Cost of former Kenyan President’s visit to Seychelles |07 September 2022
Foreign Affairs Minister Radegonde sets the record straight
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, has said that the state visit of Kenya’s former President, Uhuru Kenyatta, to the country in July, has cost the government R2,056,808.28 and not R20,000,000 as rumoured.
Minister Radegonde gave the figure in answer to a private notice question (PNQ) by the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Honourable Sebastien Pillay, yesterday during the first sitting of the 3rd semester of the assembly after recess.
In his PNQ to Minister Radegonde, Hon. Pillay had asked for the assembly to be given some detailed progress on the different exchanges pronounced between Seychelles and Kenya following the state visit and how much the visit has cost the government.
Minister Radegonde was accompanied by the principal secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Vivienne Fock-Tave, and chief of protocol, Gervais Moumou.
Minister Radegonde said that for the first time the overview of the spending for the state visit was done by the ministry for centralised payment purposes contrary to all agencies having to pay their own bills as was done in the past.
He added that all bills have been paid off and that details of each of the payments made will be shared to the National Assembly.
With regard to a progress report on the different exchanges between the two countries, Minister Radegonde said that as the visit happened just seven weeks ago (35 working days) and given the short period of time, he was not in a position to comment on the amount of progress made in relation to these pronouncements other than making sure that they are structured and followed up.
He noted that a list of initiatives between Seychelles and Kenya was pronounced during the visit of former President Danny Faure in Kenya in 2017 – in agriculture, defence, fishing, fight against drugs, civil aviation, civil society, technical assistance and a joint bilateral commission etc… including three signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) between the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and the Chamber of Commerce of Kenya, Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (Ceps) and the Kenyan Civil Society and a joint market agreement between Kenya Airways and the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), most of which have not materialised.
He explained that a foreign state visit to our country was neither an invention by the present administration nor the invention of President Wavel Ramkalawan or himself but rather an international traditional norm in international relations and diplomacy.
He noted that state visits by heads of state and dignitaries happen in every country and that since our independence on June 29, 1976, all successive presidents have gone on state visits abroad and the visits had been reciprocated.
He noted that before the present administration, the past government has welcomed many heads of states and high profile dignitaries in the country.
“The point that I want to emphasise is if we do not have a system in place to make sure that things move, they will disappear and be forgotten. What we are doing is that for the ten agreements signed with Kenya, we have asked the Kenyan authority for a focal point of contact in their ministries and agencies responsible and we are doing the same here, for direct communication to ensure that things move forward,” Minister Radegonde said.
He said he was confident that the structure in place and method being used to look into the pronouncements between our country and Kenya will work, after which he will be able to come back to the Assembly and give an update on progress made.
Following a question by US proportionate member, Hon. Johan Loze, on whether the money for the state visit has been well spent, given that people are still struggling to make ends meet, the minister said that the money had not been procured from programmes that will deprive people of their education, health and social benefits but rather from a side structural budget for the visit.
Answering a question on the benefit of the visit for the country asked by the elected member for Mont Buxton, Gervais Henrie, Minister Radegonde confirmed that such visits are held with the sole aim of getting the country to reap benefits only and nothing else.
He added that the ten signed agreements with Kenya will bring great benefit to our country if they are implemented and followed through.
Questioned by Hon. Pillay on whether the visit of the former Kenyan President was a necessity and if there was any extravagance attached, Minister Radegonde stated that the visit was a necessity given the relation between the two countries and he stated that there was no extravagance attached to the visit due to the amount of cost cuttings done.
Before the start of the sitting, Hon. Sandy Arissol, on behalf of LDS and Hon. Slyvanne Lemiel on the part of US, sent their condolences and sympathy to families of victims who passed away in tragic accidents during the past few days.