Friday, October 24, 2014


A case was mentioned in the Constitutional Court on Tuesday. The petitioner, Mr Ian Delorie, prays that the court passes judgment declaring that the National Assembly Members Emoluments (Amendments) Acts 2008 and 2013 are violations of Article 105 (1) of the constitution and must be declared null and void.

The massive life pensions voted into law by the MNAs in 2008 and 2013 have angered the population and as a responsible citizen, Mr Delorie has decided to make it his duty to ensure that Seychelles is governed in accordance to the rule of law and that the consolidated fund from which the pensions are paid is managed in strict compliance with the Constitution.

The Constitution adopted in 1993 makes provision for payment of salary, allowances and gratuity for MNAs but not pension. Since the coming into force of the present constitution, the National Assembly Emoluments Act has been amended four times to give a pay hike to members of the National Assembly. However, in 2007, the National Assembly passed the National Assembly Members Emoluments (Amendment) Act 2008 in which provision was made for MNAs to benefit from a pension; that was and remains unconstitutional. From then on, each serving MNA is entitled to a pension. It was initially restricted to MNAs under the present constitution but lately the parliamentarians who served under the Second Republic were also added to the list.

Interestingly, the Constitution permits MNAs to decide on laws that will determine their own salaries but not pension. In many countries this right has been abused and Seychelles does not seem to be an exception. Incidentally, the public had been kept in the dark for years regarding the perks being enjoyed by retiring MNAs. Focus was kept mainly on the executive. When the real facts came to light and the figures revealed, the population was shocked. MNAs retired more than a decade ago are pocketing more than SR 15 000 a month in pension; simply outrageous.

The sum paid monthly from the Consolidated Fund for payment of pension is phenomenal; the country may not be able to sustain it for long. When the current National Assembly is dissolved next year, most of the MNAs, some still tender in age, will enjoy pensions till death while the hardworking citizens strive to earn a daily living. The pension of the MNAs exceeds the salary of university graduates. The pension of the Former Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of Government Business  and the Speaker is much more than the highest paid civil servant; is this what politicians have always wanted?

In the event that the Constitutional Court rule in favour of the petitioner, the National Assembly still retains the power to amend the constitution and insert the word pension where appropriate. Will the people of Seychelles allow them to do so?