Thursday, October 23, 2014


Dear Editor,

In response to your article a few weeks ago regarding the National Forum and the request for your readers to write in with their list of “taboo” subjects, please find my contribution.

National Forum - Speak up now or forever hold your peace


At day break on the 5th of June 1977, I woke up to a radio announcement that a “coup d’état” had taken place and a group of people who called themselves “liberators” had deposed the democratically elected government of James Mancham. At the time coups d’état were commonplace and fashionable on mainland Africa.

What we had been liberated from is to this day still not clear because a little less than a year before, we had obtained independence from the United Kingdom and had become a free sovereign State.

Members of this group went on to form an illegal government and to this day, the same people are still in control. Prior to independence, times were not exactly that quiet in paradise. We had sampled what this group of people and their sympathisers were capable of. They had subjected us to violent strikes, countless demonstrations, bombings and fires.

These and this act of treason provided the best indicators of the kind of future the people of Seychelles faced. And looking back this view is firmly proven.

Now in their twilight years, some members of this group are showing signs of remorsefulness and want to be forgiven for what happened. Others, it is reported, would prefer to take what they know to their graves.

The call for the truth has always been there but has always fallen on deaf ears. It seems times are changing and the braver ones are asking for “taboo subjects” to be discussed openly. Therefore for this reason alone, I respect President Michel for having the courage to table the subject openly.

A National Forum

One of the reasons cited by President Michel for establishing the National Forum is the need to remove the elements that have divided our nation for so long, so that we can make progress on most fronts on a bipartisan basis. He has invited us to speak up in an unreserved manner.

Below is the list that I have compiled to help the chosen members of the forum do their work as I believe this is an important opportunity for them to make history and bring about meaningful changes to our country.

The Original Sin: The source of the division and Taboo Subject Number 1

Unquestionably, the source of division and polarisation of our country as we know it today, are the tragic events which happened on the 5th of June 1977, and prior to this, the mysterious disappearances of a few Seychellois which up to this day remains unexplained. More than half of the population viewed the 5th of June event as an act of treason while others considered it a “liberation”.

Deprivation of Human Rights – Taboo Subject 2

The treatment of other people who were in politics when this sad event occurred and subsequently, remain sore wounds for those affected, to this day. Imprisonments, seizure of assets and killings were the order of the day and we were told these were all done in the name of improving the lot of the Seychellois people. How could depriving people of civil liberties and human rights improve the lot of others? Is killing one’s own countrymen justified?

Victimisation – Taboo Subject 3

Under the one party State, government ruled with an iron fist subjecting individuals and businesses to all sorts of scare mongering tactics to the extent that there was an exodus of people fleeing Seychelles and businesses going bankrupt, simply because their owners would not tow the same political line. People were scared to talk openly about politics in case they were victimised. Even to this day, you can lose your civil service job if you criticise the government and the reason for dismissal would be that you are a security risk.

Mismanagement and Corruption – Taboo Subject 4

The mismanagement of funds and the corruption on the large scale that has happened has been entirely under the watch of the only government this nation has known since the 5th June 1977. The Mancham government had not been in power for one year. The government must stop blaming the opposition for any misdoings because the opposition has never been in power. It must recognise that it has been solely responsible for the economic mess which led to the IMF bail-out and only it can get us out of it. Furthermore, allegations of corruption must be investigated and those responsible be brought to justice. Lip service to this is no longer acceptable. It is time to randomly audit the assets of government officers past and present and the envelopes which they declared their assets be opened for verification.

 Leave the Judiciary Alone – Taboo Subject 5

The government has always exercised undue influence on the judiciary and has interfered with its independence through various tactics including appointment of foreigners who have sucked up to the system so that they could be conferred the Seychellois nationality. The government must stop this practice and must allow the judiciary to do its job unhindered. It is only through an independent judiciary that we can achieve meaningful outcomes and justice will triumph in all instances.

In a Democracy the Opposition Deserves Respect – Taboo Subject 6

The government must recognise that people have different views and will always differ on policy matters. The opposition is there as a check on misaligned policies and has an important role to play in pointing deficiencies in policies. For this reason, its members should not be victimised whether for: 1. belonging to the opposition, and 2. speaking out against bad policies. If the government was in the opposition, it would claim exactly the same respect.

What Happened to “Sesel Pou Seselwa”? – Taboo Subject 7

The people who coined this phrase at the time of the movement for independence have totally forgotten about it. When the Opposition and the public speak out about the protection of State assets, especially land allocation to foreigners, they are speaking on behalf of the entire nation regardless of party affiliation.

Government has a duty on behalf of the entire nation to put in place legislation on how assets of the state are disposed of in a transparent manner. No asset can ever be offered to anyone privately, especially to foreigners. When assets are identified for disposal, a public tender must be published and only Seychellois persons can be allowed to participate in the tender. The recent Bel Ombre hotel proposal is a case in hand, where the government has sprung a surprise on its people. This practice is wrong and must be stopped. If the government is calling on its people to unite for nation building, the same people must be given priority to participate in this process and preferences not be given to foreigners.

Public Scrutiny is Normal – Taboo Subject 8

Ministers of the government, political appointees and civil servants who accept almost quasi political roles, must understand that in accepting these posts they are subject to public scrutiny and must accept criticisms from all angles except in cases of defamation. Frivolous court cases entered by these people who know that they can exert influence on the judiciary to get unjustified outcomes in their favour must stop.

Tell Us What You Are Doing With Our Money – Taboo Subject 9

Whenever money is collected from the public for special reasons, these should be subject to the same control as funds/taxes collected under the appropriation act. We need to have full audits of the use of the Corporate Social Responsibility funds as well as the Children’s Fund. In the case of the latter, the responsibility for allocation of funds collected under its name should be enfranchised to a body made up of responsible members of our society and not by a government officer or agency, let alone the President’s Office or his appointees.

Enact Balanced Laws – Taboo Subject 10

The electoral laws and public order act must be revised and the views of the entire nation reflected in them.

 Our Environment – Taboo Subject 11

The government of President Albert Rene was very conscious of the fragile environment of Seychelles and did its best to protect the environment while creating reclaimed land for development. Today, we see just the opposite happening under President Michel’s government, with foreign companies being given permission to build whatever they want, wherever they want, with total disregard and respect for our environment. A few cases of note is Sheikh Khalifa’s palace at the top of La Misere mountain which is considered not only an eyesore, but a scar on our landscape, the proposed hotel development at Bel Ombre which has just been announced out of the blue and linked again to Abu Dhabi, the proposed hotel at the only remaining wetlands at Grand Police, and of course the Emirates Airlines proposed project at Cap Ternay, an area of unrivalled beauty and a haven for the marine environment. These are crimes against humanity Mr. President, let alone against your own people! Beau Vallon Beach is now so overcrowded that it has become nothing more than a cheap commercial tourist spot. Port Launay is now the home of the huge Ephelia Resort Hotel and the Seychellois people are now pushed into a small section of the beach and no longer welcomed. A lot of beaches around Mahé and Praslin are now out of bounds to locals; the people have simply had enough of large hotels on the islands. To top it off, our outer islands are now being sold off to rich foreigners rather than kept as national treasures for our future generations.

 Our Citizenship – Taboo Subject 12

 Government has sold and given away our passports to foreigners from all over the world, from criminals who have paid for favours, to judges who are in favour and to “friends of Seychelles” who have greased the palms of many politicians. It is time to take this power away from the President and State House, and the recent change of laws has done nothing to stop the abuse of power.

 Hear the Entire Nation Out – Taboo Subject 13

 And how can the views of the entire nation be heard, if the main avenue for its people to air concerns is controlled by government? For too long now, the SBC Radio and TV have been used as tools by government to indoctrinate and broadcast the government’s position only, while the Nation newspaper has been used as a tool for State House to spread its own propaganda, philosophy and lies. Recently, a new Seychelles News Agency which clearly is another arm of the State House media machinery has emerged and is housed in the new Jj Spirit Espace building. Worse, it is being funded by taxpayers money. Aren’t NISA (Nation) and SBC enough?

 It is the same SBC which has been used all along to lead the nation to believe that the all the taboo subjects were the creation of the opposition. Now the new SNA regurgitates everything that State House spouts.

 Half of the population views these subjects as very real and sensitive ones. It would appear that for the other half, they were “taboo” subjects which should never be discussed at all costs and which SBC should suppress discussions on. It is time government and State House to get out of the media business once and for all. Only an independent media without ties to the government can bring freedom of press and expression to the fore. As long as State House controls the media in the country à la “En Moman Avek Prezidan”, the country will never move forward.

 Where Do We Start?

 But now that we have been told we can discuss these “taboo” issues, we need to make a concerted effort to table them, or at least the chosen, “distinguished citizens” must ensure that the true voice of the nation are heard. If we are uncertain as to where to start the discussions to bring our nation together then we can start the dialogue with subject 1 above, the Original Sin. If we cannot agree on this, then it is back to the subject 1 again, because it will not go away. Will the perpetrators of this sin be brought to justice? We think not, at least not for a while. Possibly posthumously, some truth may come out about who did what. But in the end, we are a forgiving people due to our Christian upbringing, and most believe that forgiveness is better than retribution.

 For a lot of Seychellois the hurt can only start going away when the truth is exposed about a lot of sufferings which have taken place so that all those affected can start the healing process in a dignified manner.

 It is only after the skeletons have been removed from the closets that perhaps the pain will start to fade into history, and not the phony history as written by Shillington!


 Seychelles is at a fork in the road, or at least this government is. President Michel can either accept that he and his party are the true cause of the polarization and that only he and his party can rectify the situation by openly discussing the issues as listed above, or he might as well dissolve the National Forum now. He himself owes the Seychellois nation an apology, if not for taking part in the coup d’etat which he absurdly believes was needed to liberate the people, then at least for all the lives that were lost during and after the coup. Yes, a lot of people still alive today are guilty of various sins and they know that putting their hands up could end them in jail. But the families who lost their loved ones are ready for closure and are the only ones who can pardon the sinners. And moving “Zomn Lib” a few hundred metres down the road and replacing it with a new “national” monument concocted by the President himself is a slap in the face to all Seychellois with an iota of common sense.

 The question is that with elections around the corner, will the President fast track this process of truth? This is highly unlikely and therefore, this forum would well prove to be another waste of time of the ‘distinguished’ members of the National Forum, let alone another golden opportunity to move the country forward, lost amidst the haze of the original sinners’ narcissistic blurred visions of leadership.


 C. A.