The Seychelles Islands for the first time have taken the leading role in Africa in the fight against corruption. The archipelago scores 70 out of 100 in 2021 as compared to 66 in 2020 and ranked 23rd amongst 180 countries worldwide (Mauritius is 49th) and first in Africa in Transparency International's 2021 Corruption Perception Index.
How did the Seychelles manage to top the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2021 in Africa?
As you may have noticed the CPI results have been tracked over 10 years and gradually Seychelles has made progress. In the last six years the country has taken a number of steps to improve on systems and processes of state institutions; it has introduced a number of legislations which provide better framework for containing fraud and corruption, including for example the Access to Information Act.
There has also been in general, greater oversight by the different authorities on the management of public affairs.
While Mauritius is still waiting for its Freedom of Information Act sold in election manifestos since 2005 including that of l'Alliance Lepep in 2014, where has the Seychelles' Access to Information Act which came into law in July 2018 lead till now bearing in mind that some information that might comprise state security, endanger the life and safety of an individual are exempted from release to the public?
It has been useful in many cases. On the other hand, from a number of test cases submitted by Transparency Initiative Seychelles (TIS), there are some gaps in the law.
For example, the request by TIS to have access to the agreement between the Government of Seychelles and Travizory (a Swiss-based border technology company which has an agreement with the government for a next generation facial travel authorization system that allows travellers to complete advance entry formalities for health, immigration and customs before they travel, either using mobile apps or the website) was refused on the basis that the third party did not give permission to share the agreement.
We will be calling on the Government to consider review of the law. State Security, Life and safety of individuals are addressed in some clauses of the Act.
With the Anti-Corruption Commission tracking a missing $50 million donated to Seychellois since 2002 while prominent citizens including a former First Lady are in police custody for more than a month, amongst other cases, how long is the road to a corrupt-free archipelago as you so wish?
Wishing to have a totally corrupt free country would be almost a far-fetched dream. We need to remain conscious that we live with a hybrid concept of corruption. One which is both bred through incoming dishonest investors or migrants and one which is now home grown.
Taking Seychelles onto a road with high morality will be a challenge but a necessary one to accept if we want to see our country rise above the temptation of corrupt practices.
When we launched Transparency Initiative Seychelles five years ago, I stated my wish that the Seychellois children born then would reach the age of 18 with better morality and integrity which would be the essence of favoring good governance for any country. This is how long it may take.
While you advocate for a corruption-free archipelago, the discovery of arms caches at influential people's places is very worrying. What else can we expect in your archipelago? Are the competent authorities on the way to dismantle other such networks?
Yes this fact is rather disturbing but also reassuring that this finding has been made. I think that we have gone through the worst and the authorities have increased their level of vigilance and I believe that they must be taking the necessary measures to enhance the national security of the country with the help of foreign assistance.
The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of the Financing of Terrorism Act in place since 2020, and other laws provides the legal framework to mitigate or attend to such incidents. We rightly referred to Seychelles as an archipelego with a vast span of ocean, so we always remain at the mercy of sensitive maritime security.