14 January 2013

Mauritius: Wise Move


If recent events hold a message for the users of the justice system, it is that, once something gets started, the starter no longer has control over it. Once the gagging order was sought and obtained by the Labour Party agent on a Saturday, she ought to have known that she had literally given birth to a Frankenstein.

From obscurity, she was projected into the glare of the front pages. If she had been properly advised, she would never have initiated proceedings before the Supreme Court.

Incidentally, the Hon Chief Justice would be well-inspired to arrange for a Duty Judge during the weekend or during public holidays.

That will quell speculation about the access to justice at all times by all people.

Once the case starts, she will have to be a party and a witness. Fortunately, the DPP has taken a decision to discontinue proceedings before the Curepipe District Court where she would again have been the star witness. Once she would have been in the witness box, no one, not even the highest official of this ' plaisir' land, would have been able to protect her.

Any good cross-examiner would be able to give her a tough time, getting her to regret what a famous advertisement said: " do not start something you can't stop". A case in our Court develops a life of its own and it is always wise to seek sound legal advice before anything. From now on, whatever business she will start will be the subject matter of comments and attacks in view of her political affiliations.

Already, people who were keeping their knowledge about her power have started providing information to journalists and others. Talk about grandiose receptions in the Ebene area is making the rounds. No one grudges anyone his or her wealth and every person is entitled to spend his or her money in any way and anywhere.

But, what rattles is the ostentation of those who have recently come into money when ordinary people are painfully aware that hard-earned money is so rare. In this land where we have an Equal Opportunities Commission, we know full well that we do not really have equality of opportunity. In fact, some are more equal than others.

Whatever the case, it is nevertheless important that the media protect the privacy of any person. But, as far as business interests go, and as far as those interests are to be found in sectors where there is an element of public interest, the public has a right to know.

While we can marvel at the business acumen of successful men and women in business, it is still important to assure everyone that there was a level playing field and that no political intervention guaranteed that success.

The Mauritius Revenue Authority should, like the era of openness and transparency which the DPP has ushered in, tell us about the steps taken to obtain information about, for example, the sources of funding which brought about the financial success of her businesses. Or maybe the management ' gurus' who love teaching our managers and who make quite a tidy packet in the process have shown her the way.

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