To turn parliament into a bit of a farce, you need only three ingredients: bad faith, a speaker who has no credibility to lose and a good dose of arrogance. And as it happens, all three ingredients were present on Tuesday at our august assembly when the leader of the opposition, Arvin Boolell, asked the parliamentary question we all wanted an answer to: By what kind of magic were two consortiums going to land the biggest deal in land speculation in the history of this country?
Of course, the government had no intention of answering such a question and that quickly became obvious as the speaker and the minister of finance, Renganaden Padayachy, connived to play a game that has become all too familiar: give answers to all the questions that were not asked and avoid the one question about nepotism and possible corruption. The speaker even surpassed himself by telling the leader of the opposition which questions not to ask!
As for the ingredient of arrogance, what a generous serving we had! If there is no shortage of arrogance in the government bunches, Padayachy takes the cake. A man who has so much to be humble about – particularly after the last budget where he had to backpedal on a number of measures – displayed an unparalleled level of arrogance, compounded by a condescending tone towards Boolell that made following the parliamentary debates so unpleasant. Naturally, Padayachy refused to table the discussions held at the board of Landscope and, naturally, he refused to answer the leader of the opposition’s question about whether the prime minister, Pravind Jugnauth, had met representatives of the two consortiums, dismissing the question as “ridiculous”. And naturally, Padayachy was not going to table the advice of the State Law Office! Speaker Sooroojdev Phokeer came to the rescue, stating that “legal officials’ opinion cannot be tabled in parliament” and ignored the opposition’s questioning that particular ruling. So, all is well: there was never any attempt by the government to allow favoured companies to make a fortune through land speculation on a massive scale and all the allegations are false and made by anti-patriots!
“A man who has so much to be humble about – particularly after the last budget – displayed an unparalleled level of arrogance, compounded by a condescending tone towards Boolell that made following the parliamentary debates so unpleasant.”
This level of arrogance extends beyond parliament where accountability has made way for a what-can-you-do-about-it attitude. So, a grossly unqualified Sandhya Boygah is parachuted to the helm of the Mauritius Standards Bureau, a whole board is revoked and an acting CEO pushed towards the exit to make that happen. Expect high standards of performance, as in the Financial Services Commission, where the attorney general’s wife was promoted beyond her competence and draw your own conclusions about the blacklisting of our jurisdiction.
Indian citizen Rajesh Kumar Babu is placed at the head of CEB Fibernet Co. Ltd, a company created in July 2018 for no purpose that rational minds can conceive. The company is not generating any revenue, doesn’t have any registered clients and has swallowed Rs20.3 million so far. However, its general manager has been drawing a Rs400,000 salary each month for the past two years. Don’t we all wish we had a cushy job like that, particularly in these tough times! The answer came in parliament in a matter-of-fact way, with the same arrogance as all the other answers.
The Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) director, Navin Beekharry, also embarks on a very laudable project of renovating his office at great cost, allegedly without following the proper procedures in selecting contractors. Calls of the opposition parliamentarians sitting on the ICAC parliamentary committee to produce a report to reply to the above allegations have remained unanswered.
Just imagine that all this dilapidation of public funds is taking place at a time when the country – and the world – is going through the toughest period of its history: our borders are closed, many of our compatriots – or at least those who have no political connections – are stranded all over the world, our major sectors are on their knees…But the chosen few are squandering public funds as if there was no tomorrow while those in government are – for reasons we can only guess – doing everything they can to refuse to show any accountability. Their idea of managing this country seems to be benefiting from all the privileges and taking no responsibility at all. When confronted, arrogance, a lot of arrogance and more arrogance is their only response. God save this country!