National Assembly members express differing opinions to State-of-the-nation address |16 March 2023
Some ten members of the National Assembly yesterday gave their reactions to the State-of-the-nation (Sona) address by President Wavel Ramkalawan, delivered before the National Assembly on Friday March 10.
Expectedly, both leaders – from the ruling party Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) and the opposition United Seychelles (US) – expressed differing opinions, with members mainly following suit.
The head of state in his address called for unity and national reconciliation and for citizens to work in the interest of the country and nation, rather than engaging in destructive activities.
Furthermore, the leader reiterated his call for all to up productivity especially within the public sector, so as to alleviate the frustration among the population, proposing that this is down to laziness and supporters of the opposition who are purposefully ‘dragging their feet’.
President Ramkalawan, in addition to highlighting the numerous accomplishments since he assumed power, also stated that he will soon be starting a series of district-level meetings, as from the Easter period.
To note, this is the third Sona delivered by President Ramkalawan since he was elected into office in October 2020.
From the onset, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Sebastien Pillay, stated that the conclusion which he draws from the Sona is that “if the President and the government continue to do as they are doing, we will end up in a precipice”.
Hon. Pillay deemed the Sona a “total embarrassment” and a “catastrophe” , which rather than focusing on the real state of the nation was an opportunity for the President to threaten Seychellois employees.
“What he did and said before the Assembly indicates that the President is not aware of the state of our nation. He is disconnected from the reality. Not only this, but what we heard last week shows serious incompetence on the part of government in governing our country,” Hon. Pillay stated.
The address should have clearly laid out the direction in which the country is heading, addressing important sectors such as fisheries, agriculture, cost of living and healthcare among others, he said.
“A President needs to know the real state of their nation. They need to inspire and encourage their people,” Hon. Pillay pointed out, saying that the country is crumbling under the weight of its problems as a result of poor leadership.
Contrarily to what the President stated during his address, he said that the main source of frustration among the population are decisions taken by President Ramkalawan and his Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) administration, and not lack of productivity within the public sector.
Hon. Pillay addressed numerous matters including cost of living, profitability of certain parastatal organisations, and the welfare of senior citizens, providing his perspective of what the current state of affairs is.
“When a Sona fails to engage the youths at all or try to bring them onboard for the country’s new direction, what do we expect?” Hon. Pillay questioned.
According to Hon. Pillay, the real state of the nation is that even citizen’s Constitutional rights are not being respected. Freedom of expression and association have now become a problem, Hon. Pillay pointed out in relation to comments made by President Ramkalawan that citizens should think things through and within context, before expressing themselves, especially on social media platforms.
Concluding, Hon. Pillay called on all Seychellois to, together, bring about real transformation in 2025 by electing the United Seychelles (US) government into power.
For his part, Bernard Georges, leader of government business, beamed with pride as he delivered his reaction. He said he is proud that President Wavel Ramkalwan is putting Seychelles at the forefront internationally, and that he is contributing to the development of Seychelles at an unprecedented pace.
He said he is proud of and happy with all that President Ramkalawan has achieved over his two-and-a-half year reign, and that Seychelles is first on a number of indexes.
According to Hon. Georges, the President’s Sona was different and much-needed by the country at the mid-point in his five-year term, where in addition to the numerous accomplishments, many challenges remain.
“The President has asked us to make a choice. Do we want to live in the light of development whereby we all play our role towards the advancement of our country? Or, do we want to go back to the past where the country lacked direction, which allowed the social ills to proliferate?” Hon. Georges questioned.
Reiterating President Ramkalawan’s plea, he called on citizens to unite towards progression, to increase wealth and to overcome the challenges and social ills, including the fight against illicit drugs.
“President Ramkalawan has said that national reconciliation remains one of his priorities. I stand strong with him on this matter,” Hon. Georges pointed out.
Hon. Georges said he too is concerned about the future of the country, placing the blame on past administrations for not taking action to address these issues.
“The state of our nation is well. It is not just buildings and infrastructure which have been built, but – most importantly – our government has given Seychelles a new direction, a new breath, renewed hope and a new way of living,” Hon. Georges went on to say.
President Ramkalawan offered the nation a vision for the country through the Sona, concluded Hon. Georges.
Similarly to Hon. Georges, Hon. Clifford Andre, elected LDS member for Anse Aux Pins, shared that the address by President Ramkalawan speaks for itself, reflecting the situations and challenges which the country is facing.
“The state of our nation is evident for all to see, with all the developments that are happening, which have happened and the various efforts which our government has done to ensure that we have hospitals, schools and housing,” Hon. Andre pointed out.
For his part, Hon. Andy Labonte said the majority of Seychellois connected to the address made by President Ramkalawan, and called on each and every citizen to unite and be guided by the light towards a common destination.
‘The best he has given so far’ is the way LDS elected member for Beau Vallon, John Hoareau, described the Sona, noting that it was frank and clearly depicts the real state of the country.
“This goes to show that the President remains connected to his people, and has his fingers on the nation’s pulse,” Hon. Hoareau stated.
Hon. Hoareau also made the most of the opportunity to list the various accomplishments of the LDS government over the past two years, in the field of education and in the war on drugs, among others.
“During the Sona, the President addressed his nation frankly and honestly. He placed emphasis on what his administration has achieved for the Seychellois people, touched on certain attitudes that need changing in the workplace, and gave directions and solutions,” Hon. Hoareau added.
Hon. Kelly Samynadin, elected LDS member for Au Cap, said that the President during the Sona reaffirmed his commitment to continuously safeguard the liberty of each citizen, and to fly the Seychelles flag as high as possible.
The President’s address served to give citizens hope for the future, elected LDS member for Anse Etoile Georges Romain stated.
Meanwhile US elected member for Roche Caiman, Hon. Audrey Vidot, said that for the third consecutive year, the President was not interested in bringing forth propositions nor concrete solutions which aim to improve the standard of living, or which are in the interest of the nation.
Instead, the President on Friday admitted that he is incompetent to rule the country, she said, also noting that the nation is watchful and mindful of the fact that “the state of the nation has been declining over the past three years”.
“What is clear is that the LDS government is failing to observe the actual state of our nation,” Hon. Vidot stated.
Baie St Anne Praslin elected US member Churchill Gill echoed similar sentiments to that of other members on his side of the table.
US elect representing the inner islands, Rocky Uranie, like his fellow US members, said it is regrettable that President Ramkalawan used the opportunity to vent his personal frustrations, as opposed to giving the population a ‘light’.
Focusing on the plea by President Ramkalawan to use social media platforms properly, and for journalists to essentially ‘stay in their lane’, Hon. Uranie asserted that US favours of freedom of expression, and encourages journalists to keep practising their craft freely, all of which are important pillars of a democracy.
“The address was clearly to seek the population’s compassion,” Hon. Uranie said.