Recently, a journalist asked a LALIT member “How come LALIT is in the post-Wakashio fishers' movement”? A journalist who really wanted to know. So the LALIT member explained how our work with fishers is part of our political program for democratic control over land and sea utilisation. Our work with fishers did not start with Wakashio, nor does it end with Wakashio, our member explained.
When our member gave a report back to the Curepipe-South regional, other members smiled at the journalist's good question. Not only because some of our members are fishers themselves, grew up in the South East Wakashio-affected area or have at least one family member who is a fisher, or is connected to the sea in one way or another, as most people are in the South East region. The journalist does not see LALIT as being made up of working people organised in branches, regionals, party structures that define LALIT's politics. And this is political work that has been built over time.
LALIT has a whole history of political work based on our political program in the South East as in many other regions of Mauritius:
* There were Revi Lalit de Klas and Revi LALIT contributors and distributors in the South East region from way before 1982 that continued regularly over time;
* There was a LALIT branch in Mahebourg in 1982-83;
* People living on State Land organised jointly with LALIT in the housing movement as from the early 1990's all along the South East coast: in Grand Sable, Anse Jonchee, and Site Tol for secure leases on State Land as well as for housing for all the homeless. There were several national housing demonstrations that they participated actively in;
* There were joint campaigns with people who have been or were village council members against village council abolition in 2001-03. The campaign was so strong that after being abolished, village councils were re-instated in 2005.
* Some years later there were joint campaigns against the introduction of the new biometric ID card with village council activists. This was part of the political work that brought on the destruction of the biometric national identity database in 2017;
* As from 2016, there was weekly political work with fishers together with LALIT West regional that produced a Fishermen’s Charter (https://www.lalitmauritius.org/en/newsarticle/2002/towards-a-fishermenrsquos-charter-2017/);
* Quite a few fishers on the South East coast live in asbestos housing in the South East and they are part of the joint LALIT-asbestos house inhabitants movement to replace asbestos housing.
The political connection for South East coast dwellers between the right to secure housing on coastal land and the lagoon that fishers are guardian of is so strong that there was even a joint LALIT-asbestos dweller and fisher neighbourhood demonstration for Labour Day in 2019 (See https://www.lalitmauritius.org/en/newsarticle/2245/lalit-neighbourhood-demonstration-in-mahebourg-for-labour-day/). For South East coastal dwellers housing, jobs in food production is very obviously part of the same struggle. It is not something the urban-centred understand easily.
LALIT's political program for housing for those without and food production for jobs on the land and in the Sea is what unites the most advanced sections of working people in the South East.
It also explains why LALIT is actively present in post-Wakashio struggles of working people on the South East coast. In a time when other political forces who talked of Wakashio non-stop 6 months ago are now absent in post-Wakashio working people's struggles