Tryst with History

The Belle Rose-Quatre Bornes by-election provides a golden opportunity for the electorate to show the way for a paradigm shift in the country’s political ethics

The 42,052 electors of Belle Rose-Quatre Bornes have a tryst with history on 17 December 2017. The writ and procedures for the by-election in the constituency on that date have finally been issued. Nomination day for the registration of candidates has been fixed for 4 November. The main opposition political parties are all rearing to have a go despite their repeated breaches of trust and poor governance when they were in power. Most of them had already announced their candidates well ahead of the official writ for the by-election. The present government aware of its patent unpopularity will most probably shy away from fielding a candidate in the by-election.

The opposition parties obviously hope that the mounting backlash against the present government will make the people forget their own heavy legacy of broken promises and misdemeanours when they were in power. This is not the fantasy world of Alice in Wonderland. In the real world, people do not suffer from amnesia. Nothing is forgotten. The people have not forgotten their power sharing deals despite public protests, so contrary to the ethos and fundamental cornerstones of our democracy, their dilapidation of public funds, highhandedness and cronyism.

This is a by-election that should not have been, had the pledge of service to the people and contract of trust between the people and the elected at the December 2014 general elections been faithfully honoured. It is estimated to cost some Rs 15 million to the Public Exchequer.

Mauritius is therefore at an important crossroads. After decades of poor governance by successive governments led by the same discredited leaders who have monopolized the political scene for donkey’s years, we have the opportunity and the duty as a nation to kickstart a game changing process to break, at the next general elections, the unending cycle of one bad government being replaced by a worse one and so on and on ad nauseam.

The experience of the past decades has shown that all political parties are basically variations of the same core model. They all have an undemocratic structure geared to assure, as in a banana republic, the perennity of omnipotent leaders through the support of cohorts of subservient apparatchiks. They are all of the same kind. There is only a difference in the degree of disappointments continuously endured by the people during the mandate of successive governments.

All guilty

In short, all elected MPs are guilty of aiding and abetting the maintenance of an undemocratic political system geared to maintain political leaders repeatedly defeated and disavowed by the people at the polls at the head of their respective parties in the teeth of basic principles of democracy. Such a flawed system prevents the rejuvenation of party leadership by more able and innovative talent. This is all so detrimental to the robust and sustained progress of the country. They have therefore de facto disqualified themselves from again obtaining the trust of the people at the polls.

If we are, as a nation, to ensure a more equal, inclusive and prosperous future for all, radical changes must be brought now to the political system, to the quality and caliber of candidates, the standard of political ethics and the manner political parties are run. The people’s message must be loud and clear. The diverse parties must be radically reformed around a new leadership and anchored on solid democratic principles. We will no longer endorse political parties and discredited leaders who have failed to live up to the pledge of service to the people and to the ethos, seminal ideals and the all inclusive socio-economic development objectives of our fight for independence.

The by-election is therefore an ideal platform to initiate a process of cleaning up all the Augean stables of the local political landscape and parties. In many respects the constituency Belle Rose-Quatre Bornes represents the nation in its rich diversity. Its urban character should confer it a certain maturity in making a judicious choice aimed at ushering a paradigm shift in our political history.

In September 1970, the electorate of Pamplemousses and Triolet had showed the way by electing Dev Virahsawmy in a by-election with a massive 72% of the votes. They thus meted out a scathing defeat on the government, only two years after independence in protest against its ineptitude to honour its promises to establish a better socio-economic order. The revolt of the people acted as a detonator for the outcome of subsequent elections and the profound changes which reshaped the political landscape of the country.

However, the political system has again come full circle. The current cycle of appalling governance by successive governments which has plagued the country for too long cannot go on. It needs to be stopped. Can the electorate of Belle Rose-Quatre Bornes replicate the game changing feat of those of Pamplemousses and Triolet in September 1970? The outcome of the by-election will not change the configuration of the National Assembly. However, the by-election provides a golden opportunity for the electorate to show the way for a paradigm shift in the political ethics of the country. In many ways the multitude would wish that they were also registered voters of Belle Rose-Quatre Bornes in order to contribute to this salubrious sea change in the country.

Voting for higher standards in politics

The single vote to be cast at the by-election makes it a linear choice distanced from the narrow considerations which are very often reflected in the voting pattern in favour of the three party candidates in general elections. The vote must above all be a protest vote against the major political parties, their standard of political ethics, appalling governance and ineptitude in meeting the aspirational needs of the people, when in power. It should also be an indictment of a flawed political system which is plumbing the future prospects of the country. It is therefore time for the country to provide alternative choices to the electorate. It is thus time for a new breed of able and talented young Mauritians having proven their mettle in their respective professions to take up the challenge of joining politics for a limited period to serve the people and help conceive and build a more inclusive and prosperous model of society for the benefit of all.

We must recall that it is the intelligentsia including some who were already on the ground fighting for the rights of the people as from the late 1930s who participated in the first general elections held in 1948 which was won by the Labour Party led by Guy Rozemont and its allies. It is now again time for some of the best brains in the country to contribute in realizing our loftiest ambitions as a nation. It is also time for the political class to be chosen to reflect the immense talent and professional acumen latent in the country so that their synergies can be harnessed for the benefit of the people and the nation.

The by-election in Belle Rose-Quatre Bornes is an invitation for some of the ablest young Mauritians to join politics to help craft and establish a better socio-economic order. They must share their ideals and explain their vision for an inclusive and fairer Mauritius to the electorate and provide them with viable alternative choices. The vote must be merit based. If we want the country to be led and administered by the most able and the competent, we need to provide the voters with excellent alternative options to enable them to make enlightened choices at the polls. This is not the time for abstention but to vote to jettison a crippling political system which has disserved the country and the people for too long.

At this momentous juncture, it would be opportune for the electorate of Belle Rose-Quatre Bornes to raise their hands to judiciously honour their tryst with history, akin to that of Pamplemousses and Triolet in September 1970 in order to usher profound transformational changes in the political landscape for the betterment of the country. The National Assembly is clamouring for democratic fresh air and a real commitment of selfless service to the people.

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