Power is power, let’s be fair and let’s agree. Whether it is taken legitimately through a plebiscite or usurped through devious means, it is still power. So congratulations are in order to Pravind Jugnauth for the power passed on to him a year ago by his father in the most monarchical way. Incidentally, the same father who, a year ago, had ‘no option but to step down’ in favour of his son as he was too ill to carry on with the mandate he was given, seems to have miraculously recovered. He has just declared that he was prepared to come back as prime minister if ‘the situation called for it’. A word would have to be coined to describe this new hypothetical situation, but thanks for the offer, Dad, and congratulations all the same, Son!
How Pravind Jugnauth fared during his one year in power depends largely on who you ask or – in many cases – who volunteers the information. Those who crawl when their leader asks them to bend – are happy to go as far as telling us that Pravind Jugnauth is ‘a blessing to this country’, some sort of a gift from God for which we should be grateful. For those who are ungrateful, Jugnauth Junior has been a total flop – lax when he needs to be decisive, wading in scandals and unable to assert his authority to get the discipline required for any work to be done. Many independent political observers, like Lindsay Rivière (Weekly 18 Jan, Issue 281), describe him as having no charisma, but being endowed with good intentions. They say he has no vision, but concede that there have been some positive measures taken: smart cities, the minimum wage, the Negative Income Tax and the Metro Express. Alright, alright! I won’t spoil the one-year festivities by arguing against any of these.
But a track record is not built on a couple of initiatives, daily multiple appearances on our national broadcaster and the hope that people take your word for everything you say. And it is not what colleagues in your party, your father or your wife (pity the mother hasn’t offered an opinion) say about you that matters. It is what international organisations say. In this respect, I have shocking news straight from the Africa Report, which has just come out: According to the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), “Mauritius, which traditionally heads up the index because of its stellar performances in political, social and economic indices, finds itself now in the third tier. Mauritius is in the ‘warning signs’ group because of concerns over corruption and a lack of political leadership.”
“Corruption”? “Lack of political leadership”? Come on Africa! We don’t know what corruption means and we have the best leader in the world, elected prime minister in the most democratic way!
Do you recall that the IIAG is the very index we used to constantly beat our chest about, and wallow in the smugness of being the best in Africa instead of comparing ourselves to the rest of the world? I don’t think we will be able to do even that anymore. Not for a while.
Oh, to those chest-beaters who might accuse me of having taken something out of context, I quoted the full statement about Mauritius. And while we have regressed from leader of the pack to the third tier, what about the rest of the continent? Here’s the answer – consider it a parting gift: “Eighteen countries, representing 56% of the continent’s population, are accelerating in their progress according to the IIAG.”
So, I’d really keep that champagne in the fridge. Or even consider returning it to the cellar.
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