Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river. – Nikita Khrushchev

We have a rare breed of politicians in Mauritius. They are unequalled in the language they speak, the tactics they use and the venom they lash out, seemingly a species which oft’ times has been misunderstood. It would look as if they were never properly trained in the art of politics, and just woke up one fine day thinking, “Oh, let’s try being a politician today. That’s fairly easy.”

I have always admired our first breed of Mauritius politicians. For me, the word ‘politician’ is not the right word to describe them. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the Father of the Nation, Renganaden Seeneevassen, Dr Maurice Curé, Sir Satcam Boolell, Emmanuel Anquetil, Basdeo Bissoondoyal, etc. were a shining example of true statesmanship, in the way they devoted their lives to fight for the rights of workers, citizens and worked for the greater good of the Mauritian population. A true statesman should have qualities of true leadership, honesty, hard work, commitment to a certain set of ideals, embracing and building a vision for their country, without harbouring ulterior motives, vested interests and the need to cling to power.

For instance, Sookdeo Bissoondoyal was admired for his “rectitude, fearlessness, singleness of purpose and readiness to serve the people”, qualities which “set him apart from the brand of those who used any means to win popularity.”[1] Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, for his part, made education a top priority during this term in office and paved the way for free education to all, the fruits of which are being borne today, with Mauritius having a literacy rate of 89%, one of the highest among African nations.

As for Emmanuel Anquetil, he was one of the pioneers behind trade unionism in Mauritius. Together with two other great men, namely Guy Rozemont and Pandit Sahadeo, Emmanuel Anquetil contributed to pave the way for trade unionism to be recognized as a force to reckon with in the country. Emmanuel Anquetil was touted as being one of the most sincere trade unionists, who fought for the rights of workers.

The above men embody the essence of the qualities that a true statesman should have. It is a shame that nowadays, politicians hardly have the stature of a statesman nor can they even aspire to display the same sense of morale, dedication, genuineness and spiritedness of our politicians of yesteryears.

Our founding fathers fought for our independence, for Mauritius to be free, for the spirit of equality, brotherhood and unity to reign supreme among our fellow countrymen. Unfortunately, in Mauritius, politicians of today’s day and age only swear by the erroneous concept of ‘divide and rule’. Far from trying their best to strengthen the ties between religions, ethnic groups and communities, politicians seek to use communal and cheap political discourses to bring down their opponents and win a seat in the Mauritian parliament.

According to me, and framing this in French seems most fitting to describe the dirty politics of politicians in Mauritius, ‘le fauteuil ministériel, ou plutôt la maroquinerie, semble être le seul but de ces hommes et femmes assoiffés de pouvoir et d’argent.’ In Mauritius, the only agenda which politicians seem to have is to always try to advance their own selfish interests. Also, they never accept their mistakes and failures, and if they happen to be members of the leading party, they would simply harp on about their predecessors’ failings and undermine the work the latter achieved.

[1] “The Life and Times of Sookdeo Bissoondoyal”, R. J. Jeetah, G. Gangaram Press, 1980 Edition (Mauritius)