Speaker Mancienne officially opens National Assembly |11 March 2023
For the first time in its thirty-year history, the National Assembly of Seychelles officially opened for the 2023 termwith a brief ceremony in which the Speaker, Hon. Roger Mancienne addressed and officially declared the assembly open.
In starting, Speaker Mancienne led the ceremonial procession to mark the commencement of the 2023 meeting of the legislature.
During his address, Speaker Mancienne explained that the ceremony is being held for the first time to “affirm the importance and independence of the institution as a branch of the government of our country”.
“This forms part of our ambition to modernise and renew the practices thatdemonstrate our role in our country. We want to use this ceremony as a moment to valorise our role,” Speaker Mancienne stated.
Unlike in previous years, the Assembly is this year commencing its terms later than usual as some much-needed renovations and repairs were underway in the chambers and facility. As explained by Speaker Mancienne, instead of the rectangular seating-layout, members are now seated in an arch or semi-circle, facing the Speaker’s platform. This is the norm for parliaments the world over, and is symbolically significant because the members now face the Speaker himself, rather than each other, reflecting the fact that they should be addressing the Speaker at all time, and not other members.
This arrangement also places the members in the centre of the chamber rather than on the outskirts, reflecting the fact that their role in the assembly is central. In addition, it brings all involved in the chamber closer together, thereby portraying “a more integral picture of the Assembly”.
Aside from the modifications in seating layout, the assembly also carried out repair works on the flooring in the visitors’ gallery, following damage caused by flooding. The visitors’ gallery also re-opened yesterday for the State-of-the-Nation address, which was delivered by President Wavel Ramkalawan later during the evening.
The Assembly’s facelift has been complemented by a new microphone and sound system, a new camera system and new screens, which means that the Assembly’s media team is better equipped to cover and transmit the National Assembly’s deliberations. The media team in 2022 assumed all responsibility for the recording and transmission of the National Assembly’s sittings, which was formerly done by the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC).
Speaker Mancienne said the renovations are necessary, and imperative to the evolution of the National Assembly, so it can effectively meet all of its objectives, and that members and staff are comfortable to properly discharge their functions.
A small building facility is expected to be constructed alongside the institution’s main building, to accommodate the services supporting the role of the Assembly.
The Assembly hopes to be able to expand its building, and to have a large enough hall to accommodate members of the public or a large grouping of government officials for consultative processes.
“Our modernisation objective is not just a physical necessity. It is our ambition to also modernise the governance structure for the Assembly,” Speaker Mancienne said, noting that the Assembly has also engaged in preparing a law proposal pertaining to laws guiding the Assembly in its work.
The proposal is focused on three main aspects, including the way the institution manages its finances as an independent government institution, and the National Assembly service. These proposals are based on existing administrative and management procedures but which leaders and the assembly felt should be refined or updated.
The different efforts towards modernising the Assembly are imperative to ensure that the institution is in line with international norms, Speaker Mancienne added.
Speaking of the 30thanniversary of the National Assembly, Speaker Mancienne urged all members to seize the opportunity and to work together to raise the standards of the institution, in a bid to not only meet that of other similar institutions, but to stand out from other parliaments from around the world.
“I urge all members of the Assembly to all, use this occasion to, at the start of the term to remember our mission. Our mission is to represent the people in the district in which we have been elected. I want to state that we represent all those from where we have been elected, and not just those who voted for us,” Speaker Mancienne urged.
He called on members to unite and to consider one another as colleagues, and not political opponents.
Of the 2022 term, Speaker Mancienne expressed satisfaction, noting that the Assembly discharged its legislative function and actively monitoring government. The Assembly approved 39 laws, posed 209 questions to ministers regarding the work of the executive, and passed 44 motions on matters of national interest.
Committees of the National Assembly were also proactive as were members in regional and international commitments.
It must be noted that opposition party, United Seychelles (US) were not present for the address by Speaker Mancienne.
During the ceremony, a new member was welcomed to the seventh Assembly. Replacing Hon. Paul Ernesta is the new proportionately elected member for United Seychelles Hon. Wilbert Herminie. The swearing in of Hon. Herminie was done in accordance with Article 81 of the Constitution.