The alliance that Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam and Opposition Leader Paul Bérenger have been trying to conclude since the run-up to the 2010 elections four years ago is now on the brink of being concluded. Time and again the two parties each felt “too strong” to make the necessary concessions for an Alliance.
Labour Party Leader, Navin Ramgoolam announced the coalition after he had informed his Political Bureau of the broad outline of the deal between Labour and the MMM. MMM leader Bérenger said, “I am very moved.” Tomorrow, Saturday, they are primed for a joint press conference. Alan Ganoo, Bérenger’s right-hand man announced that Bérenger would resign as Leader of the Opposition the minute the alliance was actually concluded. Xavier Duval, the deceived partner of Navin Ramgoolam, and deputy Prime Minister today, very late in the day, announced his resignation from Government.
The private sector, mainly through top business journalist, Lindsay Rivière, is desperate for this Labour-MMM alliance. The capitalists need it, to save their system. Riviére has dedicated himself to enabling it, with a string of articles and radio interviews, saying how it was always Bérenger’s desire – as if that were in itself justification. Other bosses like Tim Taylor and Rajiv Servansingh have openly called for it. They quite blatantly argue that a “strong” government is necessary in order to impose “unpopular” measures. This is code language for “repression is necessary in order to force the working class to bear the brunt of the economic crisis”. This brunt is already clear: unemployment, unreliable jobs, increasing prices, no new social housing, privatizing of part of social services, and dismantling of the welfare state, which will be returned to the pre-independence “poor law” system of “targeting” the poor.
While Ramgoolam and Bérenger and a largely compliant bourgeois press go on and on about how the “two big parties” are finally coming together in a spirit of national unity, what is in fact happening is a slow process of these two once-working-class- parties, both in severe decline, grabbing on to each other’s necks in despair as the bourgeois state gets rocked dangerously by the economic crisis the Mauritian bourgeoisie and State have ploughed themselves into.
Labour, in Government, is wracked by scandal upon scandal. Individual Ministers have their backs against the wall over various acts of favouritism and nepotism, cover-ups and mess-ups. The Prime Minister himself has never explained what he is doing going around in a Rolls Royce with special number plates in London. Meanwhile, to the fury of the people of the country, Mauritian land has been sold off, colonial style, to the international mafia and other millionaires. Permanent residence and even citizenship are put up for auction. The sugar industry is plummeting, and bringing the whole economy with it, through lack of a proper use of the European “accompanying measures” capital grants given for re-structuring the economy as a whole, following the abrupt end to protected markets in Europe. Instead Labour used it to restructure the sugar industry into the “cane industry” – cane also being used for burning (as bagasse) for electricity and for making ethanol. However, 2-3% less land is under cane every year.
Labour is also suffering internal rebellion against the new biometric ID card it is trying to impose. The last thing Bérenger threatened, while in opposition, was to get the ID card’s central data-base and fingerprinting records destroyed. The MNIC site has been exposed as being about the most careless in the universe with peoples’ personal data entrusted to it. The bosses have been found to have been illegally forcing workers to give fingerprints for attendance.
Labour, and indeed the MMM is no different, wants to avoid being at the helm “alone” to carry the weight of the new outrageous lease of Diego Garcia by Britain to the USA, to maintain its base on Mauritian land. Neither party wants to be at the helm alone as workers are made poorer and poorer, while the rich get richer and richer.
Neither Labour nor the MMM has any program other than rampant neo-liberalism. The Labour “democratization of the economy” has been revealed to be no more than cronyism. The historic bourgeoisie is blackmailing the Government by an investment strike over the past few years. Note that Ramgoolam talks about vague things like “historically important electoral reform”, “national unity” in the same string as “increased investment by the private sector”.
In fact, the electoral reform, including the Rezistans serial legal cases and the Bizlall idea of a second republic, is nothing more than a hollow means of enabling this alliance to come true. It is an alliance desired by the bourgeoisie. It is an alliance that corresponds to the political and personal needs of the two leaders. But, it was very difficult to bring it about. They had to find a power-sharing formula. The electoral reform, itself a retrograde hodge-podge, is the means towards this.
All in all, with Ramgoolam acting like a Monarch and Bérenger dictating to his party, the coalition means the threat of a very repressive Government.