Smart parties will focus on bread and butter issues

There were people hoping that there would be no elections this year. That would vindicate their assertions that technically and logistically we cannot hold an election. As far back as
13 Aug 2014 14:43

There were people hoping that there would be no elections this year. That would vindicate their assertions that technically and logistically we cannot hold an election. As far back as January this year some political parties were creating noises and expressing doubts about an election.

When they should have started their ground preparation for their campaign, they spent most of the time, whingeing and moaning about everything from the electoral rules to Voreqe Bainimarama’s government.

If they find themselves now running behind time they have only themselves to blame. Some waited for the Electoral Commission to be formed. Then they waited further for the Supervisor of Elections. Then they said “Oh we will wait for Mr Bainimarama to register his party.

When they finally realised that it’s all happening, they started to move. What they failed to realise was that while they waited, the Bainimarama government had continued delivering its development programmes, particularly in the rural areas.

Some parties had complained that Mr Bainimarama enjoyed an advantage. They accused him of using Government resources to win the hearts of the voters even before registering his party, FijiFirst. Government functions do not stop before an election.

They continue before and after an election. Previous governments had done the same thing to ensure that the normal functions of government were not disrupted. The unprecedented rate of development achieved by Mr Bainimarama had taken many by surprise. It has won many of the hearts of those who were originally sckeptical about Mr Bainimarama’s leadership.

The big crowds that followed the Blue Bus  when it  travelled around Viti Levu and Vanua Levu testified of Mr Bainimarama’s popularity among the masses. They liked his fresh new message he introduced into local politics – the message of racial equality, land security and freedom of religion. His popularity is reflected in the latest Razor/Fiji Sun weekly opinion poll which puts him at 86 per cent.

If the elections were held today, FijiFirst would win by a landslide. Many people are sick and tired of the politics of the past. It has not worked and it will never work in the future. People now realise old politics had dragged the country backwards.

It was only good for the elite few who enjoyed a life of privilege at the expense of the general population.

There are those who confuse people with the question of equal citizenry and indigenous or iTaukei rights. The Constitution recognises and protects iTaukei rights to their land, culture and customs including the chiefly system. No one will take them away.

The pivotal issue of the argument advanced by opponents of equal citizenry is preferential treatment or affirmative action for the iTaukei. That has driven the call for the reinstatement of what was known then as the Fijian Affairs Board and Multi-Ethnic scholarships.

While that may have served a special purpose at the time, it perpetuated a culture of dependence and mediocrity. It took away the opportunity for iTaukei students to develop and excel in a level-playing field. We can use the same analogy that is applied in rugby.

How many times have we heard that Fijian rugby or any other sport for that matter can improve if they play against stronger teams consistently. It will take time but eventually we will get there. Argentina and Italy are perfect examples in rugby. At one time they were regarded as the minnows of world rugby. Today, they regularly rub shoulders with tier one nations like the All Blacks.

The principle is the same. What probably needs to happen is a review of why students are lagging behind in education and appropriate action is taken. And it could mean changing the mindset and culture of how we do things in the family and the community to achieve the desired outcome.

Many of the students drop out of school today because of the lack of parental and home support. Preferential treatment cannot resolve this problem. It’s limited in what it can do.

On i-Taukei affairs, the existing administrative setup is sufficient to address indigenous issues. This will remain, so is the registration if all iTaukei births as it has been previously done. False and malicious rumours have been spread that certain features like titles and names of clans have been omitted.

So as parties head for the final rounds of their campaign for the September 17 general election, those who focus on the real issues of the day will  gain a certain measure of success.

The issues include jobs, food on the table, housing, health and the cost of living. The voters need to know how they will deliver these bread and butter items.


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