Political Sociology: Modern Mauritius needs new political parties

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New blood, ideas, vision and a manifesto infused with a humanist ideology and ethical governance are needed.

The relationship between politics and society is at an all time low. The rumblings of discontent are in the air. Mauritian democracy requires that state -society relations be urgently reengineered. The latter requires a rethinking of our democracy. Mauritian society, which is often projected as a beacon of democracy in the African region, is in deep trouble. It might be a good idea to distil some lessons from the Senegalese experience for instance. Civil society and youth in Senegal took to the streets and successfully prevented the old, opportunistic Abdoulaye Wade and his cronies to come back to power.

On the local front, two men using the discourse of the ‘deepening of democracy’, have subjected many people, particularly ticket aspirants and/or ‘victims of hope’, with all sorts of gymnastics around the making and unmaking of alliances/ coalitions, to finally tell them that the forthcoming elections will be contested in a ‘go alone’ mode. Whatever be the ‘modus operandi’ that is eventually chosen, the average citizen remains disgusted and wants an alternative. But the latter is not easy to find, not because we are short of ideas and vision but rather short of other resources which seem so necessary in a highly unleveled playing field.

It is a well known fact that elections cost a lot more than the ceiling imposed by the electoral supervisory commission. Those who wish to see real transformation of the society do not have the kind of money that the mainstream parties possess. It is, however, important not to fall in the trap of a ‘lumping together of all sorts’ under a leadership which is also taxed with dynastic politics, inhumane and disrespectful discourses towards some segments of our society. Modern Mauritius deserves better. Thank God, there are some people who still abide by principles and uphold values which many Mauritians still embrace. Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope after all !

For several weeks now, we have allowed an opposition and the government to get away without doing anything for the citizens who have elected them. The economy is in bad shape and the country is replete with scandals. The bankruptcy of morality speaks volumes about the actual political class as well as the way we choose our leaders. Voting should be exercised more intelligently.

Begging for votes and a mockery of democracy

Opposition members who, we legitimately expect, interrogate and denounce malpractices, corruption and waste have been mute but when the time comes to knock on the doors of the ordinary citizens to ask for a vote, the mute mode will be off.

On the other hand, we have some people within the Labour party (a party which claims to have humanistic values) reducing their fellow citizens to ‘accessories’ who merely help to ‘turn the wheels’. Is this what politics has been reduced to today?

When mainstream political parties go out of their way to enter into alliances under the current electoral system, they do so with the aim of obtaining a landslide victory – sometimes achieving a 60-0 with no opposition or a very weak one.

Our two main autocrats are, in the context of the proposed electoral reform, supposedly expressing their concern for democracy. They suggest that all factions and groupings of the opposition can come together to make the required 10% to enter Parliament. What a farce!

With so many ministers and PPS gulping the scarce resources of a heavily indebted Mauritius and allowing the country to sink rather than progess, it is absolutely legitimate for the ordinary citizens to contest the mockery that is being made of our democracy.

It is true that the political elite has deliberately maintained an archaic education system which does not develop the critical mind and/or the political consciousness of our youth so that the latter cannot see through the machinations and manipulations of the political class. But beware Mauritian youth is not so naïve after all. They are mobilizing. Some are setting up new social movements and others political parties and this against all odds.

The political vacuum and new political parties

Modern Mauritius needs new political parties, new blood, new ideas, new vision and a manifesto infused with a humanist ideology and ethical governance. Mauritius requires some kind of moderate left party something which resonates with all citizens irrespective of class, caste, ethnic group and gender. The average Mauritian wants a clean government with real democratic governance which can assist in satisfying his aspirations and expectations.

There are some good, able, competent, credible people even within the existing political parties. They must, however, understand that leadership is behavioural, not positional. Positions and titles do not define great leaders; the latter define and leverage the power of their positions to change people’s lives positively.

They should step out of their comfort zones and give a hand to salvage Mauritian democracy. The setting up of new social movements and new political parties to put an end to dynastic and opaque politics is not easy. Many well-intentioned people opt for what is easier – i.e join an already existing party. They should perhaps be reminded of a famous line from Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”And dare I add that the seemingly impossible will remain impossible if men and women of purpose fail to summon the courage to do what’s right.

There is a risk that the model of peace and cohesion that we represent be set ablaze, all this because two leaders and their protégés worry about their own interests rather than the citizens: fishermen on hunger strike because of the difficulty of sustaining their livelihoods, the increasing numbers of street children begging on the streets, families without a roof, women prostituting to feed their families, unemployed graduates, anxiety of those on contractual meagerly paid jobs, victims of domestic violence and other crimes as well as the growing inequality and polarization in the context of a rapidly weakening economy.

Let us be the change that we want to see !

“It seems impossible until it’s done.”

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