The Saint Ange Tourism Report Special Edition Issue 10 with Zilwa Publications

WELCOME TO THE 10TH SPECIAL EDITION OF THE SAINT ANGE TOURISM REPORT TOGETHER WITH ZILWA PUBLICATION

(Posted 02nd September 2020)

Welcome to this Special Edition of our Saint Ange Tourism Report

If you cannot change your mind, you cannot change anything.

Much as a Presidential candidate should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny by the voting population (do the values and ideologies of that individual align with that of the voter? Does the candidate have the right temperament to be the Head of State? Does this person have a proven and positive track record of bringing prosperity and innovation to Seychelles? Or does he say the right things and later do the opposite to what was promised?), the prospective Members of Parliament ought to be given as much consideration.

One particular politician during the recent series of Telesesel interviews confused the electorate by rejecting the notion that it is an MNA’s job to walk the districts, insinuating that MNAs were far too busy passing Bills to do so. I personally have been an MNA for several years, earlier on in my professional career. I know first-hand that an MNA who does not walk the districts and meet with the residents himself or herself cannot ably and competently act as the People’s voice within the National Assembly. Their very purpose cannot be confined to "the passing of Bills" alone. They cannot shirk their duties to the residents of their district whom they promised to serve prior to being elected into the Assembly.

Father Edwin Mathiot honed in on this point in his powerful Editorial in the "L’Echo des Iles’ publication, stating that an MNA typically represents the residents of his or her district, regardless of whether that MNA falls under the umbrella of one political party. Father Mathiot adds that in the National Assembly, an MNA must speak on behalf of every single person within his or her district, without exception. He also points out that MNAs are expected to defend the rights and interests of all citizens and to also act in the National interest. The full message from Father Mathiot has been included in this Issue of Zilwa Publication.

How can an MNA act in the best interests of the residents of his district, or otherwise give voice to the issues or struggles being encountered by the residents, if he does not take the time or make the effort to meet with the people who may or may not have voted that MNA into Office? Voters put their trust in their chosen candidate when they cast their ballot; they expected that promises that were made would be kept, and that MNAs would not disappear behind the tinted windows of their chauffeur-driven vehicles on the day after the elections, never to be seen or heard from again.

MNAs must remain humble. Our most recent batch of MNAs were humbled almost overnight when the National Assembly was abruptly dissolved. Those who may have taken out large loans following their election into higher office, feeling smug and secure that their large pay check would come through every month, had a harsh reality-check when they became no more important than their fellow Seychellois brothers and sisters overnight. They started campaigning for the upcoming Parliamentary elections with a vengeance, suddenly rediscovering the plight and struggles their district residents had been facing in silence for the past four years (at least). MNAs who are out-of touch with the electorate cannot effectively or competently serve the electorate.

The same goes for Presidential Candidates, particularly those pushing outdated policies and values, including demonizing marijuana use and condemning cannabis-users to stiff prison sentences, or to be exiled to another island "cold turkey". If you are not striving and working to meet the needs of citizens in today’s Seychelles, then you are only working to meet your own needs.

Innovation, open-mindedness and embracing change are the ONLY ways to guarantee the Nation’s progress. If you cannot change your mind, you cannot change anything.

An avan, Seychelles.

Alain St.Ange
Editor

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE’S RACIST REMARK HAS SHOCKED THE NATION
Politicians and political parties should be unequivocally ensuring that every citizen’s right to live free from racism, discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance is staunchly upheld.

If a politician is unable to refrain from spouting racist or oppressive statements before the National elections, he would certainly be unable to stifle his racist tendencies or change his beliefs if he is elected as the next Head of State.

When people show you who they are, believe them. A certain politician has sparked outrage recently when he made a flippant (and very public) derogatory comment about the skin color of his rival in the upcoming National elections. The comment was made in the presence of a horrified group of witnesses, and was directed to the ONE SEYCHELLES Vice Presidential Candidate, Mr. Peter Sinon.

The comment was to the effect of: "how can you work with a white?" (translated from Creole), causing ripples of unease and anger amongst the politician’s white-skinned supporters. With a flick of a careless tongue, the racist comment has alienated a portion of the politician’s voters.

The irony of evolution is that while politicians who employ tribal ideologies of racism perceive themselves as superior to others, in reality they are acting on a more primitive, less evolved and more animal level. This purposeful use of divisive and inflammatory language to energize one’s political base is reflective of this politician’s determination to build tribal boundaries between "us" and "them". Through ‘ek nou, pa ek nou’ campaigning strategies such as this, some politicians have succeeded in creating a virtual platform where many people hate anyone they perceive to be "outsiders", without having even met those people.

By capitalizing upon the frenzied fear of their desperate hardcore followers in the lead-up to the high-stakes elections, these politicians have turned their followers into weapons – weapons that the politicians use for their own agenda. These weapons, however, tend to backfire in the faces of the politicians who nurtured them. Case in point: while the above politician was quick to make a derogatory quip about a white presidential candidate, the same politician’s devout follower took to social media to lash out against his dark-skinned Seychellois brothers and sisters (ignoring that his political party’s presidential candidate is not a white man himself). This man’s racial slurs on social media were too repugnant to be reprinted in our Publication; they involved touting white supremacy, and denigrating dark-skinned Seychellois as "slaves" and "servants". His vile words keep resurfacing on social media, as people re-share the post on different forums; his words are destined to haunt him and his political party forever.

This is what happens when politicians lead by a poor example. Their followers will mimic the same unbecoming behavior of the aspiring leader whom they idolize, not fearful of any backlash or consequence for their actions, despite blatantly inciting hate on a public forum.

Racism springs ultimately from ignorance; it is beyond common sense and has no place in our society. It is sad that that in this day and age racism in Seychelles is not dead; it is on life support, being kept alive by politicians.

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES TO SEPARATE FACT FROM FICTION
Presidential debates serve an important service: they pit all the Presidential candidates against one another and permit the electorate a rare opportunity to see the presidential contenders side by side and take their measure for an extended stretch of time in a high pressure setting.

Historically, the ruling party has not been inclined to view public debates as something owed to the people of Seychelles. Following significant pressure from the population and from One Seychelles, President Faure in good grace accepted the call for a televised debate, though he declined to use his platform to organize one. The Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) has announced via their social media platform that there shall be two live debates between the Presidential Candidates; the first shall be on 9th October and the second on 16th October.

To engage the voters in the process, the SBC has invited members of the public via their Facebook page to contribute questions for the debates, which shall be grouped into themes and organized by a panel. The deadline for submitting questions via their Facebook link is 15th September. Many are questioning the impartiality of the process, citing their concerns that panelists may have their own political persuasions and questions may be leaked to give certain politicians an unfair advantage. However, little can be done to prepare a politician adequately for the debates, particularly when other politicians will be ready to undermine a pre-prepared or well-rehearsed response. It is also hoped that a strong and impartial moderator will be in charge of choosing the final questions from the selection short-listed by the panelist.

The excitement of the electorate in regard to the upcoming debates is palpable; they know that some candidates are far quicker on their feet than others, and some are prone to losing their tempers and saying all sorts of things in a fit of anger; some have so many skeletons in their closets that they are probably wishing the entire event is cancelled at the last minute in case their dirty laundry is brought to light by politicians who know their secrets all-to-well.

With elections only a stone’s throw away, mudslinging and the sharing of "fake news" have begun with a vengeance – desperate tactics by those who do not truly have faith that their political party can win the elections purely on their own merits. To the misguided individuals who engage in baseless smear campaigns on social media: if you would not say it directly to someone’s face and feel confident about it, then it is probably best not to publish it on Facebook. Once it is published to a third person, you have left yourself vulnerable to a defamation lawsuit. Even worse, you have exposed your true nature to the Nation as that of a bully.

Cheap politics will get politicians nowhere in the 2020 elections – while a handful of diehard voters hailing primarily from one political party still subscribe to the practice, the rest of the population have moved on and view such tactics with disdain; those who engage in smear campaigns do not realise, or perhaps they do not care, that their behaviour is reflecting negatively on their Party and that they are alienating many voters in the process. These campaigns do more harm than good to those who orchestrate or promote them.

With the Presidential debates set right before the elections and the majority of the population tuning in to watch avidly, and at a pivotal time that is likely to influence countless swing voters, this is the ideal time for politicians who have been subjected to smear campaigns to separate fact from fiction. It is also the opportunity for these politicians to hit back at those who have tried to boost themselves to greater heights by having their followers attempt to tear down the competition; the difference, however, is that the politicians who have been oppressed and denigrated for months will not be flinging untruths.

The Presidential debates will no doubt separate the liars from the honest, the greedy from the good, those with delusions of grandeur from the humble, and the leaders from the sheep. Be sure to tune in, Seychelles, because these debates are certainly not to be missed!

STOP PRESS!
ONE SEYCHELLES has received far too many complaints by their nominated Parliamentary candidates of strong-arm tactics being employed by representatives of the Ruling Party, designed to intimidate and bully the candidates to reconsider running in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

If true, this is totally unacceptable. One account allegedly occurred at State House, where one prospective candidate was summoned and was led to believe that his job security could not be guaranteed if he ran as a candidate for ONE SEYCHELLES.

The other was antagonized in her very own home, in the presence of countless witnesses, by a high-ranking former public servant. This occurred not once, but twice, with the man returning that very same day to abuse her when she maintained her decision to be a candidate for our political party.

While mudslinging is expected, to varying degrees, by rival political camps, bullying behaviour such as these cannot be tolerated. Particularly not by public servants whose mandate to serve and protect ALL the People of Seychelles has not yet expired.

ONE SEYCHELLES is putting those responsible on immediate notice that any further missteps or abuses of power shall be promptly reported to the Electoral Commission for further action. Let us proceed to the National Elections with clean hands, and strive for a free and fair election process.

We avail ourselves of this opportunity to remind other politicians to lead by example, and to always err on the side of caution because the electorate is always watching.

GOVERNMENT COMMITTED TO RETHINK MAURITIAN TOURISM AND ITS FUTURE, STATES DPM OBEEGADOO

"We need to make of the difficult situation we are confronted with, an opportunity to rethink Mauritian tourism as well as its future and Government is working in partnership with the hotel industry and other stakeholders of the tourism industry to plan the steps ahead."

This statement was made recently in the national Assembly by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Housing and Land Use Planning and Minister of Tourism, Mr Steven Obeegadoo, in reply to a Private Notice Question by the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Arvin Boolell, in regards to the tourism sector. Mr Obeegadoo emphasised that Government’s topmost priority, alongside safeguarding the health of our compatriots, has been the preservation of employment and protection of livelihoods.

In respect of the Tourism Industry up to the end of July, an amount of some Rs 2 billion has been disbursed in respect of more than 39,000 employees under the Wage Assistance Scheme and an estimated amount of approximately Rs 26 million paid out to around 1,500 Mauritians under the Self-Employed Assistance Scheme and it is estimated that an amount of Rs 500 million will be disbursed for the month of August 2020, he underlined.

DPM Obeegadoo stated that given the very dynamic global situation pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that the Wakashio crisis is not yet over, it would be futile to pronounce upon the immediate future of the tourism and hospitality sector at the present time. The Tourism Minister recalled that that in 2018, 1.399 million tourists visited Mauritius of which 78% resided in hotel resorts, in 2019, the corresponding figure was 1.383 million and for the first three months of 2020, 304, 842 tourists visited Mauritius, the number dwindling thereafter to practically nil. He added that the figures for the first quarter of 2020 relating to the evolution of employment in the tourism sector are being compiled.

The Deputy Prime Minister underpinned that Government is engaged in a delicate balancing act between the existential imperative of protecting lives on one hand and stimulating economic recovery on the other whilst the challenges are immense and daunting indeed for any nation and for all Governments across the globe. Mr Obeegadoo appealed for national solidarity and unflinching patriotism as the tourism market is particularly sensitive to reports and statements in the international media. We all need to act responsibly if we have at heart the future of our tourism sector, he concluded.

Seychelles International Airways starts operations on 10th September
Seychelles News Agency confirmed that Seychelles International Airways will start its long-haul operations with a first flight to the island nation on September 10 for passengers and cargo.

The airline is a private, Seychellois-owned aviation company based in the 115- island archipelago of the western Indian Ocean. Its chief executive is Robert Marie. The concept of the airline was born in 2011, when Air Seychelles, the national carrier, started having financial troubles resulting in redundancies. Marie, who was a pilot for the company at the time, said he was worried that if Air Seychelles went bankrupt, Seychelles would see the same situation as in 1985 when British Airways, Air France and other airlines had dominance in the island nation.

To venture into the aviation business, Marie said that an investment of $20 million to $50 million has been made by both local and foreign banks and a partnership with a France based company, EuroAfrica Trading. The first flight to be operated by a chartered Airbus A340-600 which belongs to an unknown company will be carrying a delegation of 40 people to meet the company’s team and government officials, as well as 30 tonnes of cargo.

Marie told a press conference on Friday, that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline will focus on cargo flights to start with. He explained that at the moment there is a great demand for the movement of cargo around the world. "We will not be focusing on passenger flights at the moment unless there is a demand or a chartered flight, which will follow all procedures of the health department. We are focusing on bringing cargo into the country as we feel and have evidence that Seychelles needs cargo," said Marie. "Cargo rates have gone from $1 and have reached $14 depending on airlines. Our airline is carrying out a lot of negotiations so as to get a lower cargo rate, which will mean we will do our part to lower the price of commodities. We are targeting a rate of between $3 and $4.55, depending on the country of origin," he added.

The initial plan of Seychelles International Airways was intercontinental, long-haul flights. These operations are now expected to start post COVID-19. Marie outlined that "since Air Seychelles is not doing long-haul, I don’t see any competition with regards to that apart from other carriers coming in." "As our base will be here in Seychelles, it will serve as a hub. To develop the hub, as an example, we can fly out to Frankfurt, Germany and pick up passengers there and bring them to Seychelles and from Seychelles to another destination," he said. This is part of the airline’s short-term strategy.

As part of the company’s long-term strategy, Marie wants to see the airline become the main long haul of the Seychelles and also envisions the construction of a modern terminal with modern facilities. During the press conference, the Seychelles International Airways team also revealed the airline’s logo – which stems from one of the country’s endemic birds – the Seychelles blue pigeon. The logo features a red hue, which is also its main component and continues on with a blue shade.

Congratulations to Captain Marie and to his Team at Seychelles International Airways!

Click here to download a copy of Zilwa Publication – Issue 10

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