Bones for The Dogs of Politcs?

Mauritius Times 60 Years

By Jay Narain Roy

The divorce between politics and finance in Mauritius is becoming too obvious. Behind this divorce looms the terrible farce of our political existence. Concern has been expressed by Peter Ibbotson also. I also know that our M. P. friends like James Johnson and Fenner Brockway are very much upset by some new trends. To me it appears to be a very dangerous state of affairs.

Where is the centre of administrative power? Is it in Council, in the Executive Council or in the higher hierarchy? It is in the actual practice that we are edified. With the coming of the ministerial system, this hierarchy has been considerably strengthened, and its pay and privileges have been very favourably enhanced. The Principal Secretaries, an appendage of the Secretariat, appear to fashion things from the angle of the boss who occasionally dole out reforms to quell public passion. The Howes report became an imperious necessity in the new set-up, and the Working Parties had belatedly to follow to save faces.

What else? Readjustment in the Public Assistance, Old Age Pensions, extension of educational facilities, extension in the services of water and electricity. All these involve public expenditure, more jobs and so on. Millions and millions have been expended, and the country’s budget is thrown in jeopardy. But how many of the 600,000 people of this country have benefitted? It may be blaring propaganda to speak of astronomical figures, but what is the general result in the life of the common man?

To increase social services is a tacit confession of guilt. Why should so many thousands of people fall on the charge of Public Assistance and Old Age Pensions? It is because our economic system is too imbecile, too vicious to ensure the people their legitimate rights and their rightful sustenance and prop after a life of fruitful labour. All these propaganda millions may not have profited more than a very small fraction. Education may have profited many but has it not also created such horrifying problems which the government is in no mood to face? Electricity indeed! But these autonomous organizations are new stranglehold on the throat of the country. They have multiplied of late and there seems to be a careful method in this madness.

The Chamber of Agriculture, the Sugar Research Institute, the Board of the College of Agriculture, the Sugar Syndicate, the Tobacco Board, the Rehabilitation Fund, the Cyclone and Drought Fund, the Labour Welfare Fund and the Central Electricity Board are all derived from some form of public funds or cesses but they are, for all practical purposes, under the thumb of some section, and technically, outside the purview of the Government. It is part of a concerted move to keep these important financial concerns outside the control of the Government or Council. Most of the high finance of the country is transacted through these bodies, and they are sought to be kept outside the control of Government and under the thumb of one section.

While in government high educational qualifications are needed for very small jobs, some of these bodies have jobs with fantastic salaries for which no qualifications are sought and some particular section can dump all manner of its people in what is among the most rabid form of racialism perpetrated in any part of the globe.

This is the position of organisations which should have been directly under the control of Government and governed by the rules and regulations of the Civil Service. They are bodies that derive their force and motive power from public funds or industrial cesses. The higher services of the firms and industries are of course a sealed book to the average coloured man. These industries and firms are run not only with the support and help of the coloured people but the Government often constrain the people to make national sacrifice, because they are supposed to be national industries. This was done through increase of protective tariff, through centralisation, the preventing of strikes and so on.

Not only this. Some of the key Government services from where the race of progress can be accelerated is in the hands of the same fraternity: the Civil Commissioners, the Agricultural Services and the magistrates. It has been found that far too many people of one particular section are recruited in these services than their proportion seems to warrant. The mysterious possession — in every sense of the word — by this section of the Civil Aviation is difficult to understand. Then what remains to the Government to be controlled by Council and Ministers but crumbs and dry bones? And this is precisely the colossal joke of all this political development. How I laughed at Jules Koenig when he quixotically demanded the recall of the Governor because he was supposed to be openly siding with Labour! His smile will get to the other end of his mouth when he reads this.

We hear so much about Mauritianising the services. Why not start it in the bodies listed in the fifth paragraph? What is Mauritianisation? Does it mean recruitment from one section only because it has the means to produce more technicians and professionals than the others? It is said that some people in that section go and do law not because they can earn as lawyers but because they know that they can easily enter as magistrates.

What are the avenues of employment of coloured boys who have such qualifications? Mauritianisation need not only mean jobs for Mauritians but equal opportunities and fair play to all the sections. If the nation sweats and sacrifices, it should legitimately enjoy the fruits.

Let it therefore be clearly understood that this constitutional hoodwink in which bones are sought to be thrown at the political dogs cannot satisfy this country and we shall go on waging a war until the man in the street has, not the shadow, but the substance of liberty and happiness, until all vestiges of racialism, nepotism and favouritism have been wiped out from the land, until the Ministers take responsibilities on the results of the elections and can refashion the economic destiny of this country.

We want a Responsible Government in which there will be a Prime Minister himself holding an important and result-producing portfolio nominating his colleagues upon the mandate of the people prepared to carry out a pre-declared policy and programme on the Socialistic pattern and subordinating the bureaucracy to the expeditious executing of policies and plans. I am afraid that the single constitutional issue of the basis of election had absorbed our interest so much that the vital question of the power and responsibility of Government has not received the attention it deserved. We must therefore make this our declared policy and we should not rest until this political make-believe is torn asunder in the larger interest of the people of this country.

5th Year – No 219
Friday 17th October, 1958

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 24 February 2023

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