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Presidential election 2020 | 15 October 2020

Presidential election 2020

Mr Alain St Ange

Candidates make case on key issues to woo voters

 

Seven days before Seychellois voters go to the polls to choose a president to run the country for the next five years, Seychelles NATION presents its readers interviews with all the three candidates ‒ Wavel Ramkalawan of Linyon Demokratik Seselwa, Danny Faure of United Seychelles and Alain St Ange of One Seychelles.

The interviews will perhaps give the candidates the opportunity to try to make an impression on voters and raise their profile in the polls slated for October 22-24.

They come on the eve of the second and final ‘televised job interview’ ‒ the live presidential debate on Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) TV tomorrow night.

In the interviews, the candidates make their case on key issues and share how they hope to set themselves apart from the field.

The interviews follow the order in which the candidates appear on the ballot paper.

 

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One Seychelles Presidential candidate Alain St Ange

 

‘We are committed to bringing positive and enduring, not radical, change to Seychelles’

 

Seychelles NATION: As we are nearing the final stage of this electoral campaign, what is your reading from your party’s perspective and your assessment of the mood in the country?

Alain St Ange: We have been truly humbled and overwhelmed by the abundance of support and encouragement we have been steadily receiving from the public. I would say the mood in the country is quite hopeful. The system has always operated in such a manner that encourages the sole existence of two main parties: those who want change, and those who do not. What we are faced with this time around is the novel choice between two opposition camps that are advocating for “change”, and one party offering to change nothing. We feel that the majority of Seychellois are welcoming change this time around; they understand that it is the only way to guarantee progress.

One Seychelles was created for a reason. The movement has amassed significant public support for a reason, and we have become a true force to be reckoned with for a reason. The reason is that a growing proportion of the population is dissatisfied with the duopoly that has been a constant feature in local politics for too long; these veteran politicians had a real opportunity to prove their dedication to the people and their worth as viable leaders of the nation over the course of the past four years, and many believe that they have failed in these respects. We would not be here today if the call for a new force in politics had not existed. People desperately want a change, but they want the right kind of change.

People need to decide whether the politicians’ plans for change have been substantiated and well-founded, and who is more capable of delivering upon their plans and policies to effect change (i.e., who has a proven track record of bringing innovation to Seychelles and is more likely to deliver upon their promises).

 

Seychelles NATION: How receptive are the prospective voters to your proposed ideas, policies, and orientation? Has the political environment evolved? And how far new medium of communication such as social media are weighing on the campaign?

Alain St Ange: I would say that most voters are significantly more progressive than before. They are out-spoken and not afraid to share their opinions on controversial issues. This is refreshing and encouraging. People do not remain stagnant as the years roll by, and many politicians have remained ignorant to this. While some have been in the arena for decades, pushing for the same policies and generally catering to the privileged and the powerful rather than ordinary citizens, the younger generations have been raised in a different Seychelles to the one that prompted these veteran politicians into the arena in the first place.

The youths today are noticeably more liberal, more educated and more forward-thinking. They care about issues that certain politicians prefer to wave away, such as sustainable fishing and farming practices, climate change, sustainable tourism, LGBTIQ+ rights, animal welfare, the rights of women, the use of cannabis to treat chronic health conditions to name but a few. The youths have been consistently silenced in key decision-making capacities and have been replaced in important leadership roles by seasoned veterans in politics, despite being more motivated, competent and qualified in their relevant fields.

Politicians today need to give voice to the youth. It is not enough just to say you value them; your actions must match your words. What importance are most of the politicians in the upcoming elections giving to any of the above subject matters? Or are these issues being continuously silenced, much as they have been during previous regimes? If a politician has been in the political arena for decades, their values and policies never evolving with the times, then their unwillingness to change or to embrace differences of opinions only continue to marginalise, oppress and harm groups of Seychellois.

Some political parties depend heavily upon their social media presence, using it predominately as their main form of campaigning. Some have paid individuals working around the clock on their social media accounts. One Seychelles cannot compete with the level of funding that other parties have benefitted from for many years, nor does this ultimately matter because money does not (well, should not) win elections in a true democracy. One Seychelles’ Page and social media presence are managed by myself personally, and a small handful of committed volunteers.

We have worked hard to build our online platform over the course of the past two years, but the brunt of our campaigning is not done behind a computer screen. We have been walking the districts relentlessly for two years. Social media is just a way of facilitating the transmission of our progress, our manifesto and our policies, to a wider audience that we may not necessarily meet while canvassing in person. We cannot downplay the importance of social media in this day and age, but we are mindful of the fact that countless Seychellois do not have access to the internet because they simply cannot afford the luxury. In this respect, door-to-door campaigning is important, plus it has the added bonus of allowing us to engage one-to-one with the public. Social media can be very impersonal.

 

Seychelles NATION: Social media triggers a debate on the freedom of speech and its limits. Do you believe there should be no barriers to the expression of the views of the population on these platforms and if not, what are your plans to regulate it to curtail abuses?

Alain St Ange: This is certainly a topical issue. Social media has drastically impacted the way in which we are able to express and share ideas, disseminate information and interact socially. Our Constitution safeguards our freedom of expression, but it specifies necessary restrictions on this freedom, including the protection of the reputation, rights and freedoms or private lives of others. While someone may feel they have the right to say whatever they want, he or she must remember that others have the right not to be defamed, insulted, bullied or harassed on social media.

I do not believe that there should be no barriers to the freedom of expression, particularly when cyber-bullying is on the rise and more and more children and other vulnerable members of society are falling prey to individuals who believe they can say whatever they please, no matter how harmful, without consequence. To curtail abuses of this nature, cyber-bullying laws would need to strengthened and strongly enforced.

 

Seychelles NATION: How was the four-year first executive / legislative co-habitation? Has it been in the interest of the nation or not? Do you think it is a viable experience to be re-conducted or must power rest in the hands of one party both at executive and legislative levels?

Alain St Ange: Both entrenched and mainstream parties are a product of a system that has failed the Republic time and time again. Their track record of failing to bring worthwhile change for the economy or for Seychellois has been blatantly apparent for everyone to see during their unremarkable term in office. Their attempts at “cohabiting” while one camp controlled the National Assembly and the other headed the executive were half-hearted at best, and their tendencies to play both sides and to act in their own interests have earned them much public distrust and skepticism.

Many are appalled how quickly the newly elected members of the National Assembly (MNAs) secured earlier pensions for themselves, and that no Private Members’ Bills were brought to alleviate poverty, or to otherwise address any of the policies they are now pushing for in their manifestos. Both sides seemed more interested in catering to the needs and interests of the privileged, wealthy and the powerful, instead of ordinary citizens.

Politicians have, over time, become more individualistic and unaccountable. And we have allowed this to happen by continuously voting for the same individuals election after election. Parliamentarians and the president during their term in office seemed incapable of working together on anything, even when their interests aligned. Despite this, they are both now making the election pitch for “National Unity”. This is hypocritical. 

Years ago, when I ran in the legislative assembly elections for Bel Air, we would make the battle cry for a balanced National Assembly. Many years later, the majority of seats swung in favour of the green camp – finally – and this battle cry was forgotten. Now, their call is for more control, not only within the Assembly but also within the executive. Only this, they now say, will allow them to serve the people better. The red camp is also making the call to have control of the Assembly. One Seychelles alone seems to realise and understand the value of a balanced National Assembly, where there is no monopoly of power within this important branch of government.

We have all seen for ourselves how this dynamic of one party having too much control over the Assembly played out for Seychelles during the past four years; with MNAs dragging their feet on key issues and otherwise being needlessly obstructive on others. While winning the majority of seats in the Assembly was a win for Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS), it proved to be a loss for Seychelles. The National Assembly should strive to be inclusive and, importantly, representative. Differences in political background, race, gender, sexuality, religion, age, economic-status, etc, only serve to strengthen the Assembly because these individuals would be able to give voice to a wider range of issues and groups of people who have been marginalised for too long.

Politicians seem to have forgotten that their job is to SERVE the people, not rule over them. Once in office, their political persuasion must not be a deciding factor on key policy issues. Their duty is to the PEOPLE OF SEYCHELLES, not just to those who voted them into office. They would do well to remember that.

 

Seychelles NATION: While evoking the democratic process on an election and as a matter of public service hygiene, do you believe it is healthy that high-ranking officials in the civil service and state-owned companies get publicly involved in campaigning for any party or candidate? What are the regulations and how to combat this practice which cast doubts on the integrity and independence of our public officers?

Alain St Ange: It all hinges on what capacity these individuals are acting within when campaigning for a party or candidate. If they are doing it in their private capacities, outside of working hours, then they are acting within the scope of their Constitutional right of assembly and association. I do not believe that government workers need to – openly or otherwise – support the ruling party. They are free to support whomever they please because it is a democracy. However, if they are acting within their professional capacity when campaigning, using their working hours to canvass for politicians when tax payers are responsible for funding their salaries, then the work ethic of these individuals may be called into question. It may also be deemed to be an abuse of authority, particularly when the campaigners are high-ranking public servants assuming positions of authority and power.

 

Seychelles NATION: Can you briefly identify the areas how your party differentiates itself from the other ones and why it should warrant the support of a majority?

Alain St Ange:We are committed to bringing positive and enduring – not “radical” – change to Seychelles. This means embracing innovation, doing things differently, and being unafraid to tackle head-on controversial issues that have floored – and are continuing to unsettle – veteran politicians. Unlike others, we do not shy away from issues concerning the Islands Development Company (IDC), legalisation of cannabis, the rights of oppressed and marginalised members of society, discriminatory and often downright hypocritical practices, and institutionalised corruption. While others seem to be allergic to certain topics and to the prospect of change, we welcome them. We are committed to doing what is right, not what is easy.

We also advocate strongly for putting Seychellois at the centre of our nation’s development, and for ending their historical treatment as second-class citizens. It is a sad reality that our system is designed to cater to expatriate workers over Seychellois. In the public sector, particularly within the legal and tourism fields, expatriates are placed on a pedestal, with disgruntled Seychellois feeling the disparity in level of respect being afforded by their superiors, salary being received, and countless other perks being bestowed upon their foreign colleagues, including transportation to and from work, and even a plane ticket home once a year.

While skilled and managerial jobs within key industries are always on offer, few Seychellois are granted access to the educational opportunities that would open the doors to such employment possibilities. In such circumstances, businesses and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are able to weed out Seychellois applicants for high-level and well-paid posts by setting the minimum education requirement to ‘Masters’, knowing full well that only a minority of Seychellois would be able to boast the qualification. There appears to be some unfettered discretion regarding who is awarded a government scholarship, where in the world they would be permitted to study, and even which field of study they would be permitted to pursue in order to qualify for the funding. This is particularly so if the field of interest is one that is not being offered by the University of Seychelles. This discretionary power leaves the decision-making by the relevant authorities vulnerable to acts of favoritism. It also leaves capable youths who wish to advance in their careers at a sad disadvantage.

We are not coming into these elections with the negative baggage weighing down other politicians. Those who were going to lower the costs of living, and have either headed the executive or had control over the National Assembly during the course of the past four years, would have done so already. Poverty is not an accident. It is a by-product of poor governance and misplaced priorities by those entrusted to safeguard the health and security of the people. Instead of prioritising the alleviation of poverty, some preferred to secure earlier pensions for themselves – creating a senseless discrepancy between the MNAs and ordinary citizens. Our rivals have to justify to Seychellois why they should be given yet another chance to serve the people, in light of their blatant failure to prioritise the needs and interests of ordinary Seychellois during the course of the past four years. 

 

Seychelles NATION: How are you personally running the campaign and is a Presidential candidate quite lonely after all despite being surrounded by an army of advisors and supporters?

Alain St Ange:I am extremely hands-on; always have been, always will be. I have been on the campaign trail for two years with my party, I played a large role in compiling our manifesto, I make the time to personally meet with members of the electorate and to communicate with them openly via social media, I go around the islands with my team to put up our campaign posters and banners, and I am heavily involved with our weekly newspaper, namely Zilwa Publication. I even play my part in hand-delivering the paper in the districts as I do my rounds.

My busy schedule means that I am out of the door early in the morning and only return home to see my family late at night. Fortunately, I am accustomed to this gruelling routine following many years of service within the tourism industry, and later as a minister within the public sector. It is not without its challenges and does take a toll, but I enjoy what I do so it is worthwhile.

I cannot say that I am ever lonely. While the job of a (good) politician is to always think of others first and to put himself last in every respect, my family and friends are always there to support me and to ground me. My teammates support me in an entirely different manner; our focus is on serving the Republic so our attentions are always directed outwards, not inwards. I would not use the term ‘advisors’, because that implies my team and I are somehow not on equal footing. They founded this party and our joint vision every bit as much as I did. They know the ins and the outs of our campaign and are involved every step of the way. I am fortunate to have them by my side.

 

Seychelles NATION: What attributes do you see in your running mate?

Alain St Ange:Mr Peter Sinon and I go way back. Not only is he a skilled and experienced technocrat himself – a seasoned development economist who not only served as an executive director at the African Development Bank, and also formerly as a Seychelles Cabinet minister and a Seychelles high commissioner – but he is undeniably intelligent, humble and genuine. I believe we make a strong team, as we have worked well together in the past, and have many shared values. We listen to each other and respect each other’s opinions and viewpoints.

I unequivocally believe that Peter would make a hard-working and excellent Vice-President. He would not, as some others have tended to do, disappear behind State House walls after election day, never to be seen or heard from again. He walks the districts by my side, truly cares for the well-being of Seychellois, and I know he will be hands-on and diligent in his approach to fulfilling his mandate. I am fortunate and privileged to have him by my side.

 

 

Seychelles NATION: The country is facing an unprecedented economic situation in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. What are your proposals to get out of this precarious situation? How should Seychelles re-invent itself on the economic front?

Alain St Ange:The economy is suffocating, people are losing their jobs, and allowances are being cut left and right (though privileged members of society have notably been spared). This is having a direct social impact upon families, especially those already struggling laboriously to make ends meet.  

We desperately need to rebuild and revamp our main industries – tourism, agriculture and fisheries – to salvage our economy and to ensure that the future for our nation and for Seychellois is promising and fruitful. What we need to do as a nation is to transform the tourism sector, putting it abreast with the current era we are living in today.

Tourism is the lifeblood of our nation’s economy. It will remain under my portfolio if I am elected. Airline partners within the region shall be called upon to work with us during this exceptional Covid-19 period. Our nation’s approach to handling this virus must be preventative, rather than relying predominately upon contact tracing once it has already reached our shores. The half a dozen airports with direct non-stop flights to our country shall have a dedicated health official who will screen and test all passengers heading for Seychelles. Technology and screening tests are progressing rapidly, and newer and more reliable screening methods shall be implemented prior to passengers boarding any flight to Seychelles so as to safeguard passengers aboard the plane.

At the same time, we need to hold in hand both the fishing and agricultural industries to maintain food security, and to empower Seychellois within these sectors to succeed. For the first year that we will be in power, One Seychelles will make sure that we have our tuna fishing vessel flying the nation’s flag. This is not a pipedream – we have concrete plans in place and the right connections to make this a reality for Seychelles. Seychelles needs to reclaim its fishing industry. Let us not forget that one factor causing the biggest loss of foreign exchange in the country is tuna being caught in our waters, then sold back to us in foreign currency. At the same time, Seychelles has signed controversial new fishing agreements with the European Union, which were ratified by the National Assembly despite their raising of red flags about them. This practice of adopting unsustainable and largely unbeneficial agreements needs to stop immediately. Whatever agreements entered into must be beneficial for Seychelles in the long-run. Our seas should not be plundered by foreign entities with minimal benefit for our economy and zero regard for sustainability and preservation of fish stocks for future generations of Seychellois to enjoy.

To avoid crippling local businesses any further, taxes and Value Added Tax (Vat) shall immediately be reduced. Loans for farmers, individuals within the fishing industry and the tourism sector shall be facilitated. With IDC being brought back within the control of our government, Seychellois shall stand to benefit at long last from the islands that form part of our archipelago.

I do not believe in the reintroduction of price control given that we have forged our way into a liberal market. We do not want to lock heads with private merchants, but we want to use what we have at our disposal to tackle this issue. The Seychelles Trading Company (STC) plays a pivotal role in the fight against the increase in the cost of living. The government has already removed duty on 30 basic commodities. Nevertheless, we feel that this does not suffice (given that families rely on significantly more than 30 commodities each month) and should be raised to 100, at the very least. To suggest that the average Seychellois family can get by on 30 commodities a month demonstrates how woefully out-of-touch our government is with the needs of the people.

  Additionally, we would need to relook at the way STC is functioning. It cannot afford to be doing business through a middleman. It needs to go directly to the producer of the commodity. That said, many products, such as rice and sugar, can be sourced in the region. And we should not logically be looking further than in Mauritius and Madagascar – two sister islands of the Indian Ocean.  

 

Seychelles NATION: What will be your first priorities during the first 100 days if you are elected as President during these tough times? How will your willingness and drive bring about the implementation of your plans?

Alain St Ange:Reducing the cost of living and correspondingly increasing the standard of living for the average Seychellois is our biggest priority. This shall be done immediately. Our manifesto explores our plans and policies for alleviating rampant poverty in some depth. After two weeks in power, we would expect to see a noticeable reduction in the cost of food locally. It is not a difficult feat if you have the necessary political will and the requisite know-how to achieve it. To show our commitment to this cause, my running mate, Mr Peter Sinon, and I are going to dedicate 50% of our monthly salaries if elected to combating poverty.

  The basic minimum wage (R5,800 or thereabouts) shall be significantly increased to R7,500 – NO Seychellois gainfully employed in full or part-time work, persons receiving pension and social security payments, home carers and government corporative contract workers, shall earn less than that monthly figure. We shall ensure that the cost of living sees a marked decline within our first year in office.

Currently, next to nothing is being done to assist victims of domestic violence. There is nowhere for individuals fleeing from abusive homes to seek solace. Our very own Dean Padayachi has done tremendous altruistic work to house and home many women, at his own expense, who have fled abusive households. We can and shall do more. Plans for shelters offering temporary protection and support for victims of domestic violence shall be spearheaded.

The taxation system of Seychelles shall be overhauled to become fairer, simpler, and to encourage the business community to work. In so doing, they will employ more Seychellois and allow the country’s economy to thrive. Government shall remain the facilitator and shall assist the private sector to function effectively.

While our Constitution safeguards our right against discrimination, the same cannot be said to be preserved in practice. Discrimination exists across the board, including in salaries for expatriates versus Seychellois in the same employment role, within the same department, as well as differences between pension ages for MNAs and for ordinary citizens. Such discrepancies shall be immediately redressed. Any laws contradictory to our Constitutional freedom against discrimination shall be revised or abolished.

We will, within our first 100 days in office, also legalise and regulate cannabis use. In an interview with TODAY in Seychelles newspaper, a key politician seemed to take it for granted that cannabis is being widely used locally and queried why anything should be done about it. Countless Seychellois use it for medicinal purposes, with even high-ranking public servants known for sourcing cannabis to treat their chronically ill loved ones. Why legalise it, they ask? Because the system has made us all hypocrites. Because too many Seychellois have been, and are continuing to be, penalised through the legal system for possession of cannabis. By failing to legalise it, they are damning the majority of the population to prosecution and possible prison sentences for possession, trafficking or cultivation of cannabis. Not to mention the constant burden on our limited resources for policing, prosecution, judging and incarcerating offenders. The narrow-mindedness of some will be the downfall of many.

How would we go about this? Two words: EDUCATION and REGULATION. We are not reinventing the wheel. Larger nations than ours have worked this out. Why can't we? Change is scary for some, but it is necessary. Admittedly, those who stand to benefit from maintaining the status quo may be unwilling to embrace change.

 

 

Seychelles NATION: What are the main features that you will be seeking in your team that will help you deliver the results that you are imposing to yourself?

Alain St Ange:One Seychelles was the first to propose – and remains the only party to realistically be in a position to implement – a technocrat-led government, which will comprise technocrats rather than politicians. Key appointments within government roles shall be merit-based, and shall be filled by experienced, qualified, motivated and competent technocrats who have been trained within the field that is relevant to any given ministry or department. Appointments that are predicated upon political affiliation only serve to undermine the competence and success of any ministry. Particularly in view of the economic turmoil Seychelles is currently facing, a technocrat-led government will allow the skilled officers assuming their portfolios to hit the ground running. They are best placed to put national interests above party political interests, and apply their expertise to their relevant ministries. For the first time, decisions that are taken within government shall be hinged upon what is best for Seychelles, not what serves the agenda of any political party or privileged individual(s).

Historically, the ruling party has played Tetris with their ministerial appointments, swapping ministers around rather than dismissing the non-performing ones. Very rarely would a minister be assigned a portfolio in which he or she actually has the requisite knowledge, experience and qualifications to competently manage it. This is because the ruling party has preferred to appoint politicians to ministerial positions, rather than suitable technocrats. Appointments in this respect tend not to be merit-based. Politicians, most of whom have no prior knowledge of the field, therefore constantly come and go, with everyone more focused on short-term wins rather than long-term vision. The public find themselves at the mercy of constantly changing agendas.

Policymakers tend to be interested only in evidence that fits their own needs, ideology or prejudice, and they may ignore or even abuse those who provide evidence that does not fit the political agenda. This has been particularly the case in the Ministry for Fisheries and Agriculture, with transparency in decision-making all but disappearing over time, culminating in the Seychelles Fishing Authority recently declaring themselves to be autonomous from government.

Countless qualified Seychellois, leaders within their respective fields, have been passed over for key ministerial roles or for leadership positions within governmental departments because these roles were ear-marked for friends or relatives of a certain politician, or for the party loyalists. They have been struggling for years to overcome insurmountable barriers from systems that seem to be determined to maintain old and decaying structures, rather than welcoming in the new. They are tired of the old ways of doing things, particularly when they are witnessing first-hand how outdated policies and attitudes are hindering the growth and progress of their departments and the nation as a whole.

Rather than closing the gap and combatting inequality nation-wide, government’s clumsy strides in tackling the issue have resulted in the opposite – poverty rates are on the rise, drug dependency rates are increasing, unemployment rates amongst the youth are sky-rocketing, and people are generally unhappy and tend to report deep dissatisfaction within their employment and with their quality of life. 

 

Seychelles NATION: How can your experience help you to avoid the potholes of power and how will you inculcate the basic principles of hard, dedicated, and continuous work within your team?

Alain St Ange:The personal characteristics of an individual will generally paint a reliable picture of what he or she will be like if given power and authority. If a person is vindictive, manipulative and unforgiving, he will undoubtedly carry these traits into higher office and these attributes will manifest in some shape or form within his leadership style. An individual who is allergic to innovation or to trying new ways of doing things would make a weak leader.

I have worked for most of my life within leadership roles, whether it be as a manager for a hotel, a minister within government, president of the Vanilla Islands, and later as president of the African Tourism Board. A good leader, in my humble opinion, is one that is a technocrat, one who has a clear vision but is not afraid to alter the course in response to feedback and opinions of others, one who has proven integrity, humility and honesty, someone who is courageous enough to admit when they are wrong, and one who has proven himself to be respectful of people from all walks of life. One cannot make racial slurs and expect to be regarded as a good leader.

To avoid potholes in power, I subscribe strongly to what Dr Mathilda Twomey stated as she stepped down officially from her role as Chief Justice: “I believe that long periods of service, particularly in positions of leadership and power, are a key way in which a public servant forgets their mandate and loses their vigour, and the role becomes less about the noble office, but the individual that holds it.” A healthy democracy NEEDS turnover. Many cried hoarse that former President Albert Rene was in a position of power for too long (around 27 years), yet some barely bat an eye-lid that the leader of the green camp has been a regular feature on the ballot paper for even longer than that – around 29 or 30 years now. At some stage, a politician must accept that it is time to pass the torch (not the baton), and allow a fresh face and new blood to take the reins.

In keeping with the sound advice of Dr Twomey, I have already made it known that I am only signing on to do one term in office. As a technocrat myself, I plan to keep the tourism portfolio under my office. In the most prominent ministries, both the ministers and junior ministers shall be technocrats, proven to be qualified, experienced and competent within their respective fields. The posts of secretary of state shall gradually be done away with, and the junior ministers shall be groomed to replace their ministers in due course. The government shall be as apolitical as possible, with Seychellois working in the national interest, and not just in the interests of the privileged and powerful.

Moreover, to avoid potholes in power, one must never forget where they came from. I am a Diguois through and through. That will never change. My family and friends continue to humble me. To go to La Digue and expect to be driven in a club car instead of walking along the cobblestones means one has already allowed power to go their heads. Similarly, walking from State House to another building within town and expecting a standing ovation is another indication that some need to be reminded to remain humble. Finally, one must never lose sight of the fact that the sole purpose of a president is to serve the people of Seychelles. Never to rule over them. Anyone who has lost sight of this has already lost the plot. 

 

Seychelles NATION: What is your last-minute message to the nation on the eve of this important democratic rendezvous?

Alain St Ange:Your vote in the 2020 elections allows our democracy to live another day. If enough people cast their ballots this month, they are acting in solidarity with, and protection for, the most vulnerable people in our society – those who have been neglected woefully since the 2015 elections and left to fall beneath the poverty line.

It is time that politicians are forced to sit up and take notice of those whom they are seeking to SERVE (not rule over). For far too long, politicians have been complacent to do the bare minimum, with no one to hold them accountable. Seychellois have a chance in the upcoming elections to hold them accountable for their non-performance and broken promises over the course of their past term in higher office.

United Seychelles (US) claims it as an advantage that President Faure is equipped to continue in his role because he is the safe option. With him, there is certainty, according to US. They say that with any opposition party there can only be uncertainty. While that may be true for others, with One Seychelles we categorically deny this attempt at fear-mongering. What US really means about the future being certain with them at the helm is that continued poverty, unemployment and increased costs of living are certainties. The privileged and the powerful shall continue to be catered to, at the expense of ordinary citizens. No innovative changes have been proposed and change is never embraced by this political camp. The picture that President Faure has painted for the foreseeable future for our nation and for Seychellois is bleak, with him promising difficult times ahead as our economy continues to struggle. It is in President Faure’s interests to paint a grim picture for our future. He has lowered the bar so much that people cannot expect much of him during the next five years, and he has instilled fear in his followers that change would be a fate worse than death for them and the country. Why accept the future that he is offering? Particularly when many, many things can be done to change it and to alter the course? 

Change for the sake of change, as one would likely get with the LDS camp, would do little to alleviate the bleakness of the future that has been promised by President Faure. This can be deduced from their superficial and markedly unsubstantiated policies and plans for the future. Their aim seems to be to win the elections, with little effort being spent on fleshing out their plans for leading the country if they did actually win. They have done little to reassure ordinary citizens of their genuine intention to cater to the needs of the vulnerable members of society with the sheer number of privileged, wealthy and powerful individuals chosen to be featured in the party’s PPBs. These people have come forward publicly with their support for this party for a reason.

We implore you to vote wisely in the upcoming elections. Vote for someone who actually has the political will to bring the necessary changes that the masses have, for decades, been crying out for. Rather than vote for an individual who has been in the ring for longer than anyone should be comfortable with, because he is the “safe” or “familiar” option, vote for the candidate that has brought well-developed and thought-out policies and plans to revive the tourism industry; to end favoritism and nepotism within governmental appointments; to alleviate once and for all the out-of-control poverty plaguing the vulnerable members of society; to take a definitive stance on key issues and to actually follow through on their promises; to lower taxes and the crippling VaAT to help businesses thrive; to re-structure and revamp the fisheries sector to make it more efficient (it is presently top-heavy); and to give the agriculture industry the needed boost to encourage more farmers to enter into, and remain within, the field; and to push for sustainable methods and practices within both the fisheries and agriculture sectors to promote food security for generations to come. 

Consider whether a politician has the requisite temperament, capability, skillset, political will, experience and proven track record of bringing innovation and change to the nation. Consider his motives for entering the political arena and whether he is in it for the right reasons, even after all this time. The fate of our nation’s economy and the wellbeing of Seychellois lie with you. The most important people on election day are not the politicians on the ballot paper – the voters are! They have the power to choose whether government remains the same, whether things remain as they presently are for a further five years, whether the nation signs up for more acts of favoritism and decisions that are taken in naked self-interest, or whether we end this hard and trying year with fresh leadership, fresh policies and a new approach to solving problems that other politicians have clumsily and hopelessly tried to grapple with for the past four years. No one should have a monopoly on democracy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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