Journalists ask for better access to information

There is a growing call from the media for the government, starting with the President, to change its mindset and approach vis-s-vis the local Press.

President Danny Faure last week presided over a meeting between media practitioners and high level government officials managing the country’s economy. While the meeting was the opportunity for the officials to present their work and what they deem to be the way forward, it was also an opportunity for the Press to get more information about relevant matters pertaining to the Seychelles economy.

Even if the interaction was generally frank, open and amiable, Mr. Faure did take the opportunity to chastise the media for what he called ‘attacking a certain nationality’. He was making reference to the journalists’ sustained critical interest in the decision to ease the rules governing visitors who are allowed into the country before 1st August, (when the airport will re-open to international commercial flights) for a specific group of visitors. The media pointed out that such leniency was going on, while at the same time Seychellois who are stranded overseas are not being allowed to return before the end of July, due to the current situation where six locals and some 85 sailors have tested positive for COVID19.Despite pressure brought to bear by the Editor of this newspaper and his colleagues, to highlight the plight of Seychellois students who are desperately waiting to return home, last week health authorities together with the Foreign Affairs department announced that repatriation flights bringing Seychellois citizens into the country will temporarily cease until further notice. This news coupled with the added injury that repatriation flights out of Seychelles via the national airline will still go on, has broken the hearts of those students, especially the ones in Malaysia and the Maldives.

This prompted journalists to suggest that the authorities were discriminating against its own people.Those journalists who were at the meeting with Mr. Faure were not ready to just take the chiding and remain quiet. Rather they stood up for themselves and pointed out that had all the information the President was giving pertaining to the pending arrival of a delegation of around 500 persons from the UAE, been made available to the media beforehand, there would have been a better understanding of the situation.

They pointed out that if they are to be partners in the national fight against COVID19, they need to be taken into account and should be able to access information in a timely manner. One journalist also pointed out that when government imparts information to the media, it should do so to all registered media houses and not just the state broadcaster and newspaper.