The introduction of the two Bills (the Good Governance and Integrity Reporting Bill and the Asset Recovery Amendment Bill) together with the enabling Constitutional Amendment, will give excessive and arbitrary powers to the Minister in charge of supposed “good governance” – and this, without a clear explanation of the raison d’être of such draconian legislation.
What Minister Roshi Bhadain has said does not explain the need a law such as the one the Lepep Government is proposing in the First Readings and which is due to come up for 2nd readings and a vote, including a 3/4 vote, in the National Assembly in about a month’s time. The new proposed legislation seems to give Minister Bhadain discretionary and arbitrary powers to by-pass the DPP, ICAC, MRA, FIU, etc.
We are forced to speculate on the need for such a draconian law, that even suspends sacrosanct capitalist principles like the holiness of private property of all kinds.
Does the Government fear that Dawood Rawat will go ahead with his legal challenge against the confiscation of his empire? And that this might bankrupt the Mauritian State? Are there other similar scams that the FSC gave licences to, too? Like the Westminster Investment Fund?
The fact that the new laws specify 7 years, as their retrospective ambit, happens to include, date-for-date, the Rs3.6 billion fraud at BAI in 2009? If this is the case, the Government must come clean and explain the need for a retro-active law to deal with an extreme situation.
Instead, the MSM-PMSD-ML-OPR Government has come forward with a package of laws that will open the door to all sorts of future abuses of a purely autocratic, typically post-colonial, nature.
It is obviously not LALIT’s program to defend the private property of capitalists – whether they accumulated their wealth through recent illegal activities or past illegal activities or even past legal, but totally unacceptable, activities (like for example, slavery, indenture and more recent wage slavery). We do not defend this type of private property – precisely because it is, in fact, social property, not private at all, and was produced by many people, and is not the private property of one or two bosses, or should not be. However, LALIT does not agree with the dispensing of all sorts of arbitrary powers to the executive, in this case to the Minister of Good Governance himself, – powers that can clearly be used in a politically party-partisan manner, within the logic of capitalism.
The Mauritian Constitution, legated by the British colonizers, has the inherent defect of protecting capitalists’ things like their property (like Dawood Rawat’s) much better than it protects anyone else’s rights of the person. Peoples’ rights to privacy are not at all protected by the Constitution, as the full bench of the Supreme Court has recently statuted in the ID Card cases. Only one’s private home is protected; not one’s privacy (of the person) relative to the State. One’s right to hold a demonstration is not protected at all, and there is no right to withhold one’s labour, or to take part in a strike. The Constitution upholds a quasi-slavery regime, when you study it closely. In general, capitalists’ private property is respected by the Constitution in ways that are downright detrimental to the whole of society.
But the changes that are needed in the Constitution demand a massive national debate, a huge mobilization for more democracy. In fact, we call for a debate on the TWO DIFFERENT TYPES of private property: an individual’s personal effects (his house, his bicycle, and his toothbrush) and the socially produced wealth that capitalists have somehow gained private ownership of – even though hundreds of other people, often thousands of other people, created it. It will be a great leap forward if this distinction could be included in the Constitution.
But it is not at all useful to have the kind of law that Minister Bhadain is introducing, whereby he, or two of his nominees, can just use administrative powers in order to cast doubt on the reputation of their political adversaries, whenever it is useful for them to do so. And then to have the judiciary put a kind of rubber stamp on this, as well, and confiscate their goods, is also unacceptable because of its arbitrary nature.
So, we oppose the Bills, especially in their present form, while we recognize two things: the Herculean task of cleaning the Aegean Stables of the Dawood Rawat-Ramgoolam-Bhunjun-Ah-Teck- Soornack-Gooljar empires, on the one hand, and the need for challenging the sacrosanct nature of the private property of capitalists (in fact, social property diverted to private ownership) by new laws that distinguish between the two kinds of private property: personal effects and socially created but privately hijacked property that capitalists own and control.