Change takes faith - real change takes courage
by Bea Broda
These are the wise words of Alain StAnge, who is currently running for President of Seychelles, a beautiful series of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, close to Mauritius and Reunion Island. They sound like words that can apply to any election that is currently underway, and StAnge adds so much insight to this equation with the experience he has had in the world as Seychelles' former Minister of Tourism.
It is under that umbrella that I got to know him as a journalist, while covering the island and its fabulous International Carnival. In fact, he was a brain child behind the inception of the carnival, as he sought innovative ways to attract visitors there, despite the challenges around the island country being a seemingly far-flung location east of Africa. In partnership with other national leaders in the Indian Ocean, he created and branded a new tourism region which is now known as the Vanilla Islands of the Indian Ocean, thereby infusing this group of islands with the organized strength of teamwork, comparable to the branding that is enjoyed by the Caribbean islands.
As a diplomat, StAnge benefits from his lengthy career from the trenches on up, and is as tireless as he is razor-focused.
His unflagging dedication to tourism, which directly affects every sector of the economy, has been admirable. His realistic approach in the wake of the COVID19 pandemic is one that can give the citizens of Seychelles a sense of security and hope.
The following are words written by Alain StAnge, which encapsulate his inspiring message of inclusion of all of the people who call Seychelles home. It is a brave move for a country to create a new political party, but the ONE Seychelles party's objectives capture the imagination of people of all ages and cultural backgrounds who wish to work together to build and re-build the economy in peace and strength.
The following are words from Alain StAnge, whom I believe can become the President of Seychelles in the upcoming elections with the strength of what I see in his innovative platform:
"In Seychelles, it has historically been the case that your families' political affiliation will, in one way or another, determine your destiny, whether it be in terms of your employment or business opportunities, advancements within a Department, opportunities for further education abroad, or access to Government land. We have a political culture of intimidation, with opposition parties typically rousing support for their "team" by inciting fear within the electorate. The ruling party, in contrast, has played it safe over the past 30 years; so safe, in fact, that their supporters have come to view opposition camps as something of which to be frightened. Neither political manoeuvres are suitable ways for a Country to be governed - at least not governed competently and effectively. One Seychelles entered the scene with one side aggressively pushing their campaigns that were designed to instil anger and division, and the other side feeling safe and secure behind the skirt of their mother hen. Both sides have utilized all sorts of distraction techniques (loud noise, finger-pointing, the odd scandal or two) to hide from voters the fact that many of these politicians do not understand basic economics, and that they do not have any sort of viable plan to salvage our economy; they are ill-suited, ill-qualified and ill-equipped to boost any of the three pillars of our economy (fisheries, agriculture or tourism). ONE SEYCHELLES hit the ground running with a fresh and comprehensive manifesto comprising innovative and NEW policies and plans to rebuild the economy, designed to put Seychellois first (finally) and to ensure that they benefit from their industries, and to finally have a voice in decision making that would ultimately affect them and the future of the Nation's economy, environment, health and well-being. The largest hurdle we encountered within the electorate is cynicism, with many voters saying "it's a fait accompli, that there is no point in voting. If we can get someone to care and to believe in the power of voting - in making one's voice heard - then it is a great victory for our movement and for our causes that we are trying to advance. Many subscribe to the defeatist outlook that our Nation is "beyond repair". We are not beyond repair - we have too many skilled and capable Seychellois at the ready to ever be beyond repair - we just need to give voice and power to these people. You do not give up on the things you care about; you fix them. Many youths think of Seychelles as somewhere to run from - with many seeking employment opportunities abroad and delaying their return to the Islands. We want to give them a reason to stay, to invest locally, and to impart their skills and knowledge with the upcoming generation, because presently they have no meaningful incentives to do so. Most return to Seychelles following their studies to be trapped in either a dead-end role or in a position that attracts a woefully mediocre salary, for the next crucial few years of their lives, bound by a Government-bond. Some cannot even secure a worthwhile post in Seychelles at all, or find that the avenues available for them to maximize their skillset and qualifications are hindered by bureaucratic red-tape or monopolies within the industry that are ultimately enabled by the Government. Many young people find that there are more skilled jobs available in Seychelles than educational opportunities, so these jobs invariably end up going to an expatriate. They have been silenced across the board for many years, with no one coming forward to champion their rights. Until now. Other parties are fatigued, their ideologies and policies outdated and out of touch with the present realities our elderly and our youth, in particular, are grappling with. Both the Legislative branch of Government (prior to dissolution) and the President seem to have forgotten that their job is to SERVE, not rule. Their lack of innovative strides in any aspect of governance and their insistence on riding on the coattails of their former successes in past elections (to varying degrees) is indicative that their motivation and passion for the cause have dissipated, and they are not quite certain what they are fighting for anymore. Their cries for change now seem to ring hollow - as they have had four years to prove themselves and show the People of Seychelles that they CAN prioritize the needs of ALL Seychellois, and not just an elite few - and they have failed. President Faure's calling card, as I have said once before, is his passive approach to governance. However, it is also his determination for ensuring that our Government is anything BUT inclusive, undermining any claim that he truly believes in the importance of a Government of National Unity. Some politicians are putting their hats in the ring to make a statement, they have no stake in the game. Some took great pains to secure themselves; if they lose, they can retire quite happily on their early pensions. The only people who stand to lose anything are those who invested everything in these politicians, in the political party they blindly followed for years. Many hopeful voters are thinking not of their Country, but of themselves - of the promises they expect their politicians to deliver upon after the elections. The choice in October 2020, which is ultimately for the citizens of Seychelles to make, is essentially: more of the same by the reds, "radical change" by the greens, or real change by ONE SEYCHELLES. Change takes faith - real change takes courage. It takes a voter to stand up to do what is right, and not what is easy. If enough people go against the grain and vote for real change, they will have it."