(Image: Ba Provincial Council chairman and Tui Tavua Ratu Ovini Bokini speaks at the meeting yesterday)
Fiji Times article reports on the call by for an earlier transition to democracy, by an internal vote in Ba Provincial Council, headed by Great Council of Chiefs chair, Ovini Bokini.
This is an excerpt of the Fiji Times article:
Chiefs want early polls
Friday, March 30, 2007
THE chiefs of Ba Province are calling on the interim Government to have a general election as early as possible for the sake of economic growth, especially in the tourism industry.
This was a resolution at the two-day meeting in Lautoka, which ended yesterday. Roko Tui Ba Viliame Seuseu said members of the council agreed it would be best for everyone if the general election was held sooner than 2010.
"We want the general elections scheduled for 2010 to be brought forward," he said. "The sooner we have it, the better". Mr Seuseu said they were concerned with the political situation since the December takeover because it had severely affected tourism.
He said they had every right to be concerned as several major hotels were located in the province. Mr Seuseu said these hotels provided employment for most villagers.
"If that is affected, our people will also suffer," he said. He said some employees of these hotels had been on reduced hours since the military takeover. Mr Seuseu said the resolution was reached after a team from the Information Ministry approached them and presented the interim Government's plans leading up to the general election.
Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni said the interim administration had put in place a road map that had to be followed.
"The government of the day decides on when the next general election would be held and no one else would," [Leweni] said.
The chiefs also reassured its support for council chairman Tui Tavua Ratu Ovini Bokini. Mr Seuseu said their support for Ratu Ovini as a chairman of the council as well as the Great Council of Chiefs was unmoved. "No amount of allegations or finger pointing would move our support for him," [Seuseu] said.
This perhaps is among the greatest examples of how self-interested personalities of native institutions, have adopted an utterly confusing role in modern Fiji society.
It is also a cruel reminder of the hidden agendas in native institutions, to interfere or influence the role of the central Government. For certain, among these improper uses of protocol, is pre-determining an accelerated time-frame for a democratic process. This is not or should not and never was a function of native governance and learning from earlier examples of ethnonationalism in Fiji, this dangerous course only bears a bitter tasting fruit.
Although, supporters of Bokini have dismissed these allegation, as an attempt to discredit him; it is quite undeniable that, the GCC Chairman and Chairman for Ba Provincial Council is actively blurring that line between democracy and aristocracy, for his self-gain. This arcanum was coroborated by NLTB's Deputy General Manager, Semi Tabakanalagi's interview with Fiji Sun (excerpt below) attesting to the fact that, there are several cases(involving Bokini) pending in tribunal court.
Meanwhile, a Fiji Sun article adds another dimension to the complaints against Bokini, who is accused of over-stepping his traditional authority by several king making tribes from Bokini's own district, in regards to negotiations for a certain development project. Other surfacing allegations are with regards to the issuance of Fishing licences, as reported by a Fiji Village article.
NLTB man denies collusion claims
By MAIKA NAGALU
A senior Native Land Trust Board officer had defended himself against allegations that he was used by Tui Tavua Ratu Ovini Bokini to alter some land leases to landowners. Board deputy general manager operations Semi Tabakanalagi denied the allegations by some members of the chiefly household landowning unit in Tavua that he had been colluding with the Great Council of Chiefs chairman on land leases.
[Tabakanalagi] said he was not working with Ratu Ovini for criminal intent but for working relationships only since he is the chief of the vanua of Bila and is the traditional head of his landowning unit.
"Collusion for criminal intent is an absolute no and is categorically denied," said Mr Tabakanalagi. He said that he only worked with Ratu Ovini on official matters relating to his work."The Tui Tavua is the supreme chief of the vanua of Tavua and is the traditional head of his mataqali Tilivasewa. His views and decisions on land they own is to be respected and is to be considered," said Mr Tabakanalagi.
NLTB is empowered to deal with native land, he said, for the benefit of native owners and basically "this is our benchmark in the decision-making that we make in our business". Members of the chiefly household landowning unit had filed their complaint to the Anti-Corruption Unit at the beginning of this week citing two cases where MrTabakanalagi allegedly altered leases to two of the landowners.
"I am all confident we have made the right decisions in the cases involved," he said. "Two of the cases", Mr Tabakanalagi said, " are still in the tribunal court".
Ratu Ovini did not want to comment and referred all queries to his traditional spokesman.Tavualevu Village spokesman Apisalome Uuisova said they had already called a vanua meeting where the group that had filed complaints to the military is also expected to attend for a resolution.
Using the experience gained from the Monasavu case and Natadola project, it is plausible for back room deals to be hatched, between the NLTB and certain chieftains; resulting in a wholesale disenfrachisement of the majority of other inheritors and stakeholers to this land commons, collectively known in Fijian vernacular as the Vanua.
This recent article by Radio Fiji, points to reverberations among some of the staff employed by Native Lands Trust Board, who have signed a petition to remove the acting General Manager, Joveci Tuinamuana.
It appears that new incumbent has tread on some toes within the institution. Some victims of sore toes are perhaps culpable for surfacing improprieties related to the software contract with Pacific Connex, or are implicated in the allegations of wilful collusion, to defraud landowning units.
Below is an excerpt of the Radio Fiji article:
NLTB staff wants Tuinamuana out
31 Mar 2007 20:31:32
Staff of the Native Lands Trust Board have signed and presented a petition to its Acting General Manager Joveci Tuinamuana calling for his immediate resignation.
The petition was hand delivered to the Military’s representative Captain Esala Teleni, Fijian Affairs Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau and Tuinamuana yesterday. It’s believed the staff are not happy with his style of leadership especially during this difficult time.
Radio Fiji Gold News has also established that Tuinamuana apologized to two senior executives of the Board, Semi Tabkanalagi and Solo Nata of West Regional Office for his comments on Fiji TV this week. He told viewers that the two had been implicated in an allegation by TAVUA landowners. No comment could be obtained from Captain Teleni.
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