Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Of Real Change/Chetan Ramchurn/L'Express 28.05.14

Of Real Change
By Chetan Ramchurn

There is an eerie feeling in Mauritius these days. The political landscape is being redefined. The strangeness is familiar. We have witnessed it whenever a coalition dies or takes birth. This time is no different. The story is scripted but never ceases to amaze by its sheer ridicule. This is in line with the zeitgeist. Form takes precedence over substance. As evidenced by an unneeded PR system instead of the uprooting of financial masquerading in politics

The characters are familiar. The undermined faction is all alone, contemplating defeat. Desperate and occupying the moral high ground; their haloed figure talking about trust and telling us that he fears none. Others, left stranded ​in wilderness and out of the fray for long, have a shot at a last hurrah. There is some solace for them as the limelight beckons for a short stay. Some who have yet to make it; rejects of mainstream parties, failed leaders of paltry movements, serial party switchers, pose as the future. The media tries to give us some hope that it is not all dynasties. Political protégés from impotent institutions want the golden ticket, their slice of the cake. Our P.M wants all of it. The certified yes-men are at ease having no trouble segueing from one partner to another. The lure of power is indeed strong.

Beyond the noise lies an opportunity for grand scale change. This is a chance to dream big and pursue the possibility of doing away with our past demons. The burden of pre-independence divisions was made clear when a thinly-veiled mention of the illusory Hindu hegemony was used as political carrot to gain any form of mileage by a decaying party. The elimination of the BLS is a progressive step of significance but should augur greater upheavals. The accountability of elected members remains a sore spot with little done to cure a malady that allows incompetents to be present in positions of power and authority. Our democracy is broken with the renewal of ideas that has been halted. To ensure that this is no longer the case, the system cannot promote the voting of incumbents. The limit on the number of mandates needs to become a reality.

Legislative amendments mean nothing without economic bravado. The vulnerability of employees has been further deepened with little protection offered to them and laws that are clearly not here to protect them against corporations. This is why we need a leadership that is strong and can act in favour of those that cannot defend themselves. Paul Samuelson pointed out that the three roles of a Government are to redistribute income fairly, to provide quality public goods and thirdly through monetary and fiscal policies as well as regulations the ensuring of macroeconomic stability. There is the need for leaders that can afford us this type of environment.

There is clarity after chaos. The post-independence years have been troubled; while progress has been achieved, corruption has flourished. No real attempt to regulate parties has been made. The middle class has increasingly been weakened. Politicians should aim at bringing real transformation instead of being sidetracked by gossamer changes.