Message by the President of the Republic, Mr Wavel Ramkalawan for New Year 2021
01 January 2021 | State House
My dear Seychellois Brothers and Sisters,
The year 2020 has seen many happening in our country. Two major events were the anniversary of the 250th anniversary of the first official settlement and the second was the first peaceful transition of government since our Independence. In a sense, both marked new beginnings for our country. The birth of Seychelles as a nation and secondly a test to reassure us and the world that we are indeed a mature nation, a fully-fledged member of the international community. Unfortunately, both occasions could not be fully celebrated due to the presence of COVID-19.
2020 has been one of the most difficult years for our small nation. Unfortunately, as we bid it farewell, there are no signs yet that 2021 will be much better. Glimpses of hope flash from time to time, but they are soon drenched with disappointment. The recent surge in numbers of Israeli tourists was a most welcome development and while our hopes were high, things took a negative turn overnight.
We will continue to experience such occurrences, but what is most important is for us to become more robust as a nation. The answers lie within ourselves as a nation and not from the outside. We have to stand strong. It all begins with me, with you. Pretending that we are not part of the answer or solution will not help us rebuild this country and give the future our children and future generations deserve.
Brothers and sisters, we have to change our ways. We have to understand that today we cannot continue living the way we have been used to. The government and I will stand by you in these times of sacrifice, hard work and limitless innovation. We have to come together as a nation. I realise that I was elected at the most difficult time any leader would have liked. I believe it was for a reason and I will be faithful to the task this nation has put on my shoulders.
The biggest problem we face today is one where the majority of our people are going about their lives in the same old way – feasting, spending on the unnecessary and not focusing on priorities, but believing that government will take care of them. I have to announce that these days are now over. Welfare assistance will take a new dimension. Before calling at the office for welfare assistance, the first door you should have knocked at is the employment centre. Soon there will be new announcements. Young, strong men and women who believe that drugs combine well with irresponsibility and welfare, will have to change their ways. I cannot, and will never accept that irresponsibility is a replacement for hard work. In the state of the nation address I will elaborate further on these, but for the time being, let these be issues for serious reflection.
A new attitude to work will have to be adopted in our country. In this month, many have fought for a bonus. Let me remind all workers and their strike instigators that it should not have been a bonus you should have been fighting for, but rather to guarantee a salary in 2021. Seychellois who believe they can simply walk out of a job and come for welfare are being advised to thing again. The new reality is different. My advice is this: Employers, show understanding, compassion and treat your workers as human beings, understanding their needs. Workers, give what is expected of you and remember that the success of your work place is also your achievement. May I also remind workers that a visit to the clinic for a day off on Monday is not a clause in any employment contract.
My people, I call on you who work in the civil service to take a new business like attitude. It appears that because I stated that no-one would lose their job, many have taken this to mean business as usual. No, it is not. Those who do not pull their weight in 2021 will be asked to consider alternative employment and their contracts will be terminated. I have been observing and I have seen too many cases of where feet dragging continues to happen. What can be done in 10 minutes takes weeks. This attitude will not be tolerated as we move into the New Year. May I also remind civil servants that there is only one government in this country. In case some have forgotten, please be reminded that a change of government happened in October 2020 and that they should all be serving this new administration.
To the private sector, I make the same call. Businesses have to reward workers appropriately. I salute those who are doing so, and there are many. I congratulate those who gave their workers a bonus and promotion. I now expect you to give appropriate training to Seychellois workers, to employ those who have the qualification and skills and to pay them the right salary. To the workers, I call on you to make good use of every opportunity that comes to you. Let hard work be your motto. Don’t look for excuses to be absent from work and always bear in mind that you are a very important link in the work chain. At all times remember that your family and loved ones depend on you for a better life through what you bring home.
I call on all the various sectors to look at their trade, work on real possibilities and make known the obstacles that need to be eliminated in order to see greater creation of wealth. The government remains your trusted partner as we move forward together.
Yes, economically it will be tough and decisions will have to be taken. The Minister will make new announcements in his budget address. There will be reforms within government, but there will also be new burdens on our population. For example, PUC will soon announce an increase in electricity tariffs due to an increase in the price of fuel. The changes in government will range from management to policy changes. Many Boards, CEOs and PSs will be changed while certain governmental organisations will be closed due to duplicity. We have over 100 boards in this country and many do not even meet, or meet within working hours where civil servants get paid board fees. Such practices cannot continue.
Brothers and Sisters, this message may sound like a mini SONA. You are right. As we enter 2021, I simply want you to be aware of what will be expected of us as a nation. Nice words are good for the heart, but facing reality is even better as it makes you plan the change you want to be.
I cannot end this message without sounding an alarm bell on the continued abuse of drugs and alcohol in this country that lie at the heart of most social problems. Government once again calls on those in drug trafficking to stop. This has been my constant plea: Stop destroying the lives of our youth. 2021 will be a determining year in the elimination of hard drugs in our country. The fight will be ruthless as we release imprisoned communities and free our youth. You have been warned. We will also be taking a stronger stance on bringing alcohol abuse under control. There is too much alcohol in our country. It is the responsibility of everyone to play their role, but can I first of all call on you, as a responsible citizen to be an active participant?
The Seychellois is a God-fearing people. We live in the faith of a loving Creator God where religious harmony and respect prevail in our country. We are therefore confident that with faith God will guide us through these difficult times. I wish every Seychellois joy, peace and love in their hearts. I pray for renewed strength and vision to move our country forward. Above all, I pray that all these virtues will bring unity, respect, reconciliation and harmony among our people. Remember that the God of the Good times is also the God of the bad times and that he will accompany us in 2021. May we put our total trust in Him.
Loving God, I pray that you will bless our nation and all her children. I pray that you will be the one we turn to in difficult and good times. Above all I pray that you will always be given due recognition in your land. I commit my people under your care as I humble myself before you. Thank you for 2020. We commit 2021 in your hands.
Have a Blessed New Year.