Thursday, February 8, 2018


I came across an article on the internet that got me thinking about the general feeling of malaise and discontentment of the people in Seychelles.  In my view a small elite owns the bulk of the land and wealth of Seychelles while the majority suffocates under an oppressive system that condemns them to poverty and hardship. Only the people’s revolution through the ballot box can turn the tide to ensure everyone gets a share of the pie

Most 'ordinary Seychellois’ are on their own. Seychelles, the tourist paradise has wealth in its ocean and yet the citizens pay crushing taxes and do battle on a daily basis with a paralysing cost of living.

Is this normal? Is this freedom? How is this independence? Why do the people still live like this, 41 years after the formal end of British colonialism? Where is the independence dividend? Who does this kind of democracy work for?

In Seychelles 40% or 30,000 of the population, have been without enough food, and shelter and other basic necessities of life according to official statistics. This 40% of the people live in poverty, and 40 years after independence things have not improved much. In some areas this figure has risen to 54%. How long will this go on? For how long will the people live like this?

Ex-presidents are entitled to an official car, an armed driver, an armed bodyguard and two police guards at home - on top of a hefty salary and allowances. What about those “ghost” accounts and contracts  (scams) in the name of national security? While citizens are told by the rulers that there are inadequate funds, what about government wastage and shady procurements? Co-habitation might be working for the politicians but its not delivering for the people of Seychelles.

How many super wealthy Seychellois are there? This tiny clique of super wealthy individuals control nearly two-thirds of Seychelles $ billion economy owning about a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product. The wealth distribution in Seychelles shows that a common thread running through almost all the dollar millionaires is their political connections as well as their ownership of large tracts of land. The wealthy political dynasties and billionaire landowners reflect Seychelles top political leadership.

Essentially, the last 40 years of independence have been about massive concentration of the nation’s wealth in the hands of a few people while the masses languish in poverty. Since independence, public office whether elective or appointive has remained the most important stepping stone to fabulous wealth through corruption, land grabbing and all manner of economic crimes against the people of Seychelles. The time has come to dismantle this system. The masses feel completely alienated by the current dysfunctional system and many remain very poor and are mostly landless. Who took their land and why?

National unity remains elusive. The country is deeply divided along political lines. Seychelles is yet to have a president whose mandate begins in the ballot box and this, despite having had four. The presidents from the Ruling Party deepen the political divide by rewarding their people with public resources and positions. They buy political loyalty by rewarding party elites and punishing entire groups by excluding them from meaningful development. As a result Seychellois generally think of themselves first as “ek nou e pa ek nou” members of their political groups and not citizens of a nation.

Can the people do something about the sad situation they find themselves in? Yes, firstly by the people asking for the return of their land. The people are fed up with the pampered political class. They want fundamental change, not another package of negotiated reforms. No amount of reforms can cure the ravages of years of elite politics. Other than revolutionary change, through the ballot box, nothing is going to improve the lives of the majority of Seychellois. The super-rich individuals will certainly grow richer, while the conditions of life of other Seychellois will worsen. The fabulous wealth of the dollar millionaires is not going to trickle down to the masses. Never!

The people themselves must dismantle this system. And they can. Most people never thought British colonialism would end. It did. Not many people imagined apartheid could be defeated by the people of South Africa. It was. Few people thought the deeply entrenched Moi kleptocracy would go. It did. It took the single selfless protest action of a young Tunisian street vendor, Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi, (not some powerful politician or grouping!) to bring down the 22-year-old dictatorship of Ben Ali in 2011.

A new radical leadership must emerge. The ultimate political authority belongs to the people and they must use it to bring about the change the country so badly needs. They are not as helpless as some might think. They have the power to overthrow this predatory system and put in place a new one that genuinely serves their interests. We need a new consciousness. People ought to understand that their conditions of poverty, disease, insecurity, unemployment, landlessness, are not the will of God- or a result of lack of faith. Rather, the people are victims of an unjust order. This order must be destroyed, through the ballot box. This is the noblest cause that the ‘ordinary citizens’ of Seychelles must now undertake: the struggle for their own liberation from the clutches of elite politics.

Alexia G. Amesbury