Touria Prayag's Blog

L’Express Weekly, 29 July 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 27, 2012

The ICAC barks and the caravan stop

“ Burlesque” is arguably too soft an adjective to describe the current political situation. Six cabinet ministers put one foot out while keeping the other foot in with an accusing fi nger pointing at the institutions of this country, in an act which looks very much like political intimidation and blackmail. The reason? After listening to Pravind Jugnauth rambling on about the ‘ values and principles’ of his party, exaggeratedly slowly for theatrical effect no doubt, we fi nally learn that the ICAC, behind which they had been hiding to eschew answering questions on the MedPoint scandal, has caused a grave injustice by exercising the powers conferred upon it under POCA and indicting Mrs.

Hanoomanjee on provisional charges! That’s enough to cause fi ve other ministers of the MSM to resign ‘ in solidarity’. This brazen abdication of the responsibility of the fi ve defectors for lame or obscure reasons is an affront to the electorate, to the post of Prime Minister, to the Constitution and to the institutions of the Republic, not least to the ICAC. Exactly what are we meant to understand by this? For as long as the ICAC was concentrating on small fi sh and letting the big sharks slip through; for as long as it was investigating and impeaching civil servants who were allegedly made to rig tenders and doctor valuations to favour one bidder, it was a credible and reputable institution. The moment it starts establishing responsibilities involving the rich and powerful and their aunties, it becomes an instrument of oppression and abuse! The current political uncertainty is a magisterially engineered distraction, deliberately designed to pull wool over the eyes of the public. So, lest we forget how we got into this situation in the fi rst place, below is a reminder.

First, there is the second valuation of the clinic. Who gave the instructions and in whose interest is it to double the price of a dilapidated building? Then, there’s the illegal acquisition of scrapped medical equipment, which was not called for in the tender, for the dizzying sum of Rs 20 million. And the now famous “ Dear Pravind” letter requesting payment of a particular sum before a fi gure has been offi cially disclosed. Add to this the papers and cheque which were signed by Pravind Jugnauth in record time before 31 st December. Hanoomanjee, you will recall, looked us straight in the eye and, in a manner reminiscent of the Tudor court, decreed that this was done because the sum had been earmarked in the previous budget. We later fi nd out that the sum was to come from gambling taxes.

If the ICAC is wrong in its accusations and Hanoomanjee is completely innocent, then pray tell who is responsible for blatantly squandering and embezzling our money? Instead of answering our questions, the response we get is a series of acts of arrogance typical of spoilt children who have never had to answer for their wrongdoings. A minister refuses to go to the ICAC, sends her lawyer instead and runs for the nearest clinic.

Accused of abuse of her position and graft, and under investigation, she refuses to step aside. Then every other MSM minister is dragged into it.

The MSM ministers who have nothing to do with MedPoint should not allow themselves to be sacrifi ced in these shenanigans; public opinion should remain focused on the only major question and one which we should not be too subtle about: who stole our money? ICAC should not yield to intimidation but should, even more than ever, resolutely dig deeper to uncover the truth. It’s beginning to repair its frayed reputation in the public eye. Let it not lose momentum.

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