Akash Gura Goredo
The people voted in December 2014 to reject a number of things that were becoming increasingly hard to swallow. Among these, an experiment with the fundamentals of our structure as a democracy: a second republic with powers to the President so great that it would be almost impossible to throw him/her out in case of misdeeds – the latest one’s stint at the post, and her recklessness in clinging to her seat, was a stark reminder how even the greatest minds can be tempted to be completely impervious to primordial concepts of ethics.
Therefore, we must keep reminding ourselves that the other commoners forming the bulk of elected Members of Parliament (MP) are even more prone to
being lulled into a false sense of infallibility, or worse, impunity. Cases like Tarolah (alleged tumescent violation of ICT act, among others), Lutchmeenaraidoo (allegedly using his name to influence a loan in Euros), Henry (allegedly causing a fatality while driving recklessly), Dayal (allegedly using his influence as Minister to get some costly ‘Bal Kouler’) are all examples of the wayward nature of these individuals’ minds. Them being school-mastered by Hanoomanjee is even more laughable, but it speaks volumes on the qualities of those who are supposed to lead by example. There are currently 69 of them, in various states of activity (or dormancy if you prefer, given the overwhelmingly discreet nature of their presence of the likes of Koonjoo, Joomaye, Monty, Oree, Aliphon, Rampertab, Sewocksingh, Jhuboo, Duval fils or Soodhun) and for which they are paid for to voice out the problems of their constituencies. How much? Are they in fact too numerous, as compared to
what we were blessed with in 1959 and 1963?
In the present times the country acutely needs renewed concern over efficiency and governance (not those of selling out CWA apparently because of a faulty hotline, mind you), a means of taking bold decisions quickly and implementing them in a most humane way: having all of the 35 or so pro-government MPs monotonously rambling on a Budget Speech is surely not the best way forward – the one to come, you can bet, could avert being yet another exercise in futility by restoring progressiveness in the tax structure like Bill Clinton did after the Reagan/Bush Sr era: read my lips!
Why not a parliament of only one representative per riding, and only 40 constituencies with a maximum of 5-10% variation in population size? And about 8 to 10 corrective MPs for ensuring that the 40-0 scenario does not flout democracy
and keep the majority MPs on their toes and keep reminding majority MPs (especially the Ministers, 12-15 of them would be more than enough!) about their duty towards the people – not the corporations – who have offered them that very parliamentary seat from which they are deriving so many perks.
But the Proportional Representation (already materialised by the Best Loser System; as a matter of fact, it could hinge onto the non-discriminatory provisions of the Equal Opportunities Act as an appropriate tweak to become compliant with the recent UNHCR ruling on our BLS), or its evil twin Party List, would verily prevent this: by locking in those who have deceived their voters, they would keep wallowing in mediocrity that would normally have deserved an ejection by polls. Like the population did to those who thought holding the magic formula of 40+40=80% of votes… Imagine the December 2014 elections with a Party List
topped by Dr Ramgoolam, who despite being booted out of his constituency, would still make his way into Parliament, together with his cronies (make no mistake: do you think the Party List would favour the best brains or the deepest pockets?). That’s precisely Serge Clair’s sour experience after Rodrigues’ PR gave Von Mally a triumphant opposition size in the last regional elections. As a matter of fact, PR brings instability at two levels: when trying to form a government (Germany remained rudderless for 6 months while desperately trying to form a government, while Italy is still in limbo and is considering another election soon for lack of cohesion in the winning alliance); secondly, when a partner leaves a winning alliance (like most landslide victories have proved to be in Mauritius), we have seen and felt what it meant to be stuck with a menu that we so ardently wanted together, but ended up with only part of the unmatched ingredients as food…
Now try to translate this real-life precedent dealt to Rodrigues’ PR unto Mauritian general elections of 2014 and visualise the turmoil it would have spun: Jupiter’s red spot would pale in comparison.
The Kick-off…of the Budget Speech
The current debate is yet another attempt at resuscitation of a stale debate, fuelled by the urgent need of diversion. First the Budget Speech is set on the kick-off of the World Cup, and second, now that the cohort of anti-progressive laws (started since the Business Facilitation Act of 1995 to make Mauritius ‘better’ than Muricah in terms of workers’ rights, then the killing of the Rupee’s value (together with our purchasing power), the flat-tax structure, the IRS/RES to allow untaxed conversion of lands on a massive scale to finance ‘Smart’ cities, and recently confirmed by
the ill-conceived concept of minimum wage) is reaching climax, it is highly predictable that another set of measures will fulfil all the dreams of the 1% at the expense of those who toil and vote them into power. And a pseudo-reform of our electoral rules will only fuel the growing resentment at the expense of the same demographics: the 80% who earn less than 15,000 depreciated rupees per month…