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2017 has been a defining year in many ways. The political climate has been different from what it used to be. Any decision taken has been done in consultation with the opposition. The people voted for cohabitation. This newspaper spoke to seven people and publishes their honest opinions.

We still managed to deliver : Jean-Paul Adam (Minister for Health)

Certainly 2017 has not been an easy year. It is a year during which the Seychellois people have shown great resilience. We are addressing the challenges together and President Danny Faure has been able to sail in very rough seas. His approach has been to put Seychelles first. It has been shown through his insistence that his Government delivers for the people. There are lots of politics and positioning going on, but the importance is that we deliver for the Seychellois people. President Faure’s transparent, pragmatic and realistic approach is bearing fruit and propelling Seychelles forward.
When we look at a leader, we must also analyse the situation he finds himself into. In our context, our President finds himself in a situation of cohabitation. It isn’t something easy, but he has ensured that the Seychellois people get the best out of it.
On the subject of social ills, they have been there for quite a while, but it is only in 2017 that the people are feeling its impact even more because of the political situation we are in.  It is true that the country has really felt the impact of social ills in 2017. But we need to understand the phenomenon, because too many people are searching for easy solutions. The phenomenon is not a result of one thing only, but many other things happening in our society. We therefore need to fight it in a systematic and coherent way. We neither have a magic wand or a single solution that would sweep away all those problems. We must have multiple solutions and raise a new generation that would enable us to cast aside those social ills. Everyone must understand and also play their role in society before trying to find out what they can extract from the system.
Health-wise, the country continues to improve, but is normal that the people expect higher and higher standards. But normally we base our overall judgments on one or two isolated cases and they are the cases reported in the media. What we do not do is talk about are areas where the country is succeeding. The statistics show that Seychelles continues to improve. Today we have by far the best health system in Africa and one which is comparable with those of many countries in Europe.  The information was recently released in the Mo Ibrahim report.
With regards to politics, I always remain an optimist because I believe in Seychellois. Cohabitation has been a difficult experience for the government as well as for the Opposition. But the fact that together we are still making the country function is something positive. The government of President Danny Faure has made it his duty to ensure that all necessary programmes continue to get financed in 2017 and where necessary make some compromise. But however the government has remained faithful to its principles and has ensured stability in the country.



No more taking it easy : Barry Cesar (Senior Accountant/Ministry of Education)

2017 has been a year completely different from any other year we have known in Seychelles. Politically everything has changed and everybody is coming forward with a sort of claim. There are certain events that have already made the country become unstable. For example, we were not used to strikes, but today everybody wants to go on strike and at times for no good reason or when things could have settled in another way. In general 2017, has been a challenge for all of us. Today we must all rise up and work. In the past some people could afford to take it easy, but there is no more taking things easy for anyone. Many people have found 2017 a very difficult year.
I do not believe that the standard of living has deteriorated for ordinary people. It is a question of what we as individuals have decided to do with our lives. We talk about poverty in Seychelles. In some cases there are some genuine circumstances which have led to that, but in the majority of cases people do not get their priorities right. Also, they spend well beyond what they earn. That is a recipe for problem and eventual disaster. People complain that cost of living is high, but yet they gamble   almost every day. It cannot be.




Life has turned for the worse : Jane Carpin (former CAA member now self-employed)

Even though Seychellois were promised that life in the country would be better in 2017, it has turned out worse. We were told more money would be put into the pockets of Seychellois, but it has not happened at all. Before I was earning a salary, now I am on social security benefit. I am just reflecting on if my two children were not old enough to fend for themselves, then how would I have managed to make ends meet ? I ask myself such a question because I am thinking of parents with two or three children still going to school, how then do they survive ?
Today the country has a huge social problem. Young girls turn prostitutes. Drugs are everywhere. Thieves are breaking into homes to steal. People no longer have respect for others. All those things are very bad, but they are obviously being triggered by something else. A lot of young people have cultivated an attitude of getting easy money. As a retired citizen, I do not see much hope for the future. Nowadays, it is pointless trusting in any human being. The only one worthy of trusting is God himself.



Very fruitful year for the arts : Joennise Juliette (female artiste)

We have gone through a lot of journeys in 2017, especially in the field of music and arts in general. The last Arts Award held in Seychelles was in 2004. Now we have been able to introduce it again. It is a very good forum for us artists, but as you know not everybody will ever be happy with the final results in such awards. That is only normal. What some artists, especially in music, need to change is the hypocritical mentality against their fellow artists.
On the political front, 2017 has been a revealing year. Many things we did not know before, we have started to know. People now find themselves more comfortable to express their views. In short, it has been a year during which other animals hiding under the skin of the rhino have been uncovered.
The issue of cost of living needs to be addressed. How can someone survive with a salary of R 7’000 when the prices of everything is going up ? All people in leadership positions should make it their priority to address the issue and put money into the pockets of Seychellois. People must nowadays do two and at times three jobs in order to survive.


Business has been stagnant in 2017 : Marco Francis (businessman)

“The level of bureaucracy has increased. There is a lack of urgency in Ministries and Departments to move things fast. To give an example: If one writes to a Department, it takes over six weeks or two months for a reply to get back to you through a letter.  To set up a business, it takes over 8 months to know if it has been approved or not. In my own business, there are two projects which we submitted with the aim of implementing them this year, but now we see that we will have to do so next year because formal approval still haven’t reached our office. People in responsible positions are passing the bucks. Nobody wants to take decisions. You go to an office and they tell you that your documents have been forwarded to another office and it goes on and on with no end in sight. Nobody wants to take ownership of a decision.
For 2017, nobody has talked about business. Nobody has talked about how to increase the economic growth of this country. Both sides of the political divide have talked about social issues and services. For example: how to deal with the drugs problem, how to increase salaries etc…. None has talked about how to make the size of the economic cake become bigger so that then we can then know better how to share it. What we are doing, is distributing an economic cake before it has grown. In my view, in the context of our country, the cake is still very tiny and obviously sharing it as it is now will become a problem in itself.
If there is no economic growth, of course there will always be social problems. No new employments will be created. If there are no new innovative ideas for doing business, certainly everybody will continue to do what everybody else is doing. Then we will start eating one another. So we need to start talking about business. That should be the number one priority. When it grows, then its effect will be felt through other people benefiting from them. There will be more jobs and people will have more spending power. When I talk to my fellow businessmen, they all say that business has been stagnant in 2017.


Seychelles is at a cross-road : John Pool Etienne (Arts Producer)

2017 has brought many challenges and prompted people to ask many questions. In a certain way it has brought some progress because I had to re-motivate myself to face up to new realities. We are at a cross-road in Seychelles. It is economic, political and also cultural. Those are the three defining pillars of good governance. It is now up to us Seychellois to decide in which direction we want to move.
There is also severe degradation in attitude which needs to be addressed urgently. Otherwise severe consequences will follow. Perhaps not enough has been done in the fight against drugs. I feel the fight should be more intense to make people understand their responsibility in the country. We are in a terrible social dilemma and it is only through coming together that we can overcome it.
Generally, there have been some fruitful debate on relevant issues, but those participating in them should watch the manner in which they put across their views. They should be mindful about the kind of language they use. Foreign direct investment (FDI) is precious. We must ensure that we do not lose it in whatever we do, because once lost it is very difficult to get it back. We must not bring the issue of ethnicity it whatever debate we initiate.
 Culturally, I feel that in 2017 there has been a movement which is aiming to bring the country forward. Some major interests have developed for arts and culture. There is this urge to bring quality into our cultural life. We need to use culture as a vehicle to bring what is good and valuable into society. Some of those events, I myself has helped organize and I know that in 2017, there is a vision which has started to boil. It is very likely that its results will manifest themselves either in 2018 or 2019. Events such as the Biennale and the Arts Award have established the standard at which we should be evolving in all spheres of life in our country. 2017 has been a stepping stone in culture which will help nurture positive attitude and “ savoir vivre” in our society.


 Zero-respect everywhere : Joseph Sinon (Performer and Businessman)

2017 is the toughest year I’ve known in all its senses. Politically it has been tough. Cost of living has made it tougher. Everyday environment has not been good and healthy at all. The minds of people have changed. There have been complications, differences and a lot of hatred everywhere. The level of respect is zero and such an attitude has found its way into schools. We are reaping what we have sown.
To me, when I look around without blaming any individual or group precisely, we are reaping what we have sown through bad attitude from those with leadership roles in society. The way they express themselves in public and the language they use is shameful and provocative. It is the first time in the history of Seychelles that there is so much fighting, violence and crime. It is simply unbelievable.
One does not have to go to University to understand what is happening. Politics have changed. But it is not the change which is the problem. It is the way the change is shaping up. Today politicians express themselves with too much arrogance. They have a way of talking which is not appropriate and far from being exemplary for our youth. They simply do not present themselves as role models in any way.  There are too much insults going around and there is absolutely no respect anywhere.
We have to understand one thing: People of all ages go on facebook. They also watch television. Newspapers are read by everyone. Therefore everyone sees what is happening. If parents have taught their children rules of politeness, but then they watch adults from all media sources doing the contrary, what then can they be expected to do ? It is not surprising that all school children today want to fight their colleagues and even their teachers.