National Assembly election-Campaign broadcasts off to a good start


14-September-2011

The sole independent candidate, Jacqueline Hoareau (who is standing at Mont Buxton), the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) headed by David Pierre and James Michel’s Parti Lepep each had 13 minutes to set the tone for their campaign for the September 29 – October 1 election.

Though differing in substance, all three campaign broadcasts on radio and television were rather impressive, with the speakers pressing for everyone to vote and giving reasons why such votes should be cast in their favour.

The independent candidate, Ms Hoareau (née Pillay) -- a nurse by profession and is married with two children – said she believes in clean politics.

She noted that she has lived through the colonial era, the single-party state and back to the  multi-party system, often characterised by the confrontational nature of party politics.

Ms Hoareau said it is unfortunate that many people link politics to money. She called herself an “optimist” and believes that if the right people get elected, they can tackle the pressing problems which our country is now facing.

She said, these include drugs, alcohol abuse, prostitution, teenage pregnancies and the rising cost of living.

Ms Hoareau said as a practicing Catholic, who respects all other creeds believing in a Supreme Saviour, it pains her to live through the present uncertain times.

“I am afraid when my young daughter goes to school that she can be raped.  I leave my windows open and my laptop gets stolen”.

She also said we must accept and respect other people’s opinion.
“Everyone is different,” she said, adding that the present climate of mistrust is not helping anyone.

The latter part of her programme was focussed on the need to think positively and come out a winner.

She noted that in any situation, a winner will try to find out what went wrong, correct it and apologise if he or she is to blame.  A loser, on the contrary, will want to take no blame and instead shove it onto somebody else. 

She said a winner is always planning positively, whereas the loser is always busy, focussing on negatives.

Still, according to Ms Hoareau, the winner will  embark on any commitment  with sincerity and respect for others. He will also be humble, thank God and think of doing better the next time.  The loser, on the other hand, will make empty promises, then respect nobody.
 
Ms Hoareau said she hoped the electorate will choose people who are committed, honest and sincere at the election.

The PDM leader, Mr Pierre recalled his previous teaching career until he joined politics 15 years ago. He became a member of the National Assembly in 2002, until he resigned this year following disagreement with the manner the Seychelles National Party (SNP) – of which he was deputy secretary general -- was being run.

Commenting on speculation as to his motives for going back to politics, Mr Pierre  said:
“Democracy is being threatened . We need political commitment to ensure that we do not go back to the days of the single-party era.” 

He said he is convinced that most opposition supporters do not wish any return to the one-party era, where the opposition has no voice.

Responding to another question about the 18 years, Mr Pierre said that while some people can argue that the ruling party has often ignored the opposition’s views that are not a reason to abandon the struggle. 

“Should we do that, it can be worse for the opposition and for Seychelles.” 
He went on to ask: “Are those espousing that argument admitting that they have failed as an opposition?”

He noted that such policies are imposed by a few in the opposition leadership and are not those of the rank and file supporters. 

He said he is convinced that if the leadership had even bothered to sound out the views of supporters, even through a convention of party activists, they would have found that such opinions are different from the ones they are imposing.

Mr Pierre said if we look at all the changes the government says it has recently brought about, there are some ideas which emanate from the opposition, of which he was part. He listed these as the “convertibility of the rupee, an independent Central Bank and the lifting of taxes on overtime,“ among others.

“The presence of the opposition can bring forth more ideas which will be beneficial to the country,” he said. 

He added that for instance, the PDM will push for necessary changes in the parliamentary committees, such as insisting on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) being headed by an opposition MNA and not by the ruling party.

Mr Pierre said it is the PDM’s agenda to press for electoral reforms.
“We want to give opposition supporters new hope, a new voice, a new approach and this can only be done in a new Assembly,” he said.

He said that while he still believes in some opposition principles he helped defend over the past ten years, it is also obvious that a heavy-handed approach and opposing, just for the sake of opposing, is counter-productive.

“We shall instead opt for dialogue, seek common ground, agree to disagree, say no when there is no concensus and conduct civilised politics like in all modern democracies. Because if we do not do it, our country will suffer.”

Responding to a question about the financing of his party, Mr Pierre said many opposition supporters, who do not wish a return to the single-party era, are contributing whatever they can. He said the party does not have the funds to put up posters or billboards or organise meetings or rallies.

The leader of Parti Lepep, President James Michel, said government is turning a new page, with a new way of doing things and reminded the electorate that this was supported by them when they re-elected him in the May 21 election, under the slogan “ A new Seychelles”.
He said once again he needs that support.

“I cannot do anything by myself. I need the courage, determination and ideas of every Seychellois. Seychelles needs everyone of its children.”

President Michel said it is for this reason that he is fielding a solid team of experienced youths and professionals in various fields for the new National Assembly.

He said the new National Assembly will mean a radical transformation in the way districts are run. He said district councils will be set up to allow for more popular participation in decision-making. The role of the MNA will be the people’s voice in the Assembly as well as its strength in the community.

“We expect the MNA to express themselves forcefully when something is right and criticise constructively when necessary. If every civil servant feels that he or she is being observed by the member of Parliament and can be made answerable, then that official will be obliged to improve performance and productivity.”

President Michel also said he hopes that the MNAs will play an important role to push government to do better through their questions and motions tabled in the Assembly.

“I want the team I am fielding to assist me by helping my government deliver. It is the only way to move forward and eliminate mediocrity and laissez-faire.”

President Michel said that is why Seychelles needs a serious National Assembly, one that is committed to the people.

Ms Marie-Louise Potter, the Leader of Government Business in the outgoing Assembly, said she hopes that the days are over when the opposition keeps boycotting just about everything.

She recalled that even serious national issues where common ground was expected, such as piracy and the economic reforms, met with the systematic boycott of the then opposition.

The programme recalled that while one side of the House was working hard to get our Parliament recognised by international organisations, such as the Commonwealth, the Inter-parliamentary Union and the SADC, on the other side, a few opposition leaders were striving to create disorder. Soon after the 2007 session convened, the arrogance of an SNP MNA triggered a by-election, costing some R1 million, at a time the country could ill afford such waste and was about to launch its economic reforms.

The SNP made clear it was against the new Assembly building funded by the Chinese Government.
By June this year, it was obvious that this could not go on as the SNP persisted in boycotting all government efforts. Two of their MNAs were summarily expelled.

“It became obvious that they were trying to turn their own problems into national problems and in the  Assembly, their internal strife became increasingly apparent.” 

Faced with such a situation, Parti Lepep had no choice but to opt for new elections to allow the people to choose serious representatives for the National Assembly.

Meanwhile campaign broadcasts by individual candidates started yesterday evening and will run until September 24.

Closing remarks by the two parties and the independent candidate taking part will take place on September 25.

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