Hi, my name is Richard Munisamy, you have probably never heard of me. Basically, I am nobody and have done little of note apart from co-founding the NGO, We Love Mauritius. I am making this statement to explain why I have taken the Electoral Supervisory Commission to court over the present elections. Perhaps you are a little curious.
My actions are dedicated to the Youth of Mauritius as I am concerned about the future you will inherit from the current generation of politicians. I am also mildly concerned about my own future, for reasons I will explain. I should point out that this is not intended to be a political statement, but a personal one that is, however, in alignment with the mandate I am given by my NGO: in essence, to assist with the realisation of Maurice “Iles Durables”.
Yesterday, I was privileged to listen to a discourse by Swami Agnivesh, a highly regarded political activist from India. His primary concerns are for the politically disenfranchised of his country – women and the poor. My own NGO is somewhat similar, in that we seek to give voice to the voiceless: Mother Nature and future generations.
Swami Agnivesh said a few things about India that I compared with Mauritius.
First, he made me aware that India, like Mauritius, has been governed by successive political alliances: currently by the United Progressive Alliance, led by the Indian National Congress; and previously by the National Democratic Alliance, led by the BJP.
I find the concept of alliances somewhat strange, having spend most of my life in the UK. During this time, Parliament has always been dominated by a single political party: either the Labour party or the Conservative party. The third party, the Liberal Democrats, could easily have joined one of them in an alliance and participated in government but their principles prevented them. They have their own distinctive policies that they wish to see implemented in the UK and they will not compromise them for the sake of a pre-electoral alliance. This integrity will probably pay off in the coming UK elections where they are likely to gain a significant presence in parliament. They have waited patiently for this for decades.
In India, the current political alliance was formed AFTER the elections in 2004. The coalition parties negotiated the alliance based on policies that they all agreed on and they called it the Common Minimum Programme. Contrast this with Mauritius where alliances are formed BEFORE the election, not based on shared policies and a Common Minimum Programme but on a Common Desire for Power.
In fact, no Mauritian party in recent history has proclaimed anything close to a coherent strategy for the nation. The electorate are not offered national policies, but cheap slogans and hollow promises, mainly to lobby groups: a hospital for women, a ministry for the poor, and for Creoles, once again, that their language will be taught in schools. Have you noticed that politicians have stopped promising Rastafari that marijuana will be decriminalised? Rastas have been lied to so many times that they no longer believe a single word a Mauritian politician tells them.
What’s more, Prime Minister Ramgoolam, with despotic arrogance, demands that we re-elect him with a 75% majority. Why? So that he can change the Constitution any way he likes. But he refuses to tell us what changes he wants to make. This is the most fundamental violation of democratic principles possible. Democracy is popularly defined as the rule of the people, by the people, for the people. Ramgoolam is telling us to make him our dictator. No sane person anywhere else in the world would vote for a leader who wants to change the Constitution but won’t say how.
Now the Constitution is a precious document. It enshrines our fundamental rights. The oath of the President reads as follows:
I do swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law and that I will devote myself to the service and well being of the people of Mauritius.
It is the Constitution that gives me the right to take the Electoral Services Commission to the Supreme Court, and it is because I believe that it has contravened the Constitution that I do so. Of course, defending the Constitution is the responsibility of the President. However, it seems he is more devoted to serving the interests of his son and the well-being of the MSM.
If you want evidence of self-serving changes made to the Constitution by politicians in the recent past, take a look at Section 36A. It was introduced with such haste in 1992 that it even contains a grammatical error.
36A Validity of previous elections
Notwithstanding any provision of this Constitution relating to the election of members of the Assembly or to their tenure of office as members of the Assembly, where, in relation to any general election held between 1 January 1967 and 30 September 1991, any person [who] has committed an offence against an electoral law by reason of any act or omission in relation to the printing, publishing or posting of any bill, placard or poster, that act or omission shall not be held –
(a) to have affected or to affect the validity of the election of that person to the Assembly or of anything done by the Assembly or that member;
(b) to have disqualified or to disqualify that person from membership of the Assembly.
It gave the so-called founders of our nation and the self-proclaimed architects of the “Mauritian economic miracle”, immunity from prosecution and loss of office for violating electoral law for nearly twenty-five years. Why on earth did they put it there, unless they were guilty? I am ashamed for the reputation of our county that such a corruption of justice is recorded for the world to see in our Constitution.
The world regards Mauritius as a model of African democracy. But we know how thin this veneer of respectability really is. Democracy means that any man can become the head of his country. The US has a black minority, Afro-American President, with a Muslim middle name. Who can imagine having a “Nation” Prime Minister in Mauritius? The cycling of power between several self-styled dynastic families with organisations, that resemble the Mafia more than political parties, is not democracy. In the business world, they would be called an illegal cartel. In Mauritius, they are legitimised. Their lieutenants are rewarded with well paid positions in parastatal bodies and state-owned corporations, while the rank and file are integrated into all levels of our public services, including the police. While there is corruption in other countries – such as bribes and kick-backs given to individual politicians in return for favours – Mauritius is the only county in the world where political parties are like an institutionalised Mafia, protected by law.
Now Italy and America know that the Mafia are very hard to defeat. I have a philosophy: if you can’t beat them, join them (and change them from the inside); if you can’t join them, make fun of them. So I decided to set up my own party – whose members share the common policy of eating, drinking, and being merry. It actually would be my second party as I set one up in the UK for the elections in 2005. I called it ChANGE (Charities’ Alliance for New Governance and Economics), but that is a whole other story.
In the Mauritian elections, just like in the UK, I would have no chance of winning. So I wanted to call the party: Mission Impossible Deux or MID for short. Its symbol would be a rose-coloured cat. And there is the main joke. If Sir Gaetan and Xavier Duval can express a preference for cocks, I guess I can say I like pussies. Pink pussies are natural; blue cocks are a symptom of an overdose of Viagra.
According to the Constitution, to be registered for an election, a political party must be a lawful association. But when I applied to the Registrar of Associations to register my party, and hence make it legitimate, I was told that political parties are not regarded as associations. Somewhat of a contradiction, I thought. If political parties in Mauritius were registered as associations then, as in every other country in the democratic world, they would have to submit audited accounts every year: accounts that would be available for public scrutiny. Now why would the political parties of the Mauritian dynastic families (let’s call them the Mauritian Mafia for short) want to avoid that?
So what I am actually trying to do is have the Mauritian Mafia declared unlawful and prohibited from participating in the current elections. Some say I am being a little foolhardy, others say I am totally insane. I cannot argue with them. The last time a man stood up to the Mauritian Mafia on behalf of his people, he was merely asking for the decriminalisation of cannabis. He was murdered in a police cell by having his head smashed against a wall. When Berger Agathe protested the unlawful killing of his friend, Kaya (please open this link in a new window right now), he too was murdered, in his case, by a police bullet.
I remember the riots that followed, because I was visiting Mauritius at the time. A friend of mine was shot in the head, was lucky to live, but lost his sight in one eye. I also remember Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam announcing on state television that the nation’s reputation had been tarnished and that those responsible would be severely punished. No policeman was ever prosecuted.
But how many young Creole men have been fined or thrown into prison since then for possession of relatively harmless marijuana? How many expensive raids have been conducted by police trucks and helicopters against a few hidden cannabis plants in a war on drugs? It is a strangely asymmetric war that permits heroin dealers to peddle this most destructive drug with impunity. A drug that has no equal in increasing acquisitive crime and spreading HIV. A war that allows subutex couriers to use VIP lounges and escape the country after conviction. A war that has done nothing, after decades, to relieve Mauritius from its top three ranking in the world for opiate prevalence. So is it really a war on drugs or part of the punishment promised by Ramgoolam?
Closer to home, and just couple of years ago, a friend was protesting because the Mauritian Mafia had effectively privatised Ilot Gabriel. By giving control of the beautiful islet to their lieutenants, they were undermining his catamaran business and hence threatening his livelihood. For his trouble, he had his achilles tendons slashed with a machete.
Yes, it is a dangerous game standing up to the Mauritian Mafia. But if not me then who? And if not now then when? So I implore you, even if my attempt to thwart the Mauritian Mafia fails: follow my lead, Get up, stand up and emancipate yourselves from mental slavery.
Don’t vote for the red keys, nor the white suns, nor the blue cocks, not even for the purple hearts. Vote instead for the “rose-coloured cats”. Vote for responsible, non-partisan women who can calm communal conflict, eliminate patriarchal prejudice and lead Mauritius into a peaceful and prosperous future. If they can do it in Rwanda, why can’t they do it here?
To be continued…