One Year in Power: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It feels like only yesterday we were getting ready to go to the polls in what turned out to be one of the most interesting election campaigns Mauritius has seen for a while.

Apart from the obvious political plays consisting of which parties had climbed into bed with one another and who had managed to befriend and infuriate one another ahead of the polls, the results produced a winner in a most unexpected way. The Lepep Alliance walked away proudly with a landslide victory and the citizens of Mauritius were all expected to rejoice in relief that the country had finally been set on the right track.

Given the fact that one year is hardly tantamount to asserting whether a government is adequately serving the country’s needs, it is still a good time to assess what the past year has produced in terms of this government’s action. Certainly when one recalls the year 2015, scandal and controversy are two of the first themes that come to mind, bringing with it naturally an air of uncertainty too.

It did not take long for the Lepep Alliance to get cracking on its ‘clean-up’ campaign, which has seen many a political feather ruffled this year alone. Kicking off with the former prime minister, Navin Ramgoolam’s arrest in February for allegedly being involved in money laundering. Others followed suit slowly but surely with people like Rundheersing Bheenick’s dismissal, and subsequent arrests of Anil Baichoo and Shakeel Mohamed most recently.

But perhaps the biggest shake up that has taken place since the Lepep Alliance assumed their governmental role is the British American Insurance (BAI)/Bramer Bank scandal. Thousands of Mauritian citizens cheated out of hard-earned, saved up money that – for some – was meant to provide a peace of mind retirement investment. The incident alone not only flung Mauritius into the spotlight as a ponzi scheme frontrunner but its on-going implications continued to plague both government and citizens alike.

The subsequent handling of this matter is perhaps what stood out the most with some feeling like the new government were doing justice to the term ‘clean-up’ while others feeling like their hard-line approach was just a bit too much to handle. The differing opinions were undoubtedly mostly from people whose involvement varied from all-in investors to eager and curious onlookers.

This seemed to set the tone for Roshi Bhadain who quickly catapulted into the limelight for perhaps not the most flattering reasons. His handling of the BAI saga as well as how he has since conducted himself has left a lot of citizens scratching their heads in confusion trying to remember whether he is contributing to running the country or is running what he sees as one giant corporate enterprise.

We cannot forget the somewhat poetic manner in which state land was so easily plucked from people’s possessions (of which it was deemed to be illegally obtained) over the course of a few months. There definitely seemed to be a no-nonsense attitude adopted by the government. However certain occurrences such as the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) being placed under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General and the outrage over the Good Governance and Integrity Reporting Bill seemed to also dampen the somewhat festive mood the government seemed to be living. Not to mention the arrest and resignation of SAJ’s son, Pravind Jugnauth, which reeks of politically motivated vendetta’s being carried out under the pretence of a sense of justice.

Of course there will be criticism of a new government and every single naysayer jumping on the train to contribute to the criticism, but how constructive this criticism is will always be questionable. On one hand, there are sections of the population who believe that Sir Anerood Jugnauth is about to perform a second economic miracle and there are those who feel that the country is plagued down with old-school mannerisms and out-dated law structures that perhaps even infringe on the human rights of its citizens.

The term ‘politics’ in itself faces harsh opinion currently let alone which government it happens to be holding the baton for no other reason than public opinion is that there is no ‘new’ government but that whoever happens to be in power is a rehashed version of their predecessors. This scenario is precisely how it has played out over the last year with everyone eagerly watching the government’s every move and policy decision until they grow bored enough not to bother and carry on with their lives.

The political atmosphere post 2014 elections seems to lack gusto and the winds of change that were so fervently blown far and wide have instead been replaced with the groans of yet another scandal being brought to light or which political personality has managed to infuriate the other one. One constant you can be assured of in Mauritian politics is the ability to drift away from what is actually important and cloud the atmosphere with emotion and personalization.

Where are the copious amounts of jobs that were not just proclaimed would be made available but bragged about proudly? Where is the development and continued effort to engage with our youth in order to ensure that tomorrow’s leaders are in fact ready to take on their roles one day as responsible citizens? Will the island ever stop insisting on remaining stuck in a complacent groove and adapt to a more modern mind-set that applies to all matters across the board from political policy to rule of law and matters of the state?

Okay, fair enough this is a very tall and impossible order one year in but one can only hope that the wind in the government’s sails is not cut short by petty scandals and abuse of power in any way.

The vote gives government a sense of power but also a sense of responsibility and is an understanding between government and the nation that its people are entrusting all matters into the hands of those they have voted in who then need to act in our best interests, let’s hope we don’t regret this decision in another year.

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