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Campaign Notes: Finance Minister Sithanen ousted before elections

19.04.2010


Finance Minister Rama Sithanen has finally not been given a Constituency in which to stand for the 5 May General Elections, after a long drawn out series of episodes that resembled a bad TV-serial. He has been well nigh in tears on various radio stations, showing himself to be a sentimental technocrat; "sentimental" because he is so surprised that his "friend", the out-going Prime Minister, Navin Ramgoolam has stabbed him in the back, and "technocrat" because he is the architypal IMF-World Bank type macro-economic manager of figures. To him economics is truly devoid of people. People only come in afterwards as rather patronizing "poverty alleviation" programs. His ousting is not a surprise at all. LALIT predicted it long ago. His very real economic policies, that are quite rightly unpopular, are in stark contrast to the Labour Party's radical economic discourse, in particular its discourse on "democratizing the economy". And since elections involve discourse, the Finance Minister must therefore be seen by the electorate to be being punished for his very real economic policies, thus freeing the discourse from accusations of it being "just words". Even though the policies were those of the whole Government.

There were already all the concrete signs and indelible signals of his future dismissal. Rama Sithanen was responsible for depreciating the rupee some 27% in one year (a disguised devaluation), thus impoverishing an already poor working class in a country where everything you need is imported. And when Rundeersing Bheenick was being brought in as the Governor of the Central Bank of Mauritius, a Governor who would in fact halt the depreciation, the Minister of Finance threatened to resign. In fact he had said his letter of resignation was "in his pocket", you will recall. He said he wasn't getting solidarity from other members of the Cabinet for his economic reforms. Anyway, he did not resign. More recently, his main advisor, Ally Mansoor, an even more technocratic economist, during a conflict with the civil service trade unions, was roundly disowned by the Prime Minister, just before the dissolution of the National Assembly. Another clear sign of what was to come.

What is true is that Labour Party leader and out-going Prime Minister, Navin Ramgoolam has cruelly gone on and on until almost the eve of Nomination Day, giving Rama Sithanen hope that he will be given both a candidature and be fifth in the hierarchy of a future Government, if the Labour Party Alliance wins.

This was reminiscent of Navin Ramgoolam's drawing out the MMM's hope, just before he would dissolve Parliament, of an Alliance with Labour. This went on for three months of negotiations in a previous long series of episodes just like a TV-serial, but which it now seems was quite cruelly premeditated by him.