Mr Prime Minister,
As the National Assembly will no longer be sitting over the holidays period, LALIT calls on you, as Prime Minister, to set up a Select Committee of the National Assembly tomorrow when you assemble, so that elected members from all political parties can sit on this Committee and have oversight over the executive’s expenditure on pharmaceutical products and other emergency procurement linked to the Covid pandemic, while the National Assembly is in recess.
As the Covid pandemic enters an unpredictable new stage, and given that there are on-going ICAC enquiries and even criminal cases concerning emergency procurement in both 2020 and now more recently over the purchase of Molnupiravir, we call on you as Prime Minister to set up a Select Committee so that there is democratic control over expenditure. We note that in both cases you have publicly said that you welcome having found out about the abuses, and thus we deduce that you recognize the need to have some kind of democratic oversight.
This way, the people of the country know that the elected members of the National Assembly that we voted for in our Constituencies are able to control the actions of the executive Branch. When the Constitution states that Mauritius is a sovereign “democratic” state, what this means, in essence, is that the elected MPs make up the supreme branch of government. Setting up a Select Committee will indicate that the Prime Minister sees the National Assembly as having supremacy, thus that Mauritius is, in this sense, a democratic state.
In other Parliamentary democracies, there is such ongoing oversight. Even in the less democratic form of Presidential democracies, there is often this kind of oversight. Consider the elected members in the House of Representatives setting up a Committee right now to investigate the role of the executive in the 6 January 2021 attempted coup d’état in the USA. Consider the Senate Hearings – again of elected members – for the executive’s nominations.
When LALIT proposes this, it is not something out of the blue. We have for the past few years developed ways in which to make the existing system more democratic. One of them is having recourse to this kind of control by the Legislative branch, which is elected, over the executive branch, which is appointed by the President, who names the Prime Minister, who in turn names his Cabinet around him. But, in order to claim to be a democracy, Mauritius must constantly work towards more democratic control by the elected members over the executive, and, in parallel, more democratic control of elected members by the electorate e.g. by the right to recall.
16 Dec 2021
Copy to the Press