3. LALIT WORK ON THE ISSUE OF DIEGO GARCIA, BASE CLOSURE, RE-UNIFICATION OF THE COUNTRY, THE RIGHT OF RETURN, AND REPARATIONS
In its collective wisdom, LALIT made the Diego Garcia struggle central to its concerns from as long ago as 34 years ago - on the triple struggle for base closure, retrocession and reparations for those forcibly removed. And today, right now, it is a central struggle, 34 years later. We were able to deal politically with the fact that the British State, faced with LALIT's threat of a "Peace Flotilla", arranged to take the Chagossians to Diego Garcia and the other Islands, themselves. We have had the British Executive giving testimony against LALIT in the Chagossian Court Case, saying we intended to get the base closed (true) and were planning a flotilla that was a threat to the US base there. LALIT was, we should mention it, again and again referred to in the House of Lords judgment in the UK, simply because the Executive in the UK used the planned Peace Flotilla LALIT was helping organize as a threat to USA-UK security. The UK Government barrister went on and on about LALIT for an hour in his plea.
And we have continued the struggle even as the British are carrying out "assimilation" tactics, allowing Chagossians into the UK, so that increasingly the Chagossians are living in the UK.
LALIT has constantly updated its struggle, together with the people of Chagos and other progressive forces in Mauritius. In the last years we have taken a number of initiatives, including the demand for the Mauritian Government to ask the UN General Assembly for a Resolution to send a case to the ICJ at The Hague for an advisory opinion. We are at present re-iterating this demand. We are galvanizing support in Mauritius and abroad. More recently we have called, and organized a successful international petition, with Mauritian organizations also joining in, for the Mauritian Government to call for UN inspections of Diego Garcia under the newly ratified Pelindaba Treaty.
We had a meeting with the author of The Island of Shame, David Vine (2009).
2005, Petition for the closing down of the base launched by LALIT
LALIT members gave a hand to John Pilger in his now famous TV documentary, Stealing a Nation.
LALIT members assisted Paedar King for his excellent docuemtnary for Irish TV, The Chagos Islands are Closed.
And now we are calling for the UN nuclear inspectors to go to Diego Garcia, under the terms of the new Pelindaba Treaty.
We are also denouncing the UK Governments plan to cover up its evil by getting popular support for a "Marine Protected Area" around Chagos (Almost all big traditional UK environment groups have fallen for the UK trap. Even Greenpeace has. See www.lalitmauritius.org for our Open Letter to Greenpeace). They have a petition already signed by 40,000 people and more are signing up, as the UK has shifted its deadline from 12 February to 5 March, 2010). If ridicule could kill ... There is a nuclearized military base on Chagos. Get that closed first, LALIT says. And then, when the rightful Government is in charge of what kind of environmental care is necessary, not an illegal occupier like Britain with its farcical colony, British Indian Ocean Territories, and when the Chagossians have the right to return and are back there, together with the rightful Government they are quite capable of planning care for the environment.
4. LALIT POLITICAL STRUGGLE FOR DECRIMINALIZATION OF ABORTION, AND FOR THE WOMEN'S STRUGGLE IN GENERAL
LALIT is known in Mauritius as the party in favour of women's liberation. We are known for our high proportion of women members and women activists. Our aim, it is also known, is to free as many forces for change towards socialism as possible, one being women, oppressed as we are by patriarchy. The major developments in our thinking, put forward by the LALIT Women's Commission include identifying and opposing:
- the ideological "recuperation" by patriarchy of some sections of the women's movement, in particular through the confusing and confused "gender strategy" replacing emancipation and liberation of women,
- the distorted reflection of the demands of the women's movement in the bourgeois press, turning them into demands, for example, to rise within patriarchal hierarchies (rather than to do away with hierarchies), and the pitting of women against "men" rather than seeing the women's movement as women against "patriarchy",
- new legal structures that have posed as in favour of women when they are against women's liberation e.g. passing laws to avoid social security payments to mothers by recuperating money for child support from biological fathers, ex-partners, etc.
- LALIT in fact proposed the demand, subsequently taken up in the women's movement, for "Rape Crisis Units" in all hospitals, making hospitals as the first and only port of call for victims of sexual aggression. You no longer need go to the Police Station! The demand has been won. Once the idea was born in LALIT, women members immediately recognized its importance, and took it into the women's movement, where mobilization won the day. It is part of our work of developing demands that are transitional. Many other organizations, faced with the same problem, tend to demand more women police officers, women officers in all police stations at all times. But we know that we want less police officers, not more. And we know that women who are victims of sexual aggression need first and foremost to be cared for in a hospital environment. The police doctors, and any police investigators can be called in now, and see the woman victim in the caring atmosphere of a hospital, rather than the woman having to go to the Police Station and then to the forensic medicine department of the Police. Any demand that weakens the repressive arm of the State is more than a "bread and butter" demand, as it involves understanding the nature of the State. In this way, there is an element of transition to socialism in the process.
2005: 3-day women members Residential Seminar.
2006: LALIT was the only political party to give evidence before the Select Committee of Parliament on the Sexual Offenses Act - we took position against repression as the only thing the State can do in response to sexual aggression. We also called for the decriminalization of homosexuality and abortion.
2009: The year was a high-point in the ongoing struggle for the decriminalization of abortion. More and more forces came in, and relied on the LALIT political work and political guidance, after the death of the photographer-journalist, Marie Noelle Derby in 2009, and the criminal charges against the young woman, Shabeela Calla, subsequently dropped after women's mobilization in a Common Front on Abortion.
2009, Ram Seegobin, for LALIT, was speaker in favour of legal abortion alongside Attorney General, Rama Valayden, former Attorney General, Jean Claude Bibi, MMM Central Committee member, Kishore Pertab, at the Forum organized by the Common Front.
Today, when more and more people take a stand alongside women for decriminalization, it is a political victory for LALIT.
5. THE KREOL LANGUAGE AND EQUAL HIGH-STANDARD EDUCATION FOR ALL
LALIT has been closely associated for 30 years with the struggle for the use of the mother tongue/s in school, the National Assembly, Parliament and all official business. In the past year this struggle has come centre stage, and change is getting very near. LALIT has given political punch to the long-term work in literacy and language promotion, in which the workers' education organization Ledikasyon pu Travayer has been involved for 3 decades. And it was LALIT's program on language which, when it came out 6 years ago made the great leap forward in putting emphasis on the harm done to all children by the suppression of the mother tongue, whereas before it had been assumed that children with some difficulty at school would be helped, that the failure rate would be less, that the rate of illiteracy would be decreased. Though all this is true, there is something more general, and even more important: that the suppression in schools of the mother tongue harms not only emotional development but also cognitive-academic development. LPT took this idea up, and last year in October held an International hearing into the Harm done to Children by the Suppression in Schools of the Mother Tongue. LALIT gave evidence, and has been doing the political work afterwards, to turn the gains of the findings into a political gain. The transitional importance of the use to a high level of the mother-tongue is obvious: the working class needs its own language to be able to develop to the highest level, in order that its thinking can develop alongside.
One LALIT article in the commercial press was: "What LALIT in fact says about Language", 2006, criticizing our adversaries for, being short on arguments, criticizing what is not our position and has never been.
Today, as everyone concedes on the mother-tongue in education (although political victory is not yet achieved), this is a victory for LALIT.
LALIT also brought out its Program on Education, LALIT, 2006, after a series of open meetings with supporters, developing our program for a dynamic that goes towards equalizing the level of education in all schools to the highest level. Taking the problem of inequality between government primary schools (despite equal-ish expense by the State on them in terms of infrastructure and teachers' pay) and inequality in secondary schools left over from the Government in 1976, following the student mass strike of subsidising existing paying poor students' school fees, as our starting point, LALIT is mobilizing behind a program of quotas for admission into secondary school by primary school, and quotas for overseas and Mauritian university scholarships by secondary school, as a way of causing a dynamic progression towards equalizing standards upwards. The idea being that parents who can, for class reasons, make the PTA and the school function well, will then stop tending to cluster in a few "elite" schools, but will make nearly all schools elite, in their bid to continue getting the best of education for their children. No doubt their children will still do "best", but in the meantime, all children will get a better education.
LALIT article in commercial press 2006, "Equal Education without Unbridled Competition."
And so unsectarian is LALIT that, when appropriate, and it was appropriate this year, we accepted to attend a formal bilateral meeting with the Bishop, the Catholic Church curiously still being in charge, since colonial days, of operating a fair number of schools in the "national education system". We could discuss, at a moment when the Catholic Church was re-orienting its emphasis away from education for an elite, both the mother-tongue issue and also education for the broad masses of students.
LALIT took a stand against the Minister Gokhool's division of schools into "star" and other colleges, and also against the first draft of the new Minister Bunwaree's Plan, 2009.
6. IN THE WORKING CLASS
LALIT's Trade Union Commission and Inter-Shop floor-Unionism
LALIT's political strategy in the working class rests upon uniting the whole of the working class, at the grassroots of all unions in all federations, and on avoiding being tied to any one union or federation over time. We work with all the unions on an organization-to-organization basis. In the past five years, we have continued to link shop-floor union struggles through the "Inter Labaz Sindikal" strategy. That needs a separate paper.
Opposing the Changes in Labour Laws
LALIT has also throughout this 5-year period succeeding in giving an ideological framework to the trade union movement. The document submitted by the totality of the union movement against the Employment Relations Bill and the Employment Rights Bill (that later became Acts) was based largely on a document prepared by LALIT member, Ram Seegobin, against the Industrial Relations Act. LALIT produced key documents, held meetings with workers and trade unions and federations in the struggle against these two laws. LALIT also participated in the series of demonstrations organized by the Confederation of Private Sector Workers (CTSP). It was a sign of the times that the slogan for this demonstration that we supported was rather weak: "No to Labour Laws that Do Not Protect Workers!" This slogan implies two things that are not exactly true: First, the bourgeois state does not ever pass laws to protect workers, but only to exploit workers. It passes laws that protest workers not in order to protect workers but because this facilitates wage labour exploitation. If it is necessary, because of workers' mobilization being strong enough to disrupt production otherwise, the bourgeois State will and does pass laws that protect workers, if reluctantly. And that is not its role: its role is to pass laws to permit the continued exploitation of workers. First there was the Code Noir, the slavery framework for labour exploitation, then the Indenture Labour Laws of the 19th Century for a new framework for labour laws post-slavery, and today there is the modern wage slavery framework. Second, the two new laws are themselves positively harmful to workers as human beings, and allow new forms of exploitation of workers, as well as being harmful to unions - directly causing their further bureaucratization and criminalizing them during strikes.
LALIT has also exposed (by means of talks, meetings, gatherings, leaflets and articles), the leadership of some unions when they were busy allying with the two bourgeois parties, the MMM and MSM when they were in Opposition, on issues on which these two parties were in fact enemies of the workers. The two issues were "means testing for examination fees subsidies" which the MSM-MMM government had itself announced a couple of years before, and now pretended to join the mobilization against. How can you then ally with them to oppose this? Only by losing your own credibility. And as for allying with them over the size of lay-off packages and the nature of redeployment for 100 Development Works Corporation staff when the MMM and MSM were responsible for actually sacking 800 manual workers illegally after a strike. It was grotesque, and at mass meetings of workers, we said it, and were applauded, and the union leaders veered away from these temporary "allies" - but without making it clear that they had been mistaken. The Courts had even found the MMM and MSM had acted illegally in sacking the 800 workers, and the Government had had to pay compensation. Union bureaucracies, in order to ally with the likes of these, must surely think that workers have very short memories, which the best of the class do not have.
For the first time, LALIT has in 2009 begun to work on work-site bulletins that come out regularly, with general political articles on one side, and articles pertaining to the particular site on the other. The way we believe the Lutte Ouvriere run their worksite bulletins. These are prepared and distributed by the branches.
The sites covered by regular leaflets include Princes Tuna, Rosehill Transport, National Transport Corporation, Cernol, Gaz Industriel, United Basalt, the Hotel Training Centre, Plastinax.
With the Unions
Ram Seegobin has spoken at large meetings of the Federation of Civil Service and Other Unions some four or five times over the five year period up to the end of 2009, and at the Federation des Travailleurs Unis twice, Rada Kistnasamy at the National Trade Union Council assembly at Octave Wiehe in 2006, Ram Seegobin at the NTUC Assembly in 2007 and at the Organization de L'Unite des Artisans, at a seminar organized jointly by the Federation of Para-Statal Bodies and Other Unions, the State Employees Federation and the Local Government Unions, 2008, and the GTUF and mineral water factory workers, 2010. LALIT also participated in the Confederation des Travailleurs du Secteur Prive demonstrations in front of Parliament, as well as the big demonstration in Rose-Hill in 2009 and the smaller one in Port Louis the same year, as well as the 2008 Telecom Workers demonstration in Edith Cavell Street. LALIT members were also in the "Bread Demonstration" in 2007.
Working people in times of Crisis: The Curepipe Branch has started a series for the LALIT web-site under this name. The first two are on construction workers, agricultural workers and the catering sector, respectively.
7. THEMES FOR POLITICAL EDUCATION FOR PARTY MEMBERS AND OTHER INTERESTED INDIVIDUALS
Following a decision taken in a Members Assembly to open our political education to individuals who are not party members, we have held the following sessions (amongst others):
Marxist Economics - Lindsey Collen
The Crisis in the Sugar Industry - Ram Seegobin
LALIT's Program on Agriculture - Alain Ah-Vee
LALIT's Change-of-Seasons University for young people, 2007
LALIT's Spring University for young people, 2008
Work and Capital : a talk and discussion given in five different places by Lindsey Collen
Ecology and the economy : Ally Hosenbokus
The mother tongue in School : Cindy Clelie
The Role of Ideology, ideology since Independence in Mauritian Politics - an article for a mainstream magazine by Ram Seegobin
The State : Rajni Lallah
Classes : Alain Ah-Vee
Marx's Ecology - Lindsey Collen
Latin America - a series (we felt we were not knowledgeable enough at a time when there is a great deal of dynamism already in countries like Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia)
- On Simon Bolivar: Ram Seegobin
- Cuba's revolution: Ally Hosenbokus
- Peru: Shining Path, what is it?: Ram Seegobin
- Pancho Villa & Zapata and the Mexican Revolution - Alain Ah-Vee
- Jose Marti: Rajni Lallah
- Chili and the Allende regime: Yann Jean
- Chavez's Venezuela: Rada Kistnasamy
- Peronism in Argentina: Lindsey Collen
- The nature of FARC in Colombia
- The Sandinistas in Nicaragua: Cindy Clelie
- What Hugo Chavez Represents: Rajni Lallah
Media and Advertising (based on Raymond Williams' seminal essay): Rada Kistnasamy
Ideology: Cindy Clelie
Spanish Civil War: Rajni Lallah
Rosa Luxembourg's development of Marx's Economics: Lindsey Collen
The Paris Commune: Ally Hosenbokus (2008)
The Paris Commune (2009), a session prior to a Sunday session viewing the 6-hour Peter Watkins film La Commune (1871)
The Russian Revolution: Ragini Kistnasamy
What is a Political Party? (Comparing with associations, trade unions): Alain Ah-Vee
What is a trade union? (Importance, limitations, and tendency towards bureaucratization): Ram Seegobin
New Employment Relations Act: Ram Seegobin, 2008, 2009 (many sessions)
LALIT challenges the subject of "bourgeois economics" and the economics of the capitalist system itself: Lindsey Collen
Session on Mauritian outer island of Agalega after return of a member from there, 2008
Session on Norman Finkelstein's book on Israel & Palestine, 2008
Session on the film on Palestine: "Tragedy in the Holy Land: The Second Uprising," 2008
Session on film on Palestine: "Caged Bird Sings", 2009
Understanding political parties and currents in Palestine: Ragini Kistnasamy
Two sessions on the August 79 strike movement in preparation for LALIT Congress: Rajni Lallah and Ally Hosenbokus
September, 1980 Mass uprising: Alain Ah-Vee and Rada Kistnasamy
The Working Class in Crisis Times: Ram Seegobin
Internationalism in Crisis Times: Lindsey Collen
The Rise of Fascism in 3 countries in Europe (comparing the different forms taken): Italy, Germany, Spain: Ram Seegobin
The Rise of Fascist Ideology: Alain Ah-Vee
China: Its Rise within Capitalist Economic Production: Ragini Kistnasamy
China: The Class Situation: Rada Kistnasamy
Lessons of the August 79 Strike Movement: Ram Seegobin
Telling about the August 79 strike movement: Ragini Kistnasamy
Remembering the August 79 strike movement: Lindsey Collen
8. ELECTIONS AND ELECTORAL CAMPAIGNS IN THE BOURGEOIS STATE APPARATUS
In the electoral campaign for General Elections of 2005, we aligned 32 LALIT candidates and had candidates in all constituencies; we prepared and popularized our program whose main thrust was "Confronting the systemic crisis that is accompanying the fall of the sugar and textiles as main employers" and the need for an alternative economy, in terms of what is produced and who decides.
Ally Hosenbokus, LALIT candidate for the by-election just before general elections, prepared our program, then election cancelled as National Assembly was dissolved, 2005.
LALIT prepared a party program for Village Elections, 2005.
LALIT prepared a party program for Municipal Elections, 2005
Rada Kistnasamy, LALIT candidate in by-election in Constituency No 8 Moka - Quartier Militaire. Prepared program, popularized it during campaign.
9. ELECTORAL REFORM
-LALIT continued its campaign to replace the communalist Best Loser by some form of proportional representation - a struggle in which we have been in the vanguard for years. LALIT made it clear that we are not just struggling for a "5th community of conscientious objectors to auto-classification", but want the entire system dismantled. Our position is in our 230 page book on the subject, published in 2005.
-ISPD Rajni Lallah and Ram Seegobin were speakers on their panel on Electoral Reform organized at the University of Mauritius, 2006.
-Numerous newspaper and web articles clarifying our position.
10 DRUGS, DRUG ADDICTION AND AIDS
Following our meeting with the association PILS, LALIT drafted and then launched a Charter on Aids and Rational Policy on Drug Addiction. Many organizations signed up. This is the culmination of years of struggle since our very first program for a rational drugs policy. To give an idea of the shift that our actions have brought about, we were alone at the time of the 1984 Select Committee on Drugs. One of the Ministers on the Committee, when we went to give evidence, said that "all" the social workers in the country, and everyone else who had given evidence, supported more repression as the only solution. That our ideas were supported by no-one. So, it is something of a LALIT victory that now the idea of syringe-exchanges is already in practice, the use of drugs like methadone for weaning addicts off opiates is being sponsored by the State, while the decriminalization of some drugs, and treatment for addicts who want it, are fairly well supported ideas today.
This part of LALIT's program is linked to the idea of a socialist society one day, because it attacks the kind of repression that present day society uses as the response to all social problems. It also potentially frees people from police control; people who use substances that are illicit while they are illicit, are sitting ducks to become police informers, while drug dealers almost invariably are. This weakens any struggle. Any small or big mafia depends for its power over neighbourhoods on the continued illegality of substances used by people, and the mafia is always an enemy of socialist revolution.
11 POLICE VIOLENCE
This has been an important theme in LALIT's program and actions since 1979 when Serge Victorine was killed by police officers after being re-arrested after the prison mutiny and the mass break-out. We see police violence as the most crude expression in the country of the violence of the bourgeois State. It is important to be able to confront officers who use violence, and to halt it.
LALIT was amongst the organizations, and perhaps it was the leading one, in the process of setting up the organization "JUSTICE: ASSOCIATION AGAINST VIOLENCE BY OFFICERS OF THE STATE", which has, in turn, exposed police violence, and theoretized, as LALIT has too, the meaning of this institutionalized State violence. We wrote articles like "10 Steps against Police Brutality", 2006, in the daily Press, and commentaries on the first-ever judgment under the new anti-torture laws. LALIT and JUSTICE's positions made the political space necessary for the Director of Public Prosecutions to be able to/to have to appeal against the not-guilty verdict, 2009
LALIT criticized the National Human Rights Commission formally, and called on its members to resign. Judge Seetulsing replied to LALIT through the Press, 2007.
12 SLAVERY AND REPARATIONS
LALIT's campaign for reparations for slavery, a campaign launched with a big petition-signing movement, from 1994-1996, situates slavery in the history of the working class in Mauritius, and in the history of the capitalist system world-wide. This is important for class consciousness, which is in turn important for a socialist revolution. This issue is now centre-stage in Mauritius, and 1st February has become a Public Holiday. We have constantly at the same time opposed the racial interpretations of slavery, and campaign against racism and race classification (in ordinary life as well as in politics) as being one of the worst sequels of slavery.
Throughout these 5 years, we have had articles on the issue. And we prepared and submitted a 50-page written statement to the Truth and Justice Commission on Slavery and Indenture, 2009, a Commission which is still sitting. We exposed the problem within the Commission which was not functioning at all, by means of a walk-out that received press coverage. We also showed its two elements: a genuine investigation into historical crimes of a class nature, on the one hand, and on the other, a pre-electoral stunt based on race and community.
13. BOOKS WRITTEN/PUBLISHED BY LALIT IN THESE 5 YEARS
These and our other publications can be ordered from us:
LALIT Program for an Alternative Economy - Bilingual booklet, 2005 (84 pages) (sold out)
Against Communalism: The Best Loser System, 2005 (230 pages) (sold out)
The Manifesto by Marx & Engels in Kreol: 2005 (with audio CD in Kreol)
Program on Education, 2006
What Needs to be Done? Speeches by Ram Seegobin, Jean Claude Bibi, Oupa Lehulere, with Intro by Lindsey Collen, 2007 (212 pages)
The State ("Leta") edited by Rajni Lallah, 2008 (200 pages)
Palestine Diaries by Ragini Kistnasamy, "Dayeri Palestinn", 2008
Kreol version of Rosa Luxembourg's "The Accumulation of Capital", 2008
Class ("Klas"), edited by Alain Ah-Vee, 2009 (266 pages)
Palestine Newsletter on Gaza Freedom March, 2010.
What other party in the country has produced this volume of written political analysis in the past 5 years? The MMM has nothing but a very wishy-washy weekly, Labour has nothing to show for itself, and nor does the MSM.
For a party with socialism as our aim, we need continually to educate ourselves, to relate the past to the present and the future, and to broaden the influence of our ideas. New members need to be able to "catch up" at a rhythm and rate of their own. For all this, printed material is important.
14 ACTIONS NOT SO EASY TO CLASSIFY
Court cases on trumped up charges from when Paul Berenger was in Government, against Ram Seegobin and Lindsey Collen. Both members were finally found not guilty of "molesting police officer" when the police were trying to spy on a common front meeting that was preparing a demonstration against George Bush due to visit Mauritius (visit cancelled because he invaded Iraq at the time). The charges were so trumped up that in Lindsey Collen's case the police had misread their own hand-writing. An officer had thought he had noted down that Lindsey had said a police officer was a "mutuk", which means a "grub", when he had in fact written "mustas", meaning "moustache". (She was asking whether someone was referring to a "moustached" police officer.
Another Court case: Criminal charges against Roland Fozoo and an ex-member ended in a not-guilty charge for being "Rogue and Vagabond" when they were visiting a victim of police brutality at his house. (The police turned the victim into an accuser.) Our member put in civil charges, won damages, and made a donation to LALIT.
The Court Case Against our Member, Alain Ah-Vee and unionist Atma Shunto, for defamation, brought by the bosses of Happy World, following a poster campaign in which the bosses were accused of taking too much profit, was finally withdrawn unconditionally by the bosses.
Lindsey Collen, speaker at Media Watch event, "Women in Politics" 2005
Ally Hosenbokus, speaker at Amnesty Forum on Youth, 2008
Two LALIT members spoke at an Amnesty night vigil on Gaza, Ragini Kistnasamy and Alain Ah-Vee, who have both been to Palestine, 2009
Meetings in Flacq and Rose-Hill on the Financial Crisis, Lindsey Collen, 2007
15. LALIT CONGRESSES
January 2005: LALIT Congress on an Alternative Economy.
Congress on the Role of a Revolutionary Party in times of Crisis (2006), Oupa Lehulere amongst those who spoke.
Congress on Socialism Today, where Neville Alexander was amongst those who spoke. (2007)
Congress on Internationalism Today in Times of Crisis (2009), Leon Cremieux of the Nouveau Parti Anti-Capitaliste in France, and of the Fourth International spoke; Yoga Thirapatee-Appadu of the NPAReunion was also a speaker.
Congress on Remember August 79 Strike Movement, (2009) - with workers who were in the strike speaking, too.
16 POSITIONS TAKEN PUBLICLY BY LALIT, AND POLEMICS
On the mosquito-transmitted disease Chikungungya, 2006, "In Praise of Truth", an article in the daily press.
"Hunger Strike as Means of Struggle," 2007, an article in the daily press
Aquatic Business Act, 2007, an article in the daily press.
New Labour Laws, constant taking of position, 2006-9
Remission must be re-installed in Prisons, 2005, an article in the daily press.
Call for the DPP to be made more accountable, 2005, an article in the daily press
What is politics, when it is not electoral? 2008
Reply from Espitalier Noel, sugar boss leader of MSPA to LALIT's campaign, 2008
Reply by Gilbert Ahnee to LALIT's criticism of the Press, 2007
LALIT decided to publish the abusive attack by Jack Bizlall on LALIT, specially against two women members, 2008
Reply by Judge Seetulsing, NHRC to LALIT's criticism of the National Human Rights Commission, 2007
Reply from and meeting with Bishop Piat, 2007
Correspondence between La Croix Rouge and LALIT over the possibility of inspections for "rendering" on Diego Garcia, 2008
LALIT features in House of Lords judgment on Diego Garcia, 2008
Many members speak in public in favour of decriminalization of abortion, during 2009, when the subject was being discussed everywhere.
A number of members spoke in public against police violence, and many articles in LALIT's name were published.
(Many of these positions can be found in our "news archives" on our website.
17 IDEOLOGY AND DEBATES
- The occasional column on the LALIT website "Mauritius media at a glance" that Ram Seegobin writes, is a constant counter-weight to the bourgeois ideology of the commercial press. The series exposes the press for what it actually is. And it does this with humour.
-During these 5 years, we have cleared up two or three important matters in recent history:
- The role of major personalities in the local media in the plot the MMM hatched against LALIT, by means of corrupting our then ally, the OMT-FNAS and the leaders of 2 trade union federations, getting them to take the role of phantom candidates who say vote MMM, as Gaetan Duval had previously done with lining up POP-FMI candidates to say vote for their alliance.
- The role of the press in the 2005 elections and then later in the by-election in 2009.
We have also shared very precisely our ideas with our supporters and with the public (more precisely than before) on:
- What is a revolutionary party?
- What is a party militant, or party cadre in a revolutionary party?
- What, if any, is the content of the programs of other left groups in Mauritius? Is it "left"?
- What is "the State"?
- Why would it be a defeat if the Government introduces a 5th "community" so as to stabilize the best loser, that is to say a community of those who object to classifying themselves, when they stand for election, while the whole corrupt system of classification continues as usual?
- What is "Class"?
- What is the content of trade union bureaucratization? The phenomenon that trade union leaders strengthen themselves on the backs of the weakness of the very class they represent?
- We have come up with analyses that are totally new to us, though the content of them was always there:
- Marx's philosophy is clearly based on "ecology", and he is a joint founder of the concept. The John Bellamy Foster book proves this beautifully. He also shows how Stalinism banned this current in Marxism, needing to industrialize at any price, while other important Marxist thinkers were not knowledgeable about the physical and biological sciences, while others still refused the use of dialectical materialism for anything else except "ideology", partly fearing the right-wing "social Darwinist" currents, based more on Malthus than on Darwin. All this to say that from 1923-24 onwards the ecological current in Marxism was suppressed, and it survived only as Marxism amongst scientists, not so much in the political sphere.
Many LALIT posters were chosen for the national exhibition of political graphics held in Castel in 2005, and published in the British Council book Upfront and Personal, 2005.
Politics and Comics for Change, is a series of youth workshops in LALIT run by Alain Ah-Vee, 2007.
LALIT member Rajni Lallah has continued to play in the best of concerts, like the LPT organized "A4" program together with the play-reading of Le Morne, for Slavery Abolition Day, 2009.
LALIT member Lindsey Collen has continued over the past five years to receive praise and awards for her literary novels.
We have analyzed the way in which the Ministry of Tourism has put thugs in charge of tearing down posters, painting big black crosses on them, and generally closing down a form of artistic expression, reserving it for commercial advertisements. Since then laws have been passed outlawing posters. With this important means of struggle banned, we have decided to find new ways of transforming visual space available into a place for struggle.
19 ELECTRONIC DEVELOPMENTS IN LALIT
Our web-site, despite 4 hackings in 2009, has continued to get more and more visits. 260,000 hits an 2009. Our replacement web-site after the hackings is still not completely up and running, but will hopefully be soon. Through our web site we have had some recruitment. And our site is like a window through which people can see into our party, and get an idea of it. We found this year that it has been essential to continue to make copies of every web article, for distribution in LALIT branches, otherwise a division is created in the Party between those with (easy) internet connection and those with not-so-easy (or no) internet connection.
Our archives of press cuttings and documents is being put into electronic form, a vast enterprise. We are fortunate to have members who are world experts in this domain.
Some party work is also now helped by the advent of SMS.
20 THEMES THAT LALIT HAS LONG AGITATED AROUND THAT HAVE BECOME CENTRAL RECENTLY:
-The economy: what with the end of the EU preferences, the economy is page one and first item on all media; we have been putting the economy (and the fact that this is the main content of politics, or should be) since 1983, if not since 1976.
- Free zone fragility: a campaign begun in 1976
- Need for exchange control - everyone talks about it now.
- To prevent provoked depreciation of the rupee.
- Against the destruction of jobs - in favour of converting units threatened with closure into other forms of production.
- The need for price controls - now in the news, since the oil and then the food crisis.
- The debate on free transport, now taken up by university students.
- LALIT launched a petition, signed by many organizations, to make Mauritius a GMO free area. This is now spoken about a great deal.
- We were against the war on Iraq, and we said it was illegal. Today the Chilcot Commission is hearing all the legal advice that called the war illegal. There were no "weapons of mass destruction".
-Diego Garcia: This is one of LALIT's longest standing campaigns, and for the past year, it has been main headlines almost every week. The three issues: reparations, re-unification of the country, and base closure are all on the agenda.
- We exposed the nature of the WTO before it existed. What we said about it is gradually becoming common knowledge. The same about GATS, under the WTO.
- The Palestinian struggle has been important in LALIT for 30 years; now it has become everyone's concern.
- The need to decriminalize abortion is now centre stage; all the parties are now in favour, although they still do not have the courage to bring in the law that is needed.
- Violence against women is discussed openly now by almost everyone; it has been on LALIT's agenda for years, while other parties shied away from the subject.
- Or struggle against the Industrial Relations Act over 30 years helped to delay the new worse industrial laws, the EReA and EriA.
- Against police brutality: a subject that only LALIT used to take up, and we bore the stupid criticisms that we were "protecting criminals", etc.
- Village elections have been re-introduced after LALIT's campaign.
- The Best loser is still being contested, a LALIT campaign.
- Those against the Kreol language are finally giving up - LALIT is the only party that has kept up the pressure for over 30 years; while the MMMSP was alive, it did.
- Housing is still a major problem; but instead political parties and editorialists blaming the poor, since LALIT set up and organized the homeless people in "Muvman Lakaz" to raise their voices, to do sit-ins and demonstrations, the debate has changed.
- Drugs: LALIT has held with this subject until it is now centre stage.
- Health as a right: this concept too is a LALIT one, from our Program Document "People's Health" which the MMM turned down, through members' massive contribution to the Bambous Health Project co-operative, LALIT has shown the way to preventive health. Today AIDS is forcing the issue of prevention on to the agenda.
- Universal Human Rights: the LALIT campaign on rights as the very minimum, and the need to take power, is making headway now.
So, if ever LALIT decides not to put up candidates for the next General Elections, we need not be worried that our only political work in 5 years won't take place! There are probably many things left out of this Report.
After preparing this Draft Report my conclusion is I'm not sure there is any other political party in Mauritius with such rich political production and mobilization in five years. So, this brings me to ask myself, "And what exactly is ‘a big party', then?" If not us.
Prepared from a Paper delivered in Kreol on 31 January at a LALIT Members' Assembly, by LCC.
(This paper was part of a series of discussion papers presented at a LALIT 3-day Assembly on 30 and 31 January, and 1 February, 2010
Rada Kistnasamy on a Report on 5-years of political work by the Labour Party's Socialist Alliance, the MMM and the MSM;
Internationalism in LALIT, including an outline of the content of our internationalism, plus report-backs from the Gaza Freedom March and the War Resisters International conference in India;
Rajni Lallah on the economic, political and social forces pushing towards a Labour-MMM coalition, and what makes it nevertheless difficult;
Ram Seegobin on the proposal for a left common platform, in a "facts only" account of 32 years of convergence and divergence with others on the left and often on the "left", elucidating their trajectory.)