Letter to the Editor | 12 October 2020
Campaigning in pandemic times
On Friday October 9, 2020, Seychelles witnessed the first ever presidential debate for the 2020 election which was aired live over our local SBC television, which took place at 7pm, local time. Judge Bernardin Renaud and freelance journalist Patsy Canaya were chosen as the moderators.
This was the first of two debates between the three registered presidential candidates, planned for October 9 and 16, 2020. The three presidential candidates were: Danny Faure of United Seychelles (US), Wavel Ramkalawan of Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) and Alain St Ange of One Seychelles (OS)
The debates aim to give the presidential candidates the opportunity to answer questions from members of the public on how through their policies and strategies, they plan to address key issues and how they plan to address challenges if they are elected as president. The debates also aim to help educate and further inform members of the public so they can better choose a candidate for the presidential election of October 22, 23 and 24, 2020.
Amid the pandemic, campaigning turns to the internet in Seychelles. The coronavirus has grounded the presidential and National Assembly campaigns of Seychelles’ political parties to a draw up. Public rallies are not happening and to follow social distancing guidelines and abiding by protocols of the department of health, many of the campaigners have resolved to phone telecommunicating or knocking on the doors in their designated districts. The campaigners have identified effective strategies of digital communication with support of the press.
As we embark on the road to the presidential election 2020, the people of Seychelles, as a unified nation, need to take stock of the past state of affairs, weigh up our current situation and position and to set priorities for the work and years ahead, before casting their significant votes come October 22, 23 and 24.
In a unified vision, we have to observe with much integrity, the campaigns of the potential candidates in the run-up to the elections, and make an affirmed voting decision on who we will desire to become our servant-leader, rather than just a political president. Though much emphasis will be laid on the presidential candidates, we need to take account that the executive will need to work with a strong team of members of the National Assembly (MNAs). This will be vital to deliver on their mandates in conveying the best for the country and their districts as the MNAs will be able to deliver efficient and effective services for their districts because they will obtain the necessary support from the executive.
Then again, generations from now, people will read about this moment in Seychelles' history books ‒ the year of election  in pandemic times. Let it be read that we stood together in ‘National UNITY’ and in demonstrating compassion, we voted in a president who will stand up for his beloved people, with evergreen love in his heart for the needy and less-fortunate. Let it be read that hand in hand we secured growth and prosperity for our economy, for our businesses, and above all for our beloved children. Let it read that we re-built a Seychelles stronger than ever before. Let it read that together while consolidating UNITY, we made Seychelles history and let it be a story our grandchildren will tell with much pride and dignity.
2020 is not the time to count how many times the word pandemic, social, economic or sustainable appears in the election candidates’ speeches. It is not the time to look at someone with favouritism. Instead, it is time for honesty and uprightness, a time to vote righteously.
It is the time to look at the state of our nation, the state of our country and the economic downturn of our society. It is time where we (as the people of Seychelles) should expect our presidential nominees to stand strong and speak frankly about the big issues facing the Seychelles’ future, because my fellow people, the world is not in a good state, and Seychelles does not stand alone in the global village. We have got to acknowledge that in UNITY, we need change and in UNITY, we need change NOW.
Then again, we need to look at the qualities and values that will govern the presidency of the election candidates and who has and will continue to nurture a firm spiritual standing, willing to accommodate ‘National Unity’ in his government and be an exemplary real model and above all, a servant-leader to the people.
We shall also need to take a comprehensive look at their political party’s manifesto and look at what kind of leadership that Seychelles needs today. And as we shall transit into the ‘New Seychelles’ after October 24, 2020, we need to take a deeper look at their proposed education, health, financial, tax and economic reforms, long-term fisheries and agricultural investment plans and strategies; their social and welfare benefits and programmes, employment and opportunities to open doors for Seychellois, their long-term education plans and strategies, how they will tackle the issue of drugs and corruption, and how best they are going to invest in our youths and integrate our youths into the decision-makings of our small island state. It is also important to look at how they are going to get Seychelles past Covid-19 and ensure that Seychelles remains a safe and secured tourism destination while rebuilding the tourism industry and our fragile economy.
As the ‘National Unity Advocate’ of Seychelles, I want my people to stand proud after the presidential and National Assembly elections results of October 2020, knowing that we have voted in a president who will stand strong for the people and come up with affirmative actions to consolidate UNITY in Seychelles. That is something that as Seychellois we will be proud of and gratified and willing to promote Seychelles as ‘patriotic ambassadors’ of our Country.
Writer, National Unity Advocate
The views expressed in this letter are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the Seychelles NATION newspaper.