At LALIT’s meeting of members for the end-of-the-year “review” of 2010 and for an end-of-the-year bring-and-share party held on Sunday 19 December at Grand River North West, two members, Rada Kistnasamy and Lindsey Collen, gave the overall report on the party’s actions during the year, while six representatives of “Regionals” gave reports, and another seven representatives of LALIT Commissions gave Commission reports. The meeting, well-attended, was chaired by Rajni Lallah. Here is a brief summary, translated into English, of the overall report, based on notes for their report and on notes taken of their actual report, and expanded by them afterwards to make up this article.
Rada Kistnasamy began the overall report by talking about methods of struggle developed during 2010, including the re-launch of the magazine, the work-site bulletins, and our web-site.
.LALIT’s Bimonthly Re-Launched in 2010.
He said that at a Residential Seminar over a year ago it was decided that in 2010 we would once again begin to produce our theoretical and news magazine, “REVI LALIT”, and bring it out once every two months. The first one (Number 94) came out in a special edition in the build-up to General Elections, in April. The magazine averages around 36 pages and sells at 20 rupees per copy. This year, he said, Numbers 94, 95, 96 and a bumper 97 (of 72 pages) all came out as planned, and as a result of everyone co-operating together at all levels.
He said that when two members, Lindsey Collen and Cindy Clelie had been in Australia for the RSP First Congress last year, they had learnt from comrades there, how to better appreciate the precise way in which a party publication works so as to strengthen a revolutionary party. He said he would outline just how the REVI LALIT is working as a party tool.
First, Rada Kistnasamy said, our magazine is one where all members can, and are encouraged to, submit articles. Actually sitting down to write an article helps individual members make their own ideas clearer, which is good for the party. We write what we know from experience. We write what we analyze. And we write what we believe in. This is the first important role of the publication, he said: that all members can contribute, and all can sharpen up their political ideas and observations. Members can sign with initials, or with their names. The Editorial of our magazine is the collective responsibility of the REVI LALIT magazine, and is read at the editorial board meeting, and is LALIT policy. So, first of all, the REVI LALIT is a pool of all our thinking. He appealed to each and every member to contribute articles. Those who cannot read and write can perhaps get together with another member and dictate an article.
Secondly, all members, he said, then read the same set of articles in the magazine, and thus we gradually develop amongst ourselves, as members of the party, a common shared intellectual experience, he said. This means that we use words and phrases with a common understanding of their meaning, as well as building up a body of shared knowledge and analysis. This makes choosing strategic aims and tactical means much easier. If two members have been to Venezuela and Cuba on a revolutionary brigade (as two did in 2010), they then share this experience with us, amongst other ways, through articles and follow-up stories in the Revi LALIT, for example. Readers who are also party members then discuss the articles in branch meetings. This way, very quickly, ideas get shared, and also thrashed out, criticized and also fine-tuned.
Thirdly, members are all also distributors. And this is very important political work for a party. We go and see someone new, and discuss whether he or she would like to buy one. To do this political work well, we have to know what LALIT’s ideas are, what’s in the magazine, and what the difference is between what you will read in a LALIT magazine and elsewhere. We have to think what the expectations are of someone who has not read our magazine before. When you get a new person to become a reader, you also at the same time have to be ready for them to question you on ideas in the magazine. You thus learn to read with more attention, and to be able to answer questions and respond to criticisms, and to bring up points that you are not sure about in your next branch meeting. So, this work of “distribution” is not just technical work. It is a constant outreach to other new readers and also to potential members, while it is also a process of deepening of one’s own understanding, and one’s own capacity to argue a point logically, patiently and creatively. Not all readers will be potential recruits, of course. Many are just readers. But maybe they have a family member, a friend or work-mate who they, in turn interest in being a reader, and who may like to become a member. Readers are, in turn, good judges of their own acquaintances, and know who might like to be part of LALIT. So, the aim is that each member tries to always be increasing his or her list of readers to whom he or she distributes. It is very dynamic work. (And totally different from the capitalist mass media.)
In our case, we are all readers, distributors and writers (if not, we are at least potential writers) of Revi LALIT. And the Party is, at one level, an assembly of the contributors, the more active readers and the distributors. This is totally different from ordinary publications in the capitalist system. In their publications, there are owners (who have shares that need to bring in money), and paid managers. These managers sell advertising space (which is often more than 50% of the publication) for literally millions of rupees a year - mostly to the big bosses - who then have a control over content for the 50% they buy and often over the general nature of the other 50%, too. Managers also, in turn, hire (and when necessary, fire) editors and journalists, who are paid (rupee a word, or rupee per month). Readers are passive recipients who merely buy a product and consume it, while being bombarded with ads. Their distributors get paid for their work regardless of what the content of the publication is.
And in fact, this three-level process (reading, writing, distributing) is how we first started, before we were a Party. We even did the entire production collectively (which we still do, to a large extent now, too). Before becoming a party, we were a political magazine that came out once a month. From 1976-1983 REVI LALIT DE KLAS came out every month. It was in half foolscap format. Then there was a weekly newspaper of the same name. Then REVI LALIT for a few years in A4 format. Later LALIT’s News & Views. And now, in 2010, we have seen that the time is ripe for concentrating once again on a theoretical and news magazine, which makes us all become better party cadres. We all learn to share a “collective leadership”, so that we do not have to follow any party leader, guru, bluffer or caudillo. We are not just party electors, either. Nor paid agents, pulled in for elections. We share ideas, share aims, share strategies, share actions. And this is ongoing, whether there are elections or not.
The importance of a magazine is vital in different moments of history. And right now, in the present “downturn”, Rada Kistnasamy said, we have the time and space to dedicate ourselves to building a Party around our magazine of analyses, strategies and reports.
So, he said, maybe a good new year’s resolution for each of us would be to really decide and plan how to increase our distribution. Our aim is to spread our political ideas because we believe in them, because there is too much suffering in the long run under capitalism, and because we want to create the conditions that will re-enforce the struggle for socialism. One branch later said they intended in 2011 to bring together a “readers’ assembly” from time to time around their branch.
Rada Kistnasamy then moved on to his second point in the Report. After discussing it for many years, and this is an idea we learnt from the comrades of Lutte Ouvriere in France and in Reunion, we in 2009 began putting into practice LALIT work-site bulletins (an A4 sheet printed on two sides). These are decided upon and run at branch level, as a neighbourhood activity. The distribution links the neighbourhood with a work-site. It aims to be a regular bulletin, say monthly. And the idea is that, over time, a relationship develops between a LALIT branch and a site nearby. The aim is also to link the reality of life at that particular work-site with the general political situation in the country, and in the world even.
The work-site bulletin strategy avoids unnecessary repression from the bosses, because the workers concerned need not sign the bulletin, nor take up the issues directly, as they must do with more trade-union issues. The strategy also allows the research on the company (done by LALIT militants, now often with the aid of the internet, of course) to be linked with knowledge about the work-site from workers present on it.
This year, and this is a self-criticism, we have not kept up the work-site bulletin political work, as we had hoped to. This is purely for having too many other political tasks and not enough militant resources.
However, we have in 2010 had two interesting effects of the Site Bulletin:
- Letters from workers on one site to the LALIT headquarters, giving additional details of work problems on their site.
- A letter from the bosses at a firm, Princes Tuna, that replied to an article on a work-site in our Magazine (See our article in No. 96 and their reply in No 97). Our magazine is also on the Internet, so this may also be why the bosses replied.
So, we must pick up this work-site political work again, perhaps, Rada Kistnasamy concluded.
.LALIT’s new web site.
LALIT, Rada Kistnasamy continued, is keeping up with the ever-growing importance of the internet. It has become a powerful tool for communication. Recently the documents published by WikiLeaks give an idea of the poltiical significance of this new technology. (Rada referred members to the most recent LALIT magazine which covers the WikiLeaks documents in toto, as they relate to Chagos, and also to a LALIT article on our web site supporting WikiLeaks activist, Julian Assange, who is suffering various forms of rather bizarre repression.)
Rada said that our new site has only just gone public a week or two ago, and was still being refined that morning. He said that every year hits have increased. There are now some 1,000 per day, with a total of 387,000 or so this year, up to this morning.
Later in the same assembly of members, Ragini Kistnasamy, projected the new web site onto the wall “live” and introduced members to the various sections (news, documents, documentation centre, posters, literature, music, photo galleries, the Kreol dictionary, the new search engine and so on). Our web master was very positive about the amount of thought that members put into developing the site, she said.
After concluding on the LALIT web site, Rada Kistnasamy called on Lindsey Collen to continue her part of the Report on LALIT’s year 2010 that he had worked on with her.
.LALIT worked out the nature of the present moment in history accurately .
During 2010, Lindsey Collen said, in LALIT we successfully identified the double nature of the moment, and even the contradictory nature of these times. In some ways it is a moment of great possibilities because the capitalist system is in serious crisis, and is exposing both its internal contradictions and its inherent violence. So, broad masses of people are questioning it. Even academics and mainstream journalists and so-called opinion makers are questioning it. At the same time, however, we are in a “down-turn”, where the working class, and other oppressed people with an interest in changing things, are not in a position, with the exception of some countries in Latin America, to move on to the offensive. Though, of course, she added, this can change amazingly quickly. So one of the important things we did this year was to discuss in detail the double nature of this moment in history, as it is unfolding in Mauritius. In particular, we have begun an ongoing analysis of the disintegration of the “historical bloc”, i.e. the political aspect of the crisis. The disintegration of this historical bloc is precipitating attempts at the cobbling together of a new one that suits the bourgeoisie. This explains a lot of rather inexplicable alliances that we have witnessed this year. We have seen Labour pulling in trade unionists, even those who call themselves “left”, through their MPs like Nita Deerpalsing, Kader Sayed Hossen and Patrick Asseervaden, who are the “implimenters” of the Labour Party’s own version of “democratization of the economy”, one of the means of cobbling together the new “bloc”.
Lindsey said that LALIT was in a good position in 2010 to make these leaps in analysis (analysis which will determine our strategies, our alliances and our tactics) because since 2004, even perhaps from 2003, we had already been able to identify what we call a “Systemic Crisis” in Mauritius with the end of protection for sugar (the very “raison d’etre” of the country) as well as of textiles, formally a major employer. This crisis is a national crisis. It follows the end of “king sugar”, she said, which is no longer an employer of some 60,000 workers but of 3,500, and which is no longer a “sugar industry” but a “cane industry”, with sugar as one of a number of by-products including ethanol and electricity. A similar collapse of textiles, for the same reasons of liberalization, has meant the decrease from over 100,000 workers to about half that number.
As soon as we had identified the systemic nature of this national crisis, we began campaigning on it. And our campaign only had to change emphasis, and develop an articulation with all the new crises as they have unfurled. There was the energy crisis, which will recur, the food crisis, which will recur, the financial crisis (which leaves the capitalist institutions still in “ICU”), and the economic crisis world-wide, that is still going on, taking the form of the Euro crisis right now. We have had a lot of difficulty during this down-turn, however, in interesting the trade unions in this kind of more political work. We aim to get all workers involved in a discussion of what to produce instead of cane and instead of textiles, and at the same time, to put into question who decides. We need action on this issue. The trade-union leadership has become increasingly bureaucratized, with very short term aims, and leaderships that vacillate from being docile to bosses and to Government in turn, and who take decisions off their own bats. We have even had strikes announced by posters being stuck up. And then rescinded invisibly. Then we have had the acceptation of the “secret ballot” formula of the new repressive legislation. We have even had the result of a secret ballot rescinded after a Minister holding a “meeting” with workers.
However, in 2010, for the first time a Confederation did invite a LALIT member to address their assembled members on the issue of the crises and what they mean to workers. LALIT members obviously addressed trade unions on a number of other issues during the year, but at last one of the Confederations has taken the plunge and begun to address the crises. As we say in LALIT, just because it is difficult in a down-turn to address this kind of issue does not mean we should not address it. We must find ways of articulating it with the concerns that workers already have.
And our analytical breakthrough in 2010 has been in terms of understanding how the systemic crisis is producing a break down of the historical bloc that has ruled Mauritius for the past 60 years. As we all know, the bourgeoisie is too small a class in terms of numbers to be able to rule by out-and-out dictatorship. So, most of the time, within each nation state, it cobbles together a “bloc” – a “bloc” in the sense that it is a rather unwieldy informal alliance. This bloc is “historical” in the sense that it lasts over time, responding to the needs of the owning classes. It’s a kind of thieves’ agreement on how to share the proceeds of the robbery of the working classes.
In the case of Mauritius, we note that the historical bloc is, in political terms, nearly always around the Labour Party. The Labour Party cobbles together big cane planters without mills (represented by Satcam Boolell for many years), small cane planters (almost all the Labour Party agents in the countryside were very small cane planters), and parts of the working class (notably one of the biggest unions, the Plantations Workers’, which groups cane labourers. The Labour Party then announces how it is “against the Sugar Estates bosses”. They throw in a bit of racism, of course. And what they get around them is basically the “historical bloc”. However, in reality, immediately after each election, the Labour Party has, for the most of post-independence history, simply made a coalition with the PMSD, which represented the millers, so they too are in the historical bloc. (The MMM could get voted in in 1982, and stay in Government for 9 months only) by making an alliance with that wing of Labour Party representing big planters and led by Harish Boodhoo, that split off in 1980 forming the PSM, and by simultaneously offering a “New Social Consensus” to the sugar estate bosses. In fact the MMM was unstable probably because it made more concessions to the sugar bosses through this “consensus” than Labour ever did. Later the PSM and part of the MMM stayed in Government, forming the MSM which ruled - mainly together with Labour - for decades. And for the past 5 years, Labour has been in power again. And it is at this time that the historical bloc is disintegrating. So right now Labour Party people like Nita Deerpalsing, Cader Sayed Hossen, Prof. Torul, Shakeel Mohamed, Patrick Aseervaden, have the role of drawing in the trade-union representatives, so as to take on the millers (now also becoming distillers of ethanol, producers of electricity from bagasse, and so on). This kind of LALIT analysis helps us understand how a trade unionist can announce that it was a working class victory to get rid of Rama Sithanen and have him replaced by Pravin Jugnauth, or that a new phase of working class struggle will start soon in the Minister of Labour, Shakeel Mohammed’s office!
While a new historical bloc is being cobbled together, we find all sorts of unstable attempts at alliances, unprincipled goings-on, and apparently mad happenings, that can only be made sense of once once we realize the gravity of the systemic crisis in Mauritius, and the way in which the old historic bloc cannot continue in the new economic environment without a lot of bust-ups and desperate attempts at forming a new bloc.
.A General Election Year: LALIT’s 5-Year Report and Program.
We have often said that, though general elections are not necessarily important for a revolutionary party, they can nevertheless cause a lot of difficulties to us, if our tactics are not good enough.
We decided, after much thought together in branches and assemblies, to not stand as candidates at all. We decided to sit it out. And yet we had a fantastic electoral campaign. This was because we used the political moment (not in long-term history, like what we have been talking about in the part of “historic blocs”, but in terms of a here-and-now general election, in 2010) in order to present a 5-year report on our political work over the past five years since the last General Election, and to link this to our political program for the future. While the two major parties did not present a 5-year report, LALIT did. Lindsey Collen then referred to the contents page of REVI LALIT no 94, which doubled as the LALIT electoral program. (The meeting went through the contents page together, understanding the structure of the electoral campaign through the publication we distributed and based our campaign of meetings and leaflets on.) We had more radio and newspaper coverage than usual, she said, perhaps because the vested interests of the big parties were not put out by LALIT’s presence. By the way, however, two of our members were arrested while distributing leaflets at the University of Mauritius during the campaign, but were afterwards released.
.LALIT themes have long lives.
The political campaigns that LALIT concentrates on have been developed as Party strategy over the past more than 30 years. And the surprising thing, the emboldening thing, is that they are still on today’s political agenda, in the year 2010. This means we chose them well, because we had analyses that allowed this. We did not just mobilize everyone on a “20% instead of 16%” wage increase, or on some vague “New Constitution” without specifying its content. Here are some 5 or 6 of our campaigns that are still now centre-stage in Mauritius: the question of the mother tongue in schools, Diego Garcia and Chagos, Palestine, Electoral Reform (and getting rid of the communal Best Loser System), Anti-Repression and opposition to repressive Industrial Legislation that came into force in 2010.
At our 2008 Residential Seminar it was decided that we would dedicate our energy to the mother-tongue issue, as the time was becoming ripe to attack the issue politically. After over 30 years of ground-work in LALIT’s publications, in LPT’s courses and books, in Playgroup’s pedagogy and booklets for children, and with a dictionary already being completed by the Arnaud Carpooran team, together with 35 years or so of literary production, plus the University of Mauritius and the Bureau Education Catholique having recently run courses at their respective levels, it was now time for a more political thrust. We thus encouraged the LPT in its political action of an “International Tribunal on the Harm Done by the Suppression of the Mother Tongues in Schools” in 2009, which LALIT followed up with articles on the significance of the Findings. And then this year, LALIT ran a poster campaign and wrote newspaper articles in favour of the mother tongues in the mainstream media. We then sent a document to the Minister of Education before the National Forum, to which we sent a delegate, and today the Government has finally set up an Academy for the Mauritian Kreol Language, has removed all repression on teachers for using Kreol, and has promised to introduce Bhojpuri, too. Two LALIT members are on the Akademi. The new government policy represents potential victories for the mother tongue. The State has begun the process, at long last, of recognizing the mother tongues.
We are now in a dangerous phase when communal forces are attempting to turn the mother tongue into a communal or identity, even race, issue. There have even been challenges to the Chair of the Akademi on the grounds of his supposed race.
It is quite awe-inspiring, quite stunning, how effective our work on Diego Garcia has been during 2010. Although, Diego Garcia has been on our agenda constantly since 1976, we realized some 18 months ago, that there would now be a new phase about to begin. So, we decided to prepare an International Conference on Closing Down the US base, getting the UK to dismantle its illegal BIOT and to work towards completely decolonize Mauritius, and fighting for the right to return of all Chagossians to mark this new phase. The Conference was a resounding success,in itself.
And the effects of the Conference have been incredible, and have combined with other events, some that we had accurately anticipated, like the coming in to force of the Pelindaba Treaty and its secretariat, while others that are partly coincidental like the WikiLeaks documents on Diego Garcia and the visit of Princess Anne to Mauritius. These two events, too, are only partly coincidental, because the decision to release the Diego Garcia material amongst the material released earliest, is obviously partly because there was already mobilization on the issue of bases, and of Diego Garcia. She mentioned how Prof. Chalmers Johnson (who has since the Conference date unfortunately passed away) a mainstream geo-political analyst had taken up the issue of base closure as the major theme of his last two or three years’ work. The Princess may also have been despatched so as to cover up or patch up the Mauritian Government’s rage over the Marine Protected Area, which the British would have predicted accurately beforehand.
- There has been an unprecidented focus on Diego Garcia in the year 2010, and this is in large part due to the 30 years’ struggle that LALIT has participated in, and also in part due to the LALIT international Conference.
- LALIT has successfully united many currents on the Diego Garcia issue (in Mauritius, not only our current, but those of past important struggles led by Kishore Mundil and Pynee Chellarpermal, young Chagossians, the women’s movement (five associations) and mainstream currents like one represented by the former President of the Republic, Cassam Uteem who opened the Conference. We brought the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Boolell into a challenge debate on the issue at the Municipality of Port Louis in November. At an international level, we brought in the No Bases current through Wilbert van der Zeijden, the Fourth International Current, represented by Penny Duggan, the Australian Revolutionary Socialist Party, represented by John Percy, activists from Reunion and students from the USA. No less than 33 organizations from abroad sent LALIT messages of support. These include seven from Japan, following LALIT member Ragini Kistnasamy’s visit and speaking to demonstrations at bases in Okinawa and outside Tokyo, and others from all over the world following LALIT member Alain Ah-Vee’s participation in the War Resisters’ International meeting in Ahmedabad in India. All our international political work, as well as years of work at national level, clearly contributed directly to the success of the Conference.
- The issue is now in the mainstream news, on radio, in newspapers every day.
- The Mauritian Government has announced that it is toughening up its legal, political and diplomatic measures. The Prime Minister has, for what it is worth, called the British State “liars, cheats and hypocrites”. The Government, during the Conference, announced that it is decreeing a day for Chagos illegal occupation, 3 November. It has doubled the budget for the Trust Fund and also started to project democratic arrangements for the Chagossians within the Mauritian democratic structures. Mauritius has been elected to the Secretariat of the Pelindaba Treaty, and the Foreign Affairs Minister is finally threatening to call for IAEA inspections, to go to The Hague (to the ICJ), and in general to act in favour of Mauritian sovereignty.
-Sir Aneerood Jugnauth, President of the Republic, has spoken out, as the Declaration of Grande Riviere made at the end of the LALIT Conference called upon him to do, and he has accused the US and UK of “fu enn baz laba” (“shoving a base on to the islands”).
- WikiLeaks has released the Diego Garcia material in the first batch of 850 documents so far released of the 250,000 or so.
- Olivier Bancoult, the leader of the Chagos Refugees Group, has been obliged to clarify his position. He says that he agrees with LALIT on most things, but that LALIT is in favour of closing down the military base (he does not say “whereas …”, but we can assume the conclusion of the line). He also says that his lawyers advise him not to ally with LALIT because the British State doesn’t like it. (It is, in fact, true that the barristers for the British State went on and on for a whole hour during their Court Case in London about LALIT preparing a flotilla – it is true that we were, to go to Diego Garcia – and how this was supposedly a “threat to US-UK security”. The judges, however, made fun of these allegations that a few yachts would compromise a US military base and western security. In any case, Olivier Bancoult should have the political nouse to know that it is dangerous to break with friends just because your adversary, of all people, wants you to. If the British does not want the CRG to ally with LALIT it is for a very simple reason: this puts the British State in a worse position than it is already in. Before our Conference, Olivier Bancoult had given his word that he would be present at the LALIT Conference, and his name was on the Program, right up until the very day. Later he told us that a family member was in hospital. He did not say, however, that he would not be present. Then, when he did not turn up, he told a number of members on different occasions, very formally, that he was not present only because of the illness of his family member. In any case, the British State itself talks to us when it wants to, so Olivier Bancoult should not be cowed by them. For example, when we were busy informing people in the street on 3 December that the Commissioner of Police had used his powers in order to ban our demonstration planned for that very hour (against Princess Anne, because of the use of Royal Orders in Council used so as to break up Mauritius and ban Chagossians), the British High Commission dispatched a senior staff member in person to come and see us in the street. He informed us that we were welcome to leave the letter to Princess Anne at the High Commission later that day, which we did, and that we would be received the next week for a meeting. However, we had no intention of meeting them.
All this to say that many things became clearer. Fernand Mandarin, the leader of the Chagossian Social Committee, had also given his word that he would be present a the LALIT Conference, and he also curiously did not turn up and he also, more curiously, pleaded the illness of a family member. He would later be seen shaking hands with the Princess herself. That clears up an issue, too.
In January this year, LALIT member, Ragini Kistnasamy, was in Cairo taking part in demonstrations with other international activists trying to get into Gaza in the first attempt to break the siege being policed by the Israeli armed forces. Through this action (following Alain Ah-Vee’s participating in the very tough demonstration along the length of the Apartheid Wall that the Israeli State has erected wherever it chose to, and following two previous visits to Palestine by Ragini Kistnasamy to bear witness to checkpoint harassment in Palestinian villages), LALIT opened up wide support in Mauritius for the Palestinian cause. We received some 50 letters of support, from organizations and individuals in Mauritius. We also brought in a number of different forces through the demonstration in front of the US embassy against the Gaza siege that LALIT held this year. After that we held meetings and film shows in Rose-Hill and in Plaine Verte. This latter one was organized at the Goomany Centre.
LALIT, has for 30 years been building up support on the Palestine issue consistently. What this means, when we give a report like this one, is that LALIT has ways of choosing issues that, as we see, stand the test of time.
.Electoral Reform (opposing the communal aspect of the Best Loser system) .
This year, the Balancy judgment is finally being exposed for what it really was. The fluffy thinking about it “doing away with the Best Loser System” is now gradually, after 6 years of false propaganda, being exposed in the mainstream media. What the Balancy judgment does, is what the Court was asked to do: It adds a fifth “quasi-community” to the existing four of the Mauritian Constitution, and it does this while expressly guaranteeing that this will not interfere with the existing communal best loser system. According to the Balancy Judgement, as well as a candidate for General Elections being able to put “Hindu”, “Muslim”, “Sino-Mauritian” or “General population”, a candidate can according to the judgment, put “Nil”. The judgement in fact acts so as to effectively stabilize the system. We do not agree with the tactic, because it goes in the direction opposite to the direction intended. In fact, for the record, the idea of this tactic that produced the Balancy judgment was mooted in LALIT long before 2005, but we rejected it as counter-productive.
The way in which LALIT is gradually winning a victory for the truth about the effect of the cases now in the Privy Council and UN Human Rights Committee, is curious. It is that Paul Berenger has publicly stated that:
a) He is in favour of maintaining the Best Loser System (as he has, incidentally, always been), and
b) He is also in favour of adding the same fifth alternative for candidates for General Elections, i.e. following the Balancy judgement, which was handed down, significantly, when he was Prime Minister. Paul Berenger went on to say that he regrets not having, when he was in power, changed the Constitution to allow this. Navin Ramgoolam, in reply to a Parliamentary question, then took a similar line to Paul Berenger, though not as clearly spelt out.
- No-one seems to realize that this puts into one and the same “block”, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, one of the main supporters of the Best Loser System, Yousouf Mohammed, Ashok Subron and Jack Bizlall, and Pippo Forget (number 2 at the MCB, the finance capital wing of the sugar oligarchy, and share holder in the La Sentinelle empire), who all, in a formal sense, have a position in favour of keeping the communal best loser system but allowing a candidate to opt out, on the margins. What is curious is that Subron and Bizlall pretend that the very legal actions, in which they clearly spell out in writing that they will not in any way touch the communal best loser system, will somehow nevertheless bring an end to the communal best loser system. They do aim at the end of the Best Loser System, but they have adopted a tactic for which they have to vow that is not their intention. This resembles the old Berenger line: “There is no need to do away with the Best Loser System because it will wither away all by itself.” This will have been the only electoral law that has ever just evaporated, without needing to be repealed, replaced or amended, even as everyone continues saying (and even taking oaths) that they are not doing anything that will inconvenience it!
This kind of con-trick could only ever have been maintained with the complicity or stupidity of very senior journalists.
Eventually, the truth will no longer be able to be covered up any more. LALIT will be vindicated. The vindication started in 2010, with Berenger and Ramgoolam’s statements.
Anyway, LALIT during 2010, held a number of open sessions on Saturday afternoons. From these came our document on “Electoral Reform” and Democracy, on which we can rely now in our struggles, as a Program for change. It has been published in both L’Express and Le Mauricien, and is in REVI LALIT number 96.
.Anti-Repression and opposition to the new Industrial Laws of 2010.
Perhaps the biggest single anti-repression gain of 2010 in the country was LALIT winning its case against the Police Commissioner when he banned a meeting on the grounds that we had not produced a bit of paper from the Ministry responsible for roads to the effect that we had clearance to use “his” roads. The Supreme Court ruling is that no such authorization to use the roads is necessary by law. So, LALIT’s case has rolled back an anti-democratic practice that other organizations and trade unions had allowed to creep in.
What is also interesting is that LALIT, as a party, was able successfully to articulate two conflicting needs: the need to hold a demo against the proposed Marine Protected Area and the need to oppose the conditions that the police were imposing. By going to the Supreme Court we had to jeopardise our demonstration date. We did this and won the case, and had the demonstration at a later date, as well.
This was the year in which the two new repressive labour laws came into force. They are the Employment Relations Act and the Employment Rights Act, the first governing industrial relations and the second the basic work conditions in all sectors. These laws to replace the old Industrial Relations Act and Labour Act reflect the new balance of forces between capital and labour, and impose a regime of “easy sacking” for the bosses. LALIT members, in particular Ram Seegobin and Rajni Lallah, have given many talks to trade unions and federations on the dangers of these two laws.
Ram Seegobin gave this part of the Report on LALIT’s internationalism in 2010, as part of the LALIT’s International Commission Report. He said that, for the first time ever, the work of the International Commission had been integrated into the work of the party as a whole. He said that this was a very good sign. Our internationalism is, thus, no longer something separate from the rest of our political work, but is part of it. He gave details, including on our work on Palestine and Gaza, Kisna’s participation in the Gaza Freedom March, our demonstration on the Gaza issue, our relationship with the RSP in Australia, two of our members being part of a revolutionary brigade to Venezuela and Cuba, our links with the Fourth International, our participation in War Resisters’ International, our forming and building up the No Bases movement, which has greatly influenced the mainstream thinkers of this age, as well as the internationalism as a vital aspect of our work in 2010 on Diego Garcia.
Lindsey Collen concluded, on behalf of herself and Rada, on how all the work in this Report (which needs to be read in conjunction with the Report on page 67 of REVI LALIT number 97) is a direct result of the work of LALIT branches and commissions. She said we will hear these branch and commission reports immediately after this part of the Assembly. However, she added that there are two other party structures (other than the Central Committee and Members’ Assembly, which are the decision-making structures) that have made a huge contribution to the perspicacity of the party’s contribution to progress. The first is the residential seminars, that allow very slow, creative, mulling thought processes and work in smaller groups to produce the kind of common understanding that leads to good strategies. The second is the weekly “programme” meetings, which are non-decision making and thus also allow time and space for speculation, self-questioning, deeper reflection, and thinking out-of-the-box. Without all these structures, ongoing structures that require of members “revolutionary patience”, decisions to make Palestine or Diego Garcia central campaigns, for example, might never have been taken. Without all these wonderfully creative, collective thinking sessions, we might not have known that now in 2010 is the time for a new series of REVI LALIT magazines.
We hope, she said, that this gives members a better background to overall gains of the year 2010, in these not-so-easy times for revolutionaries, before listening to the reports from all the branches and commissions.