The Constitutional Proposals

The constitutional proposals are nothing but organised gerrymandering designed to confer sectional advantages on the minorities by denying social and political justice to the majority

There are in particular two proposals in the document Constitutional Development in Mauritius which are wholly bad and which must be strenuously opposed. They are the proposal to retain up to 12 nominated members in the enlarged Legislative Council; and the proposals to introduce proportional representation as the system of voting.

As a colony advances towards self-government, the number of nominated members in its Legislative Council gets smaller. At the last stage before self-government, there are often only two or three officials in the Council apart from the elected element. Mauritius is advancing to self-government, but the number of nominees is not reduced in this latest proposal for a revised constitution. O, but it may be that there won’t be 12 nominees, someone may say; to which I retort that there will be just as many nominees as are necessary to put Labour in a minority in the full Council, should Labour get a majority of elected seats. The presence of nominated members is a device to frustrate the democratic will of the electors – as the 1953 elections showed.

If there are nominees, they should represent scheduled interests, or they should be appointed by the Governor after consultation with the leader of the majority party. Mr Macolm Macdonald recognised this in his despatch about the Malayan Constitution in mid-1954; to this despatch, from which I have quoted in Advance, I commend Sir Robert Scott’s attention.

Proportional representation is wholly bad as a democratic system of voting, wherever and whenever it operated. As Mr Roy has said in the Mauritius Times recently, France has unstable governments simply because of her voting system – which is P.R. But in the particular circumstances of Mauritius, it is even worst. Elections conducted according to P.R. will transfer to the Legislative Council those racial and religious differences which beset the population generally. Reflecting a community divided, as Sir Donald Mackenzie-Kennedy said, vertically by race and religion and horizontally by class, the Legislative Council will be a perpetual reminder of the divided society. Instead of leading to national unity and racial harmony, P. R. will accentuate and perpetuate racial and religious differences to the detriment of possible eventual emergence of a spirit of pan-Mauritian consciousness. Mauritius has a plural society, it is true, as have Trinidad and Malaya, and no one has suggested proportional representation there.

The implication running throughout the Governor’s despatch and appearing in less veiled fashion in Mr Lennox-Boyd’s is that Labour representation in the Legislative Council should be diminished, and anti-Labour representation should be strengthened. This is an odd way to treat the only organised political party in Mauritius; the only political organisation which, Sir Robert Scott has had to admit, cuts across the curtain of race and religion and colour. One is driven inescapably to the conclusion that the constitutional proposals are nothing but organised gerrymandering on the grand scale; designed to confer sectional advantages on the minorities by denying social and political justice to the majority.

The people must express their opinion of this travesty of a constitution. Let there be full and frank discussion everywhere; after all, as Edward I, King of England, is reputed to have said in 1295, “What is the concern of all must be approved by all.” And certainly there can be no general approval of the proposals as they now stand.

* * *

Eloge Funebre de Rozemont

Par Guy Forget

« Ami,

Avant que cette fosse ne se comble, avant que ta bière ne disparaisse à jamais dans ce petit carré de terre que tu vas désormais occuper, nous voulons te redire notre douleur et t’adresser notre dernier adieu.

Par mon humble voix, toutes ces femmes qui pleurent, tous ces vieillards attristés, toute cette foule consternée, veulent te rendre hommage et te dire leur gratitude émue.

Qui donc, parmi eux, ne te doit un bienfait, un conseil, un réconfort. Qui donc, parmi eux, n’a bénéficié, directement ou autrement, de ce dynamisme, de ce courage, de ce dévouement que tu mis si pleinement au service des petits, que c’est à 41 ans que la mort te frappe dans l’usure de tes forces vives.

Parce que tu vis souffrir tes frères tu compris leur misères mais tu compris en même temps que tu ne pourrais rien pour eux sans déclarer la guerre à l’oppression et à l’exploitation.

Ce combat, tu le menas aux côtés de Curé et d’Anquetil, et, à la mort de ce dernier, (m’entends tu, ô Jean Emmanuel Anquetil !) ce fut comme Chef que tu dirigeas l’action travailliste à Maurice.

Tes amis, tes collègues et tes collaborateurs sont conscients de ce que la Mort leur a enlevé, mais ils te promettent solennellement ici, comme tu le promis à Anquetil, que l’œuvre continue…

Qu’importe que je meure, a dit le poète, si mon œuvre doit demeurer : mais, pour nous, l’action publique ne vaut que si le combat continue, et ce combat nous le continuerons dans la voie que, jusqu’à hier, tu nous désignais du doigt…

Repose en paix, ami !

Repose en paix parce que ta moisson fut belle !

Parce que tu fus d’abord le défenseur des petits et des opprimés.

Parce que, grâce à toi, le travailleur sent qu’il n’est plus la bête de somme, et qu’il voit enfin se lever, pour lui et ses petits, l’aube d’un peu de sécurité.

Dors !… Dors dans la tranquillité de cette terre arrosée par la sueur de tes frères.

Dors dans la paix de l’infini puisque tu aimas précisément ceux le Maître aima le plus ;

Dors dans nos cœurs et sous tiède rosée de nos larmes.

… Et voila que se lève, comme un levain purifiant et vivifiant, le souvenir immortel de Guy Rozemont : les archives le retiendront à la manière des archivistes ;

L’Histoire le retiendra à la manière des historiens ;

Tes collègues le retiendront pour stimuler leurs actions ;

… Mais, Ami, pour bercer ton sommeil d’un immense et doux ronronnement, d’un bout à l’autre de l’île, c’est dans toutes nos chaumières et toutes nos cabanes que s’installe à jamais le souvenir de celui qui s’était donné aux humbles ».

 

 

* Published in print edition on 11 August 2017

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