Sunday, 02 December 2012 08:15

Subtle dictatorship

      Written by  Shabana Raman, General Secretary of the RCP

Churchill once said that « the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter ». The decision of the IBA not to allow any political statements from the public on air is a proof that Churchill was almost right.
Churchill basically meant that people did not know much and that a little knowledge may be harmful, which is what the IBA thinks too. In Monday 26th November’s meeting, the IBA chairperson stated that « unsubstantiated statement not based on facts cannot be made on the radio ». At the Ralliement citoyen pour la patrie (RCP), we firmly condemn this suspension of democracy.

The IBA goes further to state that this is common practice in France too. However, it must be noted that the said regulator merely talks about the airing of political views from political parties and not of the public. The Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) talks about « pluralisme politique entre les partis » and not about restricting the voice of the people, which is a fundamental right of any human being in a democracy.

One can almost agree with the IBA’s intention to promote fairness, especially prior to an election. However, our parliamentarians make unsubstantiated allegations all the time: before, during and after any elections. One of the main reasons outlined by the IBA is that the « moderators could not guarantee fair statements from the public which could pervert the smooth running of the elections ». Leaving aside the fact that the IBA is basically insulting the journalists by underlining the fact that the latters are not efficient and ethical enough, we wonder whether this highly trusted board really understands the meaning of fair representation.

The propaganda box of the PTr government, also known as the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation, has been excelling in unfair coverage for years now and no concrete action has been taken against the national station to this day. The past few weeks resemble uncannily to events leading to the Public Order Bill being voted in 1970. The then PTr government did everything to censor the written press. PMSD supporters of the time called it « subtle dictorship » and vouched that they would do everything in their power to « safeguard our democracy ». Nevertheless, the bill was voted and implemented. Seven years later, a youthful and dynamic MMM challenged the PTr-PMSD government into the local elections.

35 years later, the picture is the same, except that it has aged from all sides. Both the government and the opposition are outdated and are in need of internal re-shuffling and rejuvenation. The opposition of these days would have caused havoc at such decision from the IBA. Today, all we witnessed was a weak condemnation during a public congress, which was immediately followed by further accusations and empty slogans. There is a lack of vision and political stamina and this is why it is high time that the public reacts to such politics.

Shabana Raman

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