Friday, 4 December 2015

If it is good for Zimbabwe, then it must surely be good for the Seychelles. What a farce at the cost of Tax Payers money.

Those who may find comfort in knowing our presidential election process due in just a few days will include international observers should be aware that the SADC Electoral Observation Mission is the same body that has gone on record saying Robert Mugabe’s presidential mandate bestowed by voters in Zimbabwe was achieved through credible elections allowing the result to stand, no matter that fairness was observably lacking.

“On the question of fairness, it’s very difficult to say everything was fair,” SADC election observer Bernard Membe said in the capital Harare as he summarised his report.
SADC mission members are in Seychelles again now after observing the 2011 vote, still refusing to disclose what was found more than four years ago on the grounds that, “they do not want to affect the current election by divulging any of the findings from the previous election watch ... “, and promising to illuminate Seychellois AFTER this election concludes.

It makes sense only in the context of African politics that disclosure of vote rigging would remain secreted away from the populace until another run is over, for why else would information on a four-year-old process remain under wraps at this stage of the game?

The SADC Electoral Observation Mission would have lost credibility in the eyes of the Seychelles people. Glad they having a wonderful holiday at the cost of the Seychelles Tax payers. They should not forget to include this in theirs reports.

Seychelles has no desire to be another Zimbabwe, yet it seems what works for Mugabe is good enough for the Seychellois.

If the political parties should have a protest regarding this election it should be that some Electoral Observer Mission (SADC) are not at all observing and not presenting timely report. Smells of a rat.

Want to f**k John Denis. Let’s do it guys.

Yes guys let’s blame John for all that goes wrong.
Let’s shame him for our lacklustre PPBs.
Let’s blame him when we lose.
Let’s blame his absence for our poor performance.
Let’s beat the shit out of him.
Get real guys.
John may not be here with us to vote but that will
never ever diminish the value of what he did for
democracy in the country.
He probably singlehandedly did a lot more than
the rest of us put together. – put his neck out , used,
reused, packaged, repackaged and recycled by all, none of whom provided support and protection to him and his family, in spite of everyone knowing what difficulties he was going through and his needs and threats he had to face because of what he did for us.
Taunt him and goad him as you please. John is irreplaceable. All the more reasons for him to remain safe at this juncture. Remember Micheal Arnephy, 2013 and Wavel Ramkalawan, 2006; after they had their skulls slip open; they have never recovered, probably never will. They are not the same person/fighters they used to be. Splitting one’s skull is very effective in silencing anyone. Not only does one end up with a split skull but apparently seem to lose their balls to stand up to anything. Now, we would not want that to happen to John would we? We still need him to help take this country forward. And he can do it in ways like none other.

I wonder why you guys do not direct your anger and frustations against all the opposition party leader who have sold us. No one, no opposition leaders challenged the new Electoral Law which came into effect on the 11th. May, 2015 and the fraud, statistically impossible electoral list. This is the day we lost the elections. This new law was/is a setback for democracy and is a lot worse than the previous one. Instead Wavel tells the world that it is a big improvement and everyone swallows this bitter pill as if it were honey. The silence of Ton Pat and his Committee, who would have used all tricks (fraud) in the book (obviously with their friend Gappy)to inflict defeat upon defeat on the opposition parties in all previous elections, , leaves the whole electorate numb. None of the others talk about it, nor challenged it.

You guys have no balls to take on the leaders for failing and selling us, yet you do not hesitate to crucify our only HERO of the hour.

You say that ‘Seselwa Annou koze’ was team work and that you are so so stronger and more powerful than John. No problem except for the fact that in the same sentence you add that he (John) had promised you all that he would, more than 2 months ago, be doing some interviews and PPB for Alexia Amesbury and then you go on to remind us that 2 months later you guys are still waiting. Well if you guys are so fucking good, why wait for over 2 months, and still waiting, to get Alexia interviewed?

With John not around, Seselwa Annou Koze has gone into paralysis. If John dies then Seselwa Annou Koze also dies. Simple as that.

Such a post, denigrating John Denis is totally ridiculous and tasteless. It is not a one-off. Such posts appear every so often, with the obvious purpose of influencing the thoughts and feelings of the populace against John. I hope that I would have explicitly and in no uncertain terms have told you what we the people feel about him and what we think of your tasteless manoeuvres to denigrate him.

4th. December, 2015
Viral V. Dhanjee (Union Vale)

Thursday, 3 December 2015

US$ 50,000,000 Grant Disappeared From Central Bank Of Seychelles

Danny Faure and James Michel
According to Vice President, Danny Faure in last night's PPB, the Government of Seychelles received a grant of $50m in 2002 from the Government of Abu Dhabi. This was paid to SMB which then used this to pay for commodities.

This confirms exactly what we in Lalyans stated earlier but denied by JP Adam to the national assembly a few weeks ago.

Government accounts in 2002 shows no receipt of any kind from Abu Dhabi. If what VP Faure says is correct, how come this $50m gift was never presented in 2002 to the national assembly as part of the budget by the supposedly hard working JAM who was Minister of Finance then and never declared in Government books ever never mind to the public at large who were suffering from severe FX shortages. 

Now that VP Faure admits it happened, how come in SMB’s accounts of 2002 or any subsequent account of SMB, there is no mention of the $50m grant from the Government either! This scandal now takes a new dimension. VP Faure now admits what Minister Adam denied existed … there are more questions than answers and is clear evidence that JAM broke the law and should be investigated. Or is it still a perception?

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The Home Stretch

Viral Dhanjee

‘Pti Dimoun’ enters the ring & all bets are off.
Whilst all the world leaders are currently, at COP21 in Paris, addressing ways to save humanity from man-made consequences of Global Climate Change, this evening we the people of Seychelles we will be subjected to the final round of PPB in the people’s fight to remove the devil that is, once and for all.

It is not the fact that the opposition parties have been sleeping all this time, but JAM has to realise that the only thing that matters to the people of Seychelles is the CHANGE we so badly want. The opposition parties may well have been sleeping, but the people NOT.

Jam was already on the back foot by the voices of the people on the social media well before the opposition parties decided to wake up, but now that they have what a powerful force has emerged.

You can trash the political parties over and over again JAM but how do you fight the power of ‘dimoun ordiner’ and the ‘pti dimoun’ JAM? Ready for the knock out JAM?

JAM is cornered and is on the back foot on the issue of corruption and the guys tonight must keep the heat on.

Some opposition hopeful will no doubt try to convert some of the very popular support and empathy they enjoy into votes. It is an uphill task and hope they do a good job of it. They really must convince the electorate to give them the votes in the FIRST ROUND as this is crucial to defining the opposition for the next 5 years. In the SECOND ROUND all can VOTE FOR CHANGE.

I hope the opposition does not repeat their solution to solving the crippling drug problems on the country to evoking divine powers and divine intervention. For if divine powers and divine intervention is to solve our crippling drug problems, then we might as well leave the solutions to all our problems to that solution and just get the hell out of the way.

Neither should the limit of our efforts to solving the education problems (if this issue is again addressed) be defined solely by having benches and tables for all and having walls and windows painted or by increasing discipline and control. Nor address the difficulties and short comings of the ministry of health (if that is also addressed) by addressing only the eliminating favouritism and intimidation in the workplace.

Jam has to do damage control and I won’t be surprised if he brings in some heavy bats from the bin of history, the likes of FAR and JRM. I also expect him to hit below the belt at Ton Pat who continues to bleed him, like finish telling us the story he started telling us in his last PPB, about the embarrassment in London that led to the removal of Ton Pat there as HC. No doubt he will also have a go at Wavel.

No doubt there will also be some ‘’he said this; she said that; he did this: she did that’’ but all should never forget that we have serious problems in the Seychelles and we need serious people to solve them. Convince us of that tonight.

I hope the guys take off the boxing gloves as well tonight. Let the knockout be tonight. We can have a replay of the knock out on the 5th.

1st. December, 2015
Viral V. Dhanjee, Union Vale

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Election Special 4. The ex-Presidents, The Bel Ombre skull and the 25th November Defence Forces Day.

Tomorrow the country celebrates the Defence Forces Day.
We the people salutes our boys and girls in Uniform on this occasion and wish to convey the pride with which we the people look up to them.

We the people would take this occasion to remind our boys and girls in uniform of the oath they would have taken when swearing in: -- to uphold and defend the constitution of the Seychelles, its people and nation.

The people would also remind our guys in uniform that they are one of us; that they share, and are part of, a non-violent, friendly, peaceful, docile population that enjoys happy living.
The message from the people of the Seychelles to those in Uniform on the eve of the most important elections in the Seychelles is, be it before the elections, during the elections or after the elections, if given any order, before the execution of that order you ensure that the order is both legal and constitutional. Check it out before acting on the order. If you have any doubts, then refuse to carry out the order and commit a Human Rights offense on behalf of and for the personal benefit of someone else. Rather be court-martialed than turn your weapons on a defenceless and peace-loving people. You are one of us. We are not the enemy.

To the people: by all means celebrate your successes (the winners) in any spontaneous joy the moment brings, but respect and have consideration for the losers. Hopefully, it is Seychelles that will win, not a person or a particular party.

The worst thing in our country is the political divide that prevents the country from going forward. This political divide is caused by the partisan mentality of the politicians and political parties of the past. The political divide is not part of our DNA and is foreign to us.

Today, with many more parties on the playing field, the spirit of unity that defines the people of Seychelles overrides the partisan politics that has dictated the political landscape for too long. Let our people in uniform take note of that. These powerful pictures speak for themselves.

The choice of the 25th November as the Defense Forces Day is most distasteful. Yes, as intended, it does bring to mind the landing of the mercenaries on the shores of the Seychelles. But more importantly, it would remind the people of the mercenary adventure, that day in 1981, that failed to take off as the element of surprise was lost. The mercenaries had arrived back home in South Africa even before the Seychelles Defense Forces decided to react and then proceeded to fight the automatic unmanned gun stations. The mercenaries were long gone. There were other unpleasantness that day. Again a dark side associated with that day is the widely believed shady behind -the -scene deals and money transactions (which the people are not particularly proud of) in the release from custody of the couple of mercenaries that got left behind. The selection of another date to celebrate the Defense Forces Day would be on the table.

The ex-Presidents of the Seychelles would have, since 1964, in their respective roles claimed to have stood for the people, by the people, fought for the people and brought prosperity, liberty, peace and human dignity to the people of Seychelles … often with the battle cry "SEYCHELLES IS ONE", ostensibly meaning to do away with the political divide that scours our land; whilst instead anything and everything they do has led to more polarization.
Today James Richard Mancham has reduced himself to being THE ONE LINE EX-PRESIDENT OF THE SEYCHELLES, at least on the local scene, with his infamous repertoire, "That JAM is the right person, in the right place, at the right time".

Suddenly the only thing that seems to matter for JRM is ‘bef dan disab saken vey son lizye’, hardly a line any politician, past or present, should ever consider if they want the respect of the population. Now on the ‘right side of the divide’ he, JRM, conveniently forgets to address (the fact) ALL he once stood and fought for -- to continuously improve the personal development and wellbeing of the masses that is, 40 years later, an even a greater challenge. Presently, we have an education system in place that fails to educate our children, a health system that needlessly struggles to provide even the basics and is unable to arrest the slide into deterioration of the health of the Seychellois people. JRM also refuses to speak of the ‘joie de vivre’ the people enjoyed before 5th June 1977. Neither does he address the fact that we are the worst paid lot of people on earth. --That often one has to have a second, even a third employment to make ends meet, leaving no time to enjoy life or fully participate in parenting. JRM is totally mute on the scourge drugs and corruption inflict on the nation. JRM has totally forgotten the people of Seychelles. Little wonder then that the masses forget him as well and those that do remember see him as a hypocrite and a sell-out.

James Mancham
Not that France Albert Rene is seen in any better light. Loved by many of the ruling party he put in place in the first instance; the non-performance of the team he left the people with after his retirement, and his seeming inability to remedy the situation that continuously weakens and threatens the very foundation of the party he founded cannot amuse FAR. Neither does it amuse the SPPF/PL supporters.

Not only would they not be amused to see, in front of their very eyes, their party weakening, but neither can they be amused by the current state of the political party FAR left behind so many years ago. More importantly, the total dismissal of certain cardinal principles he, FAR, always adhered to:
1) Never bring the IMF and the World Bank into the country. No leader who loves his country would ever do such a thing. Even when SNP was calling out loud that IMF should be brought in (to help resolve the economic mess, including the For-X problem then), that was never done. FAR held firm and held the IMF away.
2) Never bleed the Central Funds to the extent that would necessitate calling in the IMF and the World Bank. FAR would have been very strict with people who might have tried to bleed the system, and always brought it in check (monies and that too serious monies, if it were to be made were made in different ways). Who made what and how was always tightly tightly controlled.
3) Protect the economy from the shock of a savage and brutal economy controlled by the Ultra-rich and Multinationals. The GDP would go up as it has kept doing recently but nothing filters down to the people. What is the point of such massive development if the people are stuck further and further into slavery?

Albert Rene
He, FAR, is understood to have, on many occasions, in private, talked about his displeasure with JAM’s performance as President because it went against what he built and stood for. And was anti-people. Did these words, heard by the ears of like-minded people, lead to the formation of a new political party, which had active support of some folks very close to FAR, to correct the wrong?
What started off as a phenomenon in Seychelles politics and took the country by storm, Lalyans Seselwa, all ex-SPPF/PL big guns, lost much of its momentum and active support around the time the Bel Ombre skull was found.

Suddenly even for these people who recently exhibited a change of heart, JAM suddenly became the ‘right person in the Right place at the Right time’. Or was it the Bel Ombre Koksis that refused to remain buried that was ‘the Right skull, in the Right place, at the Right time, just on the eve of the election.’ This discovery no doubt has everyone on the edges and worried. Was the right skull sent to Mauritius for DNA testing in the first place? And the belief by the people that it is impossible that such a fresh skull could not give concrete DNA results, but that the results may have been so damning that they were not disclosed. The skull was talking more than the ex-presidents and is an issue that will never go away, in this case as in other similar cases until the respective families get the chance to have proper closure.

In the end, JAM would have been his own worst enemy. He was unpopular (and that is ok; some people are) but maybe not his party. If only he had read the writing on the wall and allowed someone else from his party to run, whilst he chose another option.
We would then have had three ex-Presidents and a young untainted team to run as the SPPF/PL. candidate in the elections. What a different set of elections we would have had. Would we then still have had as many opposition parties to contest the presidential elections?
Even the Ex-presidents take the Seychellois electorate pou bann K.O.U.Y.O.N. Not long ago they had asked us for our votes and for yet another FIVE. Now they ‘vey zot lizye’.

24th. November, 2015
Viral V. Dhanjee, Union Vale

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

2015 Presidential Election Special– 3.The other fight; defining the political landscape, 2016

Viral Dhanhee
2015 Presidential Election Special– 3.The other fight; defining the political landscape, 2016
The other fight -All NEW presidential hopefuls have another very important fight before the election day. Remember the infamous rhyme ‘’En vote pou Ralph Volcere and a vote for Philip Boulle is a vote pou James Michel’’? Wavel will be playing that unsubstantiated tune again, and at an opportune moment that does not allow the president hopefuls targeted to respond in any way. All candidates would be smart to come out and warn the nation of Wavel’s coming battle cry, how unintelligent and inaccurate this statement is, but to expect it from Wavel.

Wavel’s strategy has always been to absorb any opposition under his wing prior to the first round of the elections, under the guise of unity equaling strength! While I can understand the motivation for Wavel spouting such nonsense, I have never been able to understand why people buy it and fall for it. Wavel viciously targets those who ignore his call of unity under his and his party’s banner, his aim always to be the sole opposition candidate against JAM in the first round. Through this tactic, all other parties and independent candidates are denied the chance of knowing their real strength and number of votes they can pull.

By being the sole candidate against JAM, Wavel, by default, has historically attracted all who would vote against JAM, yet these are not necessarily votes of support; not necessarily voters who would prefer to cast their votes for another opposition candidate given half the chance. By seeking to be the only person to stand against JAM, Wavel has always managed to guarantee his political future. It is always all about him and never about encouraging formation of a new political landscape.
Wavel gives little-to-no regard for the numerous, and very important advantages, of sending the election into a second round will bring to the country and our democracy. Wavel will definitely be playing this card of his and will continue to do so as long as the only thing he seeks is the chair of the Leader of Opposition in the Seychelles. As long as his only political objective remains reclamation of his desired position as virtually permanent Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, and to also replace the current ‘fake’ one. Multiple candidates drastically increase the chance of the election going into a second round.

Wavel and his SNP claim 45% of the voters. 45% is the figure of voters who would never ever vote for SPPF/PL, but also includes all voters who then voted for Wavel when there was no other choice. The maths changes this time.

It is not a matter of ‘’Unity is Strength’’ but rather ‘’the more voices the better’’, and ‘’more eyes are better than just one pair’. Multiple candidates assure there will be many voices, all having equal airtime to ask and answer vital questions, voice the pain and problems we face as a nation and propose solutions, an option voice denied by the SBC always. Multiple candidates also ensure there will be more and better supervision throughout the campaign period and voting day, particularly at polling stations.

The various opposition parties could have met a number of times over the last few months in an attempt to form a single common force to fight JAM in the Presidential Elections. I am personally
glad the idea never took root, and am proud to have played my part to stop this from happening. I am all for all opposition contestants to provide, in the second round, all necessary support and backing for opposition candidates to make it to a second round, but for democracy, and for the people of the Seychelles, I would support the multi-candidate scenario in the first round, and always in any election having a two-round process.

Focused support for opposition candidates making it to a second round can only come naturally from an atmosphere of entente and cordial relationships. This is why I had asked everyone, particularly the older parties, to extend a hand of encouragement and help the newer ones so all can make the contribution they seek to make in the first round. This should include organizational assistance and helping them get the required 500 signatures necessary. Instead, we find SNP telling their supporters off for helping the new, yet-to-establish parties. In a second round, SNP would naturally expect support from parties it never supported or helped or had cordial relationship with. Guys, if you understand the logic of Wavel and his SNP then you are miles ahead of me, for to this day the only thing I see is the total absence of any strategic planning.

On The Meeting of Heads and Minds.
Why the HEADS and MINDS OF THE VARIOUS OPPOSITION PARTIES COULD NOT MEET TO OBTAIN THEIR OBJECTIVES to have a joint common force against JAM, is a story on its own. Whether that objective to form a joint common force was strategically right or wrong is not of importance here. WHAT IS OF IMPORTANCE IS THAT THEY COULD NOT AGREE.
Even from the start it was clear it could never be. Coming from very different backgrounds and for different reasons and having opposing DNA, they could never and will never be able to agree on the modalities of a joint force. It was a mistake to undertake such a task, as it only served to amplify their differences. The common objective (of removing JAM from power) was never on the agenda, but would have been if, from the onset, there had been mutual respect and support. As it is, certain political parties come down hard on their supporters who dare sign the nomination of other opposition candidates. I cannot see where this would have hurt them, but for sure the stand they took eventually will.

The only thing discussed each time was who they wanted as presidential candidate. The only thing they had in common was their ego and each wanting the seat of power. The country was never the main concern; the change the electorate wants, never the focus. The fact that they would not agree to form a united front says one thing -- that they do not really have a problem with JAM and SPPF/PL, as much as they would have with each other.

Defining the Political Landscape, 2016
Whether or not any party has taken part in any previous National Assembly elections, and their performance there if elected, is of paramount importance to a large percentage of the electorate when deciding who to vote for in the Presidential Election. These same voters would favour a united front in those National Assembly elections, as it is a first-past-the-post system of voting. The presidential hopefuls would do well to remember this if they are serious about having any political life after the

2015 Presidential Elections
As the big day approaches, the vital question in the hearts and mind of everyone is: ‘Will the different parties come together to support the opposition party that makes it to the second round?’ The fact the opposition parties spent so much time and energy discussing, then failing to come up with a single leader to face SPPF/Pl in this election has left a bitter taste in the mouths of so many. With 'who gets to be in charge' being the prime motivator, it is no wonder nothing was achieved. Had the agenda been ‘’ Change now/ Change at all cost/ Seychelles First’’ we would have seen the rise of this force in the second round. I get the feeling the lack of tact in dealing with and building sound working and friendly relationships with all new political parties can only be a disadvantage.
While, in the coming Presidential Election, all focus seems to be on recreating the Big Bang, get a new leader and a new political party in power, other advantages on offer are, as in all previous Presidential Elections, neglected once again. At the very minimum, two things should come out of this Presidential Election.

That it should, for the first time in the history of the Third Republic, be thrown into a second round.
That at least one other opposition force emerges to help break up this unhealthy (for the nation) political divide that permanently exists in the country. It does not necessarily have to be a big force, but one that holds the balance of power, one that would change the political landscape and bring sanity to politics in the country. This time round it is possible, as many people/parties have totally rejected the idea of existing under the flag and banner of Wavel and his SNP. What remains to be done now is to bring together all opposition votes, those not Wavel’s and not SNP’s to create that second opposition force.

10th November 2015
Viral V. Dhanjee, Union Vale

Monday, 16 November 2015

2015 Presidential Elections special. 2. What lies ahead?

Viral Dhanjee


There may be honour amongst thieves, but is there honour amongst politicians?
James out. Michel in. – won by the system, not at the polling booths?
What lies ahead:
James Michel warned earlier this year, ‘’People in glass houses do not throw stones’’. This was meant solely for the break-away cluster of ex- SPPF/PL ministers and technicians who surfaced as the new political party, ‘Lalyans Seselwa’. There were massive expectations from the public that we were in for a spectacular fireworks show, in that for once we would know the inner (maybe even dirty) secrets of the SPUP/SPPF/PL era. Thus far, people have been disappointed. Campaigning has started earnestly, elections will come and go, but no stones will be thrown. Those concerned would be good boys and pay heed to Michel’s warning.
But what are these stones that Michel cautions against throwing? Skeletons no doubt, which if known to the larger public would raise questions never seen before in the light of day to cast people in bad light, thereby influencing the psyche of their core support . But all politicians have skeletons, and as an understood rule, they do not put each other’s skeletons in view, even if the difference is ( as we have just found out) between winning and losing an election. Michel’s fear that Ton Pat and his gang of ex-SPPF/PL leaders were about to spill the beans was totally unfounded.
But on the eve of the Presidential Elections the beans that SPPF/Pl would have not wanted spilt are probably those that would have to do with the mechanism at the disposal of SPPF/PL that always helps them win elections. Everyone, even the observers (and therefore the world) believes the elections are peaceful and free, BUT NEVER FAIR..
A statistically-impossible electoral list which has nearly as many registered voters as there are Seychellois is the sorest point of the election; or should I say was, as it no more appears in any political party’s agenda. All speeches during the various party conventions conveniently omit this issue. Always advanced as a reason for losing elections by those that do, this old record is set to be played again -- after the 5th. December, 2015
Is it back to business as usual? Or is it an element of a strategy not to be shared with the citizenry? Only time will tell, but the question won’t go away. One wonders, knowing each and every person in Ton Pat's top echelon team ex-SPPF/PL would have been instrumental in dealing blow-after-blow to opposition parties in every election, why they now come out and subject themselves to the humiliation of playing on such an unlevel playing field. On the other hand Wavel and his SNP, eye the seats in the National Assembly and are in a particular hurry to reclaim them. This much he stated very clearly, which led the last ‘poul’ leaving his ‘kazo poul’ in rather a hurry earlier this year. The
unleveled playing field does not prevent him from meeting that goal and suddenly has no problem with the unleveled playing field.
This issue haunts the entire opposition electorate. This time around, by reminding the politicians of their previous excuse long before the elections (and the fact they have done nothing to remedy the situation, other than to glorify a new electoral law that is a lot worse than the previous one) the electorate is telling the politicians to come up with a different set of excuses for not winning ... next time. People also remember that opposition party leaders have previously said their main objective is to achieve change in government, regardless of who led the change; that they should and would unite. Opposition voters believe this would have won the election for them, regardless of the implausible voter register. Yet when push came to shove, the opposition parties could not form the alliance in spite of one of them having 'Lalyans' as its name.
Whilst no stones are being thrown, the usual intimidation and scare tactics of the ruling party seem to be in full swing. It is believed that the ruling party was behind the vicious attempts of humiliation and intimidation on the person of Ton Pat, and to a lesser extent against Mrs Amesbury as well.
It would appear this is because much of Ton Pat.’s (a veteran SPUP/SPPF/PL leader, minister and Central Committee member) support appears to be coming from the PL party, which appears to be seriously haemorrhaging.
As the fortress wall built by Ex-President FAR, on which Michel sits, crumbles, Michel will surely regret not having built his own walls.
That the PL would want Lalyans Seselwa out of the picture is understandable, for if it were so they, PL, would have much more confidence and a better chance of winning.
But WHY Mrs. Amesbury? Is because folks who will vote for Mrs. Amesbury in the first round would have traditionally voted SNP (in the absence of any other options). It makes sense to believe that , for this reason, PL would rather Mrs Amesbury were not around, allowing her votes to go to SNP as in previous elections. Opposition votes that do not go to SNP acts as a nucleus for the emergence of a STRONG SECOND OPPOSITION POLITICAL PARTY.
Other presidential hopefuls seem to have been spared the wrath of PL.
These intimidation and fear tactics could well be part of a well-thought-out plan to unbalance and distract the presidential hopeful from the job of campaigning.
Most interesting is the likelihood that the elections will, for the first time in the history of presidential Elections in the Third republic, go into a SECOND ROUND. Even the SPPF/PL appear to think so and they expect to make it to the second round. A second round would be a great plus for democracy in the Seychelles and forever change the way people in the Seychelles vote.
It is expected that in the coming days much effort on the part of PL will be geared towards one thing and one thing only ; influencing who the opponent that they, PL, face in the second round. They have a clear preference.
The most direct evidence that SPPF/PL expects the election to go into the second round is their decision to field PDM. Whilst, like in the last National Assembly Elections (2011), the participation of
PDM gave credibility (at least in the eyes of the international community) to the election, so too this time it will serve this purpose --should all other political parties decide to boycott the election at the last minute – and there are sufficient justifiable reasons for doing so. Boycott is a very important and powerful tool but only has importance, and can only be meaningful, if everyone is on board; a fact that escaped SNP in the last elections with disastrous consequences for itself and, more importantly, for the opposition. Hopefully, no party decides to boycott this very important election. It served no purpose then and will not now.
Fielding of PDM would have other objectives. PDM clearly targets the four odd thousand votes it got last time. But the big question is, ’If PDM does not participate, who would its four odd thousand supporters vote for?’ Most unlikely to ever vote either SPPF/PL or SNP in the first round of the elections, they would naturally drift towards other candidates giving these candidates a higher chance of making it to the second round whilst reducing the chances of SNP making it-- something PL clearly do not want.
Besides, the votes obtained by PDM in the first round automatically become a pool of voters that certainly would be targeted for the second round. In a scenario playing out between SPPF/Pl against SNP, it would have logic historical sense if this pool of PDM votes chose not to vote for SNP. One must wonder if people actually vote for change, if they ever vote for what is best for the country? Showing that, in spite of all the empowerment and being emboldened, the electorate is still very much divided along party lines.
The third indication that the SPPF/PL expects the election to go to a second round is the New Elections dates declared by Gappy, the Electoral Commissioner, barely 24 hrs after fighting off a court petition to extend the same. Gappy is a brilliant SPPF/PL technician who has singlehandedly won the last three elections for SPPF/PL. Mr. Gappy is a nice, loving man, but believe you me, he was not appointed chief of the EC for being such a darling.
The opposition rejoices the new election dates as a victory of theirs, allowing them time to produce some memorabilia, as if this is what it takes to win elections. Would Gappy have gifted them that much? It is believed that new dates are crucial for PL, or at the very least appear to be throwing a bone to the opposition.
The campaign of personal attacks on candidates seems to have backfired, and it is unlikely there will be much of it in the days before the elections. It may have had an effect on the SPPF/PL supporters, as well, who would like to see their party win, but through a clean and fair election. Clearly attempts, both overt and covert, will be used to influence who reaches the second round. Why wait for election day if you can buy, or beat the hell out of your opponent before then; anything that might be better than having to do another coup d’eat. Serious money will be on offer to candidates to stand down, but it will have to be big money, bigger than what the sponsors are offering and bigger than what they stand to gain if elected.
It is believed if Ton Pat makes it to the second round against Michel, he will be assured all the votes other opposition candidates received in the first round. Wavel and his SNP do not have this luxury if they stood against Michel in the second round, as it is believed the the Lalyans supporters would never vote SNP, would not vote for change. It is a numbers game.
It very much matters to PL which party contests the second round against it. It makes perfect sense PL would want to face a tested opponent; one who has never been able to deliver for supporters and the people of Seychelles. In that sense, Wavel and his SNP have always been the darling of FAR/JAM and SPPF/PL. It is not that Wavel loves the guy -- probably far from it -- but JAM really loves Wavel to bits, because in Wavel he sees a ‘bef’ (a cow) he can milk anywhere, anytime, any day. In fact this is what led JAM to declare what he did to the Mauritian ‘Weekend’ early this year. It is a numbers game and Wavel just cannot produce the numbers to deliver.
Presidential hopefuls are now in the process of declaring their running mate. Will these create any ripples? Will a running mate actually contribute meaningfully toward the victory of a presidential hopeful, or are they simply piggy-backing?
Only two days before nomination day, and on one hand many people remain hopeful to see an SNP/Lalyans partnership, whilst on the other many want to see SPPF/PL field another team other than Michel/Faure. If indeed PL is haemorrhaging because of the unpopularity of Michel, then a new team might reverse that and render Lalyans irrelevant, as its main problem seems to be with Michel and not SPPF/PL.
Besides, many in the SPPF/PL camp seem to have a problem with VP Danny Faure as the running mate of JAM as they suspect that JAM will ‘’pass baton’’ and hand the presidency over to VP Danny Faure during his tenure. They do not need to be reminded that a vote for JAM is in fact a vote for Danny Faure. This is totally unfair as none would have any justification for such a sentiment. Danny Faure remains a brilliant strategist, intelligent and very capable person.
In the absence of public debates between the presidential hopefuls and their running mates, the electorate is once more totally lost as to what the various candidates stand for on various issues of national importance. The electorate will be voting, regardless of being denied the necessary information needed for informed decision-making and a total absence of public dialogue between the electorate and the candidates. In this day and age, this is totally unacceptable. Political debates must become a norm.
The arrival back home of our three compatriots from the Egyptian prison is anticipated anytime soon.
8th. November, 2015
Viral V. Dhanjee, Union Vale.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

2015, Election Specials Part One

Mr Viral Dhanjee

2015 Presidential Elections -1-The Players.
Peaceful, Free and Fair? Peaceful, Free but NOT Fair. – Which will it be? And who benefits from either?
The Players:
Yet another Election Day fast approaches, a day that most believe could well be the most important day in our republic's history. Others are not so optimistic.
The players: What started with eight political parties and a declared independent candidate in the run-up, the hype and political temperature, and especially expectations naturally on the high. Will there be a new beginning?
Will there be any new players at this last minute? At least players that could make a difference?
Four weeks before the election, we already have some drop outs from the race. Having done some initial contributions, but having failed to really take off, ICUS now supports the candidature of the independent candidate, Mr. Philip Boule, and SUP supports the candidature of Lalyans Seselwa. Having failed to create a space for themselves, one wonders if these two political parties will now have any future.
These micro-alliances would have raised certain eyebrows. ICUS would have been seen close to other political parties throughout the time of its inception, but never, never to Mr. Boulle. So what went wrong in this courting relationship that led ICUS to make a clean break from the opposition parties it was courting? It is understood other political parties would not have given ICUS the necessary space to exist as an entity (within an alliance),and that space provided by Mr Boule holds along a longer-term strategy. SUP backing of Lalyans Seselwa would in itself not be surprising, but what is unexpected is the fact that, after a couple of years existence, SUP would have chosen not to test its popularity by going it alone. – giving credibility to the adage, ‘’Nothing in politics ever surprises’’.
In all likelihood SFP will also not take part in the election, as they always boycott – and god knows there are always very important reasons to boycott the flawed elections processes of the Seychelles.
Going forward, we now have five political parties plus an independent candidates confirming participation in the presidential election.
By far the most important development last week was the confirmation, on Monday, by PDM that it will participate in the coming Presidential Elections, on that day naming its candidate and running mate.
The participation of PDM in the Presidential Elections is a tell-tale story. It is generally believed it would be doing so only after receiving the green light. It is being played and fielded, and that in itself is very indicative of events to come.
The other development of interest last week was the voting arrangement for people living on Perseverance Island. If anything, this goes to highlight not only the flawed election process of the Seychelles, but also that the Opposition as a whole have been sleeping and never saw this card being play by Parti Lepep. Having all the time in the world before the pitched elector battle started, no moves were made to rectify this. The opposition slept and now calls foul. Foul it is, but what else to do but call foul. It is what I call the permanent ‘’politik gele’’ of the opposition; never fighting the battle that must be fought, but only the battles they can win. That hardly wins an election, and the opposition leaders have again fallen short in ensuring a level playing field.
My attempt to create interest some 3 months ago urging politicians to address the political status of Perseverance Island as a district all but fell on deaf ears. Everyone being interested in securing one more vote, but letting victory escape. And then forever cry – ‘’politik gele’’.
Even with a reduced number of participants, there is an impression of an overcrowded playing field compared to the only two traditional players (SPPF/Pl and SNP) plus an independent player who faithfully always participates. Yet they all want to leave their mark and must be given the space and encouragement to do so, for they would necessarily have found their energies and raison d’etre from the failures of the two traditional political parties. This would increased democracy in the country and change the political landscape of the Seychelles and therefore cannot be a bad thing.
Amongst the old and familiar faces, there are new ones hoping to cash in on the failures of others.
Together these contenders would represent the whole mosaic of characters, showing what a strange breed of people politicians are -- from the cruelest and the most brutal criminals whose past record of failing the people, denying them even the basics of Human Rights and ruling through an atmosphere of fear, terror and intimidation without parallel to the opposition who, for whatever reason, never fought the battle that needed fighting (by design or otherwise) and thereby also always failing the people, to those whose philosophy seems to address only major principles of righteousness and have the best interest of people at heart, and those in between these two extremes.
People of the Seychelles just love politics and have really enjoyed the hype of the ten months leading to the declaration of elections. I expect the campaigning period to be even more so. It will be more interesting and the people will be more involved. Pity the party time was cut short by the calling of early elections. YouTube programs like ‘’Annou Koze Seselwa’’ has helped not only empower, but more importantly emboldened the people like never before. This has been helped by the number of challenges brought by concerned citizens in the Constitutional Court, and by the ‘’Sov Cap Ternay’’ campaign that showed the people that they could, if and when they wanted, force the government to reverse any decision that they, the people, saw as being harmful to the country, and also by the increased number of political parties that germinated. Regardless of the results of the Presidential Elections, politics in the Seychelles will never ever be the same again.
That was the time the people would have taken the lead in politics, leaving the political parties to follow. Being called Internet politicians and grandstanding politicians has not deterred the people to voice out theri concerns and opinion. It can be strongly argued that whilst the politicians change the position of the goal posts, this time round the height of the bar is being set by the people. Political debates would have certainly assured that by leaving politicians with no place to hide.
But being empowered and being emboldened is one thing. It naturally leads to expectations, but how real are the expectations? It is candidates (politicians), and not the people who are contesting and these possibly for personal agendas that may include a wish to acquire power, money, international influence and/or legitimacy. People will have to choose between the candidates, but will any, whoever the winner be, represent the aspirations of the people? It seems a self-defeating action. And when it comes to party support we find the electorate partisan and divided with matters of national interest and concern giving way to party affiliation. If, however, we had democracy in the country, and more importantly a series of national political debates, the people would be better informed as who to vote for. As things stand we do not, the process seeming more like a lucky dip game with a wait of another 5 years to play again.
All the above scenario of players could have come to an end if the various political parties had formed a strategic alliance to topple the ruling party. Multi-party participation does have potential advantages through increased likelihood of throwing an election into a second round. That has value in a healthy democracy. The main objective now, however, remains creating new leadership and a new ruling party. The DNA of the parties does not match, that has been clear from the start, but the fact the political parties could not rise above minor disagreement was, and is, a major disappointment for the masses. All want JAM out, but clear is just how badly each lust for power; personal agendas again. A ‘lalyans pou tou Seselwa’ (The Alliance for the Seychelles People), yet not managing to agree to form a simple alliance that could, once and for all, remove Seychelles from the hell hole it is for its citizens seems a misnomer. Talk of being an inclusive government, yet not accommodating other philosophies and lines of thought feels disingenuous. An absence of this strategic alliance leading yet again to an SPPF/PL win, will be read and remembered by the disappointed public as the various opposition political parties being more comfortable with a SPPF/PL government than with each other. The reasons for that would be very clear as well.
What also comes to mind is what the political climate might be if the SPPF/Pl had fielded another candidate rather than JAM, JAM having chosen the Mo Ibrahim programme option. Would we have seen the emergence of all these political parties? The card that people were dissatisfied with JAM but not with SPPF/PL could have been played then. It is not too late. Let us see who registers on the registration day.
The situation remains fluid as everything in politics always is. The party with by far the biggest wallet and direct use of government machinery remains SPPF/PL, which came into power nearly forty years ago through a bloody coup-d’etat and stayed in power through brutal and repressive tactics. Clearly such a party must move to remain in power at all cost, as the taste of power today is even sweeter than it was forty years ago, and the consequences for losing more potentially devastating. In the coming weeks there will be extra last-minute efforts to manipulate the playing field with serious money on offer, being much easier and more acceptable than another Coup d’Etat – but will the offers be more than those promised by various backers of the various candidates? ( It would be naïve to believe that there were none.) The promise of more, if and when in power, being in addition to the prestige that goes with the position.
Viral V. Dhanjee
Union Vale 6th. November, 2015

Friday, 6 November 2015

Ahmed Afif Of Lalyans Seselwa Fights Back!

Ahmed Afif

I note the response of this day by State House rebutting the validity of information we have received concerning some planned ambushes against key members of Lalyans Seselwa. The statement further urges me to substantiate these allegations. 

For many reasons, however, I will not divulge the sources of my information as I cannot and will not compromise the safety and security of my sources. How can I trust the security services when to this date they have not resolved cases involving direct attacks against pets and property of members of Lalyans Seselwa as well as the opposition in the period leading to the Presidential elections? At least 9 dogs of two opposition party leaders were killed in 2 separate incidents at their residential premises within a space of a few days only recently. At my home, I have noticed on several occasions in the recent weeks, vehicles said to belong or operated by the state security apparatus either tailing me or parked close to my residence. The occupants of these vehicles look hostile and threatening which I suppose is part of the intimidation campaign which has failed miserably. 

One well known member of the security services, who was the subject of a recent arrest and subsequently released, openly said to our campaigners that after the elections he will personally strangle me to death. In the case of my wife who is an active member of Lalyans Seselwa, she has been openly threatened by activists of LP in their LP t-shirt at her working place. We have reported it to the Police and to this date, nothing has been done or heard from the authorities. 

LP’s rag People Plus along with their social media smear group Dan Lari Bazar has openly made grave allegations against me including being involved in the drugs trade all of which are spurious, without factual basis and without precedent. In the case of the leader of Lalyans Seselwa, the state ordered his arrest against allegations that appear to have been fabricated with the object of harassing, creating fear and intimidating him. Do they expect that as opposition leaders, we should now take these new reports lightly and not inform the public of what we view as serious threats? It is not sufficient for the state to just deny those reports. 

I urge them if they wish to show some semblance of credibility, to resolve the reported cases of attacks against opposition leaders especially those in Lalyans Seselwa and to report publicly on what steps they have taken so far to stop the campaign of terror and intimidation against citizens who are fighting for a better life free of corrupt practises and discrimination. I also urge them to stop fabricating lies about opposition leaders in a way which is malicious and politically motivated especially in the run up to the forthcoming elections. I also eagerly await to see if this statement receives the same attention by the official state media which did not even bother to contact me before reading out a statement from the authorities reacting to a matter which we raised in the first place. 

It is a fact that the state apparatus and the party are one and the same which is why a regime change is needed!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

James Michel Uses State Security Agents To Intimidate The Opposition

James Michel

Members of Lalyans Seselwa has just learned from reliable sources that state security agents, the army, NDEA and some select Tazar personnel have been assigned the task of planting illegal substances or weapons at the residential premises of key members of Lalyans Seselwa with the objective of ambushing them at the appropriate moment, charging them for illegal possession and keeping them under detention indefinitely.

According to their information, this operation is masterminded by State House. One of the key objectives it appears is to prevent Ton Pat and Lalyans Seselwa from successfully lodging their nomination for the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates on Nov 11th 2015. 

"We will bring this to the attention of the Electoral Commission immediately and alert the public so they know better if indeed this rogue regime reverts to these cowardly tactics at this late hour". 
Patrick Pillay, Leader Of Lalyans Seselwa

"To all opposition supporters, we say please be on the alert around your home and premises as the rogue elements of LP are once again getting ready to show their ugly and brutal facade as they stare at defeat in the face at the ballot box. It does not scare us since the truth will prevail and LP will have to answer to its misdeeds sooner rather than later".

Friday, 30 October 2015

British taxpayers fork out £45m in foreign aid to paradise islands that charge NO TAX

Nations such as Belize, Marshall Islands, Seychelles and Vanautu - which are all included on a European Commission 'blacklist' of international tax havens - have all received cash handouts from the UK Government.
Under a controversial new law introduced by the Prime Minister, Britain is legally obliged to spend 0.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on foreign aid spending.
However, critics of the foreign aid commitment reacted with fury after it was revealed millions are being handed over to countries that set minimal or even zero tax rates.

An investigation by the Independent found that, for example, more than £1.8million of UK cash was given to the paradise Caribbean island of Anguilla in 2013.
This is despite the nation - which has an estimated population of less than 15,000 -  charging no income, capital gains or any other form of direct taxes on residents or companies, with it described as a "zero-tax jurisdiction".
In total, 13 countries included on the tax haven blacklist received £45million from the Department for International Development (DfID) in 2013, the most recent year for which aid spending figures are available.
These nations are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, Liberia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Montserrat, Panama, Seychelles, St. Vincent & Grenadines and Vanuatu.
Earlier this month, Chancellor George Osborne repeated a promise to crackdown on international tax havens, which lose Britain billions in lost tax revenue each year.
John Christensen, director of the Tax Justice Network, blasted Britain's foreign aid spending in tax havens as "incoherent".
He told the newspaper: “Donor countries need to pay far more attention to whether aid-recipient countries are making sufficient effort to tax their wealthy citizens and tackle corporate tax avoidance.
"Tackling tax dodging is an important step towards reducing reliance on aid and external debt.”
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "We spend too much taxpayers' money on overseas aid and have taken the ludicrous decision to ringfence it too so bigger spending reductions have to be made elsewhere.
"We need to rethink our entire approach to aid and ensure it is going to the world's poorest and making their lives demonstrably better."
A spokesperson for the Department for International Development said countries where its aid was directed tended to be very poor.
She also said the UK has an international obligation to assist economic development in British Overseas Territories, which include Montserrat.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

John Denis refutes Baseless And False Allegations Against Him

Apre tou sa ki mwan John Denis monn fer pour esey amenn en sanzman Sesel, ozordi mon vwar mwan pe ganny ensilte par bann dimoun kin dan sa menm lalit ki mwan. An Septanm 2015 monn kit Sesel pour mwan al a letranze pou fer detrwa keksoz personel ek mon fanmiy. Mon ti fer tou dimoun otour mwan konenn ki mon pou absante pou enpe letan. Ozordi deryer mon ledo zot komans fer rimer lo mon lavi. Zot pe dir ki James Michel in pey mwan en kantite milyon pou mwan kit pei. Eksa kwa ki pli fermal , sa I sorti dan labous bann dimoun dan lopozisyon. Bann menm dimoun ki ler mwan mon tipe ekspoz bann voler dan gouvernman, zot zot tipe maske sa bann voler e protez zot. Mon pros pou bez nonm zot non sa bann karya…. Mon leker I desire ler mon tann tousala akoz mwan zanmen mon deza ganny en sou ek personn. Le 25 out 2014, mon ti ganny aprose par en state security agent kit i dir mwan prezidan I oule war mwan, e dapre li I pou fer mwan vin ris. Mon ti dir li ki mon pa oule larzan prezidan mwan, mon oule sanzman Sesel – plito mon mor en zonm mizer me avek mon dignite. Mon ti dir li ki mon pa pou zanmen vann mon nanm pour larzan. I dir mwan ki enn mon dalon in pran e I ris ozordi, mon ti reponn li; ‘’mon zonm pa tou fanm ki fanm devi, I annan ki vann e I annan ki annan dignite” - e ti konpran mwan.

I annan 17 an depi monn demann gouvernman aste en morso later leta e zanmen monn gannyen akoz mon afilyasyon politik. Monn ganny victimize dan diferan form dan sa pei e dernyenman mon lavi tipe menm ganny menase. Ozordi mon viktimizasyon I sorti dan mon prop kan. Mon kestyon mon demann mon lekor; ki ou kapab fer ek sa Seselwa nou nasyon? Eski sa I lafasyon pou remersye mwan pou mon zefor ki monn mete tou sa bann letan? Monn ganny beze dan sa lopozisyon, kaso mwan menm, toultan monn devan. Ozordi bann kapon kin toultan reste deryer pe akiz mwan pou en keksoz malonnet. Les mwan dir zot ki John Denis pa pou zanmen vann son nanm – larzan sorti kot James Michel se larzan DISAN. Tou sa kin pran sa bann kalite larzan, zot in amenn Karma lo zot lavi. Mwan lo mon lekor ek mon fanmiy mon pa pou zanmen amenn sa kalite malediksyon – plito nou reste mizer. Lopozisyon I devret pe konsantre lo sa eleksyon kip e vini e tir sa malfeter o pouvwar – ouver zot lizye get bann dimoun dan lopozisyon kip e pran larzan ek James Michel. Byento ki nou pou konnen lekel ki pe vreman pe vreman larzan. Bann kip e al fer PPB pou Parti lepep. Mwan mon konsyans I kler e mon ankor en zonm mizer parey monn toultan ete – sa ki mon annan I mon lasyer. Mwan de zour pase monn offer Ahmed Afif ek Ton Pat pou fer en PPB pour zot pour sa eleksyon. Mon pan fer PPB pou Parti lepep mwan – tasyon ler nou vwar bann kin fer nou bez en latak. Alexia Amsbury antraver Alexander Pierre in demann mwan si mon kapab ed zot pandan bann letan kanpany e monn aksepte. Mon pa travay pou demon parey James Michel mwan – mon travay pour lopozisyon menm si zot menm ki ensilte mwan. Mon pardonn zot avek akoz mon leker I ankor toultan ek zot. Ozordi mon pe demann tou dimoun ki annan levidans ki monn ganny larzan ek James Michel pou vin devan e montre lemonn – akoz mwan larzan DISAN mon repete mon pa oule dan mon lavi.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Trouble in paradise as election gets dirty

Opposition parties in the island paradise of the Seychelles have cried foul after the lead challenger to the president in coming elections was arrested over what they say are trumped up charges of molesting a Sri Lankan “houseboy”.

Patrick Pillay, a former High Commissioner to Britain who welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the islands for their honeymoon four years ago, was questioned by police last week and is now waiting to hear whether the Attorney General will charge him.
A former minister, in April he announced the birth of a breakaway party from the Parti Lepep, the all-powerful ruling group which has in various incarnations run the country for 36 years.

He is accused of bringing a 30-year-old Sri Lankan, Gihan Fernando, to the principal island of Mahe against his will, forcing him to work as a virtual slave between December last year and February this year, and making sexual advances towards him.

The “revelations” came just a month before Seychellois were due to go to the polls to either elect a new president or return to office James Michel, the incumbent and protege of France Rene, the islands’ former dictator. Mr Michel has himself been at the helm for 11 years.

Mr Pillay insists the charges hanging over him are a sign of the government’s “panic” over the first serious political challenge to its hegemony for decades.
He questioned how his accuser found the money to return to the Indian Ocean archipelago from the Sri Lankan village where he lives in penury, claiming he had been put up in a five-star hotel and given police protection during his visit.

The government has turned on Mr Pillay after he broke away from the ruling party and announced his decision to stand for the new Lalyans Seselwa (Seychellois Alliance) party. Mr Michel has publicly called him a "traitor".

The affair of the Sri Lankan houseboy took another twist after Mr Pillay claimed that the night after he was questioned his house on the normally crime-free slopes of Morne Blanc mountain was broken into and his pet puppy Goldie fatally stabbed.

Other opposition parties have rallied round Mr Pillay and hinted that they may now form a coalition to try to bring down the government if the “acts of intimidation, threats and accusations” continued.
In a meeting with the electoral commission, Wavel Ramkalawan of the Seychelles National Party denounced the Fernando case as one of “government abusing State resources” and said the accusations against Mr Pillay were an attempt to “denigrate, humiliate and destroy him”.

Another presidential candidate, Alexia Amesbury, the first woman to run for office in the country, told the commission that eight of her dogs had also been killed, her family had been followed and threatened and her mobile phones were “being interfered with”.
“What kind of regime acts in this cowardly fashion?” she asked.

The electoral commission has responded by delaying the election to December. Meanwhile an official from the ruling party told The Telegraph that Seychellois opposition parties were just being vocal in their complaints.
“It’s strange how it’s always the opposition these things happen to,” the unnamed man, who described himself as a member of the party’s central executive committee said.
The party declined to comment further.

Political intrigue is nothing new in the island paradise, where everyone knows everyone in a population of just 90,000 and the same family names crop up regularly in the island’s real estate and tourism industries as well as in political and government circles.

A prominent exiled opponent of Mr René was shot and killed on his London doorstep in November 1985, and in February 1992 another alleged coup attempt, purported to have the backing of the CIA and more foreign mercenaries, was put down – the last attempt to overthrow the government by force.

Alex Vines, Africa Director for the Chatham House think-tank, said the country’s traditional reputation for opacity made it a magnet for money launderers and those involved in the international drugs trade.
“At one point, there was the offer of residency and even a passport – advertised in the British Airways magazine at one point I believe – if you invested a large amount of money in property there,” he said.

Among foreigners who have sunk their money into the Seychelles is Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the president of the United Arab emirates, who built a vast new palace with 360-degree views across the Indian Ocean on a former US Air Force base.
The project prompted riots after its sewage plant allowed diesel and raw effluent to seep into local water sources, prompting its 800 nearest residents to lodge claims against Sheikh Khalifa for potential repercussions.

“The ruling party is less confident this time than it would have been in previous years,” said one local analyst, who did not wish to be named. “There is a lot of effort going into the campaign and ministerial teams have been grounded from all foreign travel.”
The analyst said the allegations against Mr Pillay were no surprise. “The suggestion of homosexuality, a big taboo in many African countries, is the best way to smear people.”
Neither Mr Pillay, nor the Seychellois police spokesman Jean Toussaint, nor a spokesman for the ruling party could be reached for comment.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Sars seizes crystal meth worth over R16 million at OR Tambo International

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) on Thursday said its officials had seized crystal meth worth more than R16-million at OR Tambo International Airport this week.

Sars issued a statement following Wednesday’s seizure of a bag containing 20.6kg of the drug that “had come to South Africa from Abu Dhabi via the Seychelles”.
The discovery came after customs officials “stopped two baggage handlers for questioning and decided to search an unaccompanied bag that they had in their possession”.
“The officers became suspicious after detecting a strong smell of glue and sent the bag for a scan‚” Sars said.
“Customs’ new high-tech baggage scanner revealed an image of a concentrated substance and the bag was then physically searched.”
The crystal meth they uncovered was valued at R6.18-million. Sunday saw customs officials discovering more that R10-million worth of crystal meth in a passenger’s baggage after stopping him for a random inspection after he had arrived on a flight from Dar es Salaam.
“After the scanner revealed suspicious images‚ the bags were searched. The officer found plastic bags filled with a powdery substance‚ which turned out to be crystal meth‚” Sars said.


Sunday, 11 October 2015

A Billion-Dollar Shell Game in Seychelles

An Indian-born oligarch who purchased M.C. Hammer’s former mansion in California may have followed the previous owner into decadence and bankruptcy, but, unlike the bejeweled and balloon-panted rapper, this flamboyant figure appears to have benefited from the relaxed laws of an island nation to keep his assets out of the hands of his creditors.
 Once the owner of an estimated $3 billion business empire, largely founded on India’s telecom industry, Chinnakannan Sivasankaran, or Siva as his friends call him, filed for bankruptcy in August 2014 in Seychelles, following his loss, in British High Court, of a civil case brought against him by an erstwhile partner, a subsidiary of the Bahrain Telecommunications Company, or Batelco.
It was decided that Siva and his Bermuda-registered company Siva Limited should pay the Gulf-based company $212 million by June 26, 2014. 

However, even before the trial began, the oligarch used his Seychellois citizenship, to arrange a swift legal split from his wife, to whom he then transferred at least $95 million in assets—39 plots of land, one island and numerous corporate holdings registered in Seychelles and the British Virgin Islands, including those that owned even more real estate—as part of the divorce settlement. (That transfer, in fact, took place on May 14, 2014, a day before Siva testified in court on the Batelco case.)
Not that bankruptcy would have necessarily hurt Batelco’s chances of recovering their money under Seychelles’ prior law on insolvency. But about a year after Siva lost his case in Britain, the island nation “reformed” its bankruptcy statute, first introduced by Seychelles Finance Minister Jean Paul Adam, thereby shortening the timespan of official bankruptcy from three years to one and also making it more difficult for creditors to collect from the new owners of transferred assets.
That change occurred mere weeks before Siva became the first person in the history of Seychelles to file for bankruptcy. To date, he is also the only person to have done so, before or after the law changed. He hasn’t paid Batelco a cent and his actual financial relationship with his former wife remains a mystery. 

The whole story, uncovered by The Daily Beast, highlights the role of questionable offshore tax shelters, of which Seychelles is a small but hyper-caffeinated example, in allowing an international elite to transcend borders and sovereign jurisdictions in order to safeguard their assets.
The 59-year-old Siva first rose to prominence in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu in the mid-1980s after he acquired Sterling Computers and sold cut-rate PCs in a burgeoning subcontinental tech industry, transforming the company into one of India’s top three in its field.  Frequently adorned with gold Rolexes and known for his obsession with health food and personal fitness, Siva formerly lived and worked out of presidential suites at the Ritz Carlton and Pan Pacific hotels in Singapore. He spent in excess of $80 million to buy himself three personal jets because, as he put it, “Every week, I have at least three flights to catch.”
 As a “back-up plan,” in 2008 Siva also became the first member of Dragon Blaze, a “luxury lifestyle” concern run out of Malaysia, which grants its members access to fleet of even more comfortable aerial and aquatic conveyances. (The annual membership is $1 million.)

Over the past four decades, he's had a hand in all sorts of things: engineering, shipping, commodities trading and alternative energy. According to NGO Grain, an international non-profit that supports small farmers, his Siva Group gobbled up about “a million hectares of land in the Americas, Africa and Asia, primarily for oil palm plantations,” making him “one of the world’s largest farmland holders.” 
Siva aimed to set up a new U.S. operation by relocating to Fremont, California, in 1996, buying M.C. Hammer’s mansion following the latter’s own loss of fortune, but by the mid-2000s, he opted to move to Seychelles and became a full citizen. This decision was followed almost immediately by his nomination as ambassador-at-large. 
In a 2008 U.S. State Department cable published by WikiLeaks, U.S. diplomats relayed statements by Ralph Vocere, “editor of a local paper and member of an opposition party,” alleging that Siva was part of a Seychellois “business mafia” that was buying land from the Seychelles government at the expense of a battered and hopelessly corrupt national economy — this, as the nation was seeking bailouts from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

 “[N]o one can deny that Siva has profited from his time in Seychelles,” the cable states.  “He now owns many business [sic], three islands in the Seychelles archipelago, and was nominated Ambassador-at-Large by President Michel after only being in Seychelles for about a year. Soon after awarding him the position, the Government of Seychelles [GOS] requested a U.S. diplomatic visa for Ambassador-at-Large Siva.  When Post requested information as to the plans and nature of the diplomatic trips planned by Siva, the GOS withdrew the application.”  
By 2008, Siva was one of Seychelles’ largest landowners.  He also donated an unspecified sum to the creation of Espace, a 6,500-square meter, $12 million performance-and-shopping centre in Victoria, Seychelles’ capital. It was the project of a youth organization called JJ Spirit Foundation, the patron of which is none other than Seychelles President James Michel. The opening ceremony for Espace occurred just days after the British High Court judgment against Siva.
Seychelles has been called the “world’s first socialist tax haven,” with a post-colonial history tethered closely to Italian mafia and South African apartheid, according to reports.  With a population of a mere 89,000 — smaller than that of Flint, Michigan — Seychelles has adopted an ask-no-questions economic policy catering to a jet-set, billionaire class of foreigner who travels there not to luxuriate in the tropical paradise where Kate and Wills honeymooned, but to set up companies for the purposes of moving GDP-sized amounts of money around the world.  
Much of Seychelles’ economy functions as a service industry for nominee directorships and hassle-free corporate filings. As such, according to the Independent Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Seychelles is “an offshore magnet for money launderers and tax dodgers,” a reputation owing, ICIJ finds, a great deal to the dubious company kept by its president and his coterie of advisors.
In the past two years alone, all sorts have passed through Seychelles including a mobbed-up Slovakian businessman accused of murder and the son-in-law of former Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who lives there still, free from the threat of extradition on the pretext that he’d not receive a “free and fair” trial in post-revolutionary Tunis, where he has been sentenced to 16 years in jail on corruption chargesAt least four shell companies that launder stolen Russian taxpayer money, connected to the notorious Magnitsky affair, were established in the Seychelles. And the unscrupulousness is by no means confined to authoritarian regimes. In 2011, it was discovered that a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia moved millions in bribes through Seychellois companies. A year later, two Israelis pleaded guilty in the U.S. for running an unlawful online pharmacy through similar legal structures.
“We're seeing the abuse of companies that are either registered in Seychelles, or use nominee directors from there, to hide assets or conduct dubious activity,” says Tom Mayne, a specialist in offshore jurisdictions formerly affiliated with the transparency watchdog Global Witness.
With such precedents, then, fast-tracking a divorce seems a modest request. Documents obtained by The Daily Beast indicate that Siva filed a motion for his petition to divorce Jayalakshmi Sivasankaran to be processed as a matter of urgency, citing the former’s need to travel, and in camera, so as to not to interfere with Siva’s role as diplomat.  
The divorce was filed and temporarily granted within three days. A second petition was then filed to speed up the time for which it takes a Seychellois divorce to become absolute from six weeks to four.  The entire dissolution of marriage and transfer of close to $100 million in assets took about a month and concluded at the end of April, 2014.  Other documents obtained by The Daily Beast indicate, however,  that Jayalakshmi and Siva’s father both resided at the same address in India as of late August, 2014 — four months after she became the former Mrs. Siva. 
On June 12, 2014, the British High Court ordered Siva to pay $212 million to Batelco. Had he not got the time for the finalization of his divorce reduced to a month, there’s every chance that he’d have still been legally married to Jayalakshmi when the decision came down and that the $100 million in assets he granted her in the quicky settlement would therefore be susceptible to seizure to satisfy the judgment.
June was also the month that Seychelles’ National Assembly, where President Michel’s ruling party controls 31 of the 32 seats, discussed an insolvency amendment shrinking the time for an individual’s state of bankruptcy from three years to one and making it more difficult for receivers to try and recoup reassigned assets from the legally broke. The amendment passed soon thereafter.
And the timing was just right for Siva. On July 16, Britain’s High Court issued a Worldwide Freezing Injunction on all of Siva’s assets. It was a month later that he became the first Seychellois citizen to ever file for bankruptcy under the country’s newer, more favorable conditions for doing so.
Also interesting are the other assets he transferred that summer. One was a large Canadian property located in British Columbia —279 Anna's Drive, Salt Spring Island— which Siva Limited gave to Axcel Sunshine, British Virgin Island-registered company. According to Companies House, Britain’s corporate registry, the director and 25 percent-owner of Axcel Sunshine is a woman named Nithyavathi Venkatesan. As of 2004, her listed address was 44896 Vista Del Sol, Fremont, California — the M.C. Hammer mansion owned at that time by Siva. The sale documents were allegedly signed on July 11, 2014, five days before the High Court freezing order, but the transfer was not actually filed until July 22. 
“Notice how it works," said Ben Judah, author of a forthcoming book on London and an anti-corruption campaigner. “It shows that nation-states have become obsolete in the policing of the mega-rich.”
Siva did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on this story.