For a while Wavel Ramkalawan was quite the fallen angel. He failed to be elected president, convinced SNP to boycott the National Assembly election in 2011, let down his collaborators who left him one by one and he abandoned SNP altogether and was seen more involved in his own personal life.
That, until the irony of life struck some individuals who by going all out to destroy Parti Lepep gave rise to this priest, who they detest, as was heard by most people in audio recordings leaked over last year’s legislative election.
Now Ramkalawan has taken control of the opposition limelight and is dictating them of what to do and what not to do. They are in an estranged relationship, whereby they are publicly seen ‘cuddling’ but behind closed doors there are conflicts and they share separate beds. A silent war is taking place between the leaders of LDS.
Behind the tension is a priest who uses politics as a means to up his living standards.
In politics, the maverick Ramkalawan is still destined to a sad fate. But that could have happened sooner had these individuals not been so desperate to overturn Parti Lepep in a desperate attempt to hit back at the leaders.
Now they have to deal their cards carefully in order to get rid of Ramkalawan. Most people agree that Ahmed Afif is the one who will deal this card, and for some reasons also, he is seen as ambitious enough to overturn his own collaborators. It is either it ends with him, or he takes over. Somehow everybody has seen the true Ahmed Afif, he is not prepared to let go of the past. He is not prepared to remember the people who have been kind to him.
Now he is the problem of LDS.
In the beginning Ramkalawan rose in politics and even in personal fortunes. He had gone from 4% to 9% to 19.53% and 45% in 2001.
His fortune also rose when he became a businessman/politician, built himself a big house, bought new cars, travelled more often, comfortable bank accounts and has altogether lived a very good life.
His rise began in church when he used the pulpit to deliver a hard hitting speech against government and used rather abusive language, which was to become his trademark. Until today he is arrogant and abusive in his language.
Ramkalawan even said that he had no ambitions in politics that he simply wanted to promote the democratic process in Seychelles. At the time the wind of change was blowing eastward to the countries which were still under one party state.
But as soon as President René announced the switch to pluralism in December 1991, Parti Seselwa was formed, headed by Ramkalawan.
To his surprise in 1992 when Mancham returns and proclaimed himself the ‘Apostle of national reconciliation’, Ramkalawan was stunned as Mancham had a strong following then. In constitutional elections Mancham scored 33.7% and Parti Seselwa only 4.4% failing to secure a seat.
He tried to upstage Mancham by publishing in Regar several articles attacking Mancham’s integrity, and even at political rallies Ramkalawan was outspoken. But what other choice did he have, he had already become an arrogant over ambitious man who wanted the presidency. He had to use other people to get there, such as in 2006 when he entered in alliance with the same Mancham. He was seen wearing Mr Mancham’s hat at a rally in Victoria. Regrettably, following Mancham’s death, Ramkalawan said that he saw no reason to attend Mancham’s funeral and that he never believed in Mancham’s reconciliation mission.
In 2002 he got 11 seats in the National Assembly and the 45% score in 2001 presidential race. He was so happy then, giving interviews alleging that he was poised for presidency. The rude awakening came in 2007 when Parti Lepep bulldozed through all the central and north Mahe districts, taking nearly all with good margins – up to 80 votes in the small district of Bel Air.
The presidential election in 2006 also shocked Ramkalawan, when President Michel on his own ticket won the presidential election, amid many economic difficulties at the time. He was still holding his 45% score.
President Michel introduced the economic reforms in 2008 and started to solve the foreign exchange issues. ‘Napa’ a magic word for SNP campaigning was no longer relevant as there was suddenly an abundance of goods.
The verdict in the 2011 polls read 55.5% for Michel and Ramkalawan slipped down to 41%. President Michel had scored a majority in most districts except for two; St Louis and Beau Vallon.
It was a crushing defeat for Ramkalawan who the convinced SNP to boycott the legislative elections scheduled the same year. Ramkalawan was seen driving around in a pickup and the other SNP officials who remained, had to do odd jobs in order to survive. At this point, the likes of David Pierre had already left SNP.
In fact, David Pierre became the new Leader of the Opposition. He had denied Pierre more recognition in SNP and somehow Pierre found it by forming his own political party and contesting the legislative election.
Ramkalawan missed out on the trappings he was used to getting in the Assembly, like a huge salary, big car, driver, bodyguard, secretary and VIP treatment.
So, he was back in 2015 to contest the presidential election. Ramkalawan stood no chance at all, but aided by four other political parties which amalgamated and was called Linyon Sanzman he gained support and managed to send the election into second round, which he then lost.
So confident that he was nearer to the presidency he did not accept the results and took the case to court. He was rejected by the court which found the election credible and there was no sign of any fraudulent act claimed by Ramkalawan.
He was acting as if he had scored well due to his own efforts.
He stuck to the group which changed name to Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) and he contested the legislative election in September. Ramkalawan lost to a new comer on the political scene- Wilbert Herminie, the son of William Herminie, who was in LDS alongside Ramkalawan.
Wilbert had the support of his uncle, Dr Patrick Herminie and Ramkalawan refusing that he not only lost the election but he lost face before his supporters and sponsors has not been able to accept the defeat, he punished Dr. Herminie by refusing to approve that he becomes minister.
Ramkalawan once the fallen angel, was once again Leader of the Opposition, the post he probably took from Roger Mancienne the leader of LDS. There must have had a conflict before he got the post in the Assembly. Even the post of Speaker was argued but it seemed that Ramkalawan pitied Pillay who needed the position of comfort.
Basically, Ramkalawan is back earning hugely and living wealthily because of the desperation of some former SPPF ministers and at the expense of the eccentric and quite the naive, Roger Mancienne.
Ramkalawan is playing his card now but he will clearly be upstaged and send to retirement.
Unless he proves to be a better strategist than his opponents in LDS.