A recall election is a constitutional tool to eject an MP from Parliament

Sanjay Jagatsingh

anytime between general elections if enough of the voters in her constituency sign a petition to that effect. A by-election is then organised. Given the performance and the behaviour of some of the MPs that we’ve been sending to Parliament over the past 15-20 years we voters clearly need a way to make them work in our national interest throughout a whole term and not just a little bit at the start and another little bit at the end. Recall elections do precisely that.

 

Had we had this system in place since 2005 we would have been an entirely different country by keeping elected politicians on their toes. In at least four situations. The first one is in February 2007 when Sithanen took the country hostage because he wanted to second-guess the prerogative of the PM with respect to the appointment of the Governor of the Bank of Mauritius. He then went on to cause extensive damage to our economy for three whole years. With a recall election he might have been out in a few months. A by-election in those days would have cost around Rs20-25 million. A trifle really compared to what he has set in motion: a toohrooh which has now exceeded a trillion rupees. 

 

The second situation is Soodhun stating that he would have shot XLD in Parliament if his bodyguard had given him his revolver. While it’s true he lost his ministerial portfolio I don’t think the process is speedy enough as he is still an MP. Voters should have had the option of recalling his seat. Recall elections would have also been quite handy when the ex-Minister deproclaimed a public beach.

 

The third situation is the transfer of the post of PM from SAJ to his son. Our constitution doesn’t look to have been designed to have two people have the same majority of MPs behind them. See SAJ was leader of the Lepep alliance in December 2014 and presented as PM in that general election – although he was not the leader of the party with the most candidates in that alliance. If he steps down in favour of Pravind but stays in Parliament who is deemed to have the support of that majority of MPs? He or his son? There was no such ambiguity when he resigned from Parliament back in October 2003 to allow Berenger to get the top job.

 

Finally, if we had recall elections we would have had the option of booting Collendavelloo out of Parliament. Seriously, who wants a Minister to privatise water – a basic human right – because he doesn’t like its hotline? And drag the whole nation into so much stupidity for so long?

 

Of course nothing prevents us from making the Presidency and important posts like Financial Secretary and the Governor of the Central Bank fall within the ambit of a recall legislation. We certainly could have done without being taken for hostage for Mauritius @50regressive policiesthat have turned back the clock of progress and an obsession with unnecessary depreciation.

 

We absolutely need recall elections so we can get our national priorities right. Like dealing with road fatalities which are on target to hit a horrific 200 this year. Referendum legislation won’t hurt either.