The kingdom of monsters

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How we got to this state, historians will document one day. But the fact is that we are currently living in a kingdom where a king, enjoying unprecedented powers, reigns supreme and many members of his kingdom have turned into monsters to protect his divine right to rule.

Essential to achieving this laudable goal, a whole system is put in place in utmost opacity and monsters are being created every day to make sure the system works. As the little monsters have invaded most of the institutions in this country and now control the levers of power, the system has become fool proof.

The system relies on monsters in various key positions supposed to be independent and who, instead, have no compunction in showing their allegiance to the king. When these work together, opacity, an essential element of any autocracy, is guaranteed. If you enhance this already fool proof system through the creation of smokescreens at all levels and continuous spin doctoring and propaganda, the king becomes a demigod.

There is no need to waste time on the So Independent Commission Against Corruption. It has become the government’s official laundry machine. Any embarrassing scandal that cannot be dealt with finds its way to its deep drawers and becomes history. Try asking any question about it and the answer is clear: “The matter is being investigated by the ICAC so we can’t comment on it.” And the little monster takes its work very seriously by making sure not a single compromising file sees the light of the day.

Anything the ICAC cannot deal with, the police handles with the same ‘independence’ and ‘professionalism’. Anyone who doubts that just has to go over the court reports on the Kistnen murder and take stock of how deep we are in brown stuff. And for a perfect postcard to emerge, the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation takes its role so seriously that even the noise of the constantly running washing machines is drowned by such crude propaganda that the ordinary citizen is lulled into believing the country was really copied after heaven.

These monsters have been joined by hitherto fiercely independent institutions like the Bank of Mauritius, Statistics Mauritius, the Presidency…And parliament. This seat of democracy, where ministers used to be taken to task and held accountable through parliamentary questions, is now a sorry sight. The monster-in-charge there is making such a mockery of the parliamentary democracy of this once proud institution that it has now become dysfunctional and dystopian. The speaker, fished out of the oblivion he had been living in after his eloquent stint in Cairo, is all at the service of the king. He cares little about his reputation, legacy and what posterity will think of him. He seems to have no pretentions. As long as the king is happy, the monster has fulfilled his role.

So he rides roughshod on the opposition and at the slightest provocation results in an expulsion no questions asked. Like a good goalkeeper, no ball likely to score against the government is allowed in. So no questions about Angus Road, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Showkutally Soodhun, who cost the exchequer millions of rupees, including rent wasted when he suddenly and inexplicably left. No questions about the racket going on with the importation of medicines at the expense of the most vulnerable. And this week, manifestly no question about the Mauritius Investment Corporation that is swallowing billions of taxpayers’ money! So we fork out Rs30 billion and shut up? Do we suspect – as the leader of the opposition pointed out – that the money is going to selective companies and cronies? Is there any fairness in dishing up these funds? You can’t ask those questions in parliament. In fact, you can’t even claim that it is taxpayers’ money and not the property of the governor of the Bank of Mauritius – another monster in the chain. Everything is confidential. Except of course the medical records of a poor lady who passed away in tragic and suspicious circumstances and which – if they exist at all – must have been obtained illegally!

One wonders if we would not be better off scrapping many of the institutions! Honestly, who thinks we are getting any value for the huge amounts of money wasted on them? Is there any point in having a parliament at all? Apart from keeping parliamentarians well fed that is!

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