In my article of the 17th of June in Le Mauricien (Forum) on the diplomatic muddle regarding official communications about Mauritius severing its relations with Qatar and its negative impact on Mauritius internationally, I concluded: « But the information now on several international news media must have come from somewhere and investigation there must be. Because if indeed, someone bypassed PMO to send out, in an élan of solidarity with Saudi Arabia, a note that jeopardises our sovereignty and projects our image in the world as one of the poorest and most vulnerable countries of Africa, then we have our own internal political crisis to deal with.?If this note went out, then this leaves us with a PM who has been too busy with pushing forward his begging bowl in India to notice that he does not control the official communication of his country. Meanwhile, the image being bandied about now is that of Mauritius as one of the little African countries, constantly looking out for the protection of Big Brothers and prepared to kowtow to Saudi Arabia. »
At the buoyant Parliamentary session of last Friday, barely held together by a Speaker questionably fit for her role, the leader of the opposition, XLD, did indeed produce evidence that VPM Showkutally Soodhun had sent out from his office a communiqué bearing the coat of arms of the Republic of Mauritius to say that Mauritius had severed its relations with Qatar on the 5th of June. Shocking news indeed. In the absence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, it is Nando Bodha who responded to this query twisting us around with lengthy prose without addressing the real issues at stake, and camping on this position: “As soon as the communiqué was released, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did what it had to do… We did what we had to do in the circumstances… what had to be done has been done”. Nando Bodha acknowledges that the news sent out by Showkutally Sodhun is based “on false and fake allegations”. We are given to understand that the VPM’s communiqué does not reflect the position of the Mauritian Government regarding a war that does not concern us, and that to rectify this first communiqué, the Ministry of Foreign affairs then engaged in a number of actions to address and redress the damage already caused to the image of Mauritius in the international media and with Qatar. That should, according to the Government, clear all matters regarding this unfortunate episode, except that this reaction raises more questions than it answers.
VPM Soodhun sends out fake information to another country on a communiqué bearing the coat of arms of Mauritius that jeopardizes the geopolitical stance of the country and no action has been taken against him? The Government’s only reaction was to cover up? Worse, the PM himself, after suffering the blow to the country and to his leadership by one of his Cabinet members acting of his own crazy volition and bypassing him, does not react? Who is running the country?
Of course, any self-respecting Minister in a self-respecting democracy would have resigned. But that would imply accepting accountability, the missing link in not just this Government’s discourse, but the previous one as well. No one is ever accountable. Calamities to the detriment of the country and the people just keep happening. In Nando Bodha’s discourse to cover up for his two colleagues and the opacity with which he drowned us, we saw not an iota of hope, half way down the line, that this Government intends to deliver on accountability and transparency, the basic tenets of democracy, and the carrot that the overwhelming majority of the electorate bought in Dec 2014. Au contraire, we drown in the same old obtuse opacity regarding important matters of state, over the terms of the recent agreement with India, the fate of Agalega, and under the previous Government, Jin Fei and the National ID Card as just a few examples along a long list.
Dr Roukaya Kasenally, in her appraisal of the current political situation in Mauritius (Le Mauricien, 1st of July 2017), signaled rightly that our institutions are increasingly fragile. Last week we saw that when the leadership has no control over his cabinet, when Parliament turns into an unfunny farce live and direct, under the shaky feet of the Speaker, when we are denied crucial information on matters of state security that we are entitled to, when those who commit crimes against the country are allowed to get away scot free, then it is Parliament itself which has become the weakest institution.