In the National Assembly | 30 October 2020
Five new ministers get the green light
By Elsie Pointe
The newly elected government continues to consolidate its administration with the addition of five new ministers, who got the green light from the National Assembly yesterday.
The parliament approved the nominations of Errol Fonseka, Justin Valentin, Flavien Joubert, Antony Derjacques and Rose-Marie Hoareau as ministers in the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) government.
They join the incoming cabinet of ministers with Naadir Hassan, Peggy Vidot and Patricia Francourt who went through the vetting process and were approved on Wednesday.
The motions in regards to the nomination of ministers proposed by President Wavel Ramkalawan were tabled in the National Assembly by leader of government business, Bernard Georges.
A total of 13 ministers have been proposed to form part of the new cabinet.
A well-known opposition supporter, Errol ‘Roy’ Fonseka, had served in the British Forces for around 22 years and, on return to Seychelles, founded Pilgrims Security in 1993.
The local business venture came just after he had orchestrated the private security elements surrounding late President James Mancham return to Seychelles in 1992.
In the questioning session in the National Assembly yesterday, Mr Fonseka said that the special unit in the British Forces dealt with sensitive information that he still cannot reveal to this date.
One of its roles was to help countries in national security risk assessments, and by proxy help Britain extend its geopolitical reach in various regions across the world.
“We found ourselves in many countries, which I cannot name, in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the Far East and the Americas,” he recounted to the MNAs.
In summing up his character, Mr Fonseka noted that he is not someone who likes to talk too much about himself, a person who enjoys challenges and seeks to achieve whatever he puts mind to.
Due to Mr Fonseka’s extensive background in military and security, many of the questions that were thrown his way were related to law and order in the country.
The motion to approve his nomination was endorsed with 24 votes in favour, one against and nine abstentions.
Dr Justin Valentin
The former vice-chancellor of the University of Seychelles (UniSey) was approved as minister in the LDS government with 28 members voting in favour.
The 49-year-old has an academic background consisting of a bachelor’s degree in education from Australia, a master’s degree gained in Malaysia and a doctorate earned in England.
Dr Valentin’s specialty in education is science and mathematics.
“I joined the teaching profession and then worked as a research officer in the Ministry of Education. I later became the director of this section and during the last seven years I was transferred to the University of Seychelles (UniSey), where I was first dean and then during the last three years the vice-chancellor,” explained Dr Valentin.
When asked about his take on discipline in schools if he is handed the education portfolio, Dr Valentin noted that this should be tackled by consulting with people involved in education and the Office of the Attorney General if any legislations are to be drawn.
With his strong background in education, many are anticipating that Dr Valentin will assume the education portfolio.
Flavien Joubert who has clocked in 24 years in public service yesterday received the vote of confidence of the National Assembly.
His most recent position was as chief executive of the Landscape and Waste Management Agency (LWMA).
In 1992, he went for further studies in England where he gained a Higher National Diploma (HND) in environmental analysis followed by a degree in the same university. He also holds a master’s degree in environmental studies.
Mr Joubert has held various positions in the environment ministry until he was appointed chief executive (CEO) of the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) in 2015 and CEO of LWMA since 2018.
Understandably the questions brought to Mr Joubert were veered towards the environment sector.
When asked what he would do to revitalise the environment ministry, Mr Joubert said it is important for this ministry to set realistic plans, seek information from workers on the field and revise criteria for contracts to ensure they are given out in fair and equitable manner.
Well-known politician and lawyer Antony Derjacques was the fourth nominated minister in the hot seat yesterday.
Mr Derjacques, who is an attorney and barrister at law and notary, has served in the Office of Attorney General for three years and has been running his private law firm for over 28 years.
“I have worked for hundreds of clients, I have helped them and recently have concentrated a lot in the Constitutional Court,” he told the MNAs.
Additionally, Mr Derjacques served as a member of parliament in 1998 and 2007. He was the chairman of the bar association and has sat on the appeals board of the Financial Services Authority.
His vetting process was focused on his vast legal experience and how he hopes to contribute to the government, and ensure that there are no conflicts of interest.
Mr Derjacques is of the view that he has over the years picked up and honed his leadership and management skills, in addition to being versatile and hardworking.
He proposed that three of his strongest traits are his loyalty and allegiance to President Ramkalawan, his integrity and the determination to keep going until he is successful, which are all traits which will be of great importance to any ministry.
“I can tell you with confidence that any considerations of political parties and politics will have no place in any decision that I take and whatever I advise the cabinet or the President. We are saying that political affiliation should not matter when the government is delivering a service,” said Mr Derjacques.
He highlighted that should his nomination be accepted, he will cease to enjoy any right of audience and will instead focus on his ministerial duties, which is primarily focused on placing citizens at the centre of development, and making available opportunities to have their voices and innovative ideas heard.
As a minister, his strong points are that he can guide and advise the government and concerned organisations with regards to the rule of law and policies.
Mr Derjacques was approved with 23 votes in favour and 10 abstaining.
Rose Marie Hoareau’s career started in teaching but swiftly evolved to include experiences in the insurance industry followed by the tourism sector in which she spent the majority of her years.
She schooled at the Regina Mundi Convent and later graduated with an education certificate for special needs children in England.
Mrs Hoareau told the National Assembly that teaching was her first passion but opportunities presented to her saw her move to insurance company Sacos and from there she worked in the tourism industry, particularly with a lot of private tourism companies.
Some of the attributes Mrs Hoareau claims to bring to the table as minister include her strong leadership skills, ability to interact with employees at all levels, discipline, fairness, firmness and empathy.
“I am a hard working person. Regardless of my age, I keep up with changes because you are never too old to learn. Wherever the president sends me I will start by learning with the people that are already there. I believe that it is necessary for us to accept that there has been good work achieved by employees working in the ministries of the previous government,” said Mrs Hoareau.
Her nomination was approved with 23 votes in favour.
Photos by: Thomas Meriton/Joena Meme