Killing them softly

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It is my firm, unshakable, unbending belief that if the MSM could plan the projects it undertakes the way it plans its commitment to staying in power by hook or by crook (more by crook, in fact), we would never be in the situation we are in today.

Take any project the government has undertaken from Heritage City to the Metro Express, the Daecan flyover, through the Terre-Rouge/Verdun road repairs and the Côte d’Or sports complex. They are all characterised by a total lack of planning, a great deal of amateurism, cost overruns and a lot of money wasted. The result is total chaos. They charged head on into Heritage City and spent Rs47.2 million before they realised the project was not viable. For Terre-Rouge Verdun, four years after the cracks appeared on a 100-metre stretch, we are still changing consultants and have no idea what to do. The opening of the Deacan flyover resulted in total chaos in Port Louis, with  motorists wondering what will happen when the schools re-open. As for the Côte d’Or sports complex, a facility well beyond our modest means, it has so far registered Rs700 million in cost overruns and we are still counting. And I promise you it will not be ready for the coming Indian Ocean Games so billions will have gone down the drain. Again! As for their flagship project, the Metro Express, I prefer not to spoil your appetite by describing what our compatriots from Rose Hill are going through.

But you must credit the government for its foresight when it comes to projects that will give it total control over all the levers of power. Hats off! Their planning there is like clockwork. Flawless!

If you followed the polemic about the failed attempted appointment of Sharmila Sonah Ori to the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Supervisory Electoral Commission (SEC), you will remember that it created such an outcry that the MSM had to backpedal. But they still forged ahead with the appointment of another member of the ‘kitchen’, Amaanah Saya Ragavoodoo, on these same commissions, in spite of the general uproar. We had no idea why they persisted. Now we do.

If the proposals for political party financing go through, new powers will be given to the EC and ESC. The two commissions will be able to regulate political party financing, have full access to the accounts of each political party, see who the donors are and be party to other top-secret information! These are huge powers! What guarantee is there that members of the commissions do not give information directly to those who have nominated them and to whom they owe their lavish livelihood? Now, once the donors are aware of this link to the ‘kitchen’, which suicidal donor – be it a big company or a small civil servant – will dare donate to opposition parties? Any show of zeal will be dampened by memories of what happened with BAI, Betamax and Lottotec.

So, this is one of the most dangerous bills to be introduced in Parliament. And like other bills of this kind, it will be pushed through with tremendous haste while the government propagandists hail it as a great step in democracy, in just the same way as the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) granting radio licences to cronies and sycophants was hailed as a liberalisation of the airwaves.

Notice that another bill went through yesterday nominating an ombudsperson for financial services. It looked innocuous. But the fact that the nomination of someone with a quasi-legal status and humongous powers will be made, not by the Legal and Judicial Services Commission, but by the prime minister with the rubberstamp of the president is very dangerous. MMM MP Reza Uteem describes the new political nominee as someone who will be “judge, jury and executioner”. The government is once again taking powers away from the Judiciary and handing them over to the prime minister.

We have reached a stage where the checks and balances are being daily nibbled away. How free and fair will our elections be if the parties in government are gorging with money and the opposition is starved? If the bill goes through, the killing of the opposition will immediately start. Softly but surely.

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