I don’t want to be harsh on the former president as she is going through a hard time as it is. But there comes a time when you look back, get out of the role of the victim and take some responsibility for your acts. Particularly if you have occupied the highest post in the State and taken the whole nation for a ride.
There was nothing in Ameenah Gurib Fakim’s statements to the Caunhye commission to suggest that she even realises what she did wrong. She threw half of the legal profession under the bus, added some friends and acquaintances, members of government, the electoral commissioner and even a friend from Ghana for good measure. However, at no moment did she even consider that she may have some responsibility in what happened.
The more she opens her mouth, the more she confirms the idea expressed by many political observers that she was not up to the important role she was given or to the responsibilities she was entrusted with. She had neither the clout nor the humility to fit in such a position.
Very early in her mandate, we were sounding the alarm bells about how lightly she was taking the Presidency and how immature and biased the interviews she was giving the international press were. Her former colleague, Sheila Bunwaree, pointed out an interview where Fakim was talking about the last election as a David/Goliath situation and how “we won” though “we were a small party” when, as president, she should be above party politics. We had also pointed out her statement that it was when she was told “You don’t have to do anything” that she replied, “OK. Let’s go for it [the Presidency]!” A rather childish attitude when you come to think of it. Heading a whole State, drawing the highest salary from public funds to sit and do nothing.
The gist of her hearings at the commission is that she is not a lawyer, she was “not coached to become president” and every other lawyer gave her the wrong advice. Also, the attorney general did not advise her and the government abandoned her. And she read the Constitution “as a layman”. There, poor child! If she was such a “layman” who needed formal coaching or perhaps a PHD in law to be able to read the Constitution, why was she so eager and in a hurry to take up the position? She should have asked for the former president to finish his term while she was being ‘coached’ to read the Constitution! Just as a reminder, one of the best presidents we have had – Cassam Uteem – was not a lawyer nor did he claim to be “a great scientist”. That did not prevent him from reading the same Constitution as a layman, upholding and safeguarding it!
But the commission did see some moments of lucidity: Lawyer Yusuf Mohamed, she did admit, told her “…you can’t but tactically, you can!” unfortunately, she says, she misunderstood his statement and took it to mean she was legally allowed to set up the commission. Because she is “a scientist”! I never knew scientists had difficulty understanding plain language! As for Lawyer Hervé Duval’s advice that the commission was not legal and that he wanted no part in it, it was sent in an email to Gilbert Noel. Unfortunately, she did not “take cognizance of the email” until a month later when it was too late!
Even giving an ultimatum to l'express was not her idea but Ivan Collendavelloo’s. I was almost expecting another name to crop up in relation to the use of the shady businessman’s credit card in the huge shopping spree that resulted in her ‘resignation’. If she didn’t find one, she did not take any responsibility for that either. She had “inadvertently” used the card repeatedly for months without realising that the pin code was not the same. But she refunded all the money…as soon as the scandal broke out in the press! So what exactly did she do wrong?
And this is the person we have been paying a monthly salary of Rs288,000 for two years and who will be drawing a monthly Rs192,000 pension for life with full advantages? My heart bleeds for my compatriots, particularly those who are scrimping to pay for her platinum retirement. What a bloody waste! We want our money back!
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