The Swami and the Maharajah

1 juin 2023, 09:05


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Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that former Mauritius Telecom CEO Sherry Singh, commonly known as the Maharajah, is the angel he has been trying to make us believe during the American shows he has been serving us. In fact, if he told us to come out of our kitchens because it is safe in our own corridors, many of us would probably scream for our neighbours’ help.

Having said that, who exactly did not suspect what was going on at Mauritius Telecom, particularly after the persistent revelations of Top TV and videos posted by lawyer Akil Bissessur? Who didn’t know that Singh had suddenly found a deep gold (or copper) mine which allowed him to upgrade from an NHDC modest home to a mansion competing with the Jugnauths’ Angus Road palace? Who didn’t know that, before 2015, he was leaving his NHDC home every morning on a motorcycle to go and sell Kwepe pre-paid phone cards and that, thanks to the gold/copper mine, he now lords over a fleet of luxury cars neatly parked in his spacious garage? Who did not know about Safe City and other contracts? Now, my simple question is: where were our ever so independent institutions then? The Mauritius Revenue Authority, the Police Force with or without the Special Striking Team (SST), the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Integrity Reporting Services Agency? The simple answer is, they were busy harassing political opponents.

Until Sherry became one. Then all hell broke loose and dozens of pairs of SST boots stomped into his house, violated his privacy and spent three full hours terrorising him and his family – a clear sign that the appetite of our leaders for revenge is insatiable. And the police have obviously nothing better to do than track down, handcuff, humiliate and imprison political opponents so that their masters in government can sip their whisky in the evenings while gloating over these scenes which our national broadcaster presents in the exact right angle.

Compare that, if you please, with the royal treatment extended to MP Yogida Sawmynaden, the man who supposedly prays so much that he has been given ‘the Swami’ moniker. Even after the findings of Magistrate Vidya Mungroo-Jugurnath and the instructions of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to charge him, the latter waltzed into the police station, on his terms, must have had a hot cup of tea with his pals there, came out with a big grin on his shameless face and even waited for journalists to tell them with misplaced pride that he had raised a point of law and that everything is fine, thank you. My lawyer friends tell me it is the first time in their career that they have heard someone raise a point of law outside a court of law! But then again, isn’t this also the first time that the DPP clearly stated that someone should be charged and his instructions were blatantly flouted?

Now, is there any need to delve into Maneesh Gobin’s/Rajanah Dalliah’s alleged venison curry evening with the drug dealers in the company of mistresses or you already know the story? You also know that not only have these ‘honourable gentlemen’ not been charged in spite of the overwhelming evidence and Gobin’s refusal to answer the simple question of whether or not he was present at that dinner, but the journalists were also savagely told off by the prime minister himself for even suggesting that his minister or PPS might be guilty of anything.

At the end of the day, the impression citizens are left with is that all the institutions mentioned above collude to make sure the corrupt live in total impunity and murderers get away with murder for as long as they are protected by those in power. On the other hand, those on the wrong side of power – whether they are guilty or not – live in constant fear of having the Special Striking Team strike them any time of day or night. There is a name for countries where this happens. Police states. The orchestrated events and their timing remove any doubt anyone of us might have had.       

My second book: #BLD: When Mauritius Lost its Bedside Manners is now available at Librairie Le Cygne, Le Printemps and all the Bookcourt outlets.