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2017, was a year, in which we expected President Danny Faure  to continue forging ahead in his quest  to promote more national unity within the nation and take Seychelles to a higher level of prosperity.

Since assuming the Presidency in October 2016, President Faure has spared no effort to bring Seychellois closer together, irrespective of our social status, religious belief or political affiliation.
His selfless determination and commitment to do better for the Seychellois people are leaving their imprints, even on   those, who previously did not support him or the ruling party.
He has declared June 5 – formerly a public holiday, since this year, a normal working day and has divorced himself from the leadership of Parti Lepep, to prove as he said at his press conference two weeks ago, that “at State House” he is neutral.

District tours.

If there is one thing that President Faure is best remembered for in 2017, it is his weekly tours of all districts as well as government departments and agencies and other work places. He has also set a day each week to receive people who write to him requesting a face-to-face meeting to make known their views or who have particular problems to solve.
Starting at Roche Caiman, which today, boasts a population of 3,500, where houses built on reclaimed land in the 1990s by the SPPF government were called “Lakaz Lapen” by the opposition at the time.  Roche Caiman faces Eden Island, a posh housing village, also built on reclaimed land.
President Faure however did not shirk when Mont Fleuri MNA Jean-Francois Ferrari invited him to tour his district.  He visited the sub-districts of Corgat Estate, Foret Noire and Rochon. President Faure said later that “drastic measures” are necessary to rectify the situation at Corgat Estate. He observed that when housing conditions improve, this goes a long way to eradicate some social ills, such as substance abuse.
The tours were to take President Faure to all 25 districts. He met with district MNAs and other officials, discussed projects, both ongoing and future plans and above all, interacted with residents, some of whom brought their challenges for him to deal with.  
All decisions taken by the Cabinet of Ministers, chaired by President Faure and meeting at State House on Wednesdays, are regularly publicized.
Among some important cabinet decisions: Cabinet members and elected officials to declare their assets. Cabinet also decided on an updated land use plan for Ile Aurore, which besides 1,500 housing units, will also boast Seychelles’ second yacht marine, after Eden Island.

Cabinet decisions publicized.

 Cabinet has also decided on special pensions for some categories of public servants. These are in particular, members of the medical, dental and nursing professions, the defence forces, the police, teachers prison officers and Fire and Rescue Services.
This special pension was recently contained in the 2018 budget and approved by the national Assembly.
Since taking over the Presidency, President Faure’s Government has been ready to embark on series of consultations with all stakeholders, to come up with the best approach or method with which to go about with a national development strategy for the next five years, starting 2018.
In February, President Faure, President Faure delivered his first State of the Nation (SONA) address and crowned it with his first live press conference, attended  by all 10 media organisations in Seychelles.
In his SONA he addressed several important issues. He announced the setting up of a new Ministry – that of Family Affairs.
“Families form the foundation of our society and we must go toward the family unit to address our challenges. We need to return to good moral and spiritual values early on, so that our children have a much stronger foundation.”
He added that the younger parents out there, need all our support to instill these good values in our children.
It was later announced that Mrs. Jeanne Simeon, a widowed mother and former Principal Secretary for Education was nominated for the post of Minister. She was subsequently endorsed by the National Assembly.
In the same SONA, President Faure also announced that government will build 24 new housing units in 24 districts over the next two years, with the exception of Roche Caiman, where land is limited, which shall have 10 units.
President Faure also said that once financial resources have been mobilized, priority will be given  to re-developing  three existing housing estates: Foret Noire-Port Glaud; Lower Les Mamelles an d Cargat Estate, Mont Fleuri.

Housing always an issue.

He also told the National Assembly that it is also envisaged to build an extra 1,500 units on Reclaimed Ile Aurore, at Anse Etoile. But, first is a need to install the necessary infrastructure, water, electricity, sewage and others to support such development.
President Faure also everyone to make drastic changes to our lifestyle. “We need to become more conscious of the food we eat. We need to encourage more physical exercise and do more prevention.
He went on to state that he finds it alarming that in 2015, for a population of 91,000, we had more than 340,000 doctor’s consultations. He said that if we continue along that path, the country will not be able to sustain our health system.
President Faure also noted that beach access for all, remains a challenge. He said that beaches are public domain by law, meaning it is the property, which all our citizens can have the pleasure to enjoy. However, he said, there are a number of instances, whereby private property, between the beach and the main road, constitute restrictions to the public.
After he delivered his SONA, the MNAs of LDS joined PL and members of the cabinet of ministers to give President Faure a standing ovation.
At the subsequent press conference, President Faure said that Seychelles is “bigger than any of us and that in finding solutions to problems, he is not interested in who will win.
Responding to a question  about abuses of state land by ministers and other top officials, President Faure said  he has never benefitted from any property deals with Government and  this will be revealed when he, like other cabinet ministers, have to declare their assets.
He also announced the closure of the prison on Marie-Louise Island because of transportation and other costs involved. He added that of the 19 inmates there, 15 were convicted drug trafficker, while the remaining 4 were inside for murder.
Responding to questions about two tunnels: one linking English River to Beau Vallon and the other from Cascade to Grand Anse, President Faure said these will open up significant chunks of land for various developments.  He however reassured everyone that the project will be subjected to a feasibility study.
 It is never my intention to impose a financial burden on the nation because of the project,” he said.

Walking around La Digue, island style.

The surprise visit by President Faure to La Digue , allowed him to move freely around , greeting residents he met . He popped up at business places on his way, with a modest and down to earth attitude- typical of the Diguois style – and typical island style.
He was on La Digue to follow up on his announcement that Diguois will be able to purchase shares in L’Union Estate Company, so that they stand to benefit as well.  But, the President decided to mingle with the residents on his way to L’Union. He also rubbed shoulders with several visitors, as he strolled down the road from Gregoire’s Supermarket at Anse Reunion.
Of the 300,000 visitors to Seychelles last year, over half have visited other inner islands, notably La Digue. President Faure met many owners of restaurants and guesthouses and their staff. He stopped by the police station and saluted the officers on duty- encouraging them and congratulating their hard work.  Those who had concerns, discussed them with the President, but at most places that he visited, residents were pleasantly surprised to see him. To most, it was enough simply to greet him.
At l’Union Estate, he announced that the Finance Ministry will, have the responsibility to put into place proper procedures that will allow the residents to buy shares in the L’Union Estate Company.
Cardinal Maurice Piat, whose first visit to Seychelles, since his elevation to the rank of Cardinal, coincides with the 125th anniversary of the diocese of Port Victoria, called on President Faure at State House.
Carddinal Piat, who hails from Mauritius indicated that Pope Francis will visit the Indian Ocean islands soon.
President Faure used his prerogative to grant citizenships to benefit six missionaries. They are Sister Alice Marie Vivien of St Joseph Convent, who already had Mauritian and French nationalities; Father Landry Maketa, based at the parish of St John Bosco, who is from the Congo; Father Louisson Bissila of St Espreit-Perseverance and his compatriot, Father Pierre Madiela of St Therese, Plaisance- both from Congo-Brazzaville; Father Guy Inkumene is based at St John’s Glacis and Anglican Bishop James Wong, who is from Mauritius and heads the diocese of Port Victoria.
“I regarded it as recognition for my work,” said Sister Alice, who has been a missionary in Seychelles since 2008. She does counseling at the “Centre d’Accueil de la Rosiere” for drug victims and also as a “Pasteur de la Nuit” to assist the homeless. “It was a happy surprise. I viewed it as a gift from Heaqven” said Sister Alice, who said receiving the Seychelles citizenship was a great occasion to renew  her friendship with President Faure, whom she had known since he was Vice-President.
After meeting with a group of petitioners against the Grand Police hotel project, President Danny Faure decided to phase it out.  The size of the proposed hotel;-320 rooms – triggered an outcry and also raised environmental sensitization. President Faure said he had pursued talks with the project’s promoters in Abu Dhabi .
President Faure continued to maintain regular contact with the people and said he believes that leaders cannot gauge feelings and problems of their constituents from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices.
That is why he set a day aside each week to meet people on a one-to-one basis, besides regular tours of the districts.

Everyone is accountable.

Speaking at his second press conference in mid-May, President Faure said the most pertinent issue he encounters is housing.  He said that many landlords charge rent too high, which tenants cannot afford.  He said drugs also constitute a challenge.
At the same press conference, President Faure also urged everyone who has evidence that anyone is breaking the law , such as working illegally Seychelles, to come forward with the evidence, so that the relevant authorities can take action.
President Faure also said it is wrong for non-Seychellois who have been allocated land for development to allow that to remain idle.” We abide by international norms. Negotiations will be undertaken regarding all land held by foreigners, which lie undeveloped.”
President Faure is the first President to pay a surprise visit to the Montagne Posee Prison, where he was shown around the facilities by the then Superintendent Vic Tirant. He visited part of the Male block, the Female prison, the kitchen unit, the dining hall, the gym, the furniture workshop, the c rafts and handiwork section.
The President also saw first-hand the open style prison, with inmates that do work outside, and toured the perimeter reserved for future development.  Prison inmates also interacted with him and President Faure listened intensely to their concerns, passing on words of advice.
It is President Faure’s style to put in a seven-day week.  On public holidays, such as Corpus Christi, or Constitution Day visiting the elderly  at North East Point  and La Retraite homes.  The North East Point Home for the Elderly is hosting around 130 residents, who of whom require medical treatment. To President Faure, they expressed their views on matters, they feel are affecting them.
The 18 residents of the La Retraite Home for the Elderly  were delighted to  receive a surprise visit from President Faure, who arrived on their doorsteps, all smiles and happy to talk to them.
At all such visits, President Faure was in his “element” chatting and sharing jokes. He knows leadership is about making others happier as a result of his presence and making sure, that impact lasts in his absence.
On Seychelles’ 41st independence Day, President Faure urged everyone to join hands and work together to face the challenges of our era.  On that day-June 29- President Faure was also breaking with tradition, when national day speeches were delivered during the parade, highlighting the occasion.
President Faure called for diversity of opinion to be a positive force that brings us together, consolidating our values, such as tolerance, respect and unity.”
“Koste Seselwa”, he said adding that Seychelles is greater than us all.” Yes, it will always be bigger than us all.”

Five women in cabinet, new responsibilities.

Seychelles, for the first time boasts five women in the cabinet. This follows the appointment of Mrs Myriam Telemaque, as Minister for Employment, Immigration and Civil Status and Mrs. Pamela Charlette for Agriculture and Fisheries.
They join Designated Minister Macsuzy Mondon, who is now also Internal Affairs Minister, besides being responsible for Local Government; Mitcy Larue, takes over at Youth, Sports and Culture and Jeanne Simeon- for Family and Social Affairs.
President Faure, who is Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces, has several other responsibilities. He heads public Administration, which is the Civil Service and Public Sector. He is also head of the Legal Affairs Department. President Faure also holds the portfolio of Foreign Affairs
Following the last reshuffle, the daily “Today in Seychelles” usually close to the opposition“ wrote: “President Faure is certainly  ready to shape the second phase of his mandate.”
In his second address to the National Assembly late July, President Faure spelt out a clear vision and a new chapter for all Seychellois. He urged all citizens who have a complaint , or any proof of dishonest action, corruption , abuse of power, or where the law has been broken or human rights violated, to approach the institutions  and authorities concerned, so that justice can be done. He noted that this can be done before the Ombudsman, Anti-Corruption Commission, the Police and Human Rights Commission.
Reacting to instances where pupils have been involved in gross misconduct at some schools, President Faure announced that as from January 2018, the education system will re-orient itself, so that the schools as institutions have more control over the education of their students.
The head-teachers and their teams will have complete control over the administration of their school, including their decisions on discipline.
“My own child is at the Beau Vallon Secondary School. He knows very well what the school expects of him> He knows the consequences of breaking the rules. As a parent, I do not interfere. As the President, I do not interfere. Let the schools do their work,” the President said.
Among the dozens of places toured by President Faure this year was Victoria market, where the welcome from grocers, fishermen, shoppers and everyone else was overwhelming.    To many, he was a leader who led by example.
In August, President Faure lost his beloved mum, Violet Faure, nee Samson, who passed away at 78. To her six children, she had been the perfect mother, very loving, caring patient and also very stubborn. She stood up for what she believed in and always struck to her principles.
Though he grieved his mum, President Faure appeared to find solace in hard work.
At a live press conference at State House, some days later, President Faure announced that there will be no presidential elections anytime soon, as he is determined to complete his mandate. The next presidential elections are scheduled for 2020.
President Faure also said” so many good things are happening in Seychelles.” He went on: “The  world  will not wait for Seychelles. I will discharge my responsibility  to the best of my ability and each day, I ask for God’s grace to help me make the right decisions. As President, I give directions, but we are faced with a lot of issues.”
At the same press conference he said that District Council elections scheduled for next year have been put on hold, cost being an important factor. Besides the holding of the election, he said at least R 10 million would be required to fund the councillors’ salaries. There are also additional costs to the councils.
October marked one year since Danny Rollen Faure took over the presidency. The occasion was marked by an exhibition to showcase the “gifts of state” or official gifts that the President has received during the course of his first year as Head of State.
These gifts were donated by other Heads of State, ambassadors, as well as foreign and local dignitaries on various occasions.
Over a year later, Danny Faure continues to nurture dialogue and setting up the right government structure.
“When I go to bed at night, I always think how best , I can serve the people of Seychelles and I do the same when I wake up in the morning and during the day.”