A bunch of MPs belonging to the MMM have taken umbrage at having been called “hypocrites” in a column in this newspaper. They believed that the article, which was referring to their quixotic position on abortion, constituted an infringement of their parliamentary privilege and immunity. The Speaker ruled in their favour and they have since referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions. How low they might have fallen, how petty the principled have become.
If this is the sort of battle the MMM, or the opposition as it’s been known for most of its history, has been reduced to, fighting perhaps a rethink or overhaul of the party are in order. Preferably both, in fact.
At a recent shindig for Alan Ganoo, Paul Bérenger took the opportunity of stating that the MMM has kept the same values over the years. Unless values is the brand of air freshener used at La Poudrière Street, his comment couldn’t have been further off the mark. A party is comprised of people. How many of its representatives in parliament would you say incarnate the values of the MMM of yore? Oh you know, the MMM that stood for workers’ rights, anti-communalism and generally creating a more just and egalitarian Mauritius. Three? Maybe four, at an absolute stretch? The rest are mainly career politicians, or dinosaurs, for whom challenging the status quo simply means getting back into power.
The real question is: what would they do if they got in?
How would their economic policies differ from those of the current regime? There’s ample reason to believe that the answer is: not a great deal. Sure, Vishnu Lutchmeenaraido showed acumen by announcing that gold would be a good investment when the economic crisis was still in its infancy. But other than that, the MMM, for all its criticism of the way the economy is being run, has yet to make a meaningful contribution to the national economic debate. After all, this is the party we have to thank for the IRS concept.
And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s always about.
The economics defi ne the politics, not vice-versa. Naturally, times change and so do parties, but their underlying philosophies should remain constant. And the fact of the matter is the MMM is no longer progressive and hasn’t been for a while. Worse, it’s been compromised by many of the same lobbies it’s denounced its opponents for frequenting.
Do you think it would’ve had the courage to amend the Criminal Code, introduce an Equal Opportunities Bill or even come forward for a needle exchange programme for drug users? Probably not, but that won’t stop it believing it’s still the bee’s knees.
It’s no longer heretic to state that Bérenger is part of the problem. He became a national icon at a very young age and has done a lot for the country, but now he risks condemning his party to irrelevance. If he knows what’s good for the MMM he must at least step back and allow the progressives within its ranks to give it a new lease of life. If not, 2015 will be more of the same and deservedly so. Alternatively, and this would be the easier option by far, the MMM could simply the middle M from its name.