Looking ahead

Now that the Government Programme has been read and the Parliament has begun to function afresh after a break of nearly one year, there is only one option before the country, given the enormous challenges that it faces: to look resolutely ahead. While the Government Programme (GP) covers all the themes in the respective sectors of the country’s development, from the social to the economic and political, it is in the details relating to policy measures and the strategies and actions following therefrom that we can have an idea of what exactly is intended, especially in terms of objectives and results.

Broadly, it can be said that the overall response to the GP has been quite favourable. There is a wish and an undertaking to complete and deliver on the individual programmes by the end of the five years of the government’s mandate, and one can only trust that this indeed will be achieved. If so, it will only be to government’s credit, and an advantage when it comes to the next general elections – which must certainly be kept in mind from now itself.

The country has at its helm a seasoned politician and statesman, but it is also a reality that there must be a succession plan, an issue which plagues all political parties. It is currently being played out at the Labour Party, which had assumed that there will be one leader forever. So do the other parties too. That is why we underline the point that it is necessary to also include thinking about who will lead for the next general elections as from now so that there is no crisis come the time.

In the intervening period though, five years hopefully, comes the formal requirement of having to meet the expectations raised in the GP which must now translate into actionable individual programmes. Besides that, there is a higher responsibility to which the Prime Minister in particular is called: a moral responsibility vis-à-vis not only the nation, but more so with respect to the citizen who looks up to him to lead by example. This means to set personal standards that must suffer no compromise. In so doing, he will gain the confidence and trust of the people and who knows perhaps their affection too. Isn’t better to be regarded with affection than to be finger-pointed and disdained for flaunting and misusing power?

Let us keep in mind that the history of countries close to us in Africa and others across the world is replete with examples of leaders whose self-glorification took a damning, invariably violent turn and an even more despicable end. When you have been lucky, through hard work or inheritance, to have everything in life, isn’t better to be generous and leave good memories among those whom you knowingly took the responsibility to rule upon?

Till now all the indications are that there is more pragmatism than any euphoria having gone to the head following the massive electoral victory. If this level-headedness can be maintained and inculcated in the whole team, this will augur well for the country’s future. It will give confidence to the population as a whole, but especially to the youth who had been rather disenchanted with the state of affairs in the country, and are expecting a sharp turnaround. Their hopes must not be belied, for they are the country’s future.

The youth were expecting to have statesmen who set out to unite the country and the people. Who spell out the vision and the agenda, and rally the people — ALL the people, not only their presumed voter-base – around common goals of construction and reconstruction, such that no one feels excluded or marginalized, and no new marginals are created, with everybody being made to feel that they are participants in the national effort.

The government, armed with its previous man-years of experience, has shown that it means business by getting down to… business promptly, having already begun to implement measures and lay down the framework for integrated development. It must remain true to its claim of promoting meritocracy and being a government of all citizens. This has to be demonstrably visible during the mandate because, in a down-to-earth sense, for the citizen who feels weighed down by the system not only the government but the prime minister is looked up to as the saviour, the protector – locally, ou meme papa ou meme mama.

On the other hand, we are happy to note that ‘Government will… adopt a consultative approach in matters directly relating to the Constitution of the country and in all cases where the interest of the public at large is at stake.’ This is in line with our own thinking on the subject, which we had earlier spelt out as follows: ‘Like practically all Mauritians, we felt that one should not tamper lightly with the country’s Constitution, and that any amendment to it should be brought only after a thorough, nation-wide debate – even a referendum if need be — on any issue of such fundamental national importance, and therefore of concern to all citizens. Unless and until such an exercise, if deemed necessary, is carried out, it is our bounded duty to respect the Constitution. And support anybody who does so.’

We had also underlined that ‘Respecting the Constitution ensures political stability, and shows to the world at large that we are not a banana republic,’ and had made a humble request to the President to align himself with the Prime Minister’s stand ‘to respect in letter and in spirit the Constitution, which means completing his mandate to 2017, and to continue to uphold the dignity of the office of the President of the Republic of Mauritius as he has so ably done to date.’

Everybody is satisfied that this condition was fulfilled during the reading of the GP, and there is no reason to doubt that this will not be maintained. We have entered into a new era of national stability and the future beckons brightly. Change was desired and it has happened. It is incumbent upon the new dispensation to translate that into prosperity and well-being for all. The people will be hoping that the new dawn keeps its promise of a brighter future.

* Published in print edition on 30 January  2015

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