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Opinion, Opinion

My Say: Politicians Who Spread Lies Doing Great Disservice To This Country

My Say: Politicians Who Spread Lies Doing Great Disservice To This Country
July 03
10:53 2017

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say in the 4 The Record FBC TV programme last night.

Politicians who are pedalling lies and half truths for cheap political gains are doing a great disservice to the people in this country.

Not long ago I went to this village where I heard an extraordinary story. There were some discussions on the extension of village boundaries.

Some villagers had this apprehension that foreigners or other races would come in shortly and occupy the area in the extension.

I asked them where they got the information from. One person said a politician who had gone through the area said it. I told them that they should verify all information to ascertain the truth.

Sadly, there is a lot of misinformation happening out there about iTaukei land and iTaukei rights. It is pretty lethal when it is taking place around the yaqona bowl.

That is likely to intensify when the 2018 general election draws near. The usual suspects who started unfounded rumours that iTaukei were losing their land, their rights and heritage, appear to be back in the hustings as they return to the campaign trail.

As a tip to guard against such misinformation, iTaukei villagers can verify information that bothers them from the turaga-ni-koro (village headman), the mata ni tikina (district rep), the Roko Tui and the provincial office.

If they are still not satisfied with the response, they can check with the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs and the iTaukei Land Trust Board (if it’s to do with mataqali land).

iTaukei issues from their land, culture, to ownership rights  and their resources  have always been contentious topics of intense debate .

A lot of energy is expended and time spent talking about issues that are of little consequence to the positive development of the iTaukei people and the country as awhole.

Other races can no longer be used as scapegoats for the iTaukei lagging behind in education, business and commerce. The finger points to those who were in leadership over the last five decades.

The iTaukei own 91 per cent of the total land mass in Fiji but that is not reflected in their economic involvement. It is often said that the iTaukei are asset rich but cash poor. But what have we done about it?

Some attempts in the past to help iTaukei get into business and commerce failed like the setting up of the then Native Land Development Corporation (NLDC) and a supermarket  chain venture.

Now there is a much clearer path on how we can utilise the iTaukei land. This past week in the West four iTaukei land owning units held ground breaking ceremonies for development projects that have been made possible by a Government assistance under a $10 million development fund for landowners.

This is the first ever Government-funded development projects on iTaukei land.

The iTaukei landowners have been given financial empowerment to undertake these commercial projects.

It follows the same principle as the small business grants. Thousands, who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to engage in small businesses,  are now active participants in the economy. This is what we should be talking about, getting Fijians engaged in economic development, not wasting our time talking about things that are not true.

The fact is iTaukei land is safe and protected by the Constitution.

Since the introduction of the Constitution no iTaukei land has been been lost as claimed by some. The iTaukei rights are intact and all the things that iTaukei hold dear are safe. They are still in control. There has been some criticism that Government controls the administration of iTaukei land through a board.

The board ensures that the landowners  get the best returns for their land. But the real control rests with the landowners. No land can be leased for development  unless it is approved by the landowners. It includes the terms of the lease.

The landowners also have the power to go to the Land Bank and offer their land for development lease. If the landowners refuse to sign any proposal the status quo remains the same. So the landowners are still in the driver’s seat.

Despite this assurance, some politicians put on their own spin on the issues selfishly to score cheap political points.

But people need to know  that not all the things some of these politicians say are true.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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