Mauritius: Civil society actors

Extracted from: Rouikaya Kasenally 2009 "Chapter 8: Mauritius" IN Denis Kadima and Susan Booysen (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy, EISA, Johannesburg, 285.

Mauritius has a long history of civil society engagement in social, economic, cultural and political spheres, dating from the nineteenth century. Currently, 6000 voluntary organisations are registered with the Registrar of Associations, most of which are Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), with 300 organisations corresponding to the characteristics of an NGO. It must be noted that most of these CBOs are ethnic- or special interest-based, with very few of them oriented towards development work.

As regards elections, Mauritius's well-entrenched tradition of regularly held multiparty elections as well as high voter turnout at each election has allowed it to stay off the radar of civil society concern. In 2001, the Sachs Report had highlighted the under-representation of women in Mauritian politics as a major democratic deficit and since there has been a real stepping-up by women-based NGOS to address this severe under-representation by organising protest marches, workshops, and forums. In fact, Chiroro (2005, 8) states that "the rise of female representation in the National Assembly in 2005 can be attributed to the pressures from civil society". Civil society has also been quite active and vocal in areas pertaining to political party funding and electoral reform. In 2008 Transparency Mauritius (affiliated to Transparency International) started an information and dialogue campaign to get political parties and corporate bodies to be more transparent and accountable when it comes to money received and given. On the issue of electoral reform, the Institute of Social Development and Peace (a Mauritian advocacy and think tank) has been very active at getting political stakeholders to commit to electoral reform before the 2010 general elections.

Reference

CHIRORO, B 2005, Engendering Democracy Through the Ballot Box in the Mauritius 2005 Elections [PDF document], EISA Occasional Paper 37.