Somebody asked me the other day what was wrong with Bainimarama’s decision to stop distributing a share of rents to chiefs? Isn’t it fair?
The first thing that’s wrong is that it wasn’t Bainimarama’s decision to make. The colonial government never made such decisions without consultation. The NLTB was set up by the colonial government under the leadership of Ratu Sukuna after extensive consultation with the Great Council of Chiefs.
All previous constitutions restricted the ability of elected governments to make such changes without broad-based support – a two thirds majority of an elected Parliament – and support from the Great Council of Chiefs.
Only Bainimarama’s arrogance fuelled by years of dictatorship allowed him to make changes without consulting a single landowner.
He will not listen to the Great Council of Chiefs but he follows every word his illegal Attorney General tells him.
Many iTaukei support a share of land rents going to chiefs and they have said this to Bainimarama when he met them after the decision. If a share goes to their chief, the chief can contribute to projects to help their village and their Vanua. If it goes only to individuals it is lost to the community.
Under the present regime money can be sent out of the country to mataqali members overseas if that’s what the mataqali decides and they have a majority of members overseas.
Who wants this apart from a few selfish individuals who think it suits them?