Mauritius is indeed an intriguing place at the moment. A private citizen who expresses his views and exercises his right is called a ‘bourik’ by the official but perceived as undeserving, self-serving Leader of Opposition Paul Bérenger.  Jose Moirt, an ordinary voter, has rightly challenged the legitimacy of PB as Leader of Opposition while he has been using his position to negotiate a coalition with PTR so that he can become the next PM. He has dismissed himself from his role and responsibilities by entering a mire of conflict of interest. What is in our culture that empowers elected Leaders to call the voters names such as ‘semi-intellectuals, bourik, pas capav fer bourik mange lazle’ to undermine and insult the people who they represent?  How do Mauritians perceive themselves? What is the quality of representation in parliament? There appears to be an impressive drive dedicated to the denigration of thinking citizens.
If a politician in UK or any other civilised country called a local a ‘bourik’, he could face prosecution by the authorities and certainly dismissed from his own party with resignation from the constitutional post. Is our national identity coded where ‘tidimoune’ can be insulted ad nauseum? Would PB have used a similar word to describe a ‘gros palto’ expressing his views and challenging his legitimacy?  I am amazed that the whole population has not erupted on this issue and taken to the streets. What PB has done is challenge the whole population and its identity to question the implementation of our constitution by the President. He has just smashed and denigrated the institutions of representations, social identities and social relations. If one does stand up and raise an eyebrow, one could be called a bourik. Such is the calibre of our leaders. How can he stand up in Parliament and say he is the Leader of Opposition representing the view of voters, the population, and the tax payers who fund his salary? Given the historical background of PB, he stands at the edge of current political discourse compromising his political status for personal gains. The legitimacy and status of PB has hit rock bottom. Disaffection has spread right across the island and beyond through social media.
PB should not be let off the hooks. He must be reminded of some principal points:
Perceptions of cultural identity in Mauritius are changing rapidly to reflect the emergence of new socio-economic and political groupings especially by the middle class. The middle class is gradually gaining confidence and has found a voice. Fear and silence are not the order of the day anymore.
2. PB’s Whig-imperialist attitude towards our compatriot Jose Moirt is at odds with our current social and economic development.
3. Perceptions of cultural identity find their dominant expression in language, and more precisely, in discourse. Language used by PB is disgraceful and we really need a new direction in our political discourse.
4. Discourse is shaped by socio-cultural change. Please be aware Mr Bérenger we are changing, we are more confident about questioning those who act on our behalf and do terrible things in our name. Instead of defending his position, PB decides to flagrantly abuse with outbursts. This is really problematic because we represent our life world, enact, negotiate and establish social identities through our words, our discourse. PB has opened several cans of worms.
5. PB’s rash outburst and offensive posture shift the emphasis on the contributions of media discourse in Mauritius, which continues to give to the public greater access to the activities of our public figures, our institutions, deficits in ethical practices and the nature of some complex political ideas of on and off Koz Koze.
6. The two major parties in pre-nuptial alliance continue to be the great public relations disaster with aggressive reference to Judo, K.O., Bourik, Dancing.
So, what are the issues at stake? Why should we all support Jose Moirt?
It was reported that the President of Mauritius was in tears when he visited his village remembering his humble beginnings and rising to the highest post in the land. He must value his status and current post. This is a post which carries heavy responsibility and he is our last hope. So far he has kept quiet and continued silence can only mean support for PB. His Excellency has the opportunity to assert his role and revoke PB. No statement from him is a sign that our President may or may not be taking advice on this grave matter. Do we have a democratic deficit President? Is he waiting to dissolve Parliament and hoping this issue will go away? No, Mr. President. It will linger on for years if you do not act now. Mr. President our aspirations lie with you and you must illuminate us on:
     •    being relevant to your citizens’ concerns and not just be ceremonial, narrow and restrictive
    •    Deliver practical protection of our constitutions
    •    Offering leadership and a sense of mission from your Presidency
    •    Having an identity which your citizens feel they are part of. This is why SSR and others who you remember fully fought to ditch colonialism. I remember the conversation for independence when people were saying ‘one of us will replace the Governor’. It felt good then and you have the chance to revive that feeling again.
    •    The uncomfortable credibility gap opening up in the post of PM and Leader of Opposition
Mr. President, we all know some considerable care should be taken to understand the issues at stake when our corridors of power choose to insult and denigrate ordinary citizens. The vanity and folly of our leaders are rushing us towards disrespectful behaviour towards each other and they can hardly be labeled good role models if they continue to use abusive language. There is surprise that our teenagers are learning from these poor role models and some say ‘our society is decaying’. You have a chance to redress this and demonstrate that ordinary Jo is constitutionally empowered to have security, protection and dignified life. You can inspire us by being the guardian of our constitution and act. Please act in the name of ordinary people.