Wednesday 13 September, Prime Minister Jugnauth (Pravind Kumar, as the MBC now inevitably names him) called upon his Justice Minister Ravi Yerrigadoo to “step down”. This is over an issue of his role in an alleged money laundering scheme. He was just the last in a series of Ministers who, for different reasons, have left Government or changed Ministry. And the Lalyans Lepep is not yet half way through its mandate.
There was ex-Minister Dayal and the pockets of powdered dye; there was Lutchmeenaraidoo who lost the Finance Ministry after his role in speculating on gold, or maybe on foreign currency, and ended up in a truncated Foreign Affairs Ministry; there was Anil Gayan transferred from the Health to Tourism after a whole lot of scandals; there was Bhadain who resigned as Minister and as MP; and then of course the Lalyans Lepep lost three Ministers and a whole bench of MPs when the PMSD resigned from Government to sit on the Opposition benches.
And there are other Ministers like Sesungkur and Soodhun who hold on by a thread, faced with all manner of legal and political problems.
Pravind Jugnauth, himself, before replacing his father as Prime Minister, had had to “step down” after his guilty verdict in the conflict of interests case around Med Point. Then he won on appeal, but the case will be going on further Appeal to the Privy Council.
Why on earth is the Lalyans Lepep so unstable?
From the outset, LALIT predicted publicly that the new regime that came to power after the December 2014 General Elections was bound to suffer all manner of instability.
The political alliance that was cobbled together around Anerood Jugnauth to defeat the Labour-MMM Alliance in the elections had no ideological coherence, nor even a political program. The alliance was established on the basis of the personal ambitions of various “individuals” in three different parties.
The MSM has for ages had, as its main political aim, to transfer power from Anerood to Pravind Jugnauth; the PMSD has always acted like a machinery whose role is to share out jobs to those close to or in the Duval family, and the Muvman Liberater has had as its main aim to “liberate” Collendavelloo from Bérenger. So, when you paste the MSM, PMSD and ML together in an alliance, and add them on to the personal and family ambitions of individual MPs, all without the least political program, beyond a shopping list of disparate little “measures”, instability is inevitable.
For the first year, it was supposed to be a time of “netwayaz”, or cleaning up after the previous Navin Ramgoolam regime. This managed to ensure a minimum level of unity in the Lalyans Lepep; but the minute important political decisions about actual projects came up on the agenda, the internal conflicts exploded. There was, for example, the clash between the “Heritage City” project of Bhadain’s and the “Light Rail System” of Pravind Jugnauth.
Even Mauritius’ foreign relations exposed the complete lack of coherence in what was, by then, left of the Lalyans Lepep after the PMSD left: the Housing Minister Soodhun took upon himself to announce that Mauritius supports Saudi Arabia in its conflict with Qatar, when this is not even the position of the Lepep Government!
But there is one thing that has really exacerbated the destabilization: the way in which the Lepep regime dealt with, and continues to deal with, the BAI disaster. From the outset there were different lines coming from Lutchmeenaraidoo and Bhadain on whether or not public funds would be needed to pay back Super Cash Back Gold and Bramer Asset Management clients. There has also been a great deal of confusion over the sale of both the Apollo Bramwell clinic and the Britam shares in Kenya.
At the beginning of their term in office, LALIT predicted that it would, in the final analysis, depend on the economic situation whether or not the Government would survive long: there is no doubt that their future depends on whether they develop production and create jobs or not. And so far, the Lepep Government has been catastrophic on this. To make matters worse, they are in power during a crisis in the sugar industry, a separate crisis in textiles, and even a crisis in the fish preservation part of the Free Port. The persistence of the Lepep regime in the absurd strategy of “real estate speculation” and “Smart Cities” does not represent any alternative for a viable future for the country.
So, however many political crises they are, what is at the root of the instability is, of course, the economy. And it is the inability of the Lepep Alliance to get production going again, after the collapse of sugar and textiles and in the face of the fragility of tourism, that will be responsible for the disintegration of Lalyans Lepep.
Ram Seegobin, 24 September 2017