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[Blog] Some political lessons from Rodrigues

Something interesting is happening in Rodrigues. That is the smooth transition to the post of Chief Commissioner of Rodrigues. Johnson Rousetty was handing over power to Franceau Grandcourt, belonging to another party constituting the ruling coalition. This is as per the agreement between the erstwhile motley of opposition parties that joined together to overthrow the otherwise unbeatable OPR of the powerfully entrenched Serge Clair.


In Mauritius during the last general elections, there was division between the main opposition parties and this enabled the MSM to scrape through with only 37 % of the votes. To prevent a repetition of the same scenario, the three well-established traditional parties have come together to overthrow the current regime, presently mired in scandals but has enough assets to seduce the electorate with populist measures.

However, the alliance of the three historical parties is not creating the necessary "declic". The catalytic element is missing. This is because at the head of the parties are a bunch of "have-been" who are unable to galvanise the population, especially the younger generation, despite their past milestone achievements.

Younger voters are hardly aware of the epic struggles of Paul B֖érenger as a gruellingly combative trade unionist and charismatic young politician who brought about a sea change in the local political scenery and made thousands of Mauritians from all walks of life dream of a better future devoid of communalism, corruption, favouritism and social injustice. As for Navin Ramgoolam, although he consolidated the Welfare state set up by his father, these days he is best remembered for his extravagant style of life and decried private personal life. He also lost his credentials as a socialist following austere measures taken by his once-neoliberal minister of finance. These are usually unfavourably compared to the pro-people, not to say populist, measures taken by the Jugnauth government. Consequently, the mere coming together of the three traditional parties is not enough to bring about a political seism.

What is needed are some new faces who represent the future, who can make the young people dream of a different Mauritius, who are in tune with the aspirations of the younger generation, who understand this new world with its new technologies and new challenges. Such elements may be found in the extra-parliamentary parties. The latter alone cannot win the elections. However, together with the traditional parties, they can create an impact to bring about the necessary seismic change.

A formula “a la Rodrigues” is desirable in the present circumstances. Another Harish Boodhoo has to bring the opposition forces together to create the necessary "declic" as in 2000.

Azize Bankur



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