Mauritian president falls on her sword, sets example for SA politicians

Flag map of Mauritius

CAPE TOWN — The speed with which Mauritius’ President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim resigned after being caught out for allegedly using a charitable trust’s credit card for a spending spree in Dubai, would make the average South African politician’s head spin. That is because doing the right thing for our locals when the writing is on the wall is not part of their lexicon. They’d make a sloth, filmed in slow motion, turning to face the music, look like a soldier snap-saluting a dignitary. I hardly have to list the MPs still in Cabinet whose clinginess will probably require Cyril to take a chainsaw to their branches. He’s started the motor, but even revving the engine with the blades spinning is not enough for them to slope off into the shadows. Perhaps the Zuptoid choke on the chainsaw is still working. The credibility Gurib-Fakim has restored to her Gateway to Africa nation is immeasurable. Relying on one man, albeit a sussed new President, to instil accountability, even with his new cabinet, is foolish. Failure to wield the chainsaw will mean a dismal ANC showing at the polls, especially with Zuma still actively campaigning for the party. – Chris Bateman

By Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) – Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim will step down, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said, amid allegations she spent money from a charity on shopping in Dubai.

“At her request, I met her at the State House yesterday,” Jugnauth said in comments broadcast on Port Louis-based Radio Plus. “I met her again this morning. She said that she will resign. We agreed on the date.”

She will leave the largely ceremonial position after landmark celebrations to mark the nation’s 50th independence anniversary, Jugnauth said.

President Ramaphosa and Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim at the 48th World Economic Forum annual meeting for 2018.

Gurib-Fakim’s resignation adds to a list of top-ranking government officials on the Indian Ocean island nation who have stepped down for alleged corruption and improper behavior. Former Deputy Prime Minister Showkutally Soodhun left office in November for allegedly making inappropriate comments. In September, Attorney General Ravi Yerrigadoo stepped down to allow an investigation into allegations of money-laundering.

Gurib-Fakim, the first woman president in the nation, is said to have shopped using a credit card given to her by the Planet Earth Institute, a non-governmental organization linked to an Angolan businessman and philanthropist.

Earlier this month, Gurib-Fakim said she’d paid back all money spent on the credit card. The president made 718,000 rupees ($21,444) of duty-free purchases in Dubai, bought some jewelry in late 2016 and spent some more during trips to Sweden, England, India, and Italy, Port Louis-based L’Express reported.

The resignation appears to have been triggered by political maneuvering in the ruling Militant Socialist Movement, or MSM, ahead of general elections next year, according to Jared Jeffery, a political analyst at Paarl, South Africa-based NKC African Economics. Opposition partners could use the scandal to undermine the party’s chances or force an alliance.

“The bigger story is how potential MSM alliance partners reframe the incident so that they can still join forces with the party,” Jeffery said in an emailed research note. “If they opt not to align with the MSM, opposition parties will have to find a way of justifying an alliance with the Ptr under Mr Ramgoolam which could be equally tricky to sell to supporters,” he said, referring to the Labour party, one of Mauritius’ three main parties. It is led by former Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam.

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