Friday, October 12, 2018

The government led by Pravind Jugnauth is about to introduce new policy reviewing the status of Pentecostal Churches & Congregations. The news comes following meeting between Pravind Jugnauth and representatives of Pentecostal churches, organized by Etienne Sinatambou, prominent member of the Gospel Church.

The move is seen by observers as being politically mooted and in line with the multiple ongoing strides of Pravind Jugnauth to pitch himself against former Prime Minister, Navin Ramgoolam, all while shielding his ailing government. However, the recognition of the Pentecostal congregations as a distinct entity was one of those secret pre-election promises made by Anerood Jugnauth himself to the pastors , against their support during the elections of December 2014. A few political analysts had even reached the conclusion that Navin Ramgoolam’s defeat in his constituency was due largely to the swing in votes of members of the Pentecostal congregations.

The Pentecostal movement has known an amazing growth over the last decades and has changed the contours of both the religious & political landscape. Various studies conducted across African countries reveal a change in the traditional political behavior of Pentecostal Congregations. From usually supporting the government of the day, they are now actively involved in politics. In Mauritius shepherds of churches have been openly campaigning for specific candidates, lobbying for posts and advocating policies. It is estimated that a whooping MUR 1 billion has been invested in infrastructure over the last years by various Pentecostal congregations while investment in various economic activities accounted for more than MUR 5 billion. Real estate sector scoops the larger chunk of these foreign investments mostly originating from Luxemburg while companies operating in the manufacturing sectors & offshore management have been acquired. Many foreign nationals belonging to Pentecostal congregations have secured high profile jobs in leading private sector companies. Members of the various congregations account for nearly 10% of the population. Some congregations are also known to be extremely generous when it comes to donations to political parties.

Though politicians from various parties do welcome the recognition of Pentecostal congregations, they are however cautious in extending their full support. The immediate reason being the backlash such a move would provoke from other religious groups who have been pushing for laws prohibiting proselytising activities. But the main issue would however arise on clash of ideologies, with Pentecostal having strong views on subjects such as: abortion, gaypride , alcohol and depenalization of soft drugs.

At the meeting with pastors and representatives of the Pentecostal congregations, it is certainly not a coincidence Pravind Jugnauth chose to ride his high horse of morality. Except for the fact, it must have been very embarrassing for many within his own government as well as for the two ministers and one sitting judge involved in drafting of the policy.

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