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Chiefs Can Develop Vanua Role Dealing With Drug Problem

The growing drug problems within villages and the vanua might help chiefs develop their roles.  The Kadavu Provincial Council meeting this week has revealed that previous attempts to curb the
31 Oct 2014 09:00
Chiefs Can Develop Vanua Role Dealing With Drug Problem
Delegates at the Kadavu Provincil Council meeting

The growing drug problems within villages and the vanua might help chiefs develop their roles.  The Kadavu Provincial Council meeting this week has revealed that previous attempts to curb the growing drug problem on the island have failed.

Remember that in February 2012, Kadavu chiefs had signed a declaration aiming to make the island drug-free within 12 months.  Two years and eight months later, the drug problem is just as bad, if not worse than before. So how can this help chiefs?  More than a few of them, former members of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC), have expressed outright opposition to the dismantling of this apex of the Fijian Administration.  Fair enough, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. However, the drug problem is a growing problem that needs to be addressed and vanua-based chiefs are in the best place to solve them. Consider the thoughts of leadership guru John C. Maxwell: “A leader who produces other leaders multiples their influences.”

If chiefs of the nine districts of Kadavu and chiefs of the 75 villages of Kadavu make a concerted effort to address this issue in light of Maxwell’s maxim, the results could be astounding.

Training could be the way forward for this to happen. If anything, the Government certainly intends to see chiefs are better equipped to handle these types of development issues.   Deputy Permanent Secretary of iTaukei Affairs Apakuki Kurusiga sees a renaissance of sorts for the chiefly system. Cut out the politics of the past and work on addressing development issues in the vanua is the way forward.

Why focus just on the vanua?  Kadavu, like Navosa and parts of Cakaudrove, are often targeted by the Fiji Police Force for drug cultivation, particularly, marijuana.  If less time was spent on political posturing and actually more time spent on community development, these areas should be models for growth.

The problem isn’t structural. Chiefs continue to enjoy the support of the vanua, without the institution of the GCC in place. The problem is relational. Ensuring that all villagers are united against the scourge of drugs that destroy the lives of our young people is paramount.   That means building trust.

This is not to belittle the drug problems in schools. Glue-sniffing is being addressed by urban-based stakeholders like schools, the business community and drug enforcement authorities.   The drug problem is also not limited to one section of the Fijian community.

However, solving the drug problem in the vanua is solving it at source, so to speak.  Having the chiefs lead the way, so to speak, in dealing with this issue, will go a long way to cementing their moral authority in the vanua.

Feedback:  josuat@fijisun.com.fj

 




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