There is a new kind of all-powerful potentate or mandarin that runs things these days. It is a thing called “a government advisor”.
In Mauritius, for example, the absolutely key role in the coronavirus epidemic response was given to Zouberr Joomye. Who is he to Government? Strictly a nobody. He was an MMM political bureau member and MP. Not only that, but he was Paul Bérenger’s right hand man to the extent that he accompanied him to France for medical treatment. Then he suddenly defected. He crossed the floor to the MSM. No explanation. He stood for election in November and lost. He now gets his “nomination” based on the fact that he is a defeated candidate at the last general elections in Constituency No 2.
So, for this key role of communicating with the public about the epidemic – which is the main way that a State can control infectious diseases – we do not see the top epidemiologist or the health minister. We no longer even see – and this without any explanation that I know of – the top Government doctor Dr. Gujadhur, who did a fine job during the difficult times of the epidemic. But we get as main communicator this turncoat that lost in the elections. Pravind Jugnauth thinks a defeated defector is somehow qualified for the key role in relation to the people of the country during an epidemic?
Joomye is indeed, and you might say this in his favour, a medical doctor. But, he should have been excluded for conflict of interests for that, when, during an epidemic, he is busy with his plans for private clinics. Yes, this advisor to Government announced in December that he is “promoteur” of a 5-story clinic in Curepipe and some kind of cancer clinic in Coromandel, both private money-making institutions. So, we might guess where his interests would be.
But, since he was put in charge of communications, maybe, you might say, he can communicate well? No. He can’t even speak Kreol with any grammatical precision at all. For “the illness” which in Kreol is “maladi la”, the “la” being the definite article, he says “la maladi”. Which is Kreol means strictly nothing. It is only a babyish astuce to indicate that you are really a big-time French-speaker obliged, because of being employed to speak to the plebs, to have to lower yourself to speaking Kreol.
He sure got limelight in the public for his “promoteur” job for his own future, though.
It is truly an outrageous degeneration of the little democracy left in this country that the Prime Minister can name someone like this to such a key job. The executive – the cabinet and especially the Prime Minister – has gradually totally eviscerated the National Assembly. And now it shares its powers with these new potentates and mandarins like Sherry Singh, in telecommunications, and Zouberr Joomye in an epidemic.
It truly is the Mauritian people that did all the work to quell – so far – the virus. It certainly was not Dr. Joomye. And it was not Pravind Jugnauth either. The people did it despite them.
And UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not different. He names one of the few people convicted of “contempt of Parliament” as his top advisor. Yes, his advisor, another potentate and mandarin, Dominic Cummings was just one year ago found guilty of refusing to appear before Parliament. He refused to testify about his involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal when he was Director of the Vote Leave group in the Brexit campaign. In fact, he is the main villain in the trickery of the Vote Leave campaign.
Now, he is in a massive scandal in the UK. He ignored the lockdown rules he was instrumental in getting introduced by, instead of staying home in London, driving 400 km to his family’s estate in the North of England, and then days later popping off on a visit to some Castle another half an hour away. Journalists are now shaking the entire British government by shaking this supercilious “advisor”.
In favour of the journalists in the UK, they showed solidarity to each other in just persisting on and on about him, until the man had to have his own press conference. He is so important he got to hold it in the garden behind Boris Johnson’s 10 Downing Street yesterday. He was made to look both an idiot and a cold-hearted monster by the journalists who posed their logical, fair, hard questions. He still has the support of the Prime Minister, however. Which means, he, like Joomye, just hangs in there. We really do go further and further back into old feudal-type reigns, where Tsar’s and Emperors and Chiefs and Kings and Queens named any favourite boot-licker and gofer to positions of power as “advisers”.
All this is not academic.
We need to organize to use this moment of massive change provoked by the epidemic and in turn by the lockdown, to demand not that things go back to how they were, but that there is revolutionary change in the class in power.
We are sick of the reign of big-time capitalists and their lackeys like Pravind Jugnauth. And the only way to end this kind of tyranny, is by organizing for proper democracy – one that controls not just the National Assembly, which in turn controls the Cabinet and Prime Minister, though that would be good, for a start, but for democracy that means we, collectively, get to control the land and all the capital that we, as humans living here created during 100 years of slavery, 100 years of indenture and 100 years of wage slavery. We must react by counter-offensive. Defensive actions will not be good enough.
for LALIT, a personal view