Beyond Political Distractions


Following the recent, unexplained, and somewhat mysterious Sunday evening dismissal of the Minister of Agro-Industry, Vikram Hurdoyal, speculation and conjecture have swept through the political landscape, leaving behind a confusing mix of unknowns. The subsequent resignation of the ousted minister from the Legislative Assembly has not only raised questions about the government’s internal dynamics but has also disrupted carefully laid plans by the MSM politburo for the upcoming general elections. With the present government’s mandate set to expire in November 2024, the unplanned necessity for a by-election has thrust the political arena into disarray, and amidst this chaos, crucial issues demanding immediate attention risk being sidelined.

The lack of transparency surrounding the reasons behind the minister’s removal and its curious timing (what was so urgent that could not wait a more civilised separation of ways on Monday morning when the two protagonists did indeed meet?) have created a vacuum filled with rumours and speculations. The Prime Minister’s decision to keep the grounds for dismissal under wraps has fuelled mistrust among the public, leaving them in the dark about the inner workings of their government. Such opacity in governance not only undermines accountability but also erodes public confidence in the political machinery.

The resignation of Mr Hurdoyal, a prominent figure in No.10 constituency, whatever his motivations, cannot but highlight the political mores of those who chose to hang on to their seats even when embroiled in sombre affairs. It also removed a PM trump-card by setting deadlines for the by-election procedures and, if government decides after all to dissolve the Legislative Assembly, an outer limit on when those general elections have to take place, most probably before the end of this calendar year.

On the other hand, the timing of the by-election/general election within that circumscribed time-frame, is crucial, potentially overshadowing broader issues demanding immediate attention from both the government and the opposition. With the electorate’s focus possibly swayed by the drama surrounding the next elections, there is a real risk of diverting attention from critical matters directly impacting the lives of the population.

Issues such as the relentless fight against drug trafficking, law and order maintenance free from political interference in police operations, nepotism and the battle against corruption remain ongoing challenges. The perceived double standards of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and its notorious snail-speed in investigating cases involving individuals close to power demand a thorough examination. These have now been superseded by new concerns over the Financial Crimes Commission, an urgently set-up apex body for all financial crimes, with extraordinary powers granted to its future CEO, look set for constitutional challenges, if only by proposing (as with the defunct Prosecution Commission Bill) to bypass the Office of the DPP or severely curtail its powers in those domains.

Beyond these immediate concerns, broader societal issues are clamouring for attention. The urgent need for a reform of our educational system to make it sustainable, durable and equitable for a majority of our students, to do away with elitism, grade barriers and an exam-orientation cannot be stressed more. Meantime, billions have been voted for drains infrastructure over the two last budget years and yet the Belal rains wrought havoc in the capital and many countryside areas. The high taxation on fuel, the rising cost of living, the soaring costs of even ordinary vegetables on market days, should be at the forefront of the political agenda. Unfortunately, amidst the political turmoil, these concerns risk being relegated to secondary status.

The polarization between the ruling alliance and opposition parties is intensifying, with each side preparing for a fierce battle in the upcoming by-election. While the ruling alliance may be tempted to resort to populist measures to sway the electorate, particularly at the next Budget exercise, the opposition’s demand for general elections further complicates the political landscape. This tug-of-war for power not only distracts from substantive governance but also raises concerns about the long-term stability of the political system.

As the political drama unfolds, it is essential for both sides to rise above populism, freebies and short-term political gains and engage in a meaningful dialogue with the people about the future of the nation. The ruling alliance must resist the temptation of populist measures and focus on addressing the pressing issues facing the nation. Conversely, the opposition has a responsibility to articulate a clear and compelling vision for the future, outlining concrete plans to tackle the challenges confronting the nation in the public interest.

In the midst of what promises to be a hard and tough electoral battle, citizens must play an active role in demanding accountability from their leaders. A vigilant citizenry, armed with accurate information, can hold political leaders accountable and demand a focus on the substantive issues that truly matter. Citizens must demand more than mere political theatrics and insist on a return to substantive governance that addresses the pressing challenges faced by society. Only through a collective commitment to transparency, accountability, and genuine public service can the nation emerge stronger.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 23 February 2024

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