Mauritius: Political coalitions and all that jazz

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Ministers young and old strive for the excellence and innovation of Mauritius’s science and music stars.

There’s been change at the top following the election win for the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) and its coalition partners in December 2014.

It was a shock for everyone

The defeat of the governing Labour Party and the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) took many by surprise.

“Politics in Mauritius has always been about alliances,” says University of Mauritius history professor Jocelyn Laval Chan Low.

She argues that the election is significant because of the voters who failed to show up, “with everyone thinking there would be a big victory for Labour and the MMM.”

For the past 50 years, a few families have dominated the country’s political life – perhaps none more so than the Jugnauths.

Anerood Jugnauth, who already served four and a half terms as prime minister between 1982 and 2003, is back in the same role following his tenure in the presidency in Paul Bérenger and Navin Ramgoolam’s governments (2003-2012).

The popular 85 year old’s task is to revive the economy.

Despite his age, Jugnauth is firmly in charge of government affairs.

Anerood’s son, Pravind Jugnauth, 53, is the leader of the governing MSM and minister of technology, communication and innovation.

Pravind was finance minister and deputy prime minister under Ramgoolam and he also has ambitions to take over from his father.

Roshi Bhadain (1) is a rising star in the MSM. The lawyer and former corruption czar was thrust into the spotlight by the Bramer Bank scandal in April.

The authorities say the financial institution was involved in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors.

Seen as close to Prime Minister Jugnauth, Bhadain has the new portfolio of financial services, good governance and institutional reforms.

Bhadain tells The Africa Report that he is not getting much sleep: “We have a clear mandate from the people in Mauritius to clean up and the prime minister is very, very clear on that.

“We have been elected to ensure that all the abuses and all the malpractices and the irregularities that were there in the past are eradicated – and that they don’t recur again in the future.”

MSDP wins seats

The MSM formed a coalition with the smaller Mauritian Social Democratic Party (MSDP). Its leader, Xavier-Luc Duval, was part of the former ruling coalition until he stepped down as finance minster in June 2014 after a dispute over proposed constitutional reforms.

Duval is now the deputy prime minister and tourism minister.

“It was a shock for everyone that they [MSDP] did so well in the election,” says labour rights activist Ashok Subron.

The MSDP has four ministerial posts and holds the position of the deputy speaker.

Moving up in the party is the minister of gender equality, welfare and family development, Marie-Joyce Perraud.

The former social worker tells The Africa Report that she is stepping into big shoes: “I am conscious that it is a big responsibility and want to bring change to women and families in Mauritius.”

Medicinal Plants

Winner of the AU and the L’Oréal- UNESCO Women in Science awards, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (3) is managing director of the Centre for Phytotherapy Research.

As a founding member of the Association for African Medicinal Plants Standards, Gurib-Fakim is passionate about plant life and ensuring her country’s and Africa’s unique plant species will be around for generations to come.

She is researching the use of herbal products in medicine, cosmetics, aromatherapy and nutrition.

Mauritius is not just known for its banks, sugar and textiles.

One Mauritian musical export is jazz guitarist Eric Triton (2). Loved by locals for his contemporary sounds, Triton’s most recent album was Tritonik Project One.

He has been playing music and collecting guitars for some 30 years, playing Creole blues in Mauritius, Africa and Europe.

“Music is my religion and it is the best medium to spread messages of hope and create awareness about what is going on,” Triton told Radio France International in 2013. ●

Source: The Africa Report

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