LALIT is opposing both the coalition that the Labour Party and MMM are cobbling together and also the main programmatic king-pin of this dratted and much-dreaded coalition: their intention to cobble together a “New Republic” or “Second Republic” with“sharing of power” between the two leaders of what they self-gratifying call “the two biggest parties in the country”. What both changes mean is that Government and Opposition are collapsing into one new Constitutional structure.
LALIT is running a campaign against this coalition that is being imposed by the whole of the private sector which is rightly terrified of the rebellion that the economic crisis will inevitably engender and thus wrongly desirous of “strong Government”, a euphemism for repression. We have explained the reasons for our opposition to this coalition in leaflets, articles, radio programs, and in press interviews in detail.
Now we are explaining our opposition to the outrageous “power-sharing” or horse-trading that is going on so as to make the Westminster system in place, which is already far from democratic, even less democratic and even more communally (ethno-religiously) inspired.
Instead of the overwhelming powers that the British colonialists left in the hands of the Prime Minister (and his nominated cabinet, recently an actual majority in the National Assembly!) being shared with the people, which would be democratic, they are to be shared out between the leaders of two parties in the planned coalition. Labour and MMM.
LALIT, by contrast, calls for proper democratic control of the Executive, with the right of electors to revoke or recall MPs and also for a bigger, stronger National Assembly, so that our elected representatives can democratically control the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, too. The test of the degree of democracy in any country is the degree of control by the people of the Executive, either directly or through their elected representatives. Mauritius fails horribly. By way of illustration of the preposterous lack of democracy in Mauritius, let’s compare with two other countries. In Britain and India, for example, there are over 600 MPs relative to 25-35-strong Cabinet. In Mauritius, there are/will be only 70-80 while nearly half (25-35) are part of the Executive, i.e. Ministers, PPSs and Whips, etc.
What is the political motivation of Ramgoolam and Bérenger? In fact, both Ramgoolam and Bérenger are seriously weakened leaders.Together they will make Constitutional changes that will ensure them a joint-rule, as neither seems to be able to rule alone. At the same time, they are bowing to their acknowledged masters and funders: the bourgeoisie.
Ramgoolam’s Government is teetering. He now has a majority of only one: 35 out of the 69MPs in the National Assembly. He hasn’t even got a full-time Finance Minister or Minister of Justice.
Bérenger has had to postpone his Central Committee elections again and again because of concerted moves to oust him, and amongst his grass-roots supporters there is unprecedented rebellion against him; to make him even more fragile, his personal body guard is up on possible murder charges.
So, two failing and falling leaders cling to each other, to face the electorate together: Government and Opposition as one, thus obliterating immediate political challenge and keeping power. And in so doing, they are intending to drastically amend the Constitution, along the lines of the arrangements in the Lebanon, that is to say in ways that are positively dangerous.
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam intends to become President with all sorts of new powers, like nominating the Prime Minister and other Ministers, like dissolving Parliament, like naming the Police Commissioner, while Opposition Leader Paul Bérenger wants to become Prime Minister keeping some of these powers. Behind their own ambitions, lies a thinly disguised new kind of institutionalization of communalism, called “power sharing”. The thinness of the disguise is such that, as well as the Labour Party and the MMM suffering mutinies on political grounds, they have suffered mutinies on communal grounds. Paul Bérenger quickly had to say that the “coalition is off”, and quickly announce that, as well as Ramgoolam and himself, Jayen Cuttaree would be Vice President, Reza Uteem Number 3 in the Front Bench and an MMM woman (read Arianne Navarre, already proposed for this, or a woman with similar communal background) as Speaker. Paul Bérenger also quickly argued at the gathering for Varusha Pirappu that the new Best Loser arrangements (with MP’s being named by the party leaders) would be favourable to sub-communities.
And what with the President and Vice President being elected directly for 7 years, while the others are for 5 years, the country will find itself locked into a communal straight-jacket like it never was before.
The two leaders are together plotting to replace the existing Best Loser System with a slightly less democratic (appointed directly by party leaders) and more communal (open up to a Pandora’s Box of communal lobbies) Best Loser System, instead of working right out of this archaic logic. In fact, the existing BLS provision in Schedule One of the Constitution are at the margins of the political scene, communalizing the centre-stage from the margins, the proposed Constitutional changes, hideous as they are, will be central to the political scene, and cast in iron.
The way in which negotiations are being conducted, with the “on” and “off” switches being pressed, adds to the reality that nobody is able to de-code the whole puzzle, leaving the people of the country in a state of being infantilized. The puzzle is one big tightly wound ball of wool containing different strands all muddled together: a new elected President with power, new laws to allow people to stand candidate without declaring their community, new laws for a bit of proportional representation to a completely small, weak and powerless National Assembly, keeping the best loser in a different form to give party leaders even more power, and 6 Constitutional posts with communal figure-heads a-la-scientific communalism of Paul Bérenger.
LALIT sincerely hopes that the coalition does not materialize, despite the quasi totality of the bourgeoisie supporting it. We also hope that the hideous power-sharing plan gets foiled.We call for a concerted, programmatic opposition to prevent what could develop into a one-party state imposing the agenda of the bourgeoisie.