ENDY JAY

We have been filled so much, these last days, with electoral reforms, with that one against this and for that and the other vice versa, that most of us opted to brush aside that nonsense and allow our political overlords to drown themselves in their contradictions and hypocrisy.

Nevertheless, there may be the need to give some attention to some stances and remarks relating to issues that are indeed revealing and at the same time underscore that hypocrisy characteristic of our political masters, and their lack of vision.

First, I have in mind ‘Rezistans & Alternativ’s‘li enn reset pou ki anfet pena sanzman’ (Le Mauricien of 25/9 last). Whether there is a deliberate attempt not to get the required majority to get the reforms through, one cannot say for sure. But, for once, I’ll drop my usual cautious approach and attempt a straight forward remark ‘there is the hand of God’ somewhere, should this really be the case. ‘Lepep admirab’ cannot see the ‘urgency’ of an electoral reform inasmuch as we have lived with a system that has lasted half a century, yet has never caused any major upheaval to threaten peace and harmony, however glaring may be some anomalies in the electoral system, correction of which will cost, it is claimed, hundreds of million rupees yearly to provide more actors for the weekly Muppet shows when the National Assembly sits. As if there were no other more pressing priorities such millions could address.

Another salient point is Ramgoolam’s hell-bent opposition to any ethnic-based census, redefining electoral boundaries, but for a fairer representation of all the components of our rainbow nation. How do we really get to such fairness without an ethnic-based census? En passant, it is worth mentioning that one fairly numerous component which presently has only two representatives in the National Assembly and though always under-represented has never benefitted from a best loser seat, for reasons we know. Strangely enough, the simple allusion to an ethnic-based census causes quite a stir and agitation in ‘some quarters’. Just wonder why! And what about that protracted nonsense of ‘Population Générale’ they are adamant to correct. And for that matter, why a fairer representation in the National Assembly only? Why not in the same vein extend it to the entire Public Services where the imbalances really hurt, indeed revolt. Some will readily find this latter point irrelevant. Et pour cause!

Nevertheless, ‘une fois n’étant pas coutume’, we must stand by Ramgoolam for his opposition to allow party leaders to designate persons to sit in the National Assembly. His ‘PM linpost pe rod fer depite rant par linpost’ scores a bull’s-eye. Only retrograde minds could have concocted such an incongruity, the more so coming from those who never miss an opportunity to talk of the strengthening of democracy, but propose a consolidation of hegemony!

It must be conceded the proposals carry a few positive measures, but at first glance only. One example: what if that mandatory one-third of qualified and capable female candidate is not obtained. Imagine the scramble and ‘bonjour le ‘Poupette Show’! Most right-minded persons will take no exception if qualified ladies constitute more than one third of the National Assembly, and the Cabinet for that matter, if only for the sake of ridding us of some clowns. Secondly, the proposals relating to crossing the floor stand likewise, in that though they purport to check this malpractice, they nevertheless kick off an avalanche of queries.

Furthermore, true reforms should include measures to prevent any recurrence of the ‘deal papa piti’ in the manner it was done. Granted, in the middle of a mandate a Prime Minister may not be in a position to carry on, for one reason or another, which must not necessarily require fresh elections. But in such a case, the PM who steps down must resign from the National Assembly. Someone who faces the electorate to become PM and become such but who steps down should not be allowed to serve in a lesser position.

All considered, the proposals look like a still-born endeavour since unacceptable as a package deal, while we await for the next day of reckoning, possibly earlier than scheduled, eager to see, in the meantime, how they navigate those who ‘iront aux élections seuls …… mais à deux’ in another one of their stunning plot twists.

But, still it remains that something more crucial than electoral reforms, given its impact if it turns out a certain way, may be waiting around the corner that would kick off some sort of scramble we have never seen yet. The shrewd reader will easily guess.

I wish to conclude on a note that may surprise more than one. The present Government is doing better than its immediate predecessor in some areas. Yet, the worst we have had since Independence in terms of cover-ups, dilly-dallying, nepotism, turning our august Assembly into a platform of gimmicks and, last but not least, ‘zwe boure?’

P.S. I may expect some of my comments to get some pseudo-stalwarts of ‘mauricianisme’ to raise eye-brows. Mauricianisme? My foot!