17 November 2017

Mauritius: More changes in government hierarchy as Jadoo-Jaunbocus finds way to cabinet

Following the power handover in January 2017 between Anerood Jugnauth and his son Pravind Jugnauth, the government has faced a number of scandals but it managed to retain its cabinet for a number of months. However, the resignation of Ravi Yerrigadoo in September opened the floodgates with changes across the board.

Having lost Showkutally Soodhun, former vice prime minister and minister of housing and lands, last week after a racially-charged incident, cabinet welcomed a new member over the last few days in Roubina Jadoo-Jaunbocus. She was one of the early favourites to gain a ministerial seat when Anerood Jugnauth, now mentor minister, announced last year that his son would soon take over. Her route was soon blocked by allegations of involvement in the drug trade in Mauritius, which eventually led to an audition at the Commission on Inquiry on Drugs this year.

It was revealed in her audition - where she shed a few tears - that she had once visited 37 prisoners in one day and that several of them were drug dealers. The weight of the commission has since shifted towards a fellow party member in Raouf Gulbul but there is no indication yet on whether the findings of the commission will admonish Jadoo-Jaunbocus or absolve her of any blame. In the meantime, she will take over as minister of gender equality from Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo.

Jeewa-Daureeawoo is the one making the biggest jump in the hierarchy, moving ahead of Mouvement Socialiste Militant (MSM) stalwarts like Minister Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun and Minister Nando Bodha to take over the mantle of vice prime minister and a seat on the front bench of the government. It has also been reported that the next person in line in the hierarchy, Minister Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, was touted to retrieve his seat on the front bench but the government took a different direction.

There was pressure on the government to replace Soodhun with someone of the right ethnic profile, which tends to explain the admittance of Jadoo-Jaunbocus in cabinet and Jeewa-Daureeawoo on the front bench. The latter will also take over the Ministry of Local Government from Mahen Jhugroo, who has been moved to the Ministry of Housing and Lands. The ministry left vacant by Soodhun had initially been given to Minister Mahen Seeruttun but he only doubled up his ministerial duties for a few days.

With this wave of changes, some members of parliament from the ruling coalition have been left frustrated as they were overlooked for a promotion. MP Raj Rampertab even threatened to resign as a parliamentary private secretary (PPS) as he vied for the post of Minister of Environment, which is one of the two portfolios Minister Etienne Sinatambou currently has. Rampertab has since been convinced to stay put.

There was already a reshuffle within government ranks when Ravi Yerrigadoo was asked to step down as attorney general following his alleged involvement in a corruption scandal and Kalyan Tarolah had to resign as PPS following a sexting controversy. Maneesh Gobin has since been named attorney general with the likes of MP Raffick Sorefan promoted to PPS.


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