Presidency equals State of Mauritius

The image of the Presidency must not in any way be tarnished. This is because should an amalgam be made, there would spillover effects, tantamount to tarnishing the image of the State of Mauritius itself

And therefore it is an absolute necessity that the image of the Presidency must not in any way be tarnished. This is because should an amalgam be made, there would spillover effects, tantamount to tarnishing the image of the State of Mauritius itself.

Unfortunately certain matters which have been ventilated in the public domain appear to be doing just that. It is normal that, as Mauritian citizens, we should be deeply concerned about the foundation of the matters being ventilated because it is about the future of the country in all aspects.

As things stand at present, numerous analysts and observers have been pointing out that investor confidence as well the position of Mauritius on the corruption scale have taken a dip because of the manner in which the BAI saga and affairs and personalities associated with it have been dealt with. And all is not over yet on that front. This makes the task of taking Mauritius to the next economic level more difficult for the new Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, especially in a global environment which is already constrained by the polarisations taking place.

The latest affair being brought to the public’s attention is one which the Presidency has links with, namely the Planet Earth Institute (PEI). The President, Mrs Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is its Vice-President. The title in yesterday morning’s l’express newspaper – ‘Zones d’ombre autour du Planet Earth Institute’ — is something indicating the President’s involvement in it and needs to be sorted out and shown to be above any reproach that could be made against the PEI.

As it is, a few months ago PEI was entangled in a controversy alleging that false promise would have been made to ten students at the University of Mauritius, who had hopes of pursuing doctoral studies in prestigious universities abroad. It would appear that this hope was belied when it allegedly turned out that finally ONLY ONE student would be able to do so, the nine remaining having to settle for their course at UOM.

It is not that UOM cannot deliver on the students’ expectations, but we all know that international exposure for an academic is the best thing that can happen. There was unfortunately a false hope given to the ten students if the allegation is true. Some explanation would have cleared the President of being attached to an institution which allegedly did not deliver on its promises.

It will also be remembered that that this doctoral study scheme was launched with great publicity, featuring the President, and now that cold water has been thrown over it, the question that can be legitimately put is: hasn’t the image of Mauritius been affected by the fact of the President of the Republic being associated with the PEI not delivering on its promise?

The next question that arises is: were the credentials of the PEI and of its President Alvaro Sobrinho rigorously checked by the Presidency before it was decided to associate with him at this high level? We would like to think that there would be in place a rigorous system to check the credentials of whomsoever – questionable personality or not – who tries to elbow their way to be publicly associated with the Presidency or Cabinet ministers through personal contacts with the incumbents or via lobbies? If there is no such system in place, there is a serious administrative shortcoming needing to be urgently established.

These are crucial questions. If the allegedly dubious financial status of Alvaro Sobrinho and of the PEI, as well as the failure of the latter to set up the infrastructure planned to conduct its affairs in Mauritius, with apparently quasi-inexistent staff, are all established by reference to facts, Mauritius would have taken a risk on its good standing at a very high level.

It is no doubt salutary that the President Mrs Gurib-Fakim has made a public statement on TV Wednesday last, following the headlines of l’express newspaper, that the matter must be subject of an official enquiry. This matter must be expedited by the concerned authorities – for the sake of the good name of the country and of the Presidency itself.

In the same vein, we deplore the ‘fake news’ item which declared that the President’s two children had allegedly died in an accident abroad, and which has been denied. This is utterly in bad taste and, by the same token, a thorough police enquiry must be carried out so as to clear the name of all stakeholders that may have been cited, or whose websites have been usurped.

At Balaclava, on the occasion of a workshop on photovoltaic energy, the DPM Ivan Collendavelloo remarked that not only the performance of ministers must be evaluated, but that such an evaluation should also be extended to the Prime Minister, the President of the Republic and the Chief Justice as well. Ivan Collendavelloo’s proposal is perhaps a welcome one that must be implemented without further delay.

TP Saran

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