Linyon Demokratik Seselwa Vice-Presidential candidate Ahmed Afif |20 October 2020
‘I believe government must always be realistic and set realistic goals from day one’
Seychelles NATION: What are you hoping to achieve in the role of vice- president?
Ahmed Afif: My role will be to assist President (Wavel) Ramkalawan implement his reform and vision to Government Seychelles in the next five years. In this endeavour, I will help advise and prepare an action plan of reforms in line with the thinking of the new government and hope also to evaluate its performance and implementation. My role will be to ensure that the process of transforming plans to reality is smooth, efficient and practical bearing in mind the need to transform Seychelles rapidly in a very fluid environment.
Seychelles NATION: The role requires decisiveness. Share some examples of your ability and willingness to be decisive.
Ahmed Afif: There is no doubt that one has to be decisive in moving forward and transforming Seychelles. I was a key player within the team that led macro-economic reforms in 2008. When I was appointed principal secretary (PS) Finance in mid-2007, I led a technical team that proposed new fiscal and other measures for Seychelles which were implemented successfully within one year. Following the reforms which required strong and decisive measures, the economy which had almost stagnated recovered in leaps and bounds in less than six months following the reforms. I was not alone of course, but never hesitated as a team leader to propose difficult decisions because I believed they were correct and stood by them until the economy recovered.
Seychelles NATION: Who or what have influenced your principles and way of thinking?
Ahmed Afif: Much of it has been through how I was brought up by my parents who believed in working hard and diligently and the need to be honest in all that one does. I found this to be most useful in my life. When you work hard, you achieve good results. If ever you fail, you must be honest to admit where you were wrong and correct those steps until you are successful.
Seychelles NATION: What are some major challenges the society is presently facing?
Ahmed Afif: I believe one of our major challenges is the lack of leadership and political will to solve some of our major constraints. Social ills are now a part of everyday life simply because there has been no serious attempt to tackle corruption, the drug trade and other illegal activities. This has led to skewed wealth creation with earnings going to some and others are left with much less to live with. These have obvious consequences and the cycle can quickly lead the country in a negative spiral. This has been exacerbated by marginalisation of more than half of the population due to their political beliefs or even perceived beliefs. The civil service in particular has to be rid of political bias and its main focus must now turn towards service delivery. This alone will mark an important milestone in future development.
Seychelles NATION: When entering this position, what would be your top three priorities and how would you tackle them?
Ahmed Afif: My top priorities would be firstly to reverse the current economic downturn and especially the social ills which act as a dark cloud over the country. We would then need to strengthen institutions through quality management from the most senior level, establish a new culture of service delivery and create renewed opportunities for private sector development in the productive sectors and strengthening our financial, agriculture and fishing sectors through appropriate policies and targeted action.
Seychelles NATION: What will you do to hold accountable the individuals and institutions responsible for mismanagement of public funds?
Ahmed Afif: If government is serious about tackling corruption, it should strengthen the democratic institutions in place whose principal goal is to ensure good governance. Thus, I would provide all the assistance needed to the National Assembly which carries out important oversight work on government. There are others such as the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles, the police, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) and the Auditor General’s office which need to be bolstered in terms of their technical ability to deliver. These would ensure that the information flow and analyses are enhanced in order that bad practices are quickly discovered and the necessary legal action is taken immediately.
Seychelles NATION: Do you have the qualities for the position and why people should trust you with their vote?
Ahmed Afif: I believe some key ingredients are the desire to bring change, the capacity to motivate others to bring change and the ability to remain focused on the job ahead. One also requires experience at senior management, professional integrity and a clean track record. I see myself as able in that respect and have much to offer to bring about the transformation required.
Seychelles NATION: What made you accept the position of vice-president?
Ahmed Afif: I accepted the position with humility and view this opportunity as a great honour. I saw this as a call to help Father Ramkalawan and the people of Seychelles to end years of malpractise and finally bring justice to the people of Seychelles.
Seychelles NATION: Why do you believe you can complement the work of your presidential candidate to make the team that the people will look up to?
Ahmed Afif: I believe I can do this since we have an excellent working relationship. We have mutual respect for one another and we both believe in team building and tackling problems head on in a decisive manner. This is what Seychelles needs more than ever today and I hope to play a part in assisting Father Ramkalawan lead the country towards real prosperity for all its children.
Seychelles NATION: How do you plan to help manage public expectation?
Ahmed Afif: This will be a major challenge. I believe government must always be realistic and set realistic goals from day one. It is always better to under-promise and over-deliver than over-promise and under-deliver. This is the dilemma of most governments and we need to keep the population abreast of what is achievable with our limited resources and time.
Seychelles NATION: People will be looking up to you to bring a lot of changes at different levels. Are you ready and fully prepared to face public concerns?
Ahmed Afif: I am ready for this challenge which requires boldness above all and the ability to keep a team together and to keep the faith of the population which has high expectations. I do not under-estimate the challenges ahead but believe that with faith and determination, no barriers are impossible to overcome.
Seychelles NATION: If you were to convince the people that you will bring a new way of doing things in government, what would you tell them?
Ahmed Afif: I would say, look at the track record of Father Ramkalawan over the years. He has been very consistent and an unrelenting fighter to bring justice to this country. He was at the heart of the call for democratic changes over the last 30 years, the need to have real multi-party democracy, institutional reforms, rule of law, a free media, respect for human rights and dignity, national reconciliation and to rid the country of political bias. In his last four years, people have seen his unrelenting desire to work hard to bring better governance and oversight which has saved the country several hundreds of millions of rupees in four years alone. What is now needed is a rotation of power which is also an important ingredient for democracy. If he is given a mandate to now run the executive, he will bring governance to a new level and be the decisive leader who will allow the country to flourish despite the challenges we face with Covid-19 and a slowdown in the world economy.