Important but impotent

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The ordinary citizen is afraid of the police, the police are afraid of the commissioner, the commissioner is afraid of the prime minister and the prime minister is afraid of the vice-prime minister, Showkutally Soodhun – a man with nothing to lose: no credibility, no public image, no gravitas.  

So, instead of the strong action the nation is calling for, we are served the most preposterous platitudes by the commissioner of police, Mario Nobin, and the prime minister, Pravind Jugnauth – banal statements destined for the MBC to force-feed us every evening, until we end up believing them: that the police are doing their work independently and transparently. 

Jugnauth goes a little further by specifying that he has told the police to do their work with total independence – which rather begs two questions: First, not being in charge of the police, why should he tell them anything at all? Secondly, didn’t he undermine the police commissioner by suggesting that the latter needs to be prodded to do his job? 

Worse, Jugnauth goes one step further by openly absolving Soodhun: “He didn’t mean what he said. Can you see him shooting Xavier Duval?” 

No, looking at him, we don’t think he is capable of that. Just as the deputy prime minister decided that Álvaro Sobrinho’s money is clean just by looking into his eyes. With such mind-reading politicians around, one wonders if there is any need for courts in this country.

But Nobin is unlikely to be offended by those whose whims and fancies he has been obsequiously and shamelessly accommodating since he took office. He even added a layer: that the police are working night and day to find proof against Soodhun before acting. Oh dear! The CCID is working night and day to watch a short video which has been posted on all social media and which Soodhun himself did not deny!

“Of course, you can’t arrest people without proof,” he added. No, perish the thought! The police have been living by the credo and ethos that people have inalienable rights and that they cannot be arrested without proof. Think Hassenjee and Farihah Ruhomally. Think Ish Sookun. Think all the provisional charges against the government’s opponents which were dismissed as soon as they hit our courts of justice, with the ensuing huge claims for compensation! But Soodhun gets to travel freely after uttering his hateful and very dangerous threats.

But my worry is not even Soodhun, who is used to stoking racial conflict. In the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Riots of 1999, his name appeared as “inciting the Hindus by telling them that the prime minister (Navin Ramgoolam –ed.) is protecting only the minorities. He was equally seen inciting the Creoles to take up arms” – not enough witnesses came forward to corroborate that, so the commission couldn't pursue the matter further (see our cover story in Weekly). Last week was just another step further in fomenting communal violence. 

My worry is the man at the helm of the country: why is he paralysed with fear every time strong action is required?  Why has he been incapable of dealing with his MPs and political nominees who are culpable of impropriety and malfeasance or are being probed by the Commission of Inquiry on Drugs? Granted, little Jugnauth got into power through the back door and is thus unable to assert his authority. However, this week, he had yet another opportunity to demonstrate that he is capable of some leadership despite all that. Unfortunately – at the mere threat of resignation or for other unavowed reasons – he missed it, thus showing that he is at the mercy of those he is supposed to lead. 

History will record that he reigned but never ruled. Important but impotent!

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