These two words are complicated in nature. They form part of that group of English words with more than a set of double letters, which means that it is quite easy to make a mistake writing them. Making mistakes is unfortunately also the nature of many committees and commissions. It is said that if you do not want something to move quickly, you set up a committee.
I have started this way to address the issue of two such formations that have been announced this week. The Electoral Commissioner has set up an Advisory Committee, and the President has named members of the Media Commission. Both bodies are very important ones in the consolidation of democracy in our country.
The Electoral Commissioner pointed out, rightly, that it was not his responsibility to set up an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
Mr. Michel and his government need to be taken to task here. It was in 2009, declared as the Year of the Constitution that the Review Committee was set up. SNP MNA Bernard Georges worked on a simplified version of the Constitution that was presented to the President, who gave him a long handshake on television. Since then, we have heard nothing of this document.
Subsequently, the final report was presented to President Michel. In it was the recommendation that necessary amendments be made to the Constitution to change the present set up of the Office of the Electoral Commissioner to an IEC.
To the Secretary General of the Commonwealth and the European Union, the President has given the commitment that the necessary Amendments would be sent to the Assembly. Unfortunately, between words and actions of Mr. Michel lies a great precipice. Nothing has been done.
An IEC would be a more effective body with teeth. Even though the Advisory Committee that has been set up should be commended, I still believe that we have to make that important step of setting up an IEC. We have to give more than one person the responsibility of maintaining an important aspect of our democracy.
I have no doubts that the members of the Advisory Committee, most of whom have exhibited fairness and professionalism in their careers and in the supervision of elections, will do a good job. This remains my wish. I hope they start by ensuring that the Voters Register is a credible document and that they forestall the efforts to manipulate it. At the end of the day, the only demands on such a body are accuracy, fairness, independence and impartiality.
The members of the Media Commission were announced on Thursday. Some names have received very positive reactions because those people have always acted independently and as fairly as possible in their jobs. Unfortunately others have not, and this has put a big question mark on the work of this body.
When known activists from any political party, or people with close ties to politics are placed on sensitive committees, the conclusion is negative. This is the case with the Media Commission. There are too many SPPF activists on there.
I have the big question as to who chose the member named by the National Assembly? The law does not say that the ‘person shall be named by the Speaker.’ When this is the intention, the law says so. There was no consultation with the National Assembly Media Committee, which by the way met earlier this week, and neither was our Chief Whip or myself consulted. The Speaker therefore, must have chosen the Deputy Clerk himself. Most interesting I must say when we know the intricacies of the National Assembly Secretariat!
I have promised the Vice-President that the next time I hear the ruling party mention the word ‘mindset’ I will scream. If there is one place where the mindset needs to be changed, it is right up there at State House and at Maison du Peuple. These are the blocked arteries that are stopping progress on the major problems of our society.
At the May elections, the people of Seychelles will have the choice to set their country on a course of national reconciliation, unity, professionalism, hard work, prosperity, peace and brotherhood. This is my dream for this country. Let us travel down this lane together towards a better future, clearing every obstacle on the way.