Corruption, Caste and Accountability



animal-farmDo you trust Ramgoolam?

At the end of his first term as Prime Minister in 2000, Dr Navin Ramgoolam’s Government paved the way for the establishment of the Economic Crime Office to investigate corruption in both the private and public sectors.  Shortly after Sir Anerood Jugnauth ousted him, it was closed down and replaced with the toothless ICAC with no power to investigate crimes of the past. Was it a coincidence that a leading member of Jugnauth’s cabinet was under investigation at the time?

Hiding the truth from public scrutiny has become a characteristic of successive Prime Ministers and it seems that the longer they have tasted power, the more desperate they become. An article in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, colourfully entitled “Like baboons, our elected leaders are literally addicted to power“, explains why:

Baboons low down in the dominance hierarchy have lower levels of dopamine in key brain areas, but if they get ‘promoted’ to a higher position, then dopamine rises accordingly. This makes them more aggressive and sexually active, and in humans similar changes happen when people are given power…But too much power – and hence too much dopamine – can disrupt normal cognition and emotion, leading to gross errors of judgement and imperviousness to risk, not to mention huge egocentricity and lack of empathy for others.

After 14 years as Prime Minister, is Ramgoolam going to even greater lengths than Jugnauth in order to feed his dopamine addiction? Continue reading

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Was RamGooLam the BBC’s April fool?

FloodOccasionally, the BBC produces a news story for April Fool’s day; the last one, in 2008, was a report, complete with video of penguins escaping the Antarctic winter by flying to South America. In 2013, did they make a global fool of our Prime Minister? The story was deadly serious, the flash flood in Port Louis that claimed the lives of our precious citizens on 30th March. Curiously the BBC first reported the story on 31st March and then repeated it the next day. The BBC’s children’s website described the calamity in only 5 sentences, the last one being:

The Mauritian Prime Minister blamed climate change for the floods.

WHAT!?! While it is impossible for us to do a survey of primary school students around the world, we believe, perhaps with the exception of Mauritius, most would consider this statement utterly ridiculous. The line was repeated in the main news bulletin on BBC World, presumably to let the whole planet would know that we have an idiot in charge of our country. Even when there was unprecedented melting of the Greenland’s ice sheets in July 2012, the BBC’s report contained a caveat from a top climate scientist:

…as always we cannot attribute any individual extreme event to climate change… Continue reading

All Mauritians are Equal…

Mauritian politicians: Masters of Bullsh!t

While our politicians are, almost without exception, utterly corrupt and incompetent to run our country without putting our lives in unnecessary danger, they are masters of one thing: bull sh*t. Check out the report from the United Nations on the elimination of discrimination in Mauritius [link to report]. One example…

UN: “Mauritius should make every effort to ensure that women from marginalized communities had access to equal opportunities in the economic and political life of the country.”

MU Delegation: “The financing of political parties and the electoral system were being examined, with a view to making the latter more equitable especially in terms of the representation of women…[But] The Constitution did not allow for positive discrimination because it advocated for the equality of all citizens.”

Nowhere is the classic line from George Orwell’s socialist parody, Animal Farm, more true than Mauritius: “All animals are equal – but some are more equal than others”. Surely the fact that women in general, and those from disadvantaged communities in particular, are so poorly represented in the National Assembly is incontrovertible evidence of an extremely prejudiced, patriarchal society? Either Mauritian men are far superior to our women or discrimination is systemic. The chosen few help their friends, family and fellow freemasons with every discretionary decision that they make.

How do we bring about social justice for the downtrodden? Is it possible without first slaughtering the pigs?

The Hymn of the rLOVEution

[To the tune of dIre sTraits “Brothers in Arms
Dedicated to Anjalay Coopen, Kaya and Berger Agathe]

These mist covered mountains
Are home now for We
And so are the lowlands
And even the Sea

We promise they’ll give you
Their fields and their farms
You’ll no longer burn to avenge
Your dead sister in arms

Through the streets of destruction
Baptisms of fire
We witnessed your suffering
As the battles raged higher

And though you were hurt so bad
In fear and alarm
We left you alone there
Oh brothers in arms Continue reading

Where there is no vision…

…the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. – Proverbs 29:18

Blind-leading-the-blind

Vision

The quote is from the Old Testament and was written by a prophet of Israel. His people spent 40 years wandering through the wilderness because they had no map to guide them to the Promised Land and a leader who had lost God’s favour. In the 1990s, our nation developed a long term strategy – Vision 2020 – to illuminate the path to a sustainable and prosperous future. It was the responsibility of the current Governor of the Bank of Mauritius and largely completed by the end of the golden age of Sir Anerood Jugnauth. A regime change in 1995 meant that its launch was delayed and with no communication programme, it soon disappeared from the consciousness of the people. Continue reading

MID Life Crisis

When the Prime Minister announced that he and Joël de Rosnay had conceived Maurice Ile Durable during a brief encounter in Paris, did he imagine that the gestation period would last 3 years 9 months? Finally, the long-awaited MID Strategy is about to be born… Or is it?

At the MID workshop last Thursday, some participants were calling for delivery to be postponed for another year. Had they peeked at the baby and seen the 4 limbs, head and body that they had carefully constructed in the 6 Working Groups, stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster? Alas it is worse than that. One participant summarised the overall conclusion to a long round of applause: “For the moment, the strategy we have looks more like Mauritius Green Washing than Maurice Ile Durable.” Continue reading

Patriarchal politics: Profit, Power and Philandery

Who can refute the feminist perception that the men who reach the pinnacle of social hierarchies exhibit three primary compulsions: lust for money, lust for power and lust for sex? If we are to believe the revelations of a penitent king-maker, this model seems appropriate for the patriarchs of modern Mauritian politics. Apparently, one used high office to acquire obscene wealth, another sacrificed all his principles to occupy that office and the third makes Bill Clinton’s office antics appear relatively saintly. It is said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Is this always true? Continue reading