More than the shamelessness of the recent appointments at the Electoral Supervisory Commission and the Electoral Boundaries Commission, it is the arrogance with which they are shoved down our throats that is outrageous. As for the incongruous discourse that accompanies such blatant acts, it is simply preposterous.
So while paying lip service to the importance of having independent institutions, three people, out of whom at least two are open supporters and activists of the MSM were sneaked into the above institutions without anyone blinking. Yashvirsing Roopun, already drawing a Rs70,000 stipend a month as a board member of Landscope, joins the board of two institutions on whose independence rests our entire democracy and democratic process – the ESC and the EBC! A quick look at his Facebook page shows that he is an MSM activist who describes himself as an MSM ‘solda’ and ‘militan’. This person, who is so independent and neutral that he can be trusted with our electoral process, openly calls on the population to “votez MSM” in a post where he ridicules MMM Leader Paul Bérenger.
Equally ‘independent’ is the lady that will sit next to him on the same board – Vedita Peerun, the sister of Vikash Peerun, MSM candidate in the last general election! This pair is accompanied by Shadmeenee Mootien. So there!
You will recall the hue and cry raised in 2018 by an angry population against the nomination of Shamila Sonah-Ori on these boards that are supposed to be ….above board. The outrage was such that the prime minister had to backpedal. She was then replaced by Ammanah Ragavoodoo, who is arguably equally close to the MSM!
You will also recall that the last election is still being challenged in many constituencies by all opposition parties. The subterfuges used to delay the hearings have just run out and we will probably soon see the outcome of these cases. This whole episode has left us with an awful after-taste as hitherto sound, unchallenged and credible institutions have been marred in controversy. I doubt that the proposed nominations will improve our faith in them.
What saddens me even more is that for years now we have been sounding the alarm about the erosion of our institutions and the assault on their independence as they are turning into doormats one by one. Needless to say that since singing the praises of those in power is the only qualification, when we are confronted with a situation where utmost competence is needed, there is no one to answer the call. Think ICAC, the Police, the Port Authority in the case of Wakashio, the sanitary crisis we have been thrust into…And it is partly our weakened institutions that have sent us reeling to the EU black list and the FAFT grey list. The proposed nominations will naturally add more institutions to the list.
So you will be pleased to know that the new ESC and EBC boards will soon be gratified by the presence of the following people: Désiré Basset, Shadmeenee Mootien, Yashvirsingh Roopun, Vedita Peerun, André Robert and Ammanah Ragavoodoo, who will be working under the chairmanship of Yusuf Aboobaker. I am sure you are reassured now that the next election will not only be fair but will be seen to be fair. Much fairer than even the last one!
You would have thought someone would have learnt their lesson by now, wouldn’t you? Well, no! It is looking more and more like a heartfelt belief system!