7 January 2013

Mauritius: Optimism for 2013

The cross- over from 2012 to 2013 has witnessed some positive developments for the ordinary mortals that we are.

First, cyclones, which had been shunning us, have resumed their visits to our shores. Dumile - what a name! - which was dubbed a cyclone was not one really. In any event one shudders at the " expertise" of those who give names to cyclones. Names must be given so that the cyclones feel proud and do what they have to do. For days before Dumile was announced, the Americans had already said that it was coming and would spoil the new year festivities. In any case, the best weather forecast comes from the Americans and our meteorological services would be well advised to pay attention to that source.

If at all there can be something logical about our meteorological service, that would be to listen to the USA. Dumile unfortunately did not live up to the expectation of a good cyclone.

Normally there is a class 2 warning at night and, early in the morning, a class 3 warning is issued to the great delight of the population. All public servants wait on tenterhooks for that magical class 3 warning. Dumile, however, deprived school children of the pleasure of this experience because it happened during the festive season. A good cyclone means days off for all workers and a bonanza for vegetable growers and sellers who instantaneously jack up their prices.

Dumile brought rain which hopefully will spare us the laments and wails from the CWA, which fails to capture what any sensible person would readily capture.

The second positive thing happened on 28 December 2012 when the Hon.

Chief Justice and Hon. Domah delivered a judgment which was very critical of a particular judge. That departure from a corporatist defensive approach is welcome as it signals a willingness by institutions to see things as they are and to restore the image of institutions.

It is unfortunate that the Court ordered Counsel Glover and Proag to pay costs when there is no sanction or penalty of any kind against the judge. This is something that 2013 must look into.

The third striking matter is the declaration of the CEO of the CWA, Mr P. Saddul, that the experts from Singapore who are probing our water distribution network are not that helpful after all. If the experts had come from a water- thirsty country like Israel, the narrative would be different. The recognition that experts from other countries are not indispensable is manna. So many Mauritians themselves have been advising other countries on a host of areas but these people, for reasons which are opaque, are not utilized here. Let 2013 bring about a reassessment of the potential of our fellow country women and men to promote further development.

To cap the transition from the old year to the new one is the sartorial transformation of Veena, the wife of the Prime Minister. While she was hosting Segolene Royal, she was dressed in a stylishly cut French dress. The shedding of her traditional sari marks a change for her in this new year. Just like when Michelle Obama stepped down Air Force One in a short dress.

Winds of change or changes in the wind........

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