Where is the hate?

Ashwin Raj has labelled the speech by Ratu Timoci Vesikula as “hate speech”.

But where is the hate?

The statement that oil and water have not mixed is a simple statement of fact.

The two major communities have not mixed. Is Bainimarama not aware that the RFMF is mono-ethnic? Even if he’s not troubled by this fact, he should have noticed it? (But then again he didn’t notice his second in command in the RFMF, and his logical successor as Commander – he was somehow invisible to Bainimarama).

Then there is the statement that Bainimarama’s most reliable supporters are iTaukei. Is that hate speech?

Ratu Timoci said that Bainimarama could not rely on the vote of ‘others’, meaning those who are not iTaukei. Is it hate speech to suggest that a group of people will not vote for Bainimarama? Most people I talk to think that saying people don’t support Bainimarama is a compliment, a tribute to their intelligence and common sense.

One thing we need to clear up is who is supposed to be the object of this alleged hate. The accusation by Ashwin Raj is that it’s directed at Indo-Fijians and yet there was no mention of Indo-Fijians by Ratu Timoci. The word used for the group we’re talking about – let’s call them the ‘False Friends of Frank’ – was Vasu. Evidentially, this is a new word to Ashwin Raj.

Vasu is not a term of abuse, nor does it mean Indo Fijian. Our vasu are the people outside our group to whom we are most closely related. Vasu iTaukei is a positive way to refer to our Part European relatives. The Melanesian-Vasu-i-Taukei (MVT) development fund, which has been around since 1998, has been funded by Bainimarama to help people from all minority communities (apart from the Rotumans, Banabans and Kioa Islanders, who have access to their own special help).

Prosecuting Ratu Timoci is going to make for some very interesting legal argument. Where is the authoritative source for the meaning of vasu? Not Ashwin Raj, I’m guessing.

What was the “incitement”? He was urging people to vote for Bainimarama! Is the idea that people might vote for somebody other than Bainimarama incitement to hate those people?

This keeps getting better and better. Every speech in vernacular is now going to be handed in advance for Ashwin Raj to peruse in translation. Is this the way Talanoa works? Ashwin Raj may not be aware that Ratu Timoci was speaking in a Talanoa session at the Tailevu Provincial Council.

As I said, this keeps getting better and better.

A problem of his own making

I have not stopped smiling since I listened to the bucket tipped on Bainimarama by his supporter Ratu Timoci Vesikula.

He reminded Bainimarama that the Vanua is his power base and the Vanua was already there when the church and government, the others pillars of iTaukei society, arrived.

And the Vanua demands answers: “you talk of royalties, what about our qoliqoli and our land which is entrusted to you” and “why have scholarships for iTaukei been taken away?”

If Bainimarama thought all his campaigning would be like a visit to villages where overwhelmed villagers sit by and give their big-shot visitor the royal treatment, he has been rudely awakened from that dream.

He is dreaming if he thinks assurances that land is protected and in a the constitution will fool someone like Ratu Timoci, who was a Valuer by profession. He understands very well that a 99 year lease without proper provision for rents to be re-assessed in line with inflation is no different theft and is exactly what the Land Use Decree allows for.

Most important of all: Ratu Timoci is a supporter of Bainimarama. When the Charter was the issue in the early days of the regime Ratu Timoci put his hand up in support. He is not one of the supporters who turns up out of nowhere to mouth words of support on the day. He is a long-standing supporter who is now potentially facing a prison sentence of up to 10 years for simply telling Bainimarama what the ordinary iTaukei voter is thinking.

But what Bainimarama has still not appreciated is that it is his control of the media which gave rise to this problem. The intimidated media toned down Ratu Timoci’s words, attempting to gloss them in a way they thought would be acceptable to the regime.

Then the truth became clear and MIDA made its on translation of Ratu Timoci’s blunt declaration: “we’ve lived together for a long time but the water and kerosene have never mixed”

Bainimarama will hit the media hard, without understanding that self-censorship is the root cause of this blow-up. If he also hits Ratu Timoci hard, he will make matters even worse. His attempt to silence Ratu Timoci will be the focus of discussions around yaqona bowls all over the country, not to mention the barracks.

If long time rivals SODELPA and the FLP can discuss their competing policies freely Bainimarama and his supporters should be able to do likewise.

Our newest politician

On 5 March a grub emerged from seven years in a cacoon and began to flap around the land as a political butterfly.

No longer a Commander issuing orders, he’s now a politican trying to persuade voters that they should vote for him.  He has to listen to their requests, their questions and their concerns. 

As the campaign wears on he can look forward to people asking him about things other parties are saying when they visit.  He can look forward to people asking him how their land is protected by his new constitution.

This is where he is going to have to come clean. He is going to have to spell out how it all works.  He will find himself sitting in front of people with the facts in their hands – the words of his constitution.  He will no longer be able to tell them that their land is better protected than it was under the 1997 constitution. 

Bainimarama’s problem is that he accepts everything Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum tells him.  If ASK says the land is protected it must be protected. The ASK answer is that all assets are protected and land is no different.  The problem with is that it’s not true.  The Land Use Decree gives the Prime Minister the power to issue leases of up to 99 years with rents set at whatever levels he chooses.

In setting rents the Land Use decree says the PM has to make sure “all land available are leased with the purpose of providing a livelihood for all parties concerned”.  The economic rights of the tenant are equal to property rights of the land owners. 

But it’s not only the tenants whose rights must be considered by the PM under the Land Use Decree – it says he “shall take into consideration at all times the best interests of the land owners and the overall well being of the economy”. 

Is ASK’s property subject to these restrictions?  Does he have to take into account his tenants ability to pay or the best of interests of the economy when dealing with his property? 

I can’t wait to hear our newest politician’s answers.  

 

The current account deficit – how long is the fuse?

It’s eight months to the all important election and Bainimarama plans to use every minute between now and then to buy support.  A lot of people think this is likely to be successful even though it’s completely hypocritical for Bainimarama who claimed Qarase ‘bought’ the  support of iTaukei villagers with Government money.
But there’s another side to this story which was revealed in the January Reserve Bank of Fiji bulletin. The gap between export income and the import bill is widening.  We all know Bainimarama’s spending spree is all being made with borrowed money but when will the foreign exchange  crunch come?  How long is the fuse he lit?
We don’t have any new exports to fill the gap left by the halving of sugar production, the drop in prices we receive for sugar and the loss of EU aid after Bainimarama decided he didn’t want it if it came with a lot of talk about democracy and the rule of law. 
The current account deficit will widen further this year with all the spending being pumped out by the Elect Bainimarama Campaign called the 2014 Budget. People are spending and this will mean a steep increase in imports.
Sooner or later, the current account deficit has to be made up by the capital account, which means investment, borrowing from overseas or sale of the FNPF’s last few overseas assets.  We should be able to ask the RBF where they expect the funds to come from – how much from investment and how much from borrowing?
The fact is the RBF cannot speak freely because it is not allowed, and that is enough to make any genuine overseas investor hold back their funds.  And it looks like genuine investors are holding back.
Even if the heavy-handed exchange controls which make it hard for companies from to remit profits are tightened,  there’s a danger that foreign exchange will run low this year and trigger  a crisis like the one that led to the devaluation in 2009.  The more successful the election spending spree is in stimulating spending by consumers, the shorter the fuse.
If anyone from the RBF tries to warn Bainimarama or AS-K of what could happen, they risk being slapped down for being negative, which is why a regime like this can be guaranteed to make a mess of government. 
 

Where is the good governance coup?

In December 2006 the Army Commander seized power in the name of transparency and good governance. It was all about cleaning up government. The issue wasn’t how genuine our democracy was, it was all about cleaning up government. All of the claims about genuine democracy came later as an excuse for not allowing us to elect a clean government. However flawed past elections may have been, they’ve all had more democratic credibility than a Government imposed by force.
In 2007, when Bainimarama was talking all the time about ‘transparency and good governance’, it was obvious that he was repeating words from a coup script written by others. Good governance means more than sacking the government boards and advisory bodies appointed by Qarase. It means making sure all decisions made by government, whether directly through cabinet or indirectly through government-appointed board members, can be seen, understood and questioned by the public.
Over the seven years of Bainimarama rule there has been a steady decline in all the principles of good governance, in paticular transparency. We don’t know what the government is doing and we are not allowed to ask.
Annual Reports from the FNPF have shrunk and no longer provide the information we need to be confident our contributions are safe. The Fiji Sugar Corporation no longer has to produce an Annual Report because it has been de-listed from the South Pacific Stock Exchange, but we know it is insolvent. FSC should be placed the hands of a receiver to protect all the people that trade with it – banks lending it money (if there still are banks foolish enough to do this) suppliers providing it with goods and services and hoping to be paid, not to forget small farmers investing in their farms in the hope that they will sell cane to FSC and be paid.
Then there’s Fiji Airways. Who knows what they owe or what interest they’re paying on their debts. We know the planes are owned by some artifical Irish corporation.
The pine and mahogany industries are covered in fog. We know Aiyaz buddy, Faiz Khan, is head of Fiji Pine, giving him control of Tropik Wood and Fiji Forest Industries. But that’s all we know. Try checking with Bloomberg Businessweek to see who’s running FHCL and you’ll find this: “Fiji Hardwood Corp. Ltd. does not have any Key Executives recorded.” There are no reports to show what is earned from mahogany sales, no doubt because Bainimarama doesn’t want the landowners to be able to work out what share he’s leaving for them.
Fijian Holdings is the one small ray of sunshine even though is shine through a dark and threatening cloud. FHL still publishes the Annual Reports required by the Stock Exchange and from that we find that total liabilities for the FHL group grew by a staggering 244% during the year ending 30 June 2013. Assets grew by only 46%. And yet it is claimed FHL made a small profit. Is this profit real or just a result of accounting tricks?
The FHL Annual Report claims “All Directors are independent Directors with no substantial interest in the shares or Group business.” In other words they lose nothing if the company is bled dry by the regime. Dividends are being paid out to the iTAB and then grabbed back by Bainimarama to repay the ‘loan’ he invented to cover his grab-back of the Qarase Government grant to the iTAB and Provincial Councils of B class shares.
FHL is being looted but at least we can get a glimpse of it in the Annual Report, which is more than we can say for Fiji Pine and the Fiji Hardwood Corporation.
If we had an independent media they could demand answers to these questions, but sadly, we do not

Where are the new politicans for 2014?

It’s now 2014, the election is less than 9 months away.
Anonymous pro regime bloggers tell us the economy is in wonderful shape, there is optimism everywhere and we are living in a new Fiji where voters will no longer choose ‘old’ politicians. So where are the new politicians rallying under the banner of Bainimarama’s new Fiji?
They don’t seem to be visible in the very thin ranks of the Interim Government. Bole could be called many things, but not new. A veteran of the original 1987 ethno-nationalists, approaching 80 years of age with a dicey heart, he’s as far from new as anyone still drawing breath can be. And then there’s Inoke Kubuabola. If he’s not an old politician, nobody is. He’s a veteran of every coup.
What about the ex military in Government, the men that Bainimarama swore would not benefit from the coup, are they new politicians? Sadly, all of them are just Yes Men for Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Only Sam Saumatua had the spine to try to carry out his duties without taking orders from Khaiyum and look where that got him.
Dr Sharma? He’s got a forest of question marks hanging over his head. The less said the better.
Nobody expects Aiyaz to stand for election. it’s no secret that he’s loathed. No-one dares say a word against hm openly, but everyone knows he’s poison to the public.
Pro-regime bloggers: I call on you to show me the new leaders for voters to embrace in place of the ‘old politicians’. Who are they? What have they done? What do they stand for?

The wasted years of Bainimarama

 The idea that the economy is now healthy is a lie.  This year and next year a  lot of money, mostly borrowed, is being pumped into the economy to try to breathe life into it after six years of uninterupted disaster.  This what the Asian Development Bank has to say on the subject. “The Fijian economy is not achieving its potential. Average annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth during 2006–2012 was negligible (0.7%), well below the government target of 5%, and below the modest growth achieved during 2001–2005 (2.4%).” 

There it is.  Qarase achieved a modest 2.4% growth rate between 2001 and 2005.  Bainimrama is claiming 2.25% for this year and hoping for 3% next year.  Even if this achieved his record will be a long way short of the Qarase’s. 

Year after year school leavers and university graduates have poured onto a stagnant job market. Many have been forced overseas to find jobs.  A lucky few with military connections have found jobs in the expanding army. It’s not yet a lost generation, but give Bainimarama time and he’ll complete the job. 

 The basic problem with Bainimarama’s impact on the economy is lack of investment. Businesses are reluctant to put their money into investments in Fiji while there is a government which changes the rules to suit itself. Worst of all, the court system is open to blatant interference. Any business contemplating investing in Fiji will be told the same thing by any lawyer outside the AS-K fold.  The interim Attorney General will tolerate no dissent. Judges and magistrates who defy him are fired.

And then there’s the decree disease. We’ve had not only seven years of rule by decree, many of the important decrees contain the clause that state that no decision taken by the executive can be appealed in any court or tribunal of any kind. One such decree is the Land Use Decree. 

Don’t take my word for it. This is what the Asian Development Bank says: “Structural weaknesses combined with political uncertainty have not been conducive to economic growth. They have deterred private investment, and contributed to a decline in social and economic infrastructure and worsening hardship and poverty. ” “Political uncertainty” is the diplomatic way of saying no-one knows what the Government will do.  It operates on the whims of one or two men fed by who knows what information.  

Navosavakadua

 

Croz walks the barbed wire tight-rope

No-one who knows him doubts that Crosbie Walsh is an intelligent man but his faculties of perception so filter the world on the way to his brain that he winds up with a view of the world which is difficult to reconcile with intelligence.

His discovery in late 2013 that the military which has ruled Fiji for seven years is mono-ethnic illustrates the peculiar nature of his faculties of perception. The military has not changed. Its ethnic composition is nothing new. And, besides, aren’t we all Fijian now, there are no more ethnic differences, so what does it matter?

Yet it does matter to Croz. The ethnic profile of the military, he says, should reflect the ethnic composition of the society. He is cagey about why this should be the case but eventually comes out with it – “An almost totally ethnic Fijian military cannot inspire confidence among Indo-Fijians and other ethnicities, and in situations where the military (or police) has to intervene, Indo-Fijians in particular will feel doubly threatened.”

Is he saying that Indo-Fijians don’t have confidence in the military government which has run the country for the past seven years? That would be quite a change for Croz.

Does Croz reject the proposition that Indians just don’t want to join the military? There is no formal bar, so what more is needed? Affirmative action? Not usually short of an opinion on anything, Croz seems to be holding back.

It’s as if the obvious truth of the regime has almost made its way into the brain of Croz, only to be thwarted by a brick wall. A government which replaced the Qarase Government, by whatever means, must be legitimate, even if it is illegal, incompetent, high-handed and defies all standards of transparency.

Or, to revert to my original metaphor: how long can Croz continue to walk this barbed wire tightrope?

The question of immunity

Some people have been surprised that Driti was not able to claim immunity for the acts which was alleged to have committed, but which he, of course, denied.

No-one should be surprised that the regime has acted hypocritically or illegally, but the issue of immunity is an interesting one.

We know the Constitution tailored for our illegal PM by Aiyaz Custom Legal Tailors has an intentional immunity gap. According to Section 154 “immunity for the period between 18 July 2012 to the date of the first sitting of Parliament elected after the commencement of this Constitution shall not apply to any act or omission that constitutes an offence under sections 77 to 390 of the Crimes Decree 2009″.

Ordinary crimes committed by our extraordinary government before they hand over to the elected Parliament are not covered by immunity. Sounds highly principled but there is really no inconsistency. This is the same crooked regime we know so well. Until there is a new Parliament Bainimarama and AS-K control the police and the court system, so they do not expect their criminal acts to be investigated.

If Bainimarama ceases to hold power, however, the situation will be different. The Fiji Police Force has any number of individuals who can give evidence of ordinary crimes which have been covered up, all of them involving deliberate attempts to pervert the course of justice. And in their professional capacity they know how to ensure strong evidence is available. Dates and places, all the key facts will be nailed down.

There are many people biding their time who will be able to claim credibly in the future that they could not report the crimes they witnessed because the criminals controlled the justice system.

Bainimarama will have no-one to blame but himself when he finds that immunity is a house of cards. He has placed his faith in AS-K, excluding advice from any other source. The price he will pay for this will be very high.

Pryde is spot-on

Speaking at the fourth National Anti-Money Laundering Conference in Suva the Solicitor General, Christopher Pryde, has at last said something worth listening to.

He told the assembled crime fighters: “Money laundering fuels corruption and organised crime and detection”. He might also have added that corruption and organised crime fuels money laundering.

He claims the regime he serves has done much to fight money laundering but we know it has also done much to fuel money laundering. The heavy-handed controls on foreign exchange have encouraged honest people who need to move money for legitimate purposes to resort to criminal channels.

If you have a credit card account overseas you have to seek permission to pay it with any hard-earned earnings you might have in Fiji. And then there’s a limit on how much you can pay per month. If you’re running a stall in the handicraft market the limit might not make much difference but if you’re running a business exporting handicrafts around the world it’s a joke.

The IMF has told the regime repeatedly to get rid of exchange controls because they deter investment. Why would people invest if it means any profits earned can’t be transferred out of the country without begging the regime for permission.

Some people are not deterred by this and this is a problem. Criminals don’t worry about such rules because they’re confident they can get around them by paying off officials.

The exchange control laws are a breeding ground for money laundering and corruption.

Bainimarama’s blind following of ASK’s plans

Nearly 3 years ago Bainimarama ordered the TLTB to distribute lease money equally to mataqali members. What this meant in particular was that chiefs, heads of yavusa or Vanua, would no longer receive a share. But it seems that nearly three years later this hasn’t happened.

Bainimarama hasn’t explained the delay but we can be sure it’s not a result of him listening to requests from landowners not to do it. It seems it’s a result of the decision to require all payments to go into bank accounts with trustees who have to make sure that the money goes to all mataqali members. This includes children as well as adults.

In the meantime we don’t know whether the lease money is being held by the TLTB or payments under the old system are being continued.

Bainimarama is always berating landowners for idle land, urging them to lease it, while ignoring the fact that rents are low and often not paid anyway, with the TLTB making too little effort to collect them. All he’s done is make this problem worse with his cock-eyed equal distribution policy, which landowners did not ask him to institute.

So why would he do it? Like so may decisions it’s down to one man, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who thinks he has a mandate to impose what he thinks is equality. But Sayed-Khaiyum is also motivated by a desire to see the death of all Fijian institutions.

When lease money was distributed in cash in villages people could see it and it tended to stay in the village. When people know their chiefs are receiving lease proceeds they can ask them to contribute to village projects. And giving the money to mataqali members in the village, directs the money to those most in need.

Bainimarama should leave lease money in the village where it’s needed. Apart from helping to strengthen village life it might encourage more landowners to approve leases.

The gender gap shows the credibility gap

The Bainimarama military regime has tried to present an image of itself as a reformist government. They call the halving of our sugar production, the bank-rupting of FSC and the impoverishment of thousands of cane farmers ‘reform’.

They even try to tell us that they are leading a charge of feminist reform but the truth is they’re a 2 man band and women are more marginalised than ever. Fiji has slipped four places to 117 among 136 countries in the 2013 World Gender Gap Index, with poor marks for political empowerment and economic participation for women.

Bainimarama’s cabinet has five military men (five out of eleven) and only one woman. Four out of twenty four Permanent Secretaries are women, the same as the number of military men in the ranks of Permanent Secretaries. It’s obvious a military government is a male-dominated government and it goes without saying, an undemocratic government.

The one woman in Cabinet is pure window-dressing. The regime’s propaganda regularly shows her handing out sewing machines in a blatant attempt at vote-buying in iTaukei villages.

When it comes to women in the senior ranks of the civil service the treatment of Mere Vuniwaqa shows us how it works. She was pushed out without explanation for daring to exercise the responsibility of her office, and then replaced by a pip-squeak upstart, chosen for his close links to the illegal A-G.

Actions speak louder than words and the actions of the military regime are clear. They were installed by force of arms and the message they send to everyone is might is right. The sad result of this example is that family violence is worse than ever and home invasions and assaults have not decreased.

Frank could win 27% of the vote!

Psychologists have noted the amazing fact that a percentage of the victims of terrorists and kidnappers identify with their tormentors and do not feel inclined to blame them. It’s called ‘Stockholm syndrome’ or capture bonding.

Some victims of kidnappers and terrorists adjust to the trauma of their abuse by identifying with the criminals who hold their lives in their hands. They end up feeling gratitude that they weren’t raped, maimed or killed rather than anger at the violation of their freedom and human dignity.

According to experts at the FBI up to 27 percent of victims may react this way. The others, of course, display a normal response – a fierce desire to see their tormentors face justice.

Could it be that the expressions of support some people actually show for Voreqe are the result of capture-bonding or Stockholm Syndrome?

If so, what this means is that the highest vote he can hope for is 27% because the rest of us do not feel grateful to our captor that we have not been among the number picked for beating, sacking, confiscation of property (including a chunk of pension). We do not identify with the criminal – we identify with his victims.

The all powerful executive

We can be sure that Bainimarama and Sayed-Khaiyum will take no notice of the opinion of Anthony Regan, an Australia-based constitutional lawyer, that the new Constitution gives too much power to the Executive branch of Government to exercise influence over the judiciary.

They are assuming that the reins of Executive Government will still be in their hands after the elections. The idea that they could lose the election hasn’t really registered.

The price they pay for their heavy-handed government – the censorship, the bullying and intimidation of anyone who speaks out – is they have no idea just how despised they are. Bainimarama knows of course that his joined at the hip side-kick is despised by iTaukei, but he thinks his strong hand will bring them all to heel. Bainimarama must be unaware, however, that AS-K has made enemies for the regime everywhere, meaning literally everywhere.

All through the bureaucracy normal civil servants who just try to do their job have been frustrated by his interference. In business, people who would love to invest in new opportunities hold back because they fear his all pervasive interference in anything he hasn’t personally approved. His support base is limited to people like Mohammed Saneem who owe everything to him personally. The fact that many of them are Muslims is unfairly giving the impression of a Muslim takeover, so many Muslims are also uncomfortable with the AS-K ascendency.

If Bainimarama does not win this election, control of the all-powerful executive will pass to other hands. At that point they will regret their creation of an all-powerful executive. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum never favoured a strong executive until he became part of it. He will have to hope that the people who hold the reins of executive power after the election show more respect for the spirit of the constitution than he has since he joined the unelected government.

Why the change to iTaukei land?

Between announcing the final draft of his Constitution and pushing it under the nose of the President to wield his rubber stamp, changes were made to Section 28 covering iTaukei land.

Nothing was said about this until Fiji Leaks pointed it out. Then the architect of the Constitution said that changes were made to improve protection of iTaukei land. He didn’t say how the changes would give extra protection.

So what is the truth?

The change was very small, so small almost no-one would notice it. The heading of Section 28 was changed from “Protection of iTaukei, Rotuman and Banaban lands” to “Rights of ownership and protection of iTaukei, Rotuman and Banaban lands”.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s strategy is clear. He wants to make absolutely clear that the Constitution protects OWNERSHIP of iTaukei land and that is all.

There is no right to have all dealings in iTaukei land under their absolute control. The Land Use decree gives the State the power give leases on their land to whomever they want, on whatever terms then deem appropriate. And the Decree gives the Minister for Lands wide powers through the ability to create regulations that do not have to be approved by Parliament.

By adding the words “Rights of Ownership” to the heading of Section 28 Sayed-Khaiyum has made clear that the Section is dealing with Rights of Ownership only, not Protection of land more generally, which could extend to their rights over processes of leasing.

Better imperfect constitution than none

There are only two people who could say that the new constitution is everything everyone wanted, and that’s the two who drew it up. They put page after page spelling out that they cannot be held responsible for crimes and a few measly lines saying that Fijians own their land, without protecting their right to control leasing of land.

We can work out how weak the support for their constitution was from the fact that they couldn’t even find a handful of people to form a Constituent Assembly to rubber stamp it.

They announced that there would be a Constituent Assembly, with the job of legitimising the burning of the Yash Ghai draft, but they delayed and delayed as they tried to find members who were credible puppets, eventually giving up because no-one credible could put their name to such an exercise.

What the new constitution brings is constraints on the power of the regime. Since they trashed the old constitution they’ve had nothing restricting their ability to use powers of government as they like, especially current Rule by Decree, which is not rule of law at all. They set up the Yash Ghai Commission and then changed the rules once they found they didn’t suit.

They are now bound to hold elections. Bainimarama will have to stand down as Commander before he can set-up his political party. He might remain as PM, but he will no longer be Commander. This will be a significant check on his power, hence his reluctance to step down. Also, the constitution creates electoral framework, sets rules of the game, and paves way for return to parliamentary democracy.

But everyday he delays the day of announcing his party restricts his ability to set up an effective party. With the well organised parties now opposing him he’s going to find these elections very hard to win.

At least now he’s going to have to play by some rules.

Why must votes be counted on one day?

A lot of people are asking whether the one day vote boast made by the iAG is a result of his arrogance – there’s nothing he can’t conjure into existence with one of his decrees – or whether it reflects his ignorance of what life is like for many indigenous Fijians in remote areas (including Rotuma).

It’s true he’s flown to a few locations in his helicopter (like some billionaire businessman) but he’s never had to get to places by boat, four wheel drive, horse or on foot. He just doesn’t understand.

The registration process should have shown him what the difficulties would be but his trademark arrogance means that he’s incapable of listening to anything he doesn’t want to hear.

But there’s another theory entirely to explain why he’s so intent on his one day vote. It makes it easier for him to control and manipulate the process. Votes will be counted in different locations, making it easier for him to control what happens and manipulate it for his own ends.

Centralised vote counting can be checked by independent observers.

There’s also the issue of vote counting in small locations making it clear who voted.

In villages all over Fiji the dictator has been accorded royal welcomes by people whose motive is clearly to make sure they are not denied the share of Government resources that is rightly theirs. Everyone knows, including Bainimarama, that these people may all secretly support SODELPA.

Counting votes at each location would make it impossible for these people to have the right to secrecy in casting their vote.

The law that is above the Constitution

The new Constitution begins with the words “WE, THE PEOPLE OF FIJI” and then proceeds to lay down the rules that will govern us and to tell us all the things that we hold dear.

Amongst all this there is one thing that it sacred above all else. It’s the law that can never be changed.

Section 156 (2) says “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution, the Limitation of Liability for Prescribed Political Events Decree 2010 shall, in its entirety, continue in existence and shall not be reviewed, amended, altered, repealed or revoked by Parliament.”

“Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution”!!

“Veitalia na veika e vakarautaki ena Yavunivakavulewa qo” !!

The Constitution, the document which is supposed to be the source of all good things in our political life cannot have anything to say in relation to this one law.

“The Limitation of Liability for Prescribed Political Events Decree 2010″, the pardon law passed by Bainimarama, is elevated to be above the Constitution.

If that doesn’t work Section 158 says that no court can accept a challenge to the provisions of the Sacred Law of protection for coup criminals. So the Decree pardonning the criminals is above the courts too.

Bainimarama’s transparency

When Bainimarama seized power in 2006 he kept talking about ‘transparency’. Since then he’s hidden everything his Government does and banned the media from reporting anything critical of his actions.

But the latest draft of the proposed Constitution makes his motives very clear for all to see.

The 1997 Constitution, which Bainimarama scrapped, said: “The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the military forces.”

The first draft produced by Sayed-Khaiyum working to Bainimarama’s orders was very similar: “The Prime Minister is the Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.”

The powers are the same but the office that holds them has been changed. Bainimarama wanted to keep the powers of the Commander in Chief for himself. Now that IS transparency.

It seems that Bainimarama’s motives were so transparent that they created a lot of unrest in the RFMF. The proposal that Bainimarama would be their PM and their Commander in Chief left no-one in any doubt that his only aim was to hang on to power.

The new Constitution gives the role of Commander in Chief to the President, but makes a big change in what that role means.

Now we have “The President shall perform the ceremonial functions and responsibilities as the Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.” In other words he is just a uniform standing on a podium to take salutes.

The Commander will exercise all his powers under the direct orders of the Government, which will be headed by Bainimarama.

Bainimarama has not forgotten the undermining, insubordination and plotting that made him Commander and Thief.

Protection of land will be just another right

Our long awaited constitution has been promised for the end of this month. Once again Bainimarama has been saying that land will be totally protected, and then adding that he’s guaranteeing rights to livelihood, water and electricity and who knows what else.

This is hardly likely to satisfy iTaukei Fijians. Their right to ownership of their land should not be equated with the rights of “everybody” to electricity or safe drinking water.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has a strategy that’s not hard to see. Everyone has a large number of rights – rights to a job, rights to water, education, electricity etc. In the first draft the right to ownership of land was just another right to ownership. No different to ownership of any other piece of property.

It’s not hard to guess what the new ‘revised’ constitution will contain. It will mention iTaukei landownership as one of the full range of rights. It will mention that iTaukei landownership is inalienable. It cannot be transferred to another person.

Of course, rights to use of land can be handed to others through the medium of leases. That won’t change. And it’s the power to hand out 99 year leases under the Land Use Decree that Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum sees as the key to his land plan.

The Land Use decree gives Bainimarama as PM the power to do whatever he wants to hand out 99 year leases. It says he should look at the best interests of the landowners but he has to balance this against the best interests of the economy and the nation.

With a Constitution that hands out rights to all, it will be the state and the ASK controlled court system that will be deciding on who is entitled to what. Make no mistake, the first draft we saw was a charter for state power and the next version will be no different. Itaukei landownership rights will be transformed into just one right alongside many others which will be handed out by a regime posing as a state.