If you cannot change your mind, you cannot change anything
By: Alain St.Ange
Much as a Presidential candidate should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny by the voting population (do the values and ideologies of that individual align with that of the voter? Does the candidate have the right temperament to be the Head of State? Does this person have a proven and positive track record of bringing prosperity and innovation to Seychelles? Or does he say the right things and later do the opposite to what was promised?), the prospective Members of Parliament ought to be given as much consideration.
One particular politician during the recent series of Telesesel interviews confused the electorate by rejecting the notion that it is an MNA’s job to walk the districts, insinuating that MNAs were far too busy passing Bills to do so. I personally have been an MNA for several years, earlier on in my professional career. I know first-hand that an MNA who does not walk the districts and meet with the residents himself or herself cannot ably and competently act as the People’s voice within the Seychelles" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">National Assembly. Their very purpose cannot be confined to “the passing of Bills” alone. They cannot shirk their duties to the residents of their district whom they promised to serve prior to being elected into the Assembly.
Father Edwin Mathiot honed in on this point in his powerful Editorial in the “L’Echo des Iles’ publication, stating that an MNA typically represents the residents of his or her district, regardless of whether that MNA falls under the umbrella of one political party. Father Mathiot adds that in the National Assembly, an MNA must speak on behalf of every single person within his or her district, without exception. He also points out that MNAs are expected to defend the rights and interests of all citizens and to also act in the National interest. The full message from Father Mathiot has been included in this Issue of Zilwa Publication.
How can an MNA act in the best interests of the residents of his district, or otherwise give voice to the issues or struggles being encountered by the residents, if he does not take the time or make the effort to meet with the people who may or may not have voted that MNA into Office? Voters put their trust in their chosen candidate when they cast their ballot; they expected that promises that were made would be kept, and that MNAs would not disappear behind the tinted windows of their chauffeur-driven vehicles on the day after the elections, never to be seen or heard from again.
MNAs must remain humble. Our most recent batch of MNAs were humbled almost overnight when the National Assembly was abruptly dissolved. Those who may have taken out large loans following their election into higher office, feeling smug and secure that their large pay check would come through every month, had a harsh reality-check when they became no more important than their fellow Seychellois brothers and sisters overnight. They started campaigning for the upcoming Parliamentary elections with a vengeance, suddenly rediscovering the plight and struggles their district residents had been facing in silence for the past four years (at least). MNAs who are out-of touch with the electorate cannot effectively or competently serve the electorate.
The same goes for Presidential Candidates, particularly those pushing outdated policies and values, including demonizing marijuana use and condemning cannabis-users to stiff prison sentences, or to be exiled to another island “cold turkey”. If you are not striving and working to meet the needs of citizens in today’s Seychelles, then you are only working to meet your own needs.
Innovation, open-mindedness and embracing change are the ONLY ways to guarantee the Nation’s progress. If you cannot change your mind, you cannot change anything.