We need to bring “sexyback” to politics in Mauritius. Like the song “Sexyback” by Justin

Ivann Bibi
President of Nouveau Front Politik

Timberlake, I also wish to use “sexyback” as a metaphor; but instead of the musical and artistic talent in the music industry to which Justin Timberlake speaks, I wish to focus on credibility–its role and its importance, and the undeniable LACK of it–in the political arena/sphere in Mauritius today.

For my purposes then, to bring “sexyback” therefore equals to bring credibility back. We need to bring credibility back to politics in Mauritius, back to: the political parties and our politicians, our democratic institutions, and our way of governance. This applies to our government’s decision-making process and the way it functions–which includes: our public nominations process, and, a long-list of way overdue changes that need to be made in politics and government in Mauritius today. The list is long, far too long to elaborate adequately or exhaustively on here now.

Cambridge dictionary defines “credibility” as: “the fact that someone can be believed or trusted.” In recent days, one “offshoot” political party came out with a list of alleged “reforms” that they wish to implement should they come to power. How “they” plan to change the system. Unfortunately, there is a fundamental lack of credibility in this offshoot parties’ program and words: because their so-called “leader” is one that people do not trust. They do not find him credible. Whilst most of the “reforms” suggested by this party are NOT reforms as many see them : but merely bringing Mauritius “up-to-par” with what can be defined today as simply the “standardized models of democracy.” Limiting terms of Prime Ministers, reducing sizes of parliamentary pensions, and real independent nomination processes: are simply no-brainers that we must implement in Mauritius. These are policies that have existed in most democracies for the past 50 years, if not longer. There is nothing new, dynamic, innovative or even remotely “reformational” about them.

More importantly, though, is that this said party’s leader was previously a member of the current government for two years during which time he never, not once, spoke of any such “reforms.” In fact, this leader acted in many ways that we deem as “counter-reformational” when he was in government: at one point trying even to limit free speech through attempts at draconian laws aimed at the censorship of social media platforms such as “Facebook.”

Such events, and actions— illustrative of the type of hypocrisy that deeply permeates politics in Mauritius today—do not inspire confidence in his party or programs. On the contrary, they merely exacerbate the lack of credibility that this party faces. That this leader, he himself as a politician, faces.

And he is not alone. Not by a long-shot. Consider for a moment that our current Prime Minister is facing a court case for corruption in England. How much credibility does this Prime Minister then have? We already know that his governments electoral campaign promises and programs differ sharply from what they have practiced in government since being elected. They campaigned vehemently against the introduction of a “bio-metric” national ID card, against the “métro léger” railway project, and against the “petroleum hub” project: today, all three are pillars of the governments’ development plans. So much for electoral campaign promises. So much for credibility!

 

 

Next, we have the former Prime Minister, and his party: the Labour Party. Having been arrested in the “coffres-forts” saga, he claims the funds seized were all political donations. Even the almost US$ 2 million dollars cash in unused, never before in circulation stack of U.S dollar bank notes found in his possession. How credible does this sound to you? Worse yet, his party, and their top leadership specifically, supports his claims and are standing by him: they too claiming what he claims: that these are political donations and not the result of any compromising activities. In essence, completely eroding their credibility as well. A judgment against him then, in this matter, is also de facto a judgment against them.

And then there was one: the parliament. Or more specifically, the non-governmental composition of it: the opposition. Are they credible? Can they be trusted, or believed? Already we have discussed one of the contemporary issues surrounding the Labour Party, which forms part of today’s parliamentary opposition, and their credibility. But, what of the rest of them? Are they credible? Let us examine the “Leader of the Opposition.”

This figure, and by extension his party, resigned from Government almost two years after they were elected. Since then an almost unparalleled number of scandals have shaken government halls. Some seem petty if not crude, such as “Lalang-Gate,” whilst others are extremely serious in nature. Take the “hit-and-run” case of one of the Leader of the Oppositions own Deputy’s in Parliament, or the case of the Angolan-Portuguese “investor” Alvaro Sobrinho—a clear and present danger to Mauritius’ offshore sector. In both cases, the Leader of the Opposition was acutely aware of these developments: in the first he stated publicly that his Deputy had his full support (even though it is alleged that the Deputy in question fled the scene of the crime, only to return later and lie to the police about who was driving the car involved in the “hit-and-run” accident); and in the second case, he was Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius when the above mentioned “investor” received his now scandalous and ill-advized investment banking permits.

And yet, the Leader of the Opposition has the audacity to stand before us in parliament and pose questions regarding these investment-banking permits, as if he had no idea about how they came to be and who may have authorized them–and we are meant to believe him? Either, he is simply just not credible, or, on the other hand: simply an emphatically negligent and ineffective Deputy Prime Minister who knows nothing of the important nature of government and its work that is transpiring all around him. Regardless, in both instances: the credibility factor remains zero.

Where is the credibility in all of this we ask? The answer: there is none. These people, and by extension their parties as well, have no credibility: not anymore. Not only do their words and their actions no longer inspire confidence: but so are their party platforms, their programs, and their mandates too devoid of belief. The worst thing about all of these behaviors is that they are not new. This type of governance has been an on-going phenomenon in Mauritius for the past 20-30 years. And it is time for things to change.

The consequence of this complete lack of credibility in politics in Mauritius today, especially amongst the traditional political actors—the mainstream political parties and their leaderships–is taking its toll. We need look no further than the last partial election in December 2017, where over 50% of the people abstained from voting: not only a ridiculously high number, but a historically high one too. People are disenchanted with politicians, their platforms, their programs, and even their parties. The people have little or no faith in them. Nor do they inspire trust in the people: having all been implicated in a myriad of political scandals month-after-month and year after year. For decades now.

 

Figure 1:

 

Want more proof? Take a look at “Figure 1” which are the results from a survey taken by “www.verdefrontier.mu” and published in the newspapers some months back. It shows a clear picture of people attitudes towards politics in Mauritius today, with an overwhelming majority of people of all age groups being described as “politically neutral.” As little as five years ago these figures were reversed, with the majority of respondents claiming to have a high incidence of political affiliation. Clearly, this is no longer the case. Such has been the effect of an overwhelming lack of confidence in our politicians and politics in general in Mauritius today: mostly due to the lack of credibility that engulfs this fundamental aspect of civil society.

The elements that inspire confidence, trust, and credibility in politics are the very elements that are absent in the political arena today in Mauritius. These include fundamentals such as transparency and accountability: two principles that we find virtually non-existent in Mauritian politics, and especially government, not only today—but since independence. Transparency, almost more than anything else, is crucial to credibility in politics. Transparency in governmental affairs, such as in contracts with foreign governments—is a necessary requirement of good governance and inspires confidence on the part of a population in their elected officials. Without credibility, our parliament is like a sailboat without a sail.

What can be done? One solution is to change the way the government and the parliament they themselves function. Laws and amendments to the constitution must be sought out and brought: we must re-vitalize the credibility that our democratic institutions hold in the public eye. These changes should have occurred decades ago. The only reason that the status quo still remains is because it has served the political elite and their cronies all too well. Many a dynasty has been built according to these archaic and opaque methods of politics and governance in Mauritius.

A better solution, coupled with the obvious solution above, is that we must change our elected officials. Change the very party’s that we elect to government and parliament in Mauritius today. It is time for a new breed of politicians, and political parties, to emerge. An honest, innovative, and dynamic, new generation: one whose last names are not synonymous with those of Judges or DPP’s or other well-known Ministers and their families of the past 30 years. We must end the period of “dynastic” politics in Mauritius, the time of the political dinosaurs and their archaic, opaque way of doing business must come to a close.

It is time for REAL change in Mauritius: where competency, transparency and accountability, and meritocracy, are prime and are in the driver’s seat: not family name, race, religion, or gender.

At Nouveau Front Politik, we can think of almost nothing “sexier” than bringing back the much-needed credibility to the political arena in Mauritius. Except for maybe: completely eliminating poverty or saving the environment.

Both of which, we take very seriously. As we say in Mauritius, “Nou Zwenn Biento.”