United Seychelles’ 10th live press conference |23 October 2021
‘US getting stronger and preparing for its next move,’ says Dr Herminie
“The government in power has done nothing concrete for the last year as it is continuing with projects started by the previous government,” opposition party United Seychelles has said.
This was its 10th live press conference held at the Maison du Peuple with its leader Dr Patrick Herminie, deputy leader Jacquelin Dugasse and secretary general Dick Esparon taking turns to address a host of issues.
“Today in Seychelles, life has become harder under the direction of LDS (Linyon Demokratik Seselwa). Today I also ask all Seychellois if their life is better than it was last year,” said Dr Herminie.
Review of the year
In reply to a question as to what has the government achieved in the last year, party leader Dr Herminie said: “My simple answer is nothing. Even the leader of government business in the National Assembly has praised our housing scheme, nonetheless they qualify us as ‘kales kase’. The houses that the government is constructing right now are not social housing according to Mr Bernard Georges. They finally recognise that we did good things for the country, but the new social housing this government is proposing is not to our liking as we believe they want to bring back the social classes.”
Dr Herminie also talked about the mis-utilisation of Ile Aurore. “In 2008, we were going through an economic crisis, still we went ahead with the Persévérance housing estate. We cannot keep using the economic crisis as an excuse. We are just seeing the laying of foundation stone and nothing else.”
He also proudly stated that no politician from his party figures on the Pandora papers. Speaking about the role of the National Assembly, Dr Herminie expressed his disappointment as members are not looking at the welfare of the people, but instead “vote on all laws and amendments that are bringing more sufferings onto the people. There is too much interference by the government in the work of many organisations”.
“Even the drug situation has not been solved as promised by the LDS government, thus the crime rate has increased,” stated Dr Herminie.
As for Mr Esparon, he spoke about the hike in poverty in Seychelles.
“Soon we will see social decadence as the LDS administration is removing all the elements that can keep a society together. They do not give the opportunity to young students go to school or even the youth to move forward. Poverty is an illness and as a society we need to come together to tackle the situation. We have to make sure that we Seychellois prevent this government from removing the social heritage that helped with our social integration and helped build our society. Since 1977, that was our philosophy and we have always been criticised for that. We had a social system safety net that allowed Seychellois to live with dignity. This type of philosophy is unique to Seychelles. The current government does not see it this this way. When you break a link in the system, it affects the whole society. It is the individuals who will stop this decadence,” said Mr Esparon.
Mr Dugasse severely criticised how the National Assembly is currently working after members voted to amend the Public Persons (Declarations of assets, liabilities and business interests Act).
“Before they fought so much for this law in the NA and now they behave differently.”
Protest in town by United Workers Seychelles
Regarding the protests at the clock tower in town many people asked why the leaders of US are not present.
Dr. Herminie explained: “The protests in town are being organised by the United Workers Seychelles. The people protesting are bringing forward their issues about increase in cost of living, lack of employment or being a victim at work. There are quite a number of workers from various departments/governments who have been sacked and many employees have also been demoted. As we speak, there are 680 workers from the cleaners’ cooperative who are not sure of keeping their job. At this point we would like to tell the LDS government they have to pay the workers their allowances and mainly those who work at La Bastille and Lenstiti Kreol (Creole Institute) as a result of fungus. Those who protest are mostly victims of the current system and the removal of the Unemployment Relief Scheme. US believes in common prosperity where the strong helps the weak. Why we are not yet on the street? We believe that workers should express their dissatisfaction. US will join them and those asking where we are, do not look for us…wait for us! ”
Talking about ‘non-respect’ for the presidency, Dr Herminie noted that “the behaviour of the president himself towards the protesters is not worthy of respect. One year ago, he encouraged his supporters to call Danny Faure – Danny Fware and even composing songs about the former president. He called President Michel JJ pwason. I am happy today LDS is promoting fish farming as for many months they ridiculed the same idea! I would like to advise the youth that if they want to join politics, they should have thick skin.”
Regarding the Covid-19 management, Dr Herminie announced that soon in the National Assembly they will ask for “an investigation regarding the management of Covid-19 in Seychelles under the LDS government. We should not forget that 23,000 of our people got infected and officially there are 120 death cases and we know that this happened as the government interfered with the public health. Two weeks ago, I was forced to write to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to complain about how Covid is being used to prevent us from meeting. So far, we voiced out our concern vis-à-vis the Sinopharm vaccine and the President himself noted that after a while it did not have antibodies. This brings total confusion in his vaccination campaign. We also do not agree with the two doses of vaccines he took in Dubai at the cost of R1.2 million, money taken from tax payers. He has to be clear if we all need to be revaccinated. We are also asking the Ministry of Health to conduct a survey to see if we have antibodies after taking the Sinopharm vaccine. The re-opening of the airport was also a reckless idea. The number of deaths registered also does not make sense. We got a ‘tent hospital’ but it has not been put to use yet. Even the ventilators we got cannot be used for long term. We also asked the leader of the opposition, to request for an audit of the Covid-fund as R78 million has disappeared. We need to let the professionals do their job,” said Dr Herminie.
Mr Dugasse spoke about the Air Seychelles dilemma and he firmly stated his party’s dissatisfaction.
“There have been committees upon committees appointed and now the government has decided to appoint two administrators to look into the matter. For nine months, there has been some kind of uncertainty for Air Seychelles staff and they still do not know what will happen next. They do not know if by March 22, 2022 they will be able to provide food for their families. For US, this is a clear sign of a government with no direction. One of the reasons the situation has worsened is because the government let Etihad go free. Together, both Air Seychelles and Etihad took a loan and they should have tackled the situation together. We hope that once the report from the administrators is ready, the government will act bravely and take the best decisions in the interest of Seychelles and the highly trained personnel of Air Seychelles. We also learnt that SCAA is removing the ground handling services from Air Seychelles. This automatically reduces the capacity of Air Seychelles since ground handling is a lucrative activity,” explained Mr Dugasse.
Review of US
For the last year, Dr Herminie notes that they have been the voice of the population in many situations, such as when there was a hike in bus fares, victimisation in employment, rights of old people etc.
“On November 6, we will have our congress where we will define our new direction and day by day we are getting stronger,” said Dr Herminie
“On October 16 we met to discuss this important concern ‒ lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI). US recognises that this subject is very controversial and brings a lot of polarisation. Even in our meeting, it was a controversial issue. US also recognises that because of our religious beliefs, there are many people who do not accept LGBTIQ. We also recognise that many doctors and scientists say that some people are born like this and we recognise that this is a human right and it has to be addressed according to article 27 of our Constitution. US asks for more debate and information shared before a final conclusion. We have to have a national debate and all important actors of society should call for guidance. The LGBTQI community should also lobby on their side and should forward their concerns to the right platform. After all this, US will follow what the law decides,” concluded Dr Herminie.