The conspiracy of silence

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She barged in with a big bang, chasing away her predecessor before his term was up. And she is about to tiptoe out quietly in disgrace and infamy. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim leaves behind a betrayed country, thirsty for answers. 

Had Gurib-Fakim showed the fighting spirit her friends and supporters were bragging that she had, we perhaps wouldn’t have felt so bad having to tighten our belts until we can no longer breathe to allow her to have the lifestyle she does not deserve. Because at least we would have had the answers to our questions and some more rotten apples would have fallen off the tree, allowing the country to blossom and grow. By sneaking out of office, she is in a way admitting to the facts presented and to the allegations made. Having to pay for her golden retirement is therefore a double whammy. 

As a population, we were not amused by the threats and sick game played between the holders of the highest posts in the country. That the prime minister should publicly admit that he had information about the soon-to-be former president is fair enough.  That he uses that to push her out of office without ever disclosing anything to the population is deplorable. That Gurib-Fakim uses whatever dirt she may have to hold the whole country hostage is shameful. But that she runs away from journalists and the law is even more disgraceful. No longer having the MBC at her beck and call – what a terrible irony – we were still prepared to give her a forum to answer the nation’s questions. Her lack of courage in facing our questions says a lot about her character. The fact that she decided not to swear an affidavit as we had thought she would drove the final nail in her coffin. 

Now that we know the extent of the damage caused to many politicians and high dignitaries by Alvaro Sobrinho, we can’t allow Gurib-Fakim to be the only one to pay the price. Those who have been tarnished by this episode cannot just pretend that all is well. We are not in a schoolyard where two kids threaten to tell on each other and then one of them gives in when he feels he has more to lose. We are talking about the affairs of a country and its image on the international scene. An image we are not likely to ever be able to wash clean without a full inquiry and full answers. Dismissing that under the pretence that it’s time we turned the page and concentrated our efforts on the challenges facing the country is, at best, a lame excuse. 

The biggest challenges that have been facing this country for decades, made seriously worse in the last three years, are corruption and opacity. Now that the genie is out of the bottle, there is no putting him back in, is there? A petition is already circulating and being signed by hundreds of concerned citizens: They all want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

So, no, Sir! This is not the end, much as many members in government would like it to be.  The ministers who must have a lot to hide may well repeat, until the cows come home, that they want to put this whole saga behind them. I don’t think it is their decision. Now that Gurib-Fakim has chickened out, it is the duty of the opposition, civil society and citizens themselves to push for a commission of inquiry. Nothing short of that will quench the thirst of a population which has been taken for granted for too long. 

Pravind Jugnauth scoffed at the possibility of setting up a commission of inquiry. “Give me one reason why I should!” he defiantly asked. Give us one reason why you shouldn’t, Prime Minister! Other than the fact that you may have something to hide. 


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