Saturday, 15 October 2016

Fears over Political Instability

Concerns are growing in the country with regards to long term social, political and economic stability. After the win of the opposition coalition at the National Assembly elections, it was assumed that the political tensions and divisions now sweeping the country would subside. The expectation was that the political leaders call for calm would be respected and that the country would return to normal. But this does not seem to be happening to the worry of many people.

The LDS opposition leaders themselves have chosen to propagate this state of uneasiness by challenging the constitution at a time when political tension is high. Ironically this is the same constitution which they swore to defend and uphold only a week or two ago. They are now insisting that the Vice President cannot take over from the President who has resigned, that is in spite of the fact that the constitution makes provision for such an orderly transition.

The current Vice President was elected on the same ticket as the outgoing President. This in itself gives him a degree of legitimacy as people voted for a joint ticket. In trying to force the hand of the new incoming President, the opposition is playing a dangerous game of attaining executive power at all costs. While they are caught up in the euphoria of victory and the appetite for never ending street protests, they are oblivious to the fact that investors are watching developments with a degree of uneasiness.

The Seychelles has attracted a lot of investments under the Presidency of James Michel as he presided over a stable political environment. The risk of some people now pulling out or freezing their investments is starting to tax the brains of some in the business community. The Seychelles economy is extremely fragile and any sign of political instability inadvertently conveyed to the outside world, could prove disastrous for all of us.

Political instability can have an even greater impact on business and it may make them reluctant to invest in new capital or enter new markets. It may even encourage relocation of activities to a more stable and predictable area as business owners hate risk! Political instability in an area where a firm operates will mean that the firm has to be very flexible and adaptable; ready to change their operations at very short notice to reflect changes in the political environment.

Many of our citizens who have lived in unstable countries are fully aware that political instability causes uncertainty and at its worse complete economic breakdown. Extreme instability leads to poor economic performance, high level of poverty and low standards of living. While the LDS opposition leaders legitimately push their tunnel vision agenda of change, they must not allow themselves to be blinded by the past while reality stares them in the face; they still need to see the woods from the trees. In the pursuit for power under the guise of pursuing a perfect democracy, let us not give rise to a dead economy.


Two Ticking Time-Bombs

Change for the better is a good thing but Change for the sake of change is alarming. The two main protagonists for change in the National Assembly, Wavel Ramkalawan and Jean-Francois Ferrari are the two most angry and vengeful people in the opposition LDS; they are both former SPUP/SPPF and they both share the same fiery characters; they hate each other. Those two opposition politicians are blinded by their anger and their urge to seek revenge for events that happened many years ago. Both Ramkalawan and Ferrari are prepared to lead this country on the road to destruction in order to achieve their aims. Compromise is not a word that exists in their vocabulary.

Strangely enough, the two of them do not see eye-to-eye on a range of issues and given absolute power, they would be a disaster. Albeit, Ferrari is politically smarter than Ramkalawan and consequently he has a very low opinion of his boss. They have clashed many times in the past and Roger Mancienne has had to intervene and act as referee. Both these two men cannot stand each other but have come together purely to accomplish their mission of revenge. For the last five years, Ferrari did not speak to Wavel Ramkalawan but being the opportunist that he is, he could not afford to miss the political gravy train that was leaving the station. He came back after the first round of the presidential election, when James Michel had failed to win an outright majority. This was the move of a typical opportunist.

Ferrari and Ramkalawan both have their origins in the ruling party as stated above. Jean-Francois Ferrari is the son of Dr. Maxime Ferrari, who was one of the main architects of the coup d’├ętat in 1977 which brought the Rene to power. As the Coup d’├ętat unfolded in the early hours of 5th June, Albert Rene set up his control and command centre at Ferrari’s house. The two did not live too far apart in the secluded hills of San Soucis. That night, the 17 year old Jean-Francois was the tea boy for the two coup masterminds. In a sense he too has blood on his hands.

The next morning, once the coup had succeeded, Jean Francois was seen roaming around in Victoria with other armed men and holding a revolver in his hand. For years he enjoyed the good life and the power as the son of a minister until his father fell out with ex President Albert Rene. It is only then that Jean Francois started complaining about the system. The same system his father had helped to create and propagate. Everything was good as long as he was part of the privileged few and was personally benefitting.

On the other hand it is not known exactly what turned Ramkalawan against the party that he and his family supported. His mother was a head teacher who had been promoted not just because she was a good teacher but also because of her close affiliations with the ruling party. Ramkalawans’ father is the man who welded together the iron statue of ‘Zonm lib’ while Ferraris’ sister Pauline was the one who designed the statue.

Both Ferrari and Ramkalawan were educated by the Christian brotherhood at Seychelles College in the mid to late 1970’s. With the two of them now leading the opposition charge in the National Assembly, there is no doubt that they will aggressively hold the Executive to account. For the leader of the opposition, there is also no doubt that keeping control over Jean Francois Ferrari will be his biggest nightmare. The question is, will they let their volatile temperaments get the better of them or will the oxygen of publicity they now enjoy set off this double ticking time-bomb?..... Tick…tock…tick…… tock…..and on it goes.


Friday, 7 October 2016

LDS leader quizzed by the authority

An LDS leader was quizzed by the authority over the weekend in regards to involvement in laundering dirty money. This is not the first time that this lawyer has had to answer questions for allege involvement with trying to hide illicit proceeds for alleged drug dealers. The same person is known to have tried to buy a property with drugs money, only, in the recent past.

This is a fresh involvement where vehicles known to belong to people suspected to be dealing in drugs are registered in the lawyer’s name. The authorities have shied away in the past from pursuing the culprit criminally for fear of being accused of political persecution. This is an unfair situation by any standard if it was an ordinary citizen the law enforcement agencies would have jumped on his/her back with both legs, so to speak. It is corruption in the real sense of the word.

It goes to show that we will never get to the bottom of the drug problem in Seychelles – if we cannot deal with the people who are fronting dirty deals for the big fish. The LDS must act to show that they will not tolerate this kind of behavior in the top leadership of the party or will they? We will judge them by their actions!


Understanding the constitutional status

What does the Constitution say? Article 55(1) – “Where the President dies, resigns or is removed from office, the Vice-President shall assume the office of President for the unexpired term of the President with effect from the death, resignation or removal from office of the President”

James Michel announced his resignation from Office of President on 27 September 2016 to take effect on 16 October 2016. He also announced that Danny Faure will run the country as President for the unexpired term of his presidency.

Article 66 (11) – “Where the Vice-President assumes the office of the President under article 55 (1)

(a) The (new) President shall, with the approval of the National Assembly, appoint a person to be Vice-President;

 (b) The person who at the time is designated Minister shall immediately cease to be designated Minister and the (new) President shall designate a person, who may be the first-mentioned person, for approval by the National Assembly as designated Minister.”

The out-going President cannot dissolve the National Assembly because article 55 (3)(b) specifically removes the power to do so.

Article 66 (11) states: “The President shall, (mandatory) with the approval of the National Assembly…,” which means that the approval of the National Assembly must come before the appointment. So, if the National Assembly does not approve there can be no appointment.

So what happens next? Mr Faure can break the Check Mate situation by.

(1) Appointing as his Vice-President someone from the Opposition who is presently  an MNA, because under article 66A (5) “A person who is a member of the National Assembly or the Judiciary shall upon becoming Vice-President cease to be a member of the National Assembly or Judiciary.”

(2) Appointing as his Vice-President someone from the Opposition who is not an MNA.

(3) Resigning as President to leave the task of organizing fresh presidential polls to the Electoral Commission.

Article 66A (4) says “a candidate at an election for President shall designate a person as the candidate’s Vice-President” and if elected the candidate’s designated vice-presidential candidate becomes Vice-President.

Act 7 of 2000 allows the President to go back to the people for a fresh mandate before the expiration of the presidential term. And holding an election could mean getting around the need for the National Assembly’s approval of his Vice-President.

Except that Article 52A (2) states: “The President may, at any time after the expiration of one year from the commencement of the President’s first or second term of office, by Proclamation published in the Gazette, declare the President’s intention of appealing to the People for a mandate to hold office, by election for a further term.”

This means that even if Danny Faure wanted to call for new elections, the above amendment forbids him from doing so until after the expiration of one year of the Presidential term.


Cracks in the Opposition

Patrick Pillay has made a good start as Speaker of the National Assembly. In his deliberation during the second sitting of the new assembly, the speaker was gracious to the outgoing president and called for members and the population to show respect for the president. This change of heart has taken many by surprise when compared to the vitriolic he was spitting out before and during the election campaign; there was no love lost between him and President Michel. But things have changed and Speaker Pillay’s LDS coalition has achieved its stated aim of removing James Michel from power. So what now for the opposition coalition? This newspaper have previously pointed out that at no time has Mr. Pillay criticized Vice President Faure. In fact they had kept their channel of communication open in the background.

Now that Danny Faure will be the new President, it would not be surprising to see Mr. Pillay and company either go back to their old SPPF roots or collaborate closely with them. After all they are all good old friends who share the same political philosophy. So far all the signs point to collaboration and possibly re-unification between Pillay and his old SPPF colleagues. This could spell trouble and isolation for Ramkalawan. Pillay and his members are all one big red family who had a little misunderstanding with the head of the family. With Mr. Michel out of the way, this little misunderstanding is now resolved and the family can once again be reunited; all will be forgiven. Pillay and his team have more in common with the SPPF than they do with SNP. Their affiliation with SNP is viewed by many as only a means to an end and that end has now been achieved. They do not believe in Ramkalawan and see him as an impossible person to work with let alone one whose political philosophy they do not share.

It seems that the pawns on this political chessboard are slowly moving in Mr. Faure’s favour with a little help from Ton Pat. As the days go on, it is abundantly clear that Ramkalawan will end up being the loser once again. But, all is not doom and gloom for the Anglican Priest he has his plastic toys to keep him busy when he is not planning on how to destroy people.


Friday, 23 September 2016

A Vote For No Change!

After the euphoria of the LDS opposition win, now comes the stark reality of running a country. The complexities of political life in this small country of ours just got a little more complex. How do the two parties work together for the benefit of our country and all our people? Now that the celebrations are over, it is slowly sinking in that Parti Lepep is still in power. James Michel is still the President and that LDS in spite of its five seat advantage, got 226 popular votes more than PL. With just over thirty thousand votes each, it is pretty clear that the country is split down the middle and strictly along party lines. What does that mean for the rest of us?

The opposition does not have a big enough majority in the Assembly to effect change without the consent of the President through his power to ‘assent’ Bills. They are not in a position to sanction Ministers or indeed sanction the President. They cannot amend the Constitution. For those knife wielding powers, LDS would have needed a two thirds majority which they failed to get. The President does not have a majority in the Assembly either, to push his Bills through. To implement some of his programs, the President needs the goodwill of the opposition which he is unlikely to get bearing in mind the leaders in the Assembly are all after his scalp.

 However if their support is not forthcoming and if the President deems it serious enough, then he can always bypass the Assembly and seek the views of the voters in a referendum. The million dollar question is will the Executive and the Legislature be willing to compromise or will the historical hatred between those two groups of people come to the fore? The smart money is backing no compromise especially on major issues of which the private sector 13th month salary Bill is bound to be a hot potato for the LDS. This will be followed very soon by the budget. If LDS was thinking of abstaining, they better think again! PL will load a few scattered bombs in that budget which will explode in the opposition faces whichever way they choose to vote or indeed not vote. Damn if you do! Damn if you don’t!!

The other million dollar question doing the rounds is how will the dynamics in the opposition camp work out bearing in mind they are a coalition of four parties who do not trust each other? Will new Speaker Pillay seek to snooker Ramkalawan as revenge for not joining with him to oust Michel in the first round of the presidential election? Ramkalawan is well known for his fiery temper which begs the question as to how long will it take before the two men clash openly and Pillay pulls rank and throws him out of the chamber? It is no secret that Pillay and Ramkalawan despise each other but in the Assembly, the Speaker is Boss and whatever he says, goes!

The speaker has a heavyweight in the wings that he can bring on board to give him support and which may frustrate Ramkalawan even more. If ex-Minister William Herminie is chosen as the new Clerk to the Assembly as it looks increasingly likely, how will Wavel work alongside him? They don’t see eye to eye and Herminie has spoken openly about overthrowing Wavel as leader of the opposition. And how long will it take before Wavel and Jean-Francois clash? Jean-Francois is another loose canon who does not suffer fools gladly and has a low opinion of Wavel.

All in all, the theatre of the National Assembly just got a lot more interesting and Friday night will never be the same again. To add spice to our Fridays, the President has appointed Simon Gill and Basil Hoareau as proportional members for his party. Gill is a through and through political animal trained in Cuba and the nemesis of Ramkalawan. Hoareau is the lawyer who humiliated Ramkalawan in Court once or twice. The stage is set for sparks to fly. The best Reality TV show is coming to our living rooms!


Stella Afif ("Manzer Koson") the biggest foul mouth!

Stella Afif is now the undisputed Queen of sleaze with one of the biggest foul mouths in the country; not so long ago she wanted to know if former President Rene was in pampers. We just wonder if her sister would have said the same about the former president. Stella has now gone further with her latest insults directed at her brother-in-law and the Islamic faith, the spiritual faith of her husband. This woman has now stepped out too far with her insults and must be reined back before she does more damage with her lousy mouth. She has managed to push JFF, the King of insults, back down in second place a hard feat to attain.

However, Stella Afif is muted on the two pieces of land she bought from government, which this newspaper has been asking her to explain – when government policy only allow for one plot per person, without land. The way in which she executed this fraudulent activity goes to show that the lady a schemer and devious woman.

On the 25th March 1994 parcel No. H3013 (898 sq.m) was transferred in her name for only SR40, 000. It is clearly stated on the transfer document that: The Transferee shall before transferring the property to any other person within the first five years of this Transfer first offer the property for sale to the Transferor.

We have no knowledge if that was the case, but, what we know is that in the same year, in fact barely six months after; on the 28th September 1994, she transferred ½ of that property to her husband; Mr. Ahmed Afif, making him a party to that fraud - And almost twelve months before buying another piece of land from government on 4th August, 2006. She transferred the other ½ to Ahmed Afif. On 27th April 2007 she bought plot number H6296 (2,860sq.m) from government.

So, before Stella goes off to insult another member of her husband’s family or anyone else – she must explain the circumstances surrounding the purchase of the two plots of land from government. It is clear that her husband was also a party to the deception and he too must now offer an explanation on the matter, especially now that he is an elected member of the National Assembly – more than ever before he is accountable to the electorates of Anse Etoile. We will publish their response in the spirit of the people’s right to information; the people who voted for him to be elected.

Ahmed and his wife have been shouting the loudest coming up to the National Assembly election about corruption. This is an opportunity for them to set themselves apart from the corrupt people in government with a simple explanation on the matter.