Robbing Peter to pay Paul

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Minister Roshi Bhadain’s strong criticism of Laina Rawat and her lawyer, Shakeel Mo-hamed, for having had recourse to a court of law to challenge his decision to transfer the assets of the former Bramer Bank to the National Property Fund is extreme, unwar-ranted and verges on contempt of court. 

Bhadain used a disproportionately large chunk of prime time on our national disgrace – euphemistically called the Mauritius Broad-casting Corporation – to talk about how “irresponsible” both Rawat and Mohamed are. He sounded like someone who has just discovered that, unfortunately, there are laws in this country; that it is normal for anyone who feels aggrieved to seek redress in court; that it is also perfectly acceptable in a country where there is the rule of law for a lawyer to do his job of defending his clients as en-shrined in the constitution. Bhadain’s tan-trums did not extend to call the court’s deci-sion of granting the injunction “irresponsible” but he was not far from that. “How can we now pay the Super Cash Back Gold policy-holders?” he asked.

Exactly the question he should answer! Wasn’t he the one who promised that every-one would get their money back and that not a single rupee of taxpayers’ money would be used? (In that case, please remind me what the problem with the BAI was in the first place!) Wasn’t he the one who talked about the billions of rupees in assets which he was going to sell and pay back everyone? Where is that money today that we have to rob Peter to pay Paul? Where are the Rs4.3 – or was it Rs4.7 – billions offered for the sale of Britam Kenya shares as stated in the national as-sembly? That money is not in ex-Bramer Bank. It is not in the possession of the Rawat family – no matter how many death threats may be levelled against them. It is in the assets which are in the hands of the government – particularly in those of its all-powerful min-ister. Does that mean the courts and those using their democratic right to ask for their ruling are wrong? 

It is clear that if Bhadain could do away with the opinion of the judiciary and rely instead on that of a moribund cabinet which he can singularly lord over, he would not hesitate to do so. I do not place much hope on many of the koalas sitting in cabinet or on the right-hand side of our parliament today to stand up for what is right. Most do not even dare to whisper when he comes up with deci-sions to be rubber-stamped in cabinet or in the national assembly where he commands a large majority and rules the roost. 

As for some self-appointed representatives of victims, who are more concerned with pro-tecting their nomination and the scrumptious benefits that go with it than in the interest of those they represent, the less said the better.

One day – and that day always comes – the koalas sitting in cabinet today, happy to tell Bhadain “Ou meme papa, ou meme mama, l’état, c’est toi!” will have to wake up from their 22-hour a day sleep and let go of that fickle branch of power they are holding on to. I wonder how many of them will say “I was like a puppet” – the now-notorious utterance of those who have never looked up the meaning of the word ‘dig-nity’. In a court of law – sorry, did not mean to rub that in – or that of public opinion, we’ll see how many will get away with that! 

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