Seychelles President James Michel has pledged to clean up corruption in government and the private sector, drug trafficking, and abuse, as well as areas of inefficiency of public service. The statements were made during the President’s National Day address at Stad Linite this evening. The National Day Parade was attended by the President of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, and Mrs. Salma Kikwete as the guests of honor.
“Eighteen years ago, we adopted a new constitution, new national symbols, new institutional structures, both legal and administrative, which have transformed us into what we are today: a modern, democratic, far-sighted state. We have undertaken this journey together. We cradled the Third Republic in its infancy. We have guided it through its adolescence. And we have brought it to maturity. We can be proud of the fruits of our labor. The results are here. This new Seychelles requires even more work. It requires excellence. I shall continue to dedicate myself to this new Seychelles, with all my courage and all my determination. I shall continue to remain at the service of the people for as long as they need me. I shall always be the President of all Seychellois,” said the President in his address.
The President spoke about the importance of hard work, determination, and commitment in working to improve living conditions, public service, and communities.
“There is no magic wand to help us overcome the challenges we face. We have to do it through our own sweat. God has given us the courage, strength, and intelligence to do it. We can do it through our work. Let us do it so that Seychelles can improve and become better. Let us do it together, with a sense of patriotism, in the spirit of national unity, with innovation, for the new Seychelles,” President Michel continued.
The President spoke about several priority areas of his new mandate, of which below are a selection of topics.
CORRUPTION AND XENOPHOBIA
The President spoke about the need to eliminate all bad practices, which can hold back the development of the country, and which can damage its international image.
The President said that he will take “harsh measures against xenophobia and systematic propaganda, which sow hatred in the name of freedom of expression.”
He also said that he would target corruption.
“I say it loudly that corruption in the new Seychelles, in both the public and private sectors, will not be tolerated. It is not a phenomenon that is widespread in our administration and our country in general, but I will cut its head off once and for all if and where it exists. Firm action, without pity, will be taken where we hear there is corruption undermining us, and where we have proof of it,” President Michel stated.
DRUG TRAFFICKING AND ABUSE
The President spoke about the devastating impact of crime in communities, where drug trafficking and drug abuse are often the reason for crime.
The President said that in the context of the government’s policy of zero tolerance, preparation are taking place for a new initiative, which will target traffickers and consumers.
He said: “We will be harsh and pitiless against traffickers. We will show compassion towards consumers and give them the opportunity to rehabilitate. The Police, NDEA, FIU, Judiciary, and, of course, our communities in general, are all included in this new initiative. It consists of several components such as education and public sensitization, increased financing, more resources, additional training for the law and order agencies, the detention of traffickers on an outlying island, amendments to the laws to reinforce and speed up prosecution, the confiscation of the proceeds of crime, and a comprehensive rehabilitation program for consumers in a special center where they will also receive help to undergo detoxication and reintegration into society.”
The President said that he is proposing that one or two judges are appointed to deal specifically with drugs cases rapidly, as he believes that it is not acceptable that hundreds of persons who have been arrested for drug trafficking and possession “remain free and continue with their business of poisoning our nation.”
NATIONAL DIALOGUE FOR A SOCIAL REVOLUTION
The President announced that he will launch a national dialogue soon, which will include the participation of representatives of all districts and communities.
“We will hold debates and find the cure to the diseases gnawing away at our communities. This national debate is the first priority on my agenda for the next five years. It will provide the basis for all the decisions that government will take to enable all of us together to find strategies to fight the social ills in our country,” the Seychelles President stated.
The President said that the national dialogue will also address health service in order to address concerns of service delivery and will re-establish confidence in the health system.
“Where it is necessary to eliminate weaknesses, we shall do so,” President Michel said, “Where it is necessary to strengthen or replace existing structures, we shall do so. We must, in particular, put in place a new management system for the health service. But we also have to assume our personal responsibility for our own health.”
PUBLIC SERVICE EFFICIENCY
The President said that public service must aim for excellence in the context of a “New Seychelles.”
“I will not tolerate mediocrity and laissez-faire. It is important that we undertake positive changes that address public concerns. In the ‘New Seychelles,’ we shall clean up wherever it is necessary. I have always said that I do not work for election only, rather all my decisions are based on what is good for Seychelles and the Seychellois people,” President Michel said. The President said that in his first meeting with the Cabinet of Ministers, he gave instructions that each Ministry should undertake an evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and challenges that it faces. The Ministries are expected to presents these analyses and an implementation plan to improve services and eliminate bad practice.
The President announced that public service professionals will be given appropriate schemes of service in order to ensure that they stay within public service. The Department of Public Administration has been instructed to start preparing the schemes.
The President said that there will be major changes in public service early next year and that such an exercise necessitates the allocation of a budget, and changes in certain regulations and policy, in order to put in place facilities to guarantee change in public service.
SOCIAL CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY
The President called on the private sector, both Seychellois and foreign-owned companies, to play a greater role in supporting the communities by contributing to their development.
He stated: “Our country has given you the opportunities to succeed and thrive, so do not let government alone shoulder the burden of supporting communities. Let us assume our responsibilities. For example, adopt a school in the district. Adopt a playground. Adopt a clinic. Get more involved in the community. In our ‘New Seychelles,’ everyone has to make a contribution. And we count on you.”
THE ROLE OF THE OPPOSITION
The President spoke about the need to have a constructive opposition and its role in society in criticizing the government. The President said that he is willing to work with the opposition if it adopts patriotic values.
“As for me, my arms are wide open. My heart is open. We need all the sons and daughters of Seychelles – without exception – in building this great enterprise. Let us, in this ‘New Seychelles,’ promote more dialogue and consultation. There is no place for hatred, contempt, xenophobia, violence, and insults,” President Michel said.
DEVOLUTION OF POWER TO THE COMMUNITIES
The President said that he aims to put more power in the hands of communities, and announced that he intends to create District Councils, which will be elected by the inhabitants of each district.
“It is the elected representatives who will solve the problems that people bring to them,” he said, “This, too, will be addressed by the national dialogue, which will decide on how to proceed with this proposal. We feel the great need to decentralize services. We have already made some starts towards decentralization. We have started, but we must ensure its efficiency.”
RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE
The President said that several recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee Report of 2009 would be implemented soon. This includes the creation of an Electoral Commission, as well as the amendment of the Public Order Act. The President announced that the Ministry of Finance and Trade will be reducing the licence fees for the operation of private radio and television stations. He said that their activities will continue to be governed by law.