Elections in Mauritius is coming live again with the announcement of the government to postpone the municipal election for another two years. Indeed, the Local Government Amendment Act 2023 can be perceived as the sequence of all attacks committed by the regime in power which threatens the very idea of democracy. It is in this context that Rising Ocean organized its weekly debate. On Monday 19 June 2023, Rajen Valayden the editor in chief of Capital Media was invited to make an overview of the political situation in Mauritius. He qualifies this situation as a violation of democracy. The debate was co-animated by Dany Marie and Ashvin Gudday.

Rajen Valayden started the debate by emphasizing that there was no reason to postpone the municipal elections, since they were already put back two years ago due to the pandemic.

There was no force majeure, no plausible and rational explanation that can justify the reschedule of the municipal elections this time around. The situation is back to normal, and the Local Government Amendment Act 2023 had no reason to be implemented.”

Indeed, Rajen Valayden condemns this action as an attack on democracy. People need to understand the importance of elections because they are the bedrock of democracy since they give individual the power to make decisions about who they want to represent them in parliament and municipalities.

Why it’s important to challenge the reschedule of the municipal election in Court?

The journalist claims that it gives hope to see that there are still several people who have also lodged a complaint with the court concerning the unjustified dismissals of municipal elections. This shows that the very idea of postponing these elections for another two years is an aberration for many citizens. Rajen Valayden is of the opinion that taxpayers must have the full enjoyment of rights but above all have the locus standi to be able to lodge complaints when they see that those in power write or pass laws contrary to the constitution. Knowing very well that they are paid with taxpayers’ money. The fact that those who feel concerned and afflicted are not perceived as direct victims is more than abnormal for a Republic that calls itself democratic.

This is one of the reforms that must be made to the law in order to make it understood that those who feel concerned by laws which seem to violate the rights and constitutional freedom of a person can do so without being told that they do not have the locus standi.”

To be able to stop all these excesses, those who operate in the dark to write these liberticide laws, in violation of the Constitution, it is necessary that the public investigate and seek to know the true from the false.”

Rajen Valayden continues his momentum by saying that there is no greater safeguard than the citizens. As a matter of fact, the public should not just be inspired by sensational information, they should also be able to ask explanation to the deputies in their constituencies.

It’s regrettable that the Citizen Advise Bureau (CAB) are only used to talk about individual needs. The public must know that these same offices can be used to voice out sensitive issues of common interest. Whether for immediate law reform or for the next 100 years.”

All the abuses we see today, the rise in prices on different basic food products, the implementation of laws going against fundamental rights is unfortunately due to the carelessness of public opinion. Today’s society has become so individual-based that issues which affect the majority are sometimes overlooked. This is directly tied to Capitalism with their system of exploiting workers. With the 45 hours work that some must do per week, this greatly affects their ability to care about the political news of the country.

Moreover, this political baseness is even more frequent because people’s center of interest is not varied, and they react only when the problems affect them personally.

The crisis that Mauritius has just gone through has put almost the majority of the population on an equal footing. Unemployment had affected several sectors, whether aviation or construction. Even those earning really high salaries have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. All that to say that no one is really safe, and that class struggle is still valid.”

What assessment for the 2023/2024 budget?

Rajen Valayden asserts that there has been an unjust enrichment while much of the population is suffering economically. Certain falsity put forward by so-called experts means that public opinion begins to be largely impacted. This budget has no innovation, no vision for the people. On the contrary, every year the government puts on a masquerade. The journalist points out that a budget is primarily an accounting exercise where the Minister of Finance should come forward with a report to show what was really done with the capital granted for the year 2022/2023.

In addition, the budget should have clearly demonstrated which projects were successful and which ones could not be done or completed. Indeed, the Minister of Finance is accountable to the population because it is public money, that will be used to finance many, if not almost all of these plans. Because of this, the Mauritian should know how much money is left in the fund and why it is necessary to re spend lot of capital if indeed a good part of the funding from the previous year has not yet been used.

What should change to begin with, is not to make any amendment of the law in the budget speech. Then out of respect for the taxpayers, the budget discourse must begin by initiating a balance sheet of the last fiscal year.”

Watch the debate here: