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

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?

Orange-gate update: Political police?

navin-ramgoolam-police

The purpose of the Mauritian Police Force is supposed to be: “To uphold the law fairly and firmly, to prevent crime and bring to justice those who break the law. To protect the community and act with common sense, integrity and sound judgement…”. In his classic allegorical novel, Animal Farm, George Orwell warns us that even the most idealistic leadership can become irredeemably corrupt over time. The surest evidence for this is when the de facto law of the land has degenerated to: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Is Mauritius sliding down this slippery slope?

With lightning speed the police responded to the complaint Nandanee Soornack (Labour activist) made on 10th December 2012. The acccused, Yogida Sawmynaden (MSM activist), was questioned, arrested and provisionally charged with a crime that doesn’t even exist in law merely eight days later.   The farce only ended when the the Director of Public Prosecutions intervened, ruling that there was “no case to answer”. Contrast this with a complaint first lodged over two and a half ago…

[Source for photo: kotzot.com]
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

Feedback: Daft MID Strategy

Overview

MID was launched in 2008 in Paris and 2009 in Mauritius, promising to fundamentally change Mauritian society and its impact on Nature in four major spheres: economic, social, political and environmental. A visioning exercise was conducted in 2010 to capture the population’s dreams for the future of the Republic. However, the output has been ignored and this has been rightly criticised by the Truth and Justice Commission. Instead of a co-created, inspiring blue-print for the future, the MID Vision is a bland statement of a few generic elements of sustainable development within a framework that is far from comprehensive. There is little in the MID Vision that permits one to visualise the future and indeed there is nothing in it that is specific to Mauritius – it could just as easily apply to France. Continue reading