People More Interested In Needs Being Met

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say from yesterday’s FBC programme 4 The Record.     We are beginning to hear some politicians question the FijiFirst Government
05 Sep 2016 11:55
People More Interested In Needs Being Met

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say from yesterday’s FBC programme 4 The Record.



We are beginning to hear some politicians question the FijiFirst Government about the real motive behind their ministers’ deliberate programme to be out there and being seen to be delivering service to the people.

The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has been singled out for his public presence.

The criticism has reached a ridiculous level where it’s been suggested that he should spend more time in the office then out there in the field.

He has been accused of politicising Government service, meaning he is using Government resources to campaign for FijiFirst.

Such criticisms are not new. Since we became Independent from Britain in 1970 and holding our general elections, Opposition parties have asked similar questions.

In the run-up to the 1987 general election, the then Alliance government of the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was also criticised for similar reasons.

He was even accused at one time of being so desperate for votes that he had to go an open air toilet block.

There is nothing new with Government politicians being out and about, meeting people, kissing babies and shaking hands with members of the community, helping out with the vulnerable and disabled and assisting the needy.

Many studies have shown that in modern democracies the line between Government service delivery and politics is blurred. In fact it is inseparable.

While Opposition politicians try to raise issues on democratic governance ethics, the reality is that it is difficult to draw the line.

From the people’s perspective they don’t care about the debate over the rights and wrongs of the motive behind Government service delivery, all they are interested in is their needs are being met. For them, the bonus is when they see Mr Bainimarama himself come down from his office in Government Buildings in Suva to visit them in their villages, schools, health centres, farms and businesses and sports grounds.

The fact is most people don’t think like politicians.

They are more interested in their daily survival, food on the table, roof over their heads, transport, education for their children and medical attention when the need arises.

A new open cabin fibre boat and outboard engine may not mean much to politicians, but to a rural or maritime community, it is their more immediate need.

For them it means transport to schools, to the nearest urban centres, markets, health centres or hospitals or to the fishing grounds.

A generator means power for households’ food preservation, light to do school homework and business and economic activities.

A chainsaw means firewood, clearing of bushes to cultivate new farmland and source of income.

The $1000 small business grants to people in the low socio-economic group may be ridiculed as a vote-buying gimmick. But it means a lot to the recipients who desperately need assistance to get ahead in life in their own little business ventures.

When Mr Bainimarama is personally there to present the cheques, it is a major morale boost for these people. It’s an opportunity for them to meet the nation’s leader and feel of his spirit.

They will know whether he genuinely cares for them or not. So far the feedback from the people has been overwhelming.

So it’s nonsense when his political opponents say he should be in the office than out in the field. Government ministers have the executive arm to deal with administrative matters.

They do not have to be sitting in their offices to communicate with stakeholders at various levels. Modern technology allows them to maintain contact with people via phone and internet.

The only time when they are required to be in their office is when they personally meet visiting groups or dignitaries.

But when they are out in the field, they have a wonderful opportunity to meet the people in talanoa sessions.

This is an effective forum where they listen to people’s hopes and aspirations. Mr Bainimarama also listens to their grievances and those who have travelled with him on these trips know that he takes seriously what people tell him.

He attempts to resolve them on the spot and points them in the right direction where they can access help.

Most of what he hears at these meetings will not reach him if he sits in his Suva office all the time.

That’s why these trips are more valuable to him and Government.

So those who question him about these trips really do not understand why he does it. One day if and when they become the Government, they will understand.




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