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Mont Buxton, which borders with English River and St Louis is landlocked with no opening to any beach. It borders other districts on all sides. On a broader note, Mont Buxton is squeezed between two islands which are popular for their touristic values. They are Silhouette and Cerf Islands.

Mont Buxton is one of the few districts on Mahe which commands a good view of important infrastructures and facilities around the island and Victoria.
Port facilities and buildings in Victoria could be seen from wherever one stands. The Seychelles airport runway and a set of nearby islands as well.
The district is said to have got its name from a British who was the first to start building houses and create an environment conducive for habitation there. Ma Pavignon was the place where in the past ships were directed into Victoria Harbour. It is for this precise reason why the place is named Mont Signal.
“Give the people their right to decide”
We continue with our weekly discussions with United Seychelles activists.
Robert David is the Chairman of the Mont Buxton Baz and June Lucie, the Secretary. They gave our journalist their views on various issues pertinent to their district and the country. Questions also dwelled on the subject of the proposed referendum by President Danny Faure earlier this year. A Bill was also debated in the National Assembly this week on this issue and how other referendums should be held in future.

The People: What are your views on the new procedures for United Seychelles to choose its Presidential Candidate?

Robert: I have always believed that power should be in the hands of the people. It is therefore the people who should decide who becomes their leader. The decision taken by United Seychelles is in line with this principle. Our ways of doing things in the past had their advantages as well as their disadvantages. In the past it was NEC which presented a candidate, but it was not the majority of Party members who were making the choice. Now circumstances have changed. Any Party member has a chance to particpate. The candidate (s) has to go through a procedure set in the new Constitution, including an Ethics Commission. This method of doing things is more democratic.

June: I also believe the new procedure is better. There were times in the past when candidates, especially for parliamentary elections, were chosen by the Central Committee but Party members had other views on their candidacy. In such cases, when the candidate fails, then there is this blame game. In fact we lost our majority in the National Assembly probably because of confusion and disagreement over choices of candidates in some districts for the 2016 elections.

The People: What do you have to say with regards to the need for peace and unity ahead of the coming elections?

Robert: Unity is the key. It prevents division within the family because of politics. It is important for the country to remain stable economically. It is important for people to cultivate respect for one another despite having diverse political views. We have no choice. We have to remain united as neighbours, community and country. No one can afford to live a life of not caring for others in Seychelles. The country is too small for that, even in times of elections. As a united country, Seychelles will have more chances of making progress.

June: During the last elections, there were too much unruly behaviours, especially on public roads around Victoria. It appeared that people were unable to go about their normal daily lives. There were many incidents of political harassment as well. It was what resulted in brawls and those responsible ended up in police custody.
I believe, if we return to the times of President France Albert René when there were police patrol on public roads and in the districts, it would be a good thing, especially at election times. People shouldn’t be allowed to assemble so as to discuss politics by the roadside or anywhere that is not suited for such a purpose. Perhaps some people will not like the idea, regarding it as a violation of their right to freedom. But Law and Order must be established one way or the other. In most cases, violence starts when people group together and start insulting those with opposing political views.

The People: Do you think the Electoral Commission can do something now so as to avoid the bad experiences of the 2016 National Assembly Elections?

Robert: We must create awareness on the subject of peace and unity. We must educate our people on why there must be an election in the country. Elections are held to choose individuals whom we feel can take up positions of responsibility. We do not go into elections to create enemies, disorder and instability. We must find ways of how we can organize elections better. We are a small country and we cannot afford instability.

June: I agree that there must be an education campaign, but we must not wait until the last moment. We must start them right now in districts. We must also hear suggestions from potential voters themselves. We have developed a tendency of discussing what could have been done better only after an election is over. We need to be pro-active- do it before an election takes place.
On the other hand, I tend to believe that most Seychellois voters understand the raison d ’etre behind an election, but there is stubbornness on the part of some people to force situations of unrest during any election campaign. They are the ones on which the most attention should focus.

The People: What are your views on the referendum announced by President Danny Faure to allow the Seychellois diaspora overseas to vote in local elections?

Robert: This referendum has to take place. This subject has huge importance for the future of Seychelles. It will give the electorate the power to decide on something which has the potential to affect the future generations of Seychellois.

June: There must be a referendum on the subject. It will allow the people to speak out their minds. Voting rights for Seychellois living overseas cannot just come as a result of a decision taken by a person or a small group of people. Whatever we get as a result of this referendum, at least we will know it was our own choice- through our votes. Give the people their right to decide.

The People: Do you personally believe Seychellois staying overseas should vote in future elections held locally ?

Robert: No ! They should not vote. Seychellois who do not care for Seychelles and are not participating actively in the life of the country need to lose their right to vote. Right for people to vote also comes with responsibility. After voting, all Seychellois are expected to participate in some activities that will help the country progress. They can be economic, social and even political. But they cannot just vote and then leave not caring about the consequences their votes may have on others left behind. If Seychellois staying overseas want to vote, they must have demonstrated beyond any doubt that they are doing something for the betterment of the country.

June: No ! They should not vote. If we are to vote together, then we have to live the reality of our votes together. Going to stay in another country after participating in such an exercise, is simply not right.

The People: What is the political atmosphere in Mont Buxton and the country in general?

Robert: At the moment, the political atmosphere in Mont Buxton is really calm. There is not much political manifestation of any sort. Our Party lost Mont Buxton in the last National Assembly. So we did not expect the winning party to do much anyway. The district today is dead as compared to when there was an MNA from our own Party. Some opposition supporters are even approaching us in United Seychelles to organize activities. The atmosphere is simply too dull for their own liking.
As for the country in general, we watch politics being conducted only inside the National Assembly. Outside of the institution, it seems most Seychellois are either not interested at all or the mood is yet to come.

June: Frankly speaking, since the last National Assembly Elections one barely sees anything happening in Mont Buxton. Residents are saying that after those elections, the elected MNA for our district promised he will be very available to those who need his help and very visible on the field, but it does not seem to be the case. Even his supporters feel he is not delivering on his promises.
We are visiting constituents, even those who did not vote for our Party.
In general, it seems that politics is not a priority in people’s lives at this present moment.

The People: Is the Mont Buxton team ready to give United Seychelles support ahead of the coming elections?

Robert: Mont Buxton is a district where people are very intelligent when choosing political leaders. Based on that, we believe the majority of people in our district will support United Seychelles in the coming elections. We, the leaders on the Baz Committee are meeting with the constituents on a one to one basis. In this way we are confirming their support. We will have a solid group of core supporters come both elections. As we build our support base, we can expect to come out with a good result for our Party.

June: Actually we are identifying houses where their occupants are supporters of United Seychelles. At the same time we are on the lookout for other people to strengthen our Party. We want to go into those elections with complete assurance that at least in our district United Seychelles will win.
We have our district campaign team. Then we have people in zones. This is a way of ensuring that all houses are covered and we do not miss anyone. It is our duty to ensure that each group visits houses entrusted under their care regularly. In such a way we can pass on information about Party activities to them among other things.
As far as I am concerned, I feel that United Seychelles will do well in Mont Buxton. I say that because it is not the first time that Mont Buxton has lost an election to an opposition party. We were able to bounce back and regain the district. If we managed to do it once, we are capable of doing it again. Taking into account that we lost by fewer margin of votes in 2016 compared to 2002, it should be an easier task.

The People: You are the Committee Chairman in a district where the last time our Party lost the parliamentary elections. Is your task difficult now?

Robert: It can be easy and at the same time difficult. We have a support base which we must maintain. On the other hand, one must search for and work on the missing part which caused our defeat the last time around. If we can reconcile those two pieces, we will definitely win.

The People: What can United Seychelles do to help improve the lives of residents in the district of Mont Buxton?

Robert: Our main problem now is that we have to find alternative venues to organize Party activities because we cannot do them in the building where we are located due to unavailability of electricity.
When we conduct door to door campaigning, residents relate their hardships to us. It is difficult to help them the way we would have liked to, because the MNA is LDS and it is his job. There is not much we can do as Baz leaders- our positions are political. There are issues such as dangerous trees that need to be chopped down in the district, we cannot do it ourselves. It is a job for the DA’s office to take up. At times, when they approach the necessary departments to carry out the job it takes too long in getting it done too. Most districts have the common problems of housing, land, development of infrastructures and other projects. Some of those projects the district has submitted to the government since last year and many are yet to be implemented. In Mont Buxton there are lots of those small projects and we must be able to get them moving.
At the level of NEC, we get the necessary support. But, what people on this Committee cannot do themselves, they have to refer to the appropriate bodies. This is where sometimes we encounter delays. Perhaps this is where they should push a little harder to enable us deliver better for our constituents.

June: When we conduct door to door campaigning, we go with forms so as to jot down complaints of the residents and send them to our leaders. On our next visit those residents expect us to give them feedbacks. At times nothing is communicated to us as Committee members. In such situations, we cannot provide feedbacks and people are frustrated.
The majority of residents we visit say they will support and vote for United Seychelles in any circumstance. But they would like to personally interact with politicians who are higher up the ladder within our Party.

The People: We lost our majority in the last National Assembly Elections. Do you feel United Seychelles is injecting energy into its work to win back its majority?

Robert: Yes! The Party has been revitalized and has adopted a new Constitution, thus enabling us to change our ways of doing certain things compared to how we used to do them. Now we are adapting ourselves to the present circumstances. I can say we are very dynamic. The direction which our Party is taking will allow us correct errors of the past. We are working hard, come election we shall be ready.

June: Its present approach for elections is much better than before. It can only yield better results.

The People: The general opinion is that President Danny Faure is doing a good job. What are your views?

Robert: The majority of Seychellois are satisfied with the way President Faure is working. They regard him as a serious President who is doing all in his power to improve the country. There could be no other choice other than him comes the next Presidential Election.
Even some opposition supporters whom I know are experiencing the feel-good factor about him and I feel he will get a clear majority of support in the country.
I appreciate his style of leadership which is more consultative than taking all decisions by himself. It allows everyone to participate. He doesn’t look at your political affiliation. He gives everyone the opportunity to work and deliver.

June: He is doing a good job. Most Seychellois are saying the same thing and that includes opposition supporters as well. Some are even saying that they will vote for him. As an individual, I like his leadership style. I am referring mostly to the way he organizes his ministries and departments. His approach with members of the public is also excellent. He works with all Seychellois irrespective of what political party he or she supports or the sort of job he or she does. He visits all organisations and identifies their problems and challenges. Clearly he is getting the support of the people.

The People: What about the National Assembly?

Robert: It has its three main objectives; its legislative role, representative and oversight. I believe it is not attaining those objectives because of the way some members operate. Members need to be more serious when dealing with subject that concerns the future of the country. They spend too much time talking about issues of the past. It consumes a lot of National Assembly air- time. They’ve been doing it for over two years. Before their mandate ends, they would be made accountable by those who voted for them. It will be their main challenge. It has not been the best National Assembly the LDS majority promised our nation.

June: This National Assembly is not delivering for the people. We take the national budget as an example. Members drag on issues that are important for the people. They wait until the last moment to discuss those issues and at times even refuse to give their approval. They spend too much time on petty issues and make all the important issues political. If members spend so much time inside the National Assembly building in normal sessions and work of Committees, when do they get time to visit their constituents? During their election campaign, they promised the constituents that they will find the time to see them, but considering the time they leave the National Assembly, it is unlikely they are able to do so. In my opinion there is too much time wasting in the National Assembly. Viewers are no longer interested to follow deliberations. They switch of their radio and television sets the moment the sessions begin.

The People: The general impression is that United Seychelles will win both the next Presidential as well as parliamentary elections. What are your views?

Robert: It is something likely to come true. The people or voters are more intelligent now. The people see or know when politicians are taking them for a ride. Translated into bolder terms, they will vote for United Seychelles because they have seen what at least the Party has done over its four decade rule. The opposition is yet to do anything.

June: Yes ! I believe United Seychelles will win. After the majority of Seychellois put their trust in the opposition in 2016 with a score of 15- 10, they have not seen their lives improved. Now they are complaining. They are regretting their votes and are now coming back to United Seychelles.

The People: How would you like to see the country in future ?

Robert: I would like to see United Seychelles in power in both arms of government, meaning executive and legislative. I would also like people to have respect for one another. I would also like to see a Seychelles where we can sleep with open doors at night. A Seychelles that is not being invaded by anti-social tendencies. A Seychelles in which we live together and do not adopt individualistic attitudes. With this present political climate, no one trusts the next person. People are bitter in this country and it is not something good. I would like to see a Seychelles where everyone believes in good principles and values.

June: There is presently too much political division. We are not used to living in such a tense climate. Everyone should unite and have equal opportunities. Now there are enemies even among children. As responsible adults, we should strive to make this end. Politics should not hurt our children.

The People: Are our children being influenced too much by the social media which did not exist before?

Robert: The social media has both its positive and negative sides. It can be used as a working tool that is positive and educative. But it can be used as a destructive tool as well. For example, today people post almost anything on the life of others aimed at destroying and denigrating the character of the person. On the other hand, someone can post something good which builds up the character of the other internet user. It has those two sides, but it is up to the people to use it to determine if it becomes positive or destructive for a country and themselves.

June: The Social Media can be used to advertise activities and events. Criticizing or ridiculing politicians is one of its bad sides. Some users even take photographs and distort them in all sorts of ways to create a false perception. It shows a lack of respect for public servants and other individuals holding high offices. It has an impact on children in schools. They will not show their parents and teachers the respect they need.

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