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Analysis: Lynda Tabuya Continues With Old SODELPA Policies

Analysis: Lynda Tabuya Continues With Old SODELPA Policies
SODELPA provisional candidate Lynda Tabuya. Photo: Ronald Kumar
June 07
11:00 2018

If this is the best SODELPA could do for this election, without new policies, it could be heading for another big defeat.

Recent pocket meetings have shown that SODELPA has a clear strategy to consolidate its iTaukei support.

Unfortunately, many of the issues cov­ered are not new and are designed to mis­lead and appeal to the base instincts of the iTaukei.

In a recent campaign in Nasinu, between Suva and Nausori, SODELPA provisional candidate Lynda Tabuya criticised among other things the:

  • Land Bank
  • Mining in Bua and Namosi
  • 17 decrees claiming they have taken away iTaukei rights
  • Composition of Board of the iTaukei Land Trust Board
  • Sunset Clause
  • Crown land
  • One Constituency

On the Land Bank under the Land Use Decree, she likened it to a term deposit in a bank where you could not touch the mon­ey within a specified period. She claimed it took away the iTaukei rights during the duration of the lease of 99 years.

But the fact is no one is forced to deposit their land for lease in the Land Bank. For iTaukei landowners 60 per cent are re­quired to approve it before it can happen.

The terms of the lease are not set for 99 years. They can be for 30 years or 50 years or less. Again it must be agreed by the landowners. If they feel it is too long, they can reduce it.

The lease money they get is higher than land under the iTaukei Land Trust Board which charges a fee for administration cost. Under the Land Bank there is no fee.

The rule that the landowners cannot in­terfere with the tenancy during the lease term is to give the tenant security of ten­ure. If you are an investor developing the land, you will need this kind of security before you go ahead with the investment. It’s a win win situation. The landowners get a higher return and the tenant get se­curity and peace of mind.

The fear about the composition of the TLTB board is unfounded. There seems to be a perception that iTaukei would lose their land and ownership rights. The fact is in the last four years no inch of land has been lost nor have their ownership rights been taken away.

There also appears to be a wrong percep­tion that Crown land is getting bigger. On the Sunset Clause, critics have been selec­tive in their criticism. It refers to a thesis by the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, when he was at university.

Ms Tabuya claimed issues raised in it were now being implemented by the Fiji­First Government and designed to take away the rights of the iTaukei and their cultural autonomy.

The fact is iTaukei rights are intact so is their cultural autonomy. The scrapping of the Great Council of Chiefs was not part of that cultural autonomy because it was a creation of the British colonialists to con­trol ordinary iTaukei using the chiefs.

As we all know, it became a political hot­bed for politicians seeking support and endorsement. The GCC benefitted only the elite. The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs has been maintained. It is the only ministry that serves one ethnic group, the indig­enous Fijians. It has rung in the changes to make its service to the iTaukei more ef­ficient and relevant.

Today more iTaukei than ever before are engaged in economic activities, education and business through the policies of the FijiFirst Government.

The changes have broken the shackles that had restricted the iTaukei from fully participating in national development. That was the essence of the Sunset Clause.

One example is that the lease money is now shared equally by iTaukei landown­ers. Previously, the lion’s share usually went to the chief.

On the one national constituency, Ms Tabuya said when SODELPA won the elec­tion they would revert back to the multi-constituency electorate.

This would be a retrograde step if it brought back voting on racial lines.

If this is the best SODELPA could do for this election, without new policies, it could be heading for another big defeat.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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