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Friday, 04 January 2013 10:00

Fundamentals

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This is what Reza Issack, the Labour MP, said in a mini-interview with the Le Défi Quotidien: "Ramgoolam and Bérenger must stop their childish behaviour."
On another front, the squabble between Ramgoolam and Jugnauth gets deeper and takes the form of a vendetta. In the meantime one cannot but wonder whether anyone really cares about the country's problems and of those less fortunate in society?

Mauritius has made real progress in recent decades. Thanks to its liberal economic policy, supported by the welfare state, the country has so far been spared of social unrest seen elsewhere, generally linked to poor economic growth, unemployment and growing inequality. However, these two destabilising factors, although dormant, are much present in Mauritius. The unemployment rate, according to Statistics Mauritius, indicates a marginal increase from 7.9 % in 2011 to 8 % in 2012; 44% of our unemployed, i.e 20,500 are under 25 years.

The Gini coefficient – a measure of the degree of inequality in income distribution - after having shrunk from 45.7 in 1980 to 37 in 1987, is on an upward trend. It was around 39 in 2006, according to the CIA - World Factbook. Since then, the gap between rich and poor is widening alarmingly, like the bank manager who gets one million rupees per month, compared to the messenger with Rs10, 000. It is to be noted that the Gini coefficient is 25 on average for the Scandinavian countries, considered among the most egalitarian in the world.

Mauritius has other recurring problems, including water scarcity, which affects the whole island these days, especially in the East and South. This is what happens during drought spells, but for decades the authorities have not been able to harness the 50% of water loss because of the Central Water Authority (CWA) outdated piping network.

In the coming years, we face the risk of frequent black-outs, such as those that occurred in India and South Africa, due to lack of sound decision- on energy policy thwarted by intense lobbies and economic from cultural organisations. Our little island has two unpleasant records. First, 20,000 Mauritians are drug addicts, according to local NGOs (12,000 according to police). “Heroine abuse is a serious problem in Mauritius with a reported two per cent of the population addicted to drugs, by far the highest reported prevalence in Africa,” says a report of the U.S. State Department, dated mid-2012.

Then, with 120, 000 diabetics, Mauritius is a world champion. If diabetes is a hereditary disease - against which we cannot do much, if one does not closely monitor one’s lifestyle, drug addiction on the other hand, can be tamed through repressive and preventive policies. Right now, it is a cancer that is destroying families and society. It is the main cause of countless robberies, assaults and murders.

The number of crimes committed upon tourists is alarming; it may eventually damage the tourism sector, one of our main foreign currencies generating industry. Insecurity also poses serious threats to Mauritians in their every day life.

Inflation will hit, as of early 2013 the purchasing power of those from the most vulnerable social strata, in the wake of the implementation of the PRB report and pay compensation. This is quantifiable. But there is another scourge that will, if we do not pay heed, eventually drive the country to the abyss: the erosion of our institutions and values.

The remarks of the Privy Council on a Supreme Court Chambers must be an "eye opener", whilst the use of institutions, including the police, for political or partisan use, should be challenged by any responsible citizen.

Institutions do not belong to politicians, parties in power or mandarins in place. The latter are only the temporary managers. Only the people are sovereign and owner of the State. One distinguishes the rule of law from a lawless state by the strength of its institutions and the degree of compliance to common laws by the first of its servants-those in power and those who hold so-called constitutional posts.

Mauritius is facing real problems and challenges. Thanks to the dictates of our economic masters like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country has evolved, although progress remains fragile. However, the mindset of the political class is still childish, (dixit Reza Issack) and involved in vendettas (dixit Jugnauth), despite the daily concerns of Mauritians.

The world is changing, but our political dinosaurs and their accomplices, both government and opposition, behave like feudal lords, jealous of their powers and prerogatives. It is time to put a end, by imposing the only worthwhile agenda in the circumstances: an inventory of politics in Mauritius, a code of conduct for politicians, both for regional and national elected candidates, a law on the financing and funding of political parties and politicians, and more importantly to limit the number of mandates, necessary to ensure a renewal of the political class.

The country and the population can no longer be held hostage by elements of the same political class that makes arranged alliances, often contradictory to perpetuate themselfs in closed and exclusive manners, reproducing the same corruption, arrogance, the same malfunction system. This system and way of doing politics is exceedingly outdated. The citizen of the world that emerges in Mauritius, against the backdrop of globalisation and new information technologies, has the right to aspire to a better 2013.


Last modified on Friday, 04 January 2013 13:58
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