The Logic In Cabinet Reshuffle

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say written for 4 the Record programme on FBC TV.   I have been prompted to speak on this subject after
31 Oct 2016 14:28
The Logic In Cabinet Reshuffle
From Left: Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya. Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa. Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar.

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say written for 4 the Record programme on FBC TV.


I have been prompted to speak on this subject after I have been inundated with queries from Fijians both here and abroad.

The questions focused on the appointment of Faiyaz Koya as the new Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources replacing Mereseini Vuniwaqa. =

Mrs Vuniwaqa is now Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, replacing Rosy Akbar. Ms Akbar is now Minister for Health, replacing Jone Usamate.

Mr Usamate moves back to Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, replacing Semi Koroilavesau who is now Minister for Fisheries.

Cabinet reshuffle is not new. It is common in modern democracies.

It is dictated by various circumstances including sickness, death, resignations and conduct that may be detrimental to the overall interests and vision of the Government of the day.

Cabinet appointment or reshuffle is the prerogative of the Prime Minister as head of the Government. Reshuffle is done not for the sake of just a reshuffle.

It’s objective is strengthening governance and service delivery to optimise effective use of resources. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the recent reshuffle was to invigorate Cabinet.

Sadly, some people looked at it from a different perspective. They have interpreted it in a way to suit their own political agenda.

They asked the question why Mr Koya, an Indo-Fijian, was Minister for Lands when it should be an iTaukei. In our conversation, I discovered that they have a misconception that the ministry administers all the land in Fiji, including iTaukei land.

This is just plain ignorance or a deliberate ploy to distort the truth and mislead people for cheap political gains.

To set the record straight for those who do not know or are confused, the Ministry of Lands only administers a total of 18,000 State Land leases covering only about four per cent of the total land mass in Fiji.

The bulk of the land in Fiji, 87 per cent of the total land mass, is communally-owned by the iTaukei, and administered by the iTaukei Land Trust Board. TLTB comes under Mr Bainimarama in his capacity as Minister for iTaukei Affairs.

The remaining nine per cent is freehold land.

The Ministry of Lands is responsible for the effective and efficient administration, development and management all State Land initiatives including the facilitation of the country’s mineral sector and ground water resources.

Recently, I was in Australia, and I was surprised that I was asked about why Mr Koya was Minister for Lands.

I said why can’t he be Minister for Lands? The response: Because he will be looking after all the land including iTaukei land.

First of all, that’s not true. It’s a lie that is pedalled by anti-Government forces in a desperate bid to counter Mr Bainimarama’s soaring popularity.

It is designed to appeal to the base instincts of the iTaukei. It is reminiscent of the political campaigns in the run-up to the 2014 general election.

More seriously is the use of race and religion for political gains at a time when we are moving away from this kind of gutter-level politics.

It incites ethnic and communal antagonism to benefit a few who thrive on this brand of divisive politics at the expense of the masses.

Fijians need to wake up and not be hoodwinked by politicians who want to drag us back to a dark past riddled with false and unfulfilled promises of a better future. Let’s learn from the past and never repeat the same mistakes.

Since 1987, many of us have been hurt one way or another because of the negative impact of the political upheaval caused by racial hatred and animosity.

Let’s make sure we do not go through that experience again for the sake of our children’s future and their children’s future by rejecting lies and ideologies that propagate the politics of racial hatred and division.


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