After creating a big advertising buzz, Prime Minister Sir Aneerood Jugnauth read a 45-minute speech Saturday morning about his Lepep Government’s coming “Second Economic Miracle”, which speech was then made into the main theme for the 7:30 evening French-language news, with a background of western Messianic music, and visuals from some video-game logic.
But what of the content of the speech?
Ram Seegobin, commenting to the Press for LALIT, said that there was in fact nothing new in terms of economic strategy in the SAJ speech. There was the proposed massive expansion of the Port, there were the so-called “smart cities” that will grow like a pestilence on the geography of the land, there is the proposal for form a new region-wide Airline Company, and all this with emphasis on “investments in Africa”. But, nothing new. All of this has been said before.
There was also in his speech, Ram Seegobin added, a long list of the numbers of jobs supposedly to be created in different sectors, but without the numbers being linked to specific projects that might make the figures more convincing.
The big thing missing from the speech was the absence of any strategy towards diversifying agriculture, and this despite the very real problems that cane and sugar are facing – even by the Government’s and boss’s own admission – and the pressing need for massive job-creation in agriculture and related industry in the short run – so as to spare the rural areas the severe social crisis that sudden job loss has provoked.
The tone of the whole speech, Ram Seegobin said, was one of an “appeal to the private sector”. And this appeal was accompanied by proposals for a number of joint Government-Private Sector “committees”.
So, if it was not a very inspired or inspiring speech from the point of view of economic strategy, what exactly was its point?
Ram Seegobin emphasized that the speech was a way for Jugnauth to seize the political initiative in times when his party the MSM is in a grave leadership crisis – with SAJ ageing and his designated replacement Pravind Jugnauth out of the running for a few years after his guilty verdict on conflict-of-interest charges and his subsequent resignation as Minister. At the same time, this SAJ political initiative helps overcome the blatantly obvious political incoherence of his Lepep alliance, what with endless squabbles between Ministers and others from parties within the Alliance.
So, SAJ’s announcement is that it is him, personally, who will be taking the reins in his own hands, so as to guide the country to the “second coming of the economic miracle” – there is thus no leadership problem anymore, nor will there be any more squabbling – and yet it will take more than a speech for the Government and the bourgeoisie to face up to the systemic crisis that the capitalist economy in Mauritius is going through since the dislocation of the end of protected markets, which the State and bosses have seemed bent on aggravating, and continue to seem bent on aggravating, instead of addressing.