SODELPA is campaigning hard on 17 decrees that affect its iTaukei supporters, all of which have been passed without any consultation and without an elected parliament.
But there is one decree which stands out among all the others. It contains fewer than 1500 words and yet it grants to the person holding the office of Prime Minister sweeping powers over the the property of indigenous landowners.
This is the Land Use Decree which gives the PM the power to “designate land for utliisation under this decree”. Then Section 14 gives the PM the power to make regulations covering anything to do with the decree. It is in effect a power to write new laws.
The Land Use Decree says nothing about how long leases should be (except to impose an upper limit of 99 years) or what rents should be paid or whether landowners need to approve leases the PM sets up when he “designates” land. All of the law laid down for these vital matters is in the Regulations.
The Land Use Regulations are twice as long as the Land Use Decree and the reason for this is not hard to understand. The Land Use Regulations can be changed without the approval of Parliament. Bainimarama says that 60% approval of landowners is needed for him to hand out land but he knows that he has given himself the power to change this without approval of Parliament.
Bainimarama has shown his arrogance in many different ways but taking to himself the power to make laws regarding land is the height of his arrogance.
But it does not end there. The Land Use Decree denies landowners the right of appeal to a court. This short decree devotes 350 of its mere 1500 words to denying the right to appeal a decision in any court or tribunal. Bainimarama has usurped the role of both Parliament and the judiciary.
This decree is like no other. if anyone thinks only iTaukei should worry about this, think again. Bainimarama and Khaiyum will continue to systematically cut back everyone’s rights in order to cement themselves in power. This is what common and equal citizenry means under Bainimarama and Khaiyum.