Mauritius: The breaking-up of the MMM-PSM 60-0 government!
36 years ago to date, the country lived through a historical moment that changed the country for good.
Now the MMM is celebrating its 50th anniversary. We republish this article for the readers to have a better picture of the MMM and our country’s recent political history.
March 1983: The MMM, headed by Paul Berenger, left the coalition government.
That was nine months after seizing power in June 1982.
On 11th June, the MMM-PSM trashing of the Labour Party with a 60-0 victory became a major political landmark.
But the March 1983 resignation of Berenger, followed by 10 ministers, resulted in the party breaking-up into two.
The faction headed by Sir Aneerood Jugnauth (SAJ) became the MSM.
That also signalled the end of an uneasy MMM-PSM coalition.
Jugnauth remained Prime Minister with the support of the PSM of Harish Boodhoo.
Berenger was forced, through a twist of events, to regain his role as a powerful opposition leader.
We recount some of the intricate details of the events that led to the breaking up of the MMM-PSM coalition.
With history on our side, we can say today that Berenger had launched a reckless bet in 1983.
But it was one that was based more on political conviction than on the reality in the villages in particular.
Nevertheless, it is the same political conviction that brought the MMM to power in 1982, that guided Berenger.
The militant party left the government in a move to salvage its political convictions.
The result was the MMM ending up in the opposition for years.
With this move, Berenger may have actually been the architect of greater changes in the country.
He may also have salvaged the nation from a massive backlash and the potential of communal rife.
Certainly the latter with Harish Boodhoo’s speech denouncing the move to oust the PSM from power in October 1982.
The speech reverberated across the villages, putting Berenger’s attempt to break the coalition into jeopardy.
As far as WFTV can recall – the second break-up of the 60-0 regime was swift, painful and acrimonious.
It did not reflect the great comradeship that existed within the MMM.
As a result, the landmarks of the break-up will remain part of the new political culture in the country.
Since then, Mauritian politics is rigged with incompetence at times and the rise of questionable political leadership.
Fed up with the wranglings within the government, Berenger started to hit at the weak points of the MMM-PSM regime.
His target was the perceived incapacity of some officials and ministers.
Meanwhile, his dedication to the government was seen as a threat to others.
The MMM leader, a workaholic, would only leave the Government house late in the evenings.
The Prime Minister, SAJ and his team would head home after 4 pm.
Perhaps some were busy with the soap operas on national television and had to head home earlier.
But Berenger’s commitment to the political cause of the 60-0 victors became a real threat.
Others within the MMM itself pitched against him.
The actors of the shenanigans were hot on the heels of Aneerood Jugnauth. The PSM was seen as facilitators of the running against Berenger’s.
They wanted to curb on Berenger’s powers, which were beyond that of the Ministry of Finance.
Any conflicts within the young coalition would have one result: The PSM would support SAJ, instead of Berenger.
With this at-all-cost attitude from Boodhoo, Berenger’s chances of cleaning up the mess by others were null.
This lead to Berenger and SAJ clashing.
Then came the issue of the PSM remaining in the coalition after Berenger’s first resignation on Oct 1982.
It took the hard work of a young lawyer amongst others to patch the government together in 1982.
Refusing a post of deputy-Prime Minister, Lawyer and MMM diehard Madun Dulloo worked the ropes.
SAJ insisted that he will only lead an MMM government (without the PSM) if Dulloo was his deputy.
This was to replace Berenger after a disgruntled Jugnauth refused to continue working with the latter.
Many among the MMM ministers had complained to SAJ about Berenger’s perceived harassment and interference in their ministries.
At one point, Ramduth Jaddoo was to be the MMM’s DPM. But SAJ was against it at first.
It is through much negotiations that Jaddoo’s name was officially on the list as new DPM of an entirely MMM government,
Berenger would return to his post as Minister but only after SAJ reconciled with him through the intermediaries of Dulloo and others.