lundi 20 juillet 2009

Has The President of Seychelles relinquished the sovereignty of his office to accept being received in his own country by another National leader?

“The President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, announced this (US$30M grant, over 10 years, building and equipping an integrated modern diagnostic centre at Victoria Hospital, studying the economic viability of a new dam,...) when he received President James Michel at his official residence in Seychelles on Friday afternoon” (Seychelles Nation 20.07.09)

The president of UAE owns property in Seychelles and has turned the property into a private official residence.
When he does visit the country and occupies his residence, all rich and powerful and President of his own rich country that he is, and notwithstanding the respect and dignity which diplomacy and protocol demand he be treated with as head of a sovereign country, he remains a visitor to our country. A foreign and private citizen however rich and powerful he may be!.
If he were to invite the president to his residence, then surely protocol must require that as the only sovereign head of the land, the President of the Seychelles, is welcomed as a guest to a private house, as he would be in any other place in his own country
However, in the published ‘photo of the meeting at the Sheikh’s residence, we seem to see the Sheikh seated and framed by two UAE national flags, almost like as if he were receiving the President of the Seychelles in the UAE and not in Seychelles.
Is there an un-diplomatic but subtly clear message that we are expected to derive from this? A Seychelles flag next to the Seychelles President would perhaps have mitigated what seems to be a near undeclared take-over of the country by the UAE!
Do we so much starve for the millions that the UAE seems willing to throw at us that we would loose our very sense of what is proper and dignified, to the point that our president would accept a turn of the diplomatic table and be treated like a visiting head of state in his own country, by someone who is, to all practical purposes, his very own guest?
Is part of our sovereignty what we have to surrender in exchange for the Sheikh’s largesse?
Let us not be are blinded by gratitude when we go to fetch the cheque that we think and see nothing wrong in being treated like a subaltern in our own house by someone who is nothing more nor less, our guest!

lundi 6 juillet 2009

When Will We Ever Learn?

The Seychelles Nation of Saturday 4th July ran this comment:
“Our world partners are telling us we nearly hit the bottom, but we realised in time and changed course accordingly. Now we are heading back upwards, this time towards a higher level where we belong…” Not satisfied with this dubious inspiration, the journalist (sic) continued “Now that the international community and our President are committed and are keen to help push the country further, the question is: are we?”

For a moment, I was dumbfounded! I mean, is this for real? One would expect of the Nation's columnist to at least try and maintain a semblance that he did not just walk straight from kindergarden to be another sycophant!

For years before November 2008, all local stakeholders from politicians and business to the simple man-of-the-street, had cause to express their concerns over the signs of worsening national economy. Several local voices were raised, columns were printed in local media, calling for an end to, at least by public statements and other declarations by leaders of Government, of the ostrich policy, with regard to management of the national economy..
As late as November 2006, the leader of the local political opposition, in his response to the 2007 budget, had this to say: “Minis i dir ki letan dimoun i demann li ki mannyer lekonomi i ete, i dir tou i ok. Eski i war bann lalinny dimoun ki pe esper $400 dolar depi gran maten? Bann lalinny pour dibwa, siman ek blok? Bann mank liv ek lezot materyo dan lekol, latizann dan lopital? Standard ek Poor’ in donn nou en ‘B’ rating, e dapre Minis sa in kapab fer nou etabli en Bond 9.125 % pour bann envestiser etranze. Me akoz ki nou, Seselwa, nou ganny preski zero lentere lo nou seving isi”

The government systematically dismissed the concerns over the national economy, raised by children of the land, as cheap politics from those unsympathetic to the economic and other policies of the, then SPPF government.
Lies, they said!
Our economy is sound, they said!
Any one who says differently seeks only to spread confusion among our people, they said!
Those in control kept their course, deliberately ignoring the menacing reefs until the last quarter of 2008. That was the time when voices from outside, presumably ‘our world partners’ finally got through the message that our local leaders had been ignoring for so long.
“We nearly hit bottom”! they now admit!

Sadly, this is too often the course local leaders and policy-makers follow. We know of our difficulties, from the level of service in tourism establishments to our inability to honour national loans repayment schedules. We always seem to ignore appeals for acknowledgement and redress when these come from the mouths of our children. But the moment a foreigner comes in whispering in our ears, we fall over ourselves trying to do that which we had failed to do! In short, we suffer from needing a foreign-expert- consultant-ambassador to tell us the time from the watch we carry on our wrist!

Another title, perhaps closer to the reality of life in our country could have been: "had we listened and heeded when our people spoke, we would have realised earlier that we were at the bottom and would have changed course!"