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2nd Lockdown – Day 45 – Bad Regime Should Mean Better Opposition


It is terrible when you have a Government that is unable to create a vision of a new economy post-Covid – which will be an economy that is post-cane (now a lame duck industry under government subsidy), post-offshore (now an immoral relic of capitalist excess and on EU blacklist), and which is an economy with many fewer tourists. 

More terrible than a terrible Government, as history of the Weimar Republic taught us, is when you add an Opposition bent on making things worse to prove its point. The Opposition is bent on making the pandemic situation worse.

Background first: The reality is serious. Covid is not yet under control. It has breached hospital walls – a constant danger. The hospital system is precarious after years of understaffing – especially too few nurses and clerks. 

The working class survives on the fruits of its past struggles, as the economy starts again: universal pensions for over 60s, universal widows’ pensions, universal pensions for all with a disability, each pension keeps a whole family going; free health care and education; subsidised rice and flour; free transport for pensioners. And on the Wage Assistance Scheme and the Self-Employed Assistance Scheme until 30 April – plus relief on water and electricity bills.

The petty bourgeoisie is in extreme crisis, and threatened with being hurled into the proletariat. It is a class in panic. And it is this class that is the social base for the political “will” to make things worse just to get rid of the Jugnauth government – without thinking ahead. It is on its marks, and get set, to run amok. 

Otherwise, how would it be possible that there are people who, just to prove their macho selves “right”, clearly act as if they want more people to suffer the agony of Covid, and die? Then they get to blame the Jugnauth regime? And say “I told you so, incompetent MSM fools”? Then to replace Jugnauth with what? Duval-Boolell-Bérenger or some caudillo like Bruneau Laurette? All of these – now together, now apart – fight to gather the genuine anxieties of the middle classes and then hang them on the most propitious “scandal”. This “scandal” could be an increase in Covid deaths, or dialysis deaths, anything so long as they can blame Jugnauth. Alternatively they will accuse the Jugnauth of keeping the lockdown too long if cases go down. The scandal could be another Wakashio or another flood that “zwe dan zot faver”; or it could be genuine concerns on ICTA’s monitoring of social networks or its failure to monitor sexual exploitation of children on said networks. It was nearly Angus Road. Then it was nearly the appointment as Constituency Clerk of Widow Kistnen. Anyway, the mainstream opposition has no proper program for societal change. Maybe their new “economy commission” will bring something? But so far, there are not even calls for job creation on sugar estate land, nor for nation-wide food security, nor even for how foreign exchange could be assured by new production, nor even for properly thought-out ways of increasing democracy. They just circle around for scandals – most often they don’t need to wait for long with the Jugnauth regime – and, like vultures, pounce. 

So, on MBC, you hear pro-Government propaganda of the worst ilk at news time. They can even cut Nando Bodha out of an Opposition press conference frame without shame. And then do it again. 

On private radio stations and social media, you can get the other dangerous trend:

- An Opposition and media that does not call for everyone to get vaccinated. Instead it sows doubt on any vaccine available. (The politician or journalist raising the doubt may, quietly, be first in the vaccine queue.) Others denounce the vaccine because “it is from India” – racist comments galore, like “keep the vaccines for their own poor” or “no other country wants them”. Or “why not import Pfizer?” Never mind huge countries can’t get hold of them, never mind the minus-60 degrees storage temperatures involving massive investment. Others panic that Third Phase trials are not yet completed – without mentioning that millions have already had the jabs on emergency use. They raise alarm on vaccination consent forms. A couple of years ago I signed a similarly worded one for a minor test procedure at Jeetoo. The wording was indeed alarming, but I controlled my alarm, thought about it and realized I obviously had to be warned. Anyway, the last thing on my mind, before a test, or during a pandemic, is how to screw money out of a doctor or Ministry afterwards, should something go wrong. I would prefer good health and being alive.

- Opposition leaders do not mind creating panic amongst dialysis patients and families. Why are anti-Government hacks so impervious to facts? They say Government should have vaccinated staff and dialysis patients. But from January staff are supposed to be getting jabs. When LALIT, by contrast with the rest of the Opposition, realized, through our hospital worker members, how few of their colleagues were taking up the vaccine, we at once appealed publicly to them, and contacted all the unions, who also did so. At the start of the second wave lockdown, Government did offer vaccines to people attending hospital for, inter alia, dialysis. It was public knowledge. But, hesitancy was high. Other facts don’t sink in either. People go on demanding that a family member can go into a quarantine hotel with a dialysis patient. This has been a reality from early on. I am aware of a woman accompanying her husband. It is a fact. We need to get our facts up to date, and also to reassure patients and families living under such extreme stress. 

And of course, the Opposition leaders are thrilled to have put out on touch-lines Dr. Gujadhur, Dr. Musango and Dr. Gaud, the trio of professionals who so deftly steered a very well-informed mass of people through the first wave.

This kind of high-pitched Opposition is really harmful. The working class has wisely stayed shy of it. So far. We need much harder political work, at grassroots, to change society. Not just crying “scandal” and blocking our own ears. We call on working people to rally behind the kind of program LALIT has just sent Government before the Budget.


Lindsey Collen