Both Government and the Parliamentary Opposition are in a state of advanced instability.
The Pravind Jugnauth Government, as 2017 draws to a close, is “instability” personified.
As well as having lost its main ally in Government, the PMSD, it has also lost three key MSM Ministers. Government lost the former Police Commissioner and its Environment Minister Raj Dayal, who is now an MP facing corruption charges. Then, it lost its Vice Prime Minister Showkutally Soodhun, who is an MP facing charges of death threats against the Opposition Leader, and facing opprobrium for his communal language. And Government earlier lost its “dofin stepne” (for in case Pravind Jugnauth fell) and ex-Good Governance Minister, Roshi Bhadain.
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has as good as lost his own lawyer, Raoul Gulbul. This is a serious loss, in itself, because he was an important Government nominee in charge of regulating the gambling industry and, had he been elected, could have been a very senior Minister; but the loss is severe because Jugnauth Jnr. hasn’t got his barrister just when he has the DPP’s Appeal against him before the Privy Council – and if found guilty, he will have to resign from Government. How is that for instability! Jugnauth has yet another Constitutional Case against him, a bit far-fetched, but nevertheless challenging his nomination by the President as Prime Minister in the first place, the “papa-piti” case.
And there is also the “insider trading” case against the Pravind Jugnauth, his wife, his father the Mentor Minister Sir Aneerood Jugnauth and the new Governor of the Central Bank, Googoolye, as well as Roshi Bhadain. They withdrew money from the Bramer Bank just before the plug was pulled on the bank in order to limit the damage of what was a quasi-Ponzi scheme. The CCID has been given documents to show a delit d’initié under the Securities Act Mauritius (2005).
The Mentor Minister Aneerood Jugnauth has another case against him for earning two different sets of wages – one as former President of the Republic and one as Minister. Section 4(2) of the President’s Emoluments and Pension Act (1992) says a retired President cannot receive payment for a job.
And then there is the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) Kalyan Tarolah who had to resign after sending to and receiving from a young woman seeking employment a series of “sexto” messages. MP Ravi Rutnah has taken a rap on the knuckles for his sexist, abusive comments to woman journalist, Laetitia Mélidor.
The Speaker Maya Hanoomanjee has little authority over the House.
As if this were all not bad enough. The Opposition is in a state of complete instability, too. Words like “disarray” and “shambles” come to mind for all three Parliamentary Parties.
Xavier Duval’s PMSD came fifth in the recent by-election, so Duval’s credibility is very shaky as Opposition Leader. The PMSD’s high hopes of facing a general election all on its own are dashed.
Thierry Henri, Xavier Duval’s cousin and PMSD MP, has still got a case pending for causing a death while driving, and then having his wife pretend she was driving, and he thus avoiding a breathalyzer test. The PMSD’s Secretary General was suspended for his outrageous threats of rape and sodomy against the Speaker of the National Assembly, which no doubt contributed to PMSD’s crushing defeat at the by-election. He is still sitting in the Front Bench at press conferences of the PMSD.
While the Labour Party has come out of the by-election stronger, it was so weak prior to it that, though it helps, it isn’t enough. Arvin Boolell has at least positioned himself as stepne leader of the Labour Party, should Navin Ramgoolam fall foul of the law in either of two serious criminal cases against him. It will not be easy to explain away Rs 240 million in banknotes (half in dollars in serial number order). And it is hard to escape unscathed with conspiracy charges around a robbery at a beach house where Ramgoolam was with a mistress, and when he got people to tell the police a whole lot of cock-and-bull stories.
And Labour is still reeling from the electoral defeat of 2014, when it was in alliance with the MMM. Ramgoolam and Bérenger had cooked up plans for a new Constitution out of thin air, to suit their own ambitions.
The MMM’s low score of 14% of votes means the party at its nadir. It is now lost at sea without a compass. For years now, it has avoided a proper program, and relied on vague “valeurs”, which sound even more hollow in French. How the MMM will get out of the doldrums is quite hard to fathom.
All the other opposition candidates and their parties, like Bhadain, Bizlall, Diolle, Parapen scored less than the MMM. They each have numerous lake-ferblan e.g. Bhadain’s insider trading, Bizlall’s sexist abuse and bad temper, Diolle and Parapen taking USA State Department trips while, as President Trump put it recently, the USA doesn’t give money to those who oppose its politics. Cehl Meeah, Les Verts, and the two or three brand new parties were decimated, at least electorally.
The State as a Whole
The Commission of Enquiry into the Drug Business that Pravind Jugnauth set up, no doubt hoping to nail some of his adversaries, has ended up nailing him. His lawyer, Gulbul, has for a start been exposed. The Commission is a Pandora’s box of problems, and so far, except for Rex Stephen the Rezistans lawyer, most of the problems are for the MSM. The millions of rupees in a black bag that all Gulbul’s ex-MSM colleagues testify to, for example, are MSM money. So, things are extremely threatening for the MSM.
Even at the level of advisors, there are serious problems. Prakash Maunthrooa, one of Pravind Jugnauth’s main advisors, is charged in the Boskalis corruption case. There are two Dutch men already found guilty of giving money to him as a bribe. Now he and ex-Labour Minister Chady are charged with taking the money from them. The legal and practical obstacles that come up every time the Case is due are almost comic, if they were not tragic.
All this makes it clear why the Government parties could not field a candidate for by-elections – despite the Minimum Wage being set at a level higher than expected even by the trade unions, despite the Negative Income Tax for low earners, despite having taken the UK to the ICJ over Diego Garcia, despite giving pensions to top sportspeople, all these being popular actions. Whatever the Government does, it remains unpopular. And the Opposition parties in the by-election are not wanted either.
When the bourgeois state goes into this kind of crisis, it is time for a proper revolutionary program. This is why LALIT is mobilizing people behind the interlinked issues of working class control over the country’s land-and-sea; control by the working class of job creation; and control by the working class of food security.
The working class took power 100 years ago in Russia for some few years, 150 years ago at the Paris Commune for some few months, and 200 years ago, against all the odds, in a slave revolt in Haiti. It can be done. It must be done. And this time around, it will need to be an international movement in order to win. The capitalist system has become international, finally taking over the entire globe for the first time, so its challenger will have to become international, too.
With the capitalist system in crisis, it is evident that its state apparatus in each country will be in crisis, too. The time has come for a program. What is a program? It is a common understanding of the tasks before us. Put another way, this program comes from a shared analysis of the class situation that, in turn, produces the demands, that in turn, require certain tasks – that together we develop a common understanding of. So, it is a process of building a party, or parties, around a program.
[Article based on this week’s LALIT Political Bureau discussion]