Election month is here. With it comes the usual and unsurprisingly baggage of professional keyboard trolls, who scour social media desperately for attention and to push their political party’s propaganda. They have gone aggressively on the attack, but their target audience is ultimately restricted to their own party activists, disinterested individuals who know to treat anything said by these trolls with a pinch of salt, and their own candidates.
Ordinary citizens either have no, or insufficient access to, internet to pay these keyboard warriors any mind, or are too busy trying to put food on their family’s table to worry about what so and so said about a rival politician, particularly when the spreader of gossip is usually on the party’s payroll and has a nice, air-conditioned office to work from at the party’s fancy headquarters.
The rolling out of the political PPBs have begun. While one party spends most of its energy attempting to glorify its leader, the other seems to believe that discrediting rivals will make them appear to be more credible. On our part, ONE SEYCHELLES has dedicated these important platforms to canvassing and expanding upon our plans, policies and values. We not only shine a spotlight on issues being faced by Seychellois, but we make valuable suggestions on how we intend to fix them.
Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) has continued to drop the ball this week in disseminating fair and impartial news to the public. Many Seychellois remain unconnected to the internet, which means that social media platforms, where most political parties direct their propaganda, are inaccessible to the masses. Traditional media – SBC television and radio – therefore remain an important platform for public engagement. At election time, these legacy media formats are critical in enabling the public to make informed choices.
This week I was privileged to be bestowed with the title of “Tourism Hero” for the life-long work I have done in the field, and that I actively continue to do; an international award that is only bestowed upon individuals who demonstrate “extraordinary leadership, innovation, and actions.” As a Seychellois, I consider my triumphs on the global scene as a win for my Country, as I always strive to fly the Seychelles flag high in the international arena. This news was shared with the SBC, and since 27th September – the date that the announcement was made by the international organization – they have declined to share it. This is particularly curious in light of other superfluous news items they have shared about other politicians in recent weeks.
The silencing of my achievement aside, this week they also failed to do justice to Dr. Twomey’s powerful farewell speech during her ceremonial sitting as Chief Justice for the last time. Her inspirational words touched on many themes, including the importance of change, the threat to the independence of the judiciary – and to our constitutional democracy – by key politicians, and the need to start holding people to account for their crimes, “even when they are people who are well loved, or wealthy or powerful.” She commented on the bullying tactics that she personally had to endure from a high-profile politician, and that the Judiciary as a whole had to endure, and noted that no one from the National Assembly or the Executive rushed to the defence of the Judiciary when it mattered.
She questioned the impartiality of our judicial appointments process, expressing her alarm that members of political parties are in charge of recommending the appointment of, and initiating disciplinary processes against Judges, the Attorney-General, the Ombudsman, the Auditor General, the Electoral Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Committee, the Information Commission, and the SBC! This is despite the constitutional requirement that members of the CAA are to be of “proven … impartiality”. This is particularly troublesome when certain members do little to alleviate the public perception of their partiality and bias.