The by-election due on 17 December next in the Belle Rose - Quatre Bornes constituency following Roshi Bhadain’s resignation from Parliament has already well-nigh fixed its own stakes – unless something dramatic happens before Nomination Day, 4 November. LALIT will only take its decision at the very last moment as to whether or not to align a candidate because the political situation is so unstable. But, at the time of this paper being discussed and adopted by LALIT members, at stake there is no more than the establishment of the relative electoral weight of the different bourgeois parties jostling for alliances for snap general elections. The MSM-ML Government parties have not even bothered to put up a candidate, preferring to let the opposition fight it out. The Opposition is in the ridiculous position of a semblance of “unity” against the Speaker, while all-out war in the by-election. Anyway, if nothing changes over the next 10 days,
The candidates are as follows:
Labour: Arvin Boolell
MMM: Nita Jaddoo
PMSD: Danesh Maray
Mouvement Patriotique (MP), Tania Diolle
Reform Party (RP), Roshi Bhadain
FSM: Cehl Meeah
Les Verts, Cindy Antonio
Rezistans/Alternativ (RA): Kugan Parapen
Ralliement Citoyen pour la Patrie (RCP), Alexandres Barbes-Pougnet
Muvman Premye Me (MPM), Jack Bizlall
Nuvo Fron Politik (NFP), Yuvan Beejadhur
Roshi Bhadain tried, when he first resigned and re-stood as candidate, to set the agenda on the Metro Express Transport system. He wanted the stakes to be a “referendum”, a motion of blame, against the present Government on the issue. He soon, however, changed heart when the surveys showed massive support for the new Metro system.
The other parties have, in the main, not really tried to put anything important top of the agenda. This is added confirmation that the stakes are no higher than to measure who is worth how many votes, for the purposes of pre-electoral alliances.
To give an idea of the themes chosen, even by supposedly alternative candidates, the RA slogan, for example, is the abject: “Nou pa soutir pouritir!” (Literally, “We don’t collude with rot!”) The candidates all want to change the “face” of politics, some suggesting that “being young” or “being a woman” or even “being not a newcomer to politics”, is the key issue.
One party, the NFP, was set up by two men who live in the USA. Curiously, they claim support from the private sector, something denied by even the most bourgeois of parties! Another party (RCP) exists more in France than here. It says, also curiously, that the existing bourgeois parties, MSM, Labour, MMM and PMSD, are too far to the “left”! These two new parties represent a little ripple of new fashion world-wide of “diaspora parties”, and they reflect the typically right-wing and irresponsible views of diasporas.
Jack Bizlall of the MPM professes that he will finance his campaign by selling a book of his already-published articles, most of which would sit well in “pseud’s corner”. His MPM colleague Ramano maintains that the book is “lucrative” (sic). He will as usual sell little piles to union bureaucracies to distribute.
The independent candidates are not much better in terms of setting an agenda. Joyce Veerasamy desisted before Nomination Day to another independent candidate, Kaviraj Bhokoree, who in turn desisted before Nomination Day.
So, unless there is further drama in the National Assembly that forces unity upon the Opposition, as it did on Tuesday 24 October when Opposition Leader Xavier Duval was expelled and all the Opposition Parties left in solidarity, or unless the Opposition Leader’s support for the hunger strike by Cleaners, who he put into difficulty in the first place when he was Minister, leads to an opportunist all-party alliance, the Opposition Parties will continue to fight it out.
The stakes of the General Elections
However petty the stakes might be for the by-election, the stakes for the coming general election will be very different. There could be some link between the two because how different parties will pair up depends on the by-election campaign and results.
First, are snap general elections actually in the offing? There are signs that this may be so.
1. The Government has brought forward by 6 months the new Negative Income Tax designed to subsidize low wages for full time work of some 150,000 workers. Payments will be made every 3 months, not every 6 months as previously announced – starting November, 2017. This all points to snap elections soon, maybe even including Parliament being dissolved before the by-election. A General Election was famously held as late in the year as 20 December in 1976. And in 2014, on 10 December. But early next year is more likely. The minute the NIT is in place, we expect the MSM-ML to propose a Minimum Wage Law – something all the trade unions are calling for. This will give MSM agents something to start campaigning with, too.
2. The Government has announced new lifetime pensions for star sportspeople, a popular measure.
3. The State is recruiting manual workers in Government departments.
4. The Housing Minister is announcing his overall track record.
5. The Prime Minister is running an electoral campaign on MBC Television – cutting ribbons here, there and everywhere, and making speeches at socio-religious functions.
6. The Metro Express is being billed as a prestige project.
7. The MMM and MSM have acted in concert to oust the PMSD from the Black River District Council, implying they are trying to work together, in case of snap elections.
First we will look at how different parties, then different classes, then important foreign embassies will want to define stakes. And all this is important because we also want to work out whether LALIT’s fielding candidates in the general election can help us impose our own political agenda for the working class to prepare to take power, as the capitalist class draws the country into ruin – or not. Sometimes small parties can impose the agenda. We did it in by-elections in La Caverne and Phoenix (put the anti-apartheid struggle on the agenda and this cost Ivan Collendavelloo his seat) and we did it in Plaine Verte (put housing on the agenda, and Muvman Lakaz was born two days after the election).
Stakes different Political Parties Want
The MSM will evidently want to put its “achievements” while in Government since 2014 on the agenda.
This means they want people to judge them on pensions being doubled since they came to power, on the Negative Income Tax and, if they succeed in time, on the minimum wage. They will claim that the Metro Express is turning the whole country into one big construction site and that the train itself will modernize the whole country. They will claim FDI is high – though they will not mention that their figures include money from selling off the land of the country once and for all. They will boast about having won the UN Resolution on the Chagos issue at the UN General Assembly without mentioning that they have cowered before the USA, and held out a begging bowl for lease money for Diego Garcia where the US has its military base. The MSM will talk about the development of tourism – without mentioning the disastrous loss of land. The MSM’s agents will go around putting these points (or the one side of them) on the agenda. They will also try to remind people of the Navin Ramgoolam debacle, and the thrashing he and Bérenger got in 2014.
Even while holding the post of Leader of the Opposition, the PMSD has not come up with clear issues to put on the agenda. Any question he asks ends up embarrassing him more than Government – so much was he in key ministerial positions over the past decades. PMSD have been in Government for so long before now that (even if as junior partner) that all they know is the slogan “rezilta lor rezilta” (“we get nothing but good results”). They will therefore end up on “scandals”, of which Government has certainly furnished them a plethora. Unless of course they ally quickly with either the MSM or the Labour Party, both past allies, in which case they can happily say “rezilta lor rezilta” for what they did jointly with whichever of the two parties. It is worth recalling that Old Man Ramgoolam and Gaetan Duval were very good at this game. They would form a coalition, then split up and fight like cat and dog for a few years, only to make an alliance just before, or just after, an election. In the light of this little game, we should also recall that nobody knows why the PMSD left, or was kicked out of, the MSM-ML Government a year ago. So, they can ally with the MSM as easily as with Labour. Although they say they will go it alone, they will not.
The MMM has gone into elections without a Political Program since 1983. In fact, it was the MMM that started this fashion of hiding one’s program. The only program a party can get elected on in Mauritius up till now, is one that is anti-capitalist, pro-working class, anti-imperialist. So the parties ask, “What if the working class gets strong enough again to demand that such a program be implemented?” So, to avoid this, the MMM has no program at all. It has “values” instead. Wishy-washy bourgeois values. It has a list of words nobody is against: justice (without even mentioning police violence or any other specific injustice), equality of opportunity (not equality, of course), maybe also “the rule of law” – so vague and pro-status quo implying all laws are good laws, and that’s about it. To these vague values, it will add “scandals”, which are a-plenty (Lutchmeenaraidoo, Dayal, Soodhun, Tarolah, Gayan, Rutnah, Yerrigadoo) but which are not substitute for a program. The MMM, having a snobbish line since 1983, will also say their candidates are made of better cloth (“letof” not “tisor” like other parties)! And then they wonder why they have lost and lost and lost since they sold out publicly in 1982-1983. Bérenger, the leftist that he was before then, said as Finance Minister in 1982 that the IMF and World Bank instructions were not “dictates” but the healthy management of the economy (“gestion saine de l’économie”)!
The Labour Party is itself a “bundle of scandals”, what with the image of Ramgoolam’s safes disgorging wads of banknotes in US dollars and in Rupees in everyone’s minds. This money, he says in his defence, is party money. But the Labour Party Headquarters at Guy Rozemont Square were literally falling down while the Party had all that money? The Labour Party, unlike the others however, does see the electoral advantage in a program to strengthen the welfare state. We can expect Labour to have some measures of this nature, meaning a hint of something programmatic. However, their first example in real life, is a funny one: they have announced they will do away with the across the board Rs 150 TV fees for MBC TV. This led to a brilliant cartoon announcing that the propaganda will continue, but it will now be free! Ramgoolam says that Labour wants “politics based on sharing, without being communist!” (“politique basée sur le partage, sans être communiste.”) [L’Express 18 October 2017]. This is identical to the RA program. In other words, they both make vague mention of “distribution of income or even of wealth” but do not suggest any working class control over production.
Alan Ganoo’s MP has noticed that the centre-right bit of the political spectrum is a bit crowded – to put it mildly. All bourgeois parties dance there. In addition, he has a social base only in Black River, known to be a class struggle constituency.
So, he has migrated towards the centre-left.
He is in favour of Kreol in Parliament, for example, and is moving from having called for the outright banning of any party that put marijuana legalization in its program to now calling for a debate on the issue, and taking position in favour in his constituency.
The MP has fielded a woman candidate, Tania Diolle, who joined his party just before the announcement. For the history, since she presented a paper at the LALIT symposium on NGOs last year, she has been courted by the US Embassy, first being invited to a debate run by the USA. Then it was announced on the US Embassy Facebook site that “Tania Diolle ... is off to the United States this evening”. The “this evening” the Embassy refers to on its site, was 20 June, so she could start her course on the very day that the US Representative at the UN General Assembly was justifying British colonization of Chagos and the US base on Diego Garcia. The Embassy continues, “Tania is among the selected candidates” for a 4-month course in the USA on American democracy. Under Donald Trump’s Presidency, how is that for Tania Diolle’s “values” and “ethics”.
This party is perhaps the only one with a program. And, in its favour, its program is workerist. Their candidate speaks well on the program, too. They have a party newspaper, which means their positions are stable over time. However, their communal politics and the opportunism that has led them repeatedly into alliances with the MSM, Labour, PMSD and MMM, who then impose terrible measures, mean it is not the kind of party that LALIT can support.
Les Verts/Fraternel does not have the coherence to impose its agenda as the stakes of the by-election.
Bhadain and his Reform Party
It seems that Bhadain has no longer got an agenda, other than some neighbourhood issues, once he lost out on the Metro Express as the stakes. It seems he has massive backing of some sort, but it is not clear where from. For his aborted Heritage City project, when he was Minister, he clearly had huge capital lined up, and he is close, it seems, to the British State.
Rezistans Alternativ (RA):
Just as Ganoo was moving from centre-right to centre-left, so RA was moving in the opposite direction, even faster. So, any agenda people might have thought RA had with their vague terms like “eco-socialism” just disappears. In its place we see the slogan all over Q Bornes, “Nou pa pou soutir pouritir!” and we hear from their candidate that socialism and capitalism are not contradictory but can cohabit happily. Their other slogans have included advertising jingles like “Ou kone, ou!” (literally, “You know, oh, yes, you do! wink-wink, nudge-nudge”) which must beat everything for political hollowness. RA says capitalism is not the problem, but just some abusive individual capitalists. In any case, they avoid using the term “capitalist” as much as possible, and prefer to talk about “economic and political elites” as though we live in a post-revolutionary world in which the capitalist class has volatilized while we were not looking. So, while the mainstream bourgeois parties talk gaily (even if in mere demagogy) of “the capitalist class”, RA talks about the “elite”. They would be mortified to be considered Marxist. They are just like Ramgoolam when he says theirs is “politique basée sur le partage, sans être communiste.” The one thing they make clear is they are not “communiste”. And yet, having so thoroughly distanced themselves from LALIT’s revolutionary socialism, their activists, for some reason are always calling on LALIT to “unify” with them – and have done so from the moment they resigned from LALIT before the 2010 elections; they also say, when people ask about their relationship to LALIT, “We are [the same as] them!” If these RA activists are genuinely anti-capitalist and in favour of a socialist revolution, they are clearly in the wrong party and should leave RA and join LALIT. LALIT is not like Rezistans. We do not think that socialism and capitalism can cohabit. We do not want “politique basée sur le partage, sans être communiste” like RA and Labour. We want the working class to control production, to control capital, and to take economic decisions. Call this what you will.
Jack Bizlall says he is standing for the MPM. Ramano withdrew, and Bizlall said he and Ramano are “indisosyab” and if Ramano gives up, he will, too! So, he says it is him that is standing for the MPM. He also says he is not standing as MPM; he is candidate for “a wide movement”. Bizlall’s MPM is not really an organization, so he can say what he pleases. Bizlall has announced the MPM’s dissolution at least three times. The last time the MPM was “dissolved” – it was with one specific exception: it would be nothing but organizer of Labour Day celebrations. And here they are with a candidate in a by-election! And Bizlall is, he says, against political parties. What is it that stands in a by-election, then? So it is not surprizing his organization is ephemeral. He says often that “anyone” can be a member. Despite being a male chauvinist who easily outshines Ravi Rutnah and Tarolah, he is much loved by many editorialists, who are aware of his anti-woman behaviour, and even more loved by many trade unionists who live in fear of him, and who know full well his predatory behaviour, and who refuse to dissociate from him. Anyway, his coterie, like the RA coterie, also spend their time calling for “left unity” without questioning how on earth they call Bizlall, their caudillo, “left” in the first place.
RPP: This party announced on radio, as we mentioned, that all the existing mainstream parties (MMM, MSM, Labour) are too far “left”. The mind boggles at what they would want on the agenda.
Yuvan Beejadhur and Ivan Bibi have a rather vague program, but as mentioned no vague source of support: the private sector.
The Stakes Different Classes might like to see
The working class
The ideal time for the stakes to be stacked in favour of the working class is not elections to the bourgeois state. The working class can sometimes but only on rare occasions determine what issues are on the agenda. Why is this the case? Elections under bourgeois democracy are a process that atomizes the working class into individual entities, separating each person from his or her class. Decisions are not taken collectively. Each person is on his own in the “izolwar” (the word for “voting booth” itself means “isolation”). In these circumstances, it is institutions like the family, patriarchy, the patriarchal clan, religious and ethnic communities that have influence on atomized workers. This influence over-rides class interests or even basic rationality.
But the working class does have interests, as a class. In the times of big outdoor public meetings, there was more space for the working class to act as a class, but since these have been relegated to supposed “folklore”, we are left with very individual forms of campaign: door-to-door visits, which are good, but atomized, and with the rise of social media, we have new atomized forms in which there are separate “bubbles” for dangerously separate viewpoints (as the Trump campaign and its Cambridge Analytica team showed us in the Rust Belt) thus amplifying irrationality even further, and defying class unity that comes through thorough debate.
And recently, over the past 20 years or so, there has also been the phenomenon of “bases”. These, like military bases, are forward operating posts for politicians – who know how difficult it is to move into the “enemy territory” when there is rebellion against politicians, a common occurrence in the country. The bases are run by the providers of funds. Guy Ollivry pioneered this corruption with, it later turned out, Teeren Appasamy money, via the MCB, last week found guilty of money laundering this money and today fined Rs1.8 million, and ultimately it was money taken from the National Pension Funds. By the way, how is it that there is never investigative journalism about how money moves from the NPF to the MCB and then to Teeren Appasamy and then to a political party like UDM, and who Bizlall, by the way, at that very time proposed to work with because Ollivry was a “progressive”? Ollivry’s 1995 campaign was what ruined the little bourgeois democracy that existed in the Mauritian electoral system. He paid people to sit in “bases” and drink and play cards, like off duty fasci in Mussolini’s time; he handed out Kentucky Chicken meals; his campaign was the forerunner for the total degeneration of bourgeois elections, and yet this has never been investigated.
All this to say that the working class is having an up-hill struggle putting its issues on the electoral campaign agenda.
The petit bourgeoisie
If bourgeois ideology is taking its toll on the working class in these times of neo-liberalism, it is taking a much greater toll on the petit-bourgeoisie. As well as “reality” (laws and institutions holding capitalism in place in the real world) maintaining the logic of capitalism, we now have an education system that systematically formats young children’s minds: at primary school there are courses in entrepreneurship (formally known as exploiting your neighbour), at secondary school subjects are increasingly commercial and capitalist in nature (e.g. tourism studies), while universities pride themselves in teaching people how to “manage” their own neighbours. Love thy neighbour is right out!
The petit bourgeoisie is right now up to its ears in political problems. All the bourgeois parties have petit bourgeois bases. But this class, squeezed in the middle, is totally lost right now – even more lost than usual. It does not know where it is. All the parties that represent bourgeois interests (the PMSD, MSM, MMM, Labour – despite all the names implying that they represent workers, socialists, militants, or social democrats) cannot have bourgeois programs or else they lose the elections. So, they have no programs. And it is therefore not easy to know what the difference is. Hence the total disorder the petit bourgeoisie finds itself in. Does this party represent my ethno-religious interests? Or this one my aspiration to rise up on the back of my neighbour? That is the maximum they can think. If they think further than one of a stampeding herd, they find themselves comparing empty slogans and vague lists of “values”.
This class is one that is not bourgeois at all (they are exposed to being fired at work – that’s the litmus test of who a worker is) while thinking it is bourgeois right up until the very moment the boss suspends them, confiscates the company car, or kicks them out. We can’t help thinking of Sylvio Sundanan, the Dry Cleaning CEO. He thought he was not only bourgeois, but the big boss. Many workers even think he is the boss. Only the bosses know that he is not the boss. And of course they are right. Now he knows it, and we all learn the lesson, when the Board of Directors publishes a paid communiqué in the Press to announce that he is not on the Board (therefore not a shame to Dry Cleaning Ltd) but is a mere employee. Finlay Salesse had the same experience at the Radio he works for as someone who runs a good “live investigation” program, to solve people’s individual problems, a bit as an ombudsman is supposed to do. He thinks he is bourgeois. But when he said something his bosses did not like on “their” radio station, they suspended him at once, sacked him and took him back on as new. By now, he probably thinks he’s a bourgeois once again. Sundanan, like Salesse, are mere workers, but they have the boss’s whip in their hands – either as manager, in the case of Sundanan, or for thought control, in the case of Finlay Salesse: making workers think that you can just do a phone-in and the terrible problems of society will be resolved – when in fact the system that goes without criticism from Salesse and Bablee is producing these problems faster than Salesse and Bablee can resolve them.
The Bourgeoisie, or Capitalist Class
The Mauritian bourgeoisie had the shock of its life in 1976, when its party, the PMSD, lost to Labour by 6 seats to 26. And, worse still, the MMM that the capitalists called “communist” won 30 seats. This sealed their horror. And this wake-up call was only the beginning. In August 1979, the strike that began in the 21 sugar estates – in the mills and in the fields – led on to a nation-wide strike movement, with workers’ councils being set up in all areas, to run the strike movement, and with a no food no water hunger strike as mobilization increased. So tough was the movement that the only way the Agriculture Minister could get to his office was in a van that transported bananas. After three days of hunger strike, with the leaders nearing irreversible health problems or worse, the Government agreed to the demands. So shocking to the bourgeoisie and State was the uprising that the Government signed a capitulation agreement: two mills due for closure were forbidden to close, union recognition was promised, the 40-hour week would be implemented, and all workers sacked during the strike were to be reinstated or, if the bosses refused, the Government would employ them. The State then proceeded to renege on the “23 August Agreement”, as it was called. By September, 1980, the working class had gradually built up yet another nation-wide challenge to bourgeois rule, around a water-only hunger strike.
But by 1981, one of the leaders of this massive movement, Paul Bérenger, changed his politics: he simultaneously adopted his “New Social Consensus” against massive opposition in his MMM, and allied with a right-wing split from the ruling Labour Party around Harish Boodhoo and his PSM. The MMM-PSM then won all 60 seats in Parliament (two were won by the regional party in Rodrigues), and then split in half after just 9 months of government.
Since then, the bourgeoisie, already in two historically warring sectors has been without a party it can rely on. The two sections of the bourgeoisie, the historic section descended from the sugar bosses and big importers, and the state bourgeoisie, that used state power to catapult its members into the bourgeoisie, would always tend to back two different parties, for a start.
Just when the bourgeoisie thought it was getting over the shock of August 1979 and September 1980, in 1996, when the neo-liberal push was world wide, the new All Workers Conference, guided by LALIT militants, unified the entire trade union movement over the course of some 17 “conferences of delegates” on the defensive mission of preventing privatization. Which to a large extent succeeded. Which in turn explains how it came about that in Mauritius, unlike any other country, there is still free health care (of all kinds up to open heart surgery and dialysis), there is still free education up to the end of secondary, still universal old age pensions, and free bus transport at all hours for all pensioners and people with a disability and students up to tertiary. Some foods, even imported food, are still subsidised.
And when All Workers Conference collapsed in 1999, what with some of the union leaders wanted to buy in to various privatization schemes, the bourgeoisie got another shock of its life. In reaction to a death in detention (and with massive popular anger at violence of officers of the State), there was a three-day uprising, with barricades literally preventing all traffic circulation in the country. Nine police stations were reduced to rubble. The only way the bourgeoisie and State could react was with unconventional warfare, paying thugs to try to turn the demonstration against the State into some kind of ethno-religious communal violence by torching houses of people in two hamlets of one community, and thus getting the insurrection to retreat – this not being its aim. But it was an uprising without any leadership to express its will politically. It was enough however to prolong the feeling of political impotence of the entire bourgeoisie, both wings included.
There are four large parties that represent bourgeois interests: the original one, PMSD, its later bigger ally, Labour, the MMM and its split the MSM. They are all either discredited amongst the masses or unreliable to the bourgeoisie (i.e. too influenced by the masses) in the eyes of the bourgeoisie, or often, curiously, both at the same time. Right now, the parties, even in combination, they are not to the satisfaction of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie thought in early 2014 that they had their dream team: Labour and the MMM, with 80% of workers supporting them made an alliance, and both supported a thoroughly bourgeois agenda. The bourgeoisie was jubilant. Its mouthpieces had outspokenly called for it. But when Ramgoolam and Bérenger’s ludicrous New Republic plans came out in public, and everyone turned against them, the bourgeoisie abandoned them.
Now, the bourgeoisie is still in a real pickle. It has to hide its economic strategies from the people in order to get them through. It can’t just come and say:
“I, together with my capitalist class, am taking my capital out of the country.
“I, together with my capitalist class, am off to Mozambique and Tanzania and other countries suffering from the effects of war or poverty where I can exploit workers more than I can exploit you here, in order to make profits here.”
They can’t say that.
Nor can they say:
“I, together with my capitalist class, have decided to put the land of the country up for sale to a new form of colonizer.”
They can’t say that.
So, they are forced to mask their real designs: “I, together with my capitalist class, am turning the sugar industry into the cane industry.” They even say tourists love the green of the cane leaves! Cane, they say, stops erosion. They say they are building “smart cities”, not just selling off villas to rich millionaires. And they do not say, because they cannot say it, that they don’t care an iota about creating jobs, about food security, about the future of the children of the country. But the fact is, they don’t care. The only thing they want is profit. So, they delocalize. So, they sell off their arable land as real estate speculation.
The Stakes are Higher than usual for the US and UK Imperialists, as well as for Indian and Chinese expansionists
The politics of Mauritius is unduly influenced by capitalists from outside the country. 2017 is a year with even more of this influence.
Because of its military base on Diego Garcia, the biggest imperialist power in the world, the USA, is disproportionately interested in Mauritius’ politics. This is particularly true around the recent renewal of the lease for the Diego Garcia in 2016. And for the same reason, the last Ramgoolam government finally took the British to the UN – to the Tribunal under the Law of the Sea Convention – and won a case. Britain does not even have enough sovereignty over Chagos to declare a marine park there, let alone anything else, the judges said unanimously. And, now the new Jugnauth Government has gone to the UN General Assembly and won a Resolution presented for Mauritius by the African union 94-15 against Britain and the USA to take the issue to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. This means that when the Labour Government had its fall from grace before the last elections, it is not impossible that the UK and USA secret services were involved in the odd push against Ramgoolam (not that he did not deserve to fall). In particular, we refer to the appearance in the press of excellent photos of Ramgoolam in the middle of London by his Rolls Royce with its number plate showing, and clutching what looks like a bag of illicit money, and we refer to video clips of him dancing sega with his mistress that appeared in another newspaper later. These photos and films were important to his ultimate downfall. Today, when the Jugnauth’s have taken on the US-UK alliance, every other MP (again, not that they don’t deserve to be brought down) has been successfully exposed for different matters bringing disgrace: ranging from macho language to corruption for buying sacks of dye for a religious festival, from sexually explicit photographs to taking loans to speculate in gold). At the same time, the USA embassy in Mauritius is giving scholarships and official trips to all and sundry. In particular, at least two candidates in one by-election have in the past 12 months been to the USA on US-sponsored trips, Kugan Parapen and Tania Diolle. They think nothing of taking money from an occupying force. Donald Trump must be thrilled to hold this over them. Meanwhile many NGO’s are happy to go begging money from the same Donald Trump state apparatus. And there is even a newspaper editor who has worked for the Pentagon communications outfit.
Similarly, the US’s ally, Britain will be manoeuvring like mad in the run-up to the ICJ Hearings on Chagos next year. They will be rallying allies, and attempting to buy off Chagossians, employing environmentalists to do their dirty work, and even more unsavoury things.
So, although we may not see what the US and the UK are doing, we should not be so silly, so innocent, so unconcerned, so guileless, as to think they are not working hard at influencing the course of events. We will know for sure in 30 years’ time, when the Official Secrets come out in line with the Freedom of Information Act. But by then the main actors will have been long forgotten!
Meanwhile, for the first time in history, the high-speed ascension and then expansion of both China and India as capitalist economies, will be impacting directly on Mauritian politics. India clearly has its sights trained on Agalega. India invests in cultural and religious exchanges. China is expanding vast sea-routes for merchandise with containers much bigger than present ones, needing infrastructure of dimensions never known to the globe before, as well as its bullet-trains that will be going from China to Ireland.
And even though France is better equipped for getting up to dirty tricks in Mauritius than the other embassies, some of them, like perhaps Britain, can use France.
So, the stakes for the general elections are high for these four powers. And they might in turn be acting so as to influence the objective stakes.
Whatever parties want or don’t want the stakes to be, whatever classes want or don’t want the stakes to be, whatever the four powers (US, UK, India, China) want or don’t want, there are some themes that the very times put on the agenda, and turn into stakes:
- Job creation.
- Production as opposed to real estate and finance capital.
- Drug trafficking, because of the Commission of Enquiry.
- Endless scandals, because they are too juicy for the other parties to ignore.
So, all the parties will use these four issues, not from a programmatic point of view, but in order to garner votes. As the campaign develops, one may emerge as what decides the importance of the elections.
What LALIT Wants top of the Agenda for the General Election
LALIT is the only party with a proper program. Our program is based on an on-going analysis of where we are in historical terms world-wide and in Mauritius, of what kind of society we would like to see in future, of what demands would unite the oppressed classes in order to move towards the creating a strategy for such a society. Obviously we want our program as the stakes of the election. But we have to judge to what extent the working people are conscious of political reality (the big, objective, historical picture) and conscious of the role they can have in changing it, and make our program feasible to them. Here is the program we believe we may be able to put on the agenda, given present consciousness in the working class:
1. Land. The Land question is already on the agenda because the bosses and Government are selling off all the arable land, acre by acre, to millionaires from the world jet-set class of capitalists. LALIT calls for democratic control of all expanses of land. This includes land for production, for food security and for export, and for housing for all.
2. Peace. LALIT calls for the closing down of the US base on Diego Garcia, as part of the re-unification of the country, the right to return, and the need for demilitarization.
3. Work for All. Job creation must be in the hands of the people. This is the only way to ensure that jobs are created. So, it means the working class must control the capital produced by past workers.
4. Democratic Control of production: LALIT is not just calling for “sharing” or “distribution”, like Labour and RA, but for control over production. Once the working class controls production, decisions will be taken democratically about how much to re-invest, how much to pay in wages, and how much to save.
5. Mother tongue: The Kreol language must be introduced, alongside existing colonial languages, in the National Assembly, and as the medium of instruction for content subjects (as dual medium if necessary with English.)
All these five demands are part of a process of “decolonization-linked-with-the-struggle-for-socialism”.
The challenge is to what extent we can put this on the agenda of a general election. But these are the real stakes now.
25 October, 2017 @ 12:45pm