Mauritian Economy

The Roots Of Inequality In Mauritius

The Audit report exposed quite clearly how much money has been squandered during the last cycle (2014-2016). The mismanagement of public funds is excruciating-from errors in the pension scheme that inflated the payments by nearly Rs 10.9 million to the blatant mishandling of investment projects that cost around Rs42.7 million-there’s one thing we can be sure of, accounting isn’t their forte.

Therefore, scandals like the ‘Vijaya Sumputh’ affair do provide a glimpse into the systemic corruption that thrives in government institutions. What are the ostentatious qualifications that warrant a salary that’s tenfold the median salary on the island, given that the lady basically acts like a figurehead (with no prior experience in the medical field)? The history between Hon. Anil Gayan and Vijaya Sumputh is well known- he appointed her at the helm of the Tourism Authority when he was Minister of Tourism (a move X.L.Duval decried as illegal) and their trysts abroad were made public even though foreign trips didn’t really form part of the job description. Could it be that it is a replay of the fiasco that caused the demise of the Labour Party leadership?

While thousands live paycheck-to-paycheck, our ministers are overcompensated for their mediocre work, as evidenced by the Audit report. Comparing the salary of our dear Leader to Narendra Modi’s (India’s Prime Minister), the former basically earns six times the amount Modi makes, which raises one pertinent question; What set of skills does he possess that Modi doesn’t? The answer to that question is quite simply The N word-nepotism.

Our political system is fraught with nepotism on all scales of government and that impinges on people’s prospects on the job market. Through no fault of theirs, their eligibility for a career is determined by how many power players they know. This is an affront to the basic tenets of our democracy and unless we do something about it, they will continue their tribalistic practices, which consist of enriching themselves and their lackeys while the rest of the country is languishing in misery.

In South Korea, millions of people took to the streets when their Prime Minister’s cosy ties to corporations were revealed, she was impeached in a rare victory for democracy. Are Mauritians ever going to hold their politicians accountable? Our timorous attitudes towards protest and civil disobedience have been the bane of our existence.

To be fair, our politicians do have a redeeming quality-the copacetic lip service. No matter the severity of the deed, they will exhaust every possible straw man argument until the anger dissipates and turns into incredulity. Flouting ethics to appoint political allies, going to such lengths as making sure that anyone with their surname is ensconced in a rewarding position, resorting to ad hominem attacks such as the idiosyncratic ‘Mo piss ar zot’ from SAJ, our politicians are quite a rare breed. To be fair to SAJ, it takes cojones to admit that he doesn’t care. But does the public care? Transparency is the sine qua non of any enduring democracy, and if ours is to endure, we’ve got to address these pressing issues.

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