United Seychelles points out more ‘flaws’ at fourth press conference |08 April 2021
Almost six months after losing the national elections, ending its 43-year reign, United Seychelles, now under the leadership of Dr Patrick Herminie, is still pointing out supposed ‘mistakes’ of the current government, while proposing little or no solutions at all.
Through a series of live press conferences, the United Seychelles (US) leadership has been expressing the party’s view on the way the country is being run, especially during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, of which the Seychelles as a highly dependent country has not been spared.
Dr Herminie explained that the aim of the press conferences is to give another version of the actual situation and it is in that spirit, rather than creating confusion among the people, that such broadcasts are being done.
At the last election in October last year, the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) won 54.9 percent of the votes, while US secured only 43.5 percent.
In its fourth live press conference yesterday at the Maison du Peuple building in Victoria, other than party leader Herminie, US was also being represented by secretary general Dick Esparon, along with deputy leader Jacquelin Dugasse.
To begin with, Dr Herminie described the present government as a liberal one, which instead of bringing forward solutions, talks and refers to the past, while placing the country on the tip of a steep slope.
He also mentioned President Wavel Ramkalawan’s overseas missions, as well as his visit to the country’s outer islands, noting that it was irresponsible on the part of the head of state, especially during a time when a lot of vulnerable children are going to school with an empty stomach.
Another one of the party’s favourite tunes at press conferences which surfaced again yesterday was the shutting down of the Financial Assistance for Job Retention (FA4JR), Seychelles Employee Transition Scheme (Sets) and the Unemployment Relief Scheme (URS).
This, Dr Herminie said, will prevent many families from getting a salary and from putting food on the table.
He however failed to mention that jobs are available locally, despite the current difficulties, compared to many parents who found it difficult to provide for their families under the previous regime, based on the security clearance structure which was in place even after the re-introduction of the multi-party system, preventing them from getting employment due to their political belief.
As alternative, he explained that his party is proposing a furlough scheme where if a company is unable to operate or they have no work for staff to do during the pandemic, workers can be put on the scheme which means they are kept on the payroll and not made redundant.
Employers facing difficulties will be eligible to receive support from the government to continue paying reduced staff wages and avoid redundancies.
Profitable businesses will pay a percentage – not below the minimum wage – of their staff salaries, while smaller businesses will be assisted by the state.
He also noted that all capital projects should be put on hold, including the La Digue Hospital.
Dr Herminie described the present government, which has been place for five months, as “incompetent”.
He also confirmed that as from next week, the US will provide 1,000 daily lunch packs to be shared with the more vulnerable children in all schools around the country.
Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Herminie said the situation has escalated as a result of the new government’s inefficiency, as well as interference in the public health services.
Unexpectedly, Dr Herminie raised the issue of harassment and fear among the people of this country for expressing their views against the present government.
An issue which surely raised many eyebrows as it is an issue which has been associated to the previous regime.
He described the government’s restructuring programme as the biggest form of victimisation the country has ever known.
Speaking about the re-opening of the border to foreign visitors, Dr Herminie said the decision was taken recklessly since not even half of the local population has reached herd immunity.
He explained that it is not clear at this point who is taking decisions regarding the related matters.
He further added that allowing Qatar Airways the fifth freedom right will destroy our national airline, Air Seychelles.
The fifth freedom allows an airline to carry revenue traffic between foreign countries as a part of services connecting the airline's own country.
It has the right to carry passengers from one's own country to a second country and from that country onward to a third country (and so on).
On the subject, Mr Dugasse said the right will place our national airline in direct competition with another airline.
This, he said, is dangerous since Qatar Airways has the power to lower its fares, something which he said, Air Seychelles does not have the capacity to do.
Another topic raised was the new batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine the country recently received.
Dr Herminie said proper researches have not been done to identify which Covid-19 variant is present in the country, pointing out that the South African authority decided to halt its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after a study showed "disappointing" results against the new Covid-19 variant.
Regarding the 46 stolen plots of land by the US, a subject which keeps resurfacing every now and then, deputy leader Dugasse said they are in the process of proving that they were legally acquired and that since the subject is sub judice – under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion elsewhere – the party is in no position to talk about it further.
He alleged that even the Auditor General’s report regarding the issue is politically motivated, not objective and sincere.
On the subject of Assomption Island, Mr Esparon said the idea of any military base, the US is categorically against and that any security-related issues should be brought in front of the National Assembly, before the party can pronounce its position.