WHAT SHOULD WE UNDERSTAND?
According to the law, an ex-president of the Republic of Mauritius, drawing the ex-presidential pension, is not allowed to take any remunerative employment. “A retiring President or Vice-President in receipt of a pension under subsection (1) shall not undertake any remunerative employment during the remainder of his life.”
But after the 2014 general elections, the ex-president SAJ did just that. He was appointed Prime Minister. Was not this an illegal action? Those supporting him argued that he was chosen by the people of Mauritius and could not be considered as an employee. Moreover, he had no employer and was not receiving an emolument but an allowance. That is only ONE way of looking at the situation. Is there another way? Yes, there is!
1. SAJ was recruited by the electorate. Are ‘people’ and ‘electorate’ synonyms? ‘People’ is polysemic and so means many different things; ‘electorate’ has a clearer and more specific meaning. The electorate which chose him is only a ‘recruiting agent’ and not his employer. SAJ is employed by the state which also employs MLA’s, ministers etc. An analogy: the PSC recruits civil servants but does not employ them. The state is their employer.
2. A financial allowance is an honorarium and so is a form of emolument which is taxable.
It seems that the illegal nomination of SAJ as PM has made his government illegal and consequently all decisions of that government under SAJ’s primeministership were illegal and so null and void. His present function as minister is also illegal.
What has caused this confusion? It is the inability of political leaders and some lawyers to distinguish between the state and government. The government is a manager on a five-year contract to run the affairs of the state, the real employer of the government. The state remains while governments come and go. Elections change governments; only a revolution changes the state.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
With all the problems we’re facing throughout the world (the havoc wreaked by neoliberalism, global warming and climate change, food insecurity, poverty, terrorism, corruption etc.), we try to figure out what should be done. Some rightwing friends seem to think that neoliberalism will eventually solve all problems and lead to a happy world. Some leftwing friends prefer to think that the great socialist revolutionary dawn is drawing near. Left of centre friends are wary of old concepts and terms and prefer to chart new courses and the term ‘PROGRESSIVE’ is very much preferred.
What do I think? At 76 with health problems, I can’t afford long term dreams and plans. I’m forced to be pragmatic. I believe that NEOLIBERALISM, the dogma of free marketeers who believe that the economy should be based on a free market and that business should not be controlled by the government, is a road to world catastrophe. Old political terms (like socialism or social democracy) have become corrupt and unusable.
Besides ‘progressive’, a term once used in the 60’s and 70’s, seems to have new adherents. It is ‘CAPITALISM WITH A HUMAN FACE’. A word of warning! In his book, ‘THE WEALTH OF NATIONS’ Adam Smith, the founding father of Economics, known earlier as Political Economy, warns us that the system known as Capitalism, initially a progressive movement liberating productive forces, is fuelled by TWO negative impulses: SELFISHNESS AND CUPIDITY. Because of this, it is not accidental that the drift into neoliberalism has taken place.
The ideology of Milton Friedman, Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan has penetrated all nooks and corners of the planet (including India, China, Russia) transforming the economic world to feather the beds of a few and generalizing corruption. Unable to stand the onslaught, many are now yearning for a more humane way of living and hence the wish for capitalism with a human face is back.
What does this mean for us in the Maritime Republic of Mauritius? It means, inter alia:
1. Control the appetite of the super-rich;
2. Assist middle and small enterprises;
3. Ensure workers’ participation in management, share-holding and profit;
4. Promote cooperative activities in production and consumption.
All progressives should join forces to checkmate the neoliberals, the infinitely few who control everything. The way ahead is the democratization of the economy. This can be achieved if judiciously planned.