They are not just about ideologies and political philosophies. In our sunny islands, one ideology is as good as another and over the years, ideologies seem to have shown their capacity to adjust to changing local and global socio-economic realities and not least to the unquenchable thirsts of those who wish to drink at the national power fountain.
From a well-tested history of political manoeuvres, those of the SPPF leadership have shown themselves to be particularly adept at building their party into a fortress with wide-reaching powers from which they rule uncontested over the whole nation.
These include control over the legislature, gained and maintained over successive elections since 1993 to 2006, through its majority in the National Assembly won largely through sustained generous state largesse in social welfare programs over the years and outright pre-election vote buying campaigns.
They also have direct control over the judiciary through the statutory Constitutional Appointments Authority,(CAA) ostensibly a forum for political consensus on constitutional appointments, but in reality, a means by which such appointments, including that of the Chief Justice, are seen through by the party –affiliated Chairman named by the President. Then of course, the President appoints all judges to the Magistrates’, Supreme and Appeals courts, with fixed-term (renewable) contracts for expatriate judges and life-term contracts for locals.
The SPPF power sword also swings wide into every other aspect of national life, over and above its rightful mandate as elected government to implement the economic and social requirements of its political agenda, from commerce and trade, utilities, public service, army and police, to information and local affairs.
The strength of the SPPF is however, not always a result of its political adroitness as it is the sum of the weaknesses of its political adversaries.
The major adversary from the 2006 legislative and presidential elections is the Seychelles National Party (SNP) with some 43% of the popular vote.
This vocal political opposition proposes itself, alone or in tandem with the once (pre 1977 Coup d’Etat) formidable Democratic Party (DP), as the champion of democracy and all its concomitant freedoms and rights (of speech, association, press, etc…)
The SNP thus customarily brandishes at the SPPF, labels of oppressor of civil rights, state organised censure of liberties and freedoms and intolerance of dissenting political views.
This has undeniably found a certain appeal among free thinkers in the land and probably, quite explains the comfortable support base of the party.
This support base may however be rattled by the apparent burgeoning, within the SNP, of the same intolerance for dissenting political views and most undemocratic stances when the split of the DP-SNP 2006 electoral alliance was allowed to invade the sacrosanct realms of free press.
Can the SNP honestly look itself in the mirror and see a reflection of the champion for free press after the recent decision for the SNP- controlled Regar Printing to discontinue the printing of its former ally’s publication on the sole grounds of being in disagreement over the content of the latter?
If that is not political censure, then can somebody please lend me a dictionary!!
The SNP and DP may be having their little spat. This is nothing new in the realm of political alliances reached for the needs of convenience and short-term strategies, and would have been largely insignificant, were it not for the obvious questions that it raises over the strength of the SNP’s commitment to democracy and freedoms.
Thus the question is raised. Who really stands to uphold unfettered freedoms in our land? If the SPPF is more intent on retaining and wielding power, is the SNP truly the democratic alternative?