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Ancien 27/07/2011, 23h21
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Par défaut Maya Hanoomanjee and the MSM conspiracy and extremism

Maya Hanoomanjee and the MSM conspiracy and extremism

The conspiratorial move of the MSM Ministers to resign after and in support of MSM Health Minister Maya Hanoomanjee who has been arrested and charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PoCA), after 7 months or arduous work by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), clearly demonstrates that they do not have much faith in the law. In an État de Droit, surely, this is a matter for the law and not politicians. Their political decision to resign is designed to put pressure on the Prime Minister, on ICAC and on the judicial process when the judicial system is supposed to be independent of politics under the concept of Separation of Powers. To serve the interests of justice, suspects must defend themselves in a court of law like every other suspect does. But will the DPP succumb to political pressure and withdraw all charges against Maya Hanoomanjee and the other Civil Servants when ICAC has established prima facie cases against them?





The six MSM resigning Ministers


The MSM Ministers’ excuse is their belief in the « innocence » of Health Minister Maya Hanoomanjee, who had been arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PoCA) further to their investigations concerning the scandalous purchase by the government of the unused MedPoint Clinic, referred to as the Jugnauth clinic in which Dr Malothra, a relative of the Jugnauth’s, is the majority shareholder, for a hugely increased sum of Rs145m as re-valued by the Chief Government Valuer Yodhun Bissessur in October 2010, under still unrevealed instructions, by rejecting the original valuation of Rs75m made by the No.2 of the Government Valuation Office a few weeks earlier. Mrs Maya Hanoomanjee was the MSM Health Minister involved in this transaction at the highest level, and no doubt took very important decisions to carry through the purchase of MedPoint, which was hastily concluded end December 2010. Pravind Jugnauth was the MSM Minister of Finance who is related to Dr Malhotra and under whom came the Government Valuation Office. Mrs Hanoomanjee is also said to have written a note « Dear Pravind » to Pravind Jugnauth regarding the purchase at around Rs145m. Pravind Jugnauth would have authorised and signed the transfer of the payment in favour of MedPoint. All in all, it appears clear that it was an affair between MSM Ministers and relatives, hence the well-founded suspicion of corruption and conflict of interests.

Bérenger’s false allegations against Ramgoolam
Following various complaints reported in the press and elsewhere, ICAC has been investigating this government purchase since January 2011. Yodhun Bissessur was the first person to be suspended from his duties and charged. Nearly seven months down the line, many people, including Paul Bérenger’s opposition, have been screaming that ICAC was taking too long and they feared a cover-up. Until his strategy changed recently, Bérenger had been demanding the resignation of both MSM Ministers Pravind Jugnauth and Maya Hanoomanjee. But on 9th July 2011, in a press conference, per his alleged « ministerial source », Bérenger accused PM Ramgoolam of being the one who had given Bissessur instructions to carry out the second valuation after meeting with Dr Malhotra. Denying the allegations, including by Bissessur and Malhotra, the PM referred the matter to the Police for the diffusion of false news and defamation of character.

In the meantime, ICAC had obtained an arrest warrant against Maya Hanoomanjee on 20th July 2011 for refusing to appear before their investigators the same day when, instead, she chose to give an interview to Radio Plus effectively challenging the « cadre legal » of ICAC. But before the warrant could be executed that afternoon, Mrs Hanoomanjee had already been admitted to AppolloBramwellHospital as a result of a malaise. She was arrested in the morning of the 22nd of July 2011 and taken to ICAC before being taken to the Port LouisMagistrates Court and charged under PoCA. In the same afternoon of the 22nd, Bérenger was questioned at his home on his allegations against PM Ramgoolam. In a press conference the following day, the 23rd, Bérenger informed journalists that he had told the investigators that he had obtained the alleged information from an alleged professional who had allegedly spoken to a Minister. He changed his original story from an alleged « ministerial source » to another alleged « professional source ». But he did not give the investigators the names of either the ‘professional’ or of the ‘Minister’. Although Bérenger was at first given the benefit of the doubt, his explanations are glaringly not credible and sound more like a pack of pre-fabricated lies against the PM.

As far as the charge against Maya Hanoomanjee is concerned, while accepting that any Minister should resign under such circumstances, Bérenger is not calling for her resignation as he used to. Instead, he said it was entirely up to her and up to the PM to revoke her. In so doing, his strategy is clearly to split the coalition along party lines. He made as if it was an issue, not between a suspected corrupt Minister and some suspected Civil Servants and the law, but an issue between the MSM and the Labour Party within the alliance. When President Sir Anerood Jugnauth, former leader of the MSM, swiftly visited a poorly Maya Hanoomanjee in hospital the very next day, the 21st, after the warrant was issued, this was a clear indication that it was done in support of the MSM Minister. All other MSM Ministers were also very supportive of the suspect. The then Minister of Finance Pravind Jugnauth cut short his visit overseas and hurried back on 25th July 2011 amidst an outcry that the charged Minister should resign which she refused to do. Bérenger congratulated Pravind for being so concerned while condemning PM Ramgoolam for remaining in London to receive his decoration at the Inner Temple Inn of Court.

Separation of Powers
Then the plan was put into execution. In the morning of the 26th July 2011, the MSM Ministers Pravind Jugnauth, Maya Hanoomanjee, Nando Bodha, Showkutally Soodhun, Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun and Ashit Gungah, resigned but stated that they still form part of the government coalition as backbenchers. If this is not a conspiracy against PM Ramgoolam to bring down the government, one wonders what it is. They invoked the reason that they believe Maya Hanoomanjee is innocent. But under the law a suspect is already presumed innocent until proven guilty. They must have resigned for totally different reasons. The conspiratorial move of the MSM Ministers to resign after and in support of MSM Health Minister Maya Hanoomanjee who has been arrested and charged under PoCA, after 7 months or arduous work by ICAC, clearly demonstrates that they do not have much faith in the law. In an État de Droit, surely, this is a matter for the law and not politicians. Their political decision to resign is designed to put pressure on the Prime Minister, on ICAC and on the judicial process when the judicial system is supposed to be independent of politics under the concept of Separation of Powers. To serve the interests of justice, suspects must defend themselves in a court of law like every other suspect does. But will the DPP succumb to political pressure and withdraw all charges against Maya Hanoomanjee and the other Civil Servants when ICAC has established prima facie cases against them?

Conclusion
It would not be far-fetched to see that the Mouvement Socialiste Militant (MSM), a political party which had the support of less than 6% of the electorate around the May 2010 general elections and for which party PM Dr Navin Ramgoolam, leader of the Mauritian Labour Party (LP) made all sorts of compromises, sacrifices, even favours to prop it up as a meaningful party in the LP/MSM/PMSD government Alliance by giving it a totally and utterly disproportionate number of Ministries, had, as expected, conspired against Ramgoolam and stabbed him and his coalition government in the back. PM Ramgoolam is expected to congratulate ICAC for doing its work with professionalism and total independence. This is what differentiates a system based on freedom and justice from the fascist manipulations and extremism of the MSM resigning Ministers. Let’s face it, their concerted and well-calculated act is an extreme and nasty piece of work which they not only carried out in the absence of the PM Ramgoolam but which also attempts to bring political pressure on the due process of the law.

M Rafic Soormally
London
26 July 2011
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