Saturday, 29 October 2016

Is Clifford Andre a honey Badger?

This is a legitimate question under the circumstances - during the interaction of Dr. Peter Larose with the National Assembly this week to talk about his nomination for minister. Clifford Andre singled out the IDC for special attention.

 It must be said that there are many companies, private and public, with overseas bank accounts. However, Clifford went straight to IDC he wanted to know if Dr. Larose would do anything to stop IDC from banking overseas or something to that effect. He could have said Air Seychelles. This is a remarkable situation and it shows clearly the intention of the MNA. Clifford is known for his ‘wheeling and dealing’ when he was a National Assembly Member for Parti Lepep, he was seen walking in town in the company of foreigners from all the corners of the world pushing their agenda aggressively for business and even for passports.

 Clifford Andre was also sanctioned by a judge of the Supreme Court for a fraudulent declaration at the Land Registrar. Clifford Andre should know that being an MNA doesn’t allow him to operate with impunity. We are watching him!!


Dr. Larose flattens Ahmed Afif

Dr. Peter Larose was before the National Assembly on Wednesday to interact with the Honorable Members to answer questions following his nomination as a cabinet minister. It is common knowledge that Dr. Larose’s forte is in the field of finance and banking. Following a question from Jean-Francois Ferrari Dr. Larose acknowledged that 50 million American dollars was transferred as a grant to the Central Bank for the Seychelles government from the UAE authority. He also stated that this money was transferred back to an account overseas in the name of a local parastatal company. Ahmed Afif decided to press Dr. Larose for specifications in an attempt to play cheap politics.

Dr. Peter Larose reminded Ahmed Afif rightly of the fact that he too was in government at the time and he (Afif) kept quiet about this issue as well. The corrupt nature of Ahmed Afif rose to the surface when he lied to the National Assembly and to nation on Wednesday by stating that he was told that the money had come in as an error and it was being returned. This is the first time that Afif has said this - in fact in the last twelve months Afif has been shouting the loudest about the 50 million dollars when all the time he knew it was an “error”. Ahmed Afif is as corrupt as those he left in government he remained silent over the issue when he was in government to protect his position he couldn’t care less about the national interest. He is only speaking out now because he lost his job and the privileges that is associated with being principal secretary of finance. He is corrupt and he needs to be investigated like all of them for corruption.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind Ahmed Afif that he has never answered the questions this newspaper put before him in previous editions. Ahmed Afif is a fake he has no credibility to ask questions - he needs to show that he is transparent by answering our questions first before we can take him seriously:

(1) Ahmed Afif have you ever lied to the Seselwa when you were Principal Secretary for Finance – when you said many times there were no corruption in government?

(2) Ahmed Afif did you lie when you also helped defend and cover up the loss of 4.5 million dollars intended for the housing project at Perseverance?

 (3) Ahmed Afif can you confirm or deny the allegation that foreign exchange confiscated by the currency police was given to you directly?

(4) Ahmed Afif did you apply for a duty free vehicle, namely a Ford Ranger (s5318) in February 2005 on the basis that you are a handicapped person?

(5) Ahmed Afif can you tell us what you know about the consultancy firm ‘White Oak’, who hired this company and how much was paid to them and for how long?

(6) Mr. Ahmed Afif during your employment with this “corrupt” government have you ever asked a supplier for Health Supplies for a commission of Euro 50,000 saying that it was for your superiors, “pour mes superieurs”?

 (7) Ahmed Afif will you be prepared to appear before the Corruption Commission when it is finally set up?

 (8) Ahmed why did you stay quiet over the 50 million USD and what part if any did you play in allowing it to leave the country?

 (9) Ahmed was it you who authorized the transfer of that money to a branch of the Bank of Baroda in the UK on the request of France Albert Rene?

 (10) Ahmed can you explain under what circumstances that your wife was able to acquire two plots of land from government?


Saturday, 15 October 2016

Fears over Political Instability

Concerns are growing in the country with regards to long term social, political and economic stability. After the win of the opposition coalition at the National Assembly elections, it was assumed that the political tensions and divisions now sweeping the country would subside. The expectation was that the political leaders call for calm would be respected and that the country would return to normal. But this does not seem to be happening to the worry of many people.

The LDS opposition leaders themselves have chosen to propagate this state of uneasiness by challenging the constitution at a time when political tension is high. Ironically this is the same constitution which they swore to defend and uphold only a week or two ago. They are now insisting that the Vice President cannot take over from the President who has resigned, that is in spite of the fact that the constitution makes provision for such an orderly transition.

The current Vice President was elected on the same ticket as the outgoing President. This in itself gives him a degree of legitimacy as people voted for a joint ticket. In trying to force the hand of the new incoming President, the opposition is playing a dangerous game of attaining executive power at all costs. While they are caught up in the euphoria of victory and the appetite for never ending street protests, they are oblivious to the fact that investors are watching developments with a degree of uneasiness.

The Seychelles has attracted a lot of investments under the Presidency of James Michel as he presided over a stable political environment. The risk of some people now pulling out or freezing their investments is starting to tax the brains of some in the business community. The Seychelles economy is extremely fragile and any sign of political instability inadvertently conveyed to the outside world, could prove disastrous for all of us.

Political instability can have an even greater impact on business and it may make them reluctant to invest in new capital or enter new markets. It may even encourage relocation of activities to a more stable and predictable area as business owners hate risk! Political instability in an area where a firm operates will mean that the firm has to be very flexible and adaptable; ready to change their operations at very short notice to reflect changes in the political environment.

Many of our citizens who have lived in unstable countries are fully aware that political instability causes uncertainty and at its worse complete economic breakdown. Extreme instability leads to poor economic performance, high level of poverty and low standards of living. While the LDS opposition leaders legitimately push their tunnel vision agenda of change, they must not allow themselves to be blinded by the past while reality stares them in the face; they still need to see the woods from the trees. In the pursuit for power under the guise of pursuing a perfect democracy, let us not give rise to a dead economy.


Two Ticking Time-Bombs

Change for the better is a good thing but Change for the sake of change is alarming. The two main protagonists for change in the National Assembly, Wavel Ramkalawan and Jean-Francois Ferrari are the two most angry and vengeful people in the opposition LDS; they are both former SPUP/SPPF and they both share the same fiery characters; they hate each other. Those two opposition politicians are blinded by their anger and their urge to seek revenge for events that happened many years ago. Both Ramkalawan and Ferrari are prepared to lead this country on the road to destruction in order to achieve their aims. Compromise is not a word that exists in their vocabulary.

Strangely enough, the two of them do not see eye-to-eye on a range of issues and given absolute power, they would be a disaster. Albeit, Ferrari is politically smarter than Ramkalawan and consequently he has a very low opinion of his boss. They have clashed many times in the past and Roger Mancienne has had to intervene and act as referee. Both these two men cannot stand each other but have come together purely to accomplish their mission of revenge. For the last five years, Ferrari did not speak to Wavel Ramkalawan but being the opportunist that he is, he could not afford to miss the political gravy train that was leaving the station. He came back after the first round of the presidential election, when James Michel had failed to win an outright majority. This was the move of a typical opportunist.

Ferrari and Ramkalawan both have their origins in the ruling party as stated above. Jean-Francois Ferrari is the son of Dr. Maxime Ferrari, who was one of the main architects of the coup d’├ętat in 1977 which brought the Rene to power. As the Coup d’├ętat unfolded in the early hours of 5th June, Albert Rene set up his control and command centre at Ferrari’s house. The two did not live too far apart in the secluded hills of San Soucis. That night, the 17 year old Jean-Francois was the tea boy for the two coup masterminds. In a sense he too has blood on his hands.

The next morning, once the coup had succeeded, Jean Francois was seen roaming around in Victoria with other armed men and holding a revolver in his hand. For years he enjoyed the good life and the power as the son of a minister until his father fell out with ex President Albert Rene. It is only then that Jean Francois started complaining about the system. The same system his father had helped to create and propagate. Everything was good as long as he was part of the privileged few and was personally benefitting.

On the other hand it is not known exactly what turned Ramkalawan against the party that he and his family supported. His mother was a head teacher who had been promoted not just because she was a good teacher but also because of her close affiliations with the ruling party. Ramkalawans’ father is the man who welded together the iron statue of ‘Zonm lib’ while Ferraris’ sister Pauline was the one who designed the statue.

Both Ferrari and Ramkalawan were educated by the Christian brotherhood at Seychelles College in the mid to late 1970’s. With the two of them now leading the opposition charge in the National Assembly, there is no doubt that they will aggressively hold the Executive to account. For the leader of the opposition, there is also no doubt that keeping control over Jean Francois Ferrari will be his biggest nightmare. The question is, will they let their volatile temperaments get the better of them or will the oxygen of publicity they now enjoy set off this double ticking time-bomb?..... Tick…tock…tick…… tock…..and on it goes.


Friday, 7 October 2016

LDS leader quizzed by the authority

An LDS leader was quizzed by the authority over the weekend in regards to involvement in laundering dirty money. This is not the first time that this lawyer has had to answer questions for allege involvement with trying to hide illicit proceeds for alleged drug dealers. The same person is known to have tried to buy a property with drugs money, only, in the recent past.

This is a fresh involvement where vehicles known to belong to people suspected to be dealing in drugs are registered in the lawyer’s name. The authorities have shied away in the past from pursuing the culprit criminally for fear of being accused of political persecution. This is an unfair situation by any standard if it was an ordinary citizen the law enforcement agencies would have jumped on his/her back with both legs, so to speak. It is corruption in the real sense of the word.

It goes to show that we will never get to the bottom of the drug problem in Seychelles – if we cannot deal with the people who are fronting dirty deals for the big fish. The LDS must act to show that they will not tolerate this kind of behavior in the top leadership of the party or will they? We will judge them by their actions!


Understanding the constitutional status

What does the Constitution say? Article 55(1) – “Where the President dies, resigns or is removed from office, the Vice-President shall assume the office of President for the unexpired term of the President with effect from the death, resignation or removal from office of the President”

James Michel announced his resignation from Office of President on 27 September 2016 to take effect on 16 October 2016. He also announced that Danny Faure will run the country as President for the unexpired term of his presidency.

Article 66 (11) – “Where the Vice-President assumes the office of the President under article 55 (1)

(a) The (new) President shall, with the approval of the National Assembly, appoint a person to be Vice-President;

 (b) The person who at the time is designated Minister shall immediately cease to be designated Minister and the (new) President shall designate a person, who may be the first-mentioned person, for approval by the National Assembly as designated Minister.”

The out-going President cannot dissolve the National Assembly because article 55 (3)(b) specifically removes the power to do so.

Article 66 (11) states: “The President shall, (mandatory) with the approval of the National Assembly…,” which means that the approval of the National Assembly must come before the appointment. So, if the National Assembly does not approve there can be no appointment.

So what happens next? Mr Faure can break the Check Mate situation by.

(1) Appointing as his Vice-President someone from the Opposition who is presently  an MNA, because under article 66A (5) “A person who is a member of the National Assembly or the Judiciary shall upon becoming Vice-President cease to be a member of the National Assembly or Judiciary.”

(2) Appointing as his Vice-President someone from the Opposition who is not an MNA.

(3) Resigning as President to leave the task of organizing fresh presidential polls to the Electoral Commission.

Article 66A (4) says “a candidate at an election for President shall designate a person as the candidate’s Vice-President” and if elected the candidate’s designated vice-presidential candidate becomes Vice-President.

Act 7 of 2000 allows the President to go back to the people for a fresh mandate before the expiration of the presidential term. And holding an election could mean getting around the need for the National Assembly’s approval of his Vice-President.

Except that Article 52A (2) states: “The President may, at any time after the expiration of one year from the commencement of the President’s first or second term of office, by Proclamation published in the Gazette, declare the President’s intention of appealing to the People for a mandate to hold office, by election for a further term.”

This means that even if Danny Faure wanted to call for new elections, the above amendment forbids him from doing so until after the expiration of one year of the Presidential term.


Cracks in the Opposition

Patrick Pillay has made a good start as Speaker of the National Assembly. In his deliberation during the second sitting of the new assembly, the speaker was gracious to the outgoing president and called for members and the population to show respect for the president. This change of heart has taken many by surprise when compared to the vitriolic he was spitting out before and during the election campaign; there was no love lost between him and President Michel. But things have changed and Speaker Pillay’s LDS coalition has achieved its stated aim of removing James Michel from power. So what now for the opposition coalition? This newspaper have previously pointed out that at no time has Mr. Pillay criticized Vice President Faure. In fact they had kept their channel of communication open in the background.

Now that Danny Faure will be the new President, it would not be surprising to see Mr. Pillay and company either go back to their old SPPF roots or collaborate closely with them. After all they are all good old friends who share the same political philosophy. So far all the signs point to collaboration and possibly re-unification between Pillay and his old SPPF colleagues. This could spell trouble and isolation for Ramkalawan. Pillay and his members are all one big red family who had a little misunderstanding with the head of the family. With Mr. Michel out of the way, this little misunderstanding is now resolved and the family can once again be reunited; all will be forgiven. Pillay and his team have more in common with the SPPF than they do with SNP. Their affiliation with SNP is viewed by many as only a means to an end and that end has now been achieved. They do not believe in Ramkalawan and see him as an impossible person to work with let alone one whose political philosophy they do not share.

It seems that the pawns on this political chessboard are slowly moving in Mr. Faure’s favour with a little help from Ton Pat. As the days go on, it is abundantly clear that Ramkalawan will end up being the loser once again. But, all is not doom and gloom for the Anglican Priest he has his plastic toys to keep him busy when he is not planning on how to destroy people.