition”. However, the LP president Patrick assirvaden has been saying lately that, in the eventuality of an opposition alliance, it’s Navin Ramgoolam whowill have to be presented as a ‘Premier ministre de transition’ – and the Secretary General of the MMM Ajay Gunness has recently accepted that tenet on air. Navin Ramgoolam has himself revealed in an earlier radio interview that he would like to soldier on — for ‘just one more’ term as Prime Minister next time round, probably in a bid to redeem his honour after the public humiliation he was subjected to in 2015.He will hopefully put the party’s interest above his own, the more so since the times demand that parties which want to survive – and win elections – should abide by a higher internal democratisation process.

Fostering internal debate and adopting clear rules of governance – that is the level of internal reordering which is absolutely necessary to cope with an external environment which is becoming increasingly complex by the day. We hope that such a process of furthering internal democratic functioning will get under way sooner rather than later in the parties which may still be concerned with the current state of affairs in the country and are genuinely committed to furthering the overall national interest.

* Published in print edition on 31 December 2021

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