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PM In Taveuni To Traditional Leaders: Don’t Mix Politics With Development

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday hit out at traditional leaders who politicise development. Speaking before he commissioned the $21.3 million Somosomo Hydro project, in Taveuni, he said traditional leaders (chiefs
03 Mar 2017 11:00
PM In Taveuni To Traditional Leaders: Don’t Mix Politics With Development
Villagers of Somosomo inside the Somosomo Hydro on Taveuni Island with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama who commissioned the project yesterday. Photo: Josaia Ralago

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday hit out at traditional leaders who politicise development.

Speaking before he commissioned the $21.3 million Somosomo Hydro project, in Taveuni, he said traditional leaders (chiefs and vanua elders) should not use their political affiliations to hinder development for the people.

There was stunned silence from a marquee outside the powerhouse, where people were sitting.

Mr Bainimarama did not mention anyone by name. But Taveuni is home of the Tui Cakau and SODELPA president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu. Ratu Naiqama is the paramount chief of Cakaudrove, also the home of SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

Mr Bainimarama was referring to traditional leaders and landowners who had used their power to try to sabotage the project.

Speaking in iTaukei, he said; “Au sa dau tukuna wasoma tiko meda kua ni wakiavata tiko na noda tiko na Turaga ni vanua na noda politiki baleta ena vakaleqai ira na lewe ni vanua ena cakacaka ni veivakatorocaketaki.”

(I have said repeatedly that we should not mix our traditional positions and politics because it would jeopardise developments for the ordinary people)

Mr Bainimarama added; “Au tiko eke ena cakacaka ni vei vakatorocake taki e mai dola jiko ena yakavi nikua. Au vinakata meda kila jiko me matata tiko vei kemuni na veiqaravi ni matanitu ena noda vanua.”

(I am here to commission this development project today. I want you to clearly understand the role of the Government to provide service) .

He said they had been trying to get the work started on the project for the last 10 years, but it was through discussions with the Chinese Government that the project eventuated.

Mr Bainimarama added that they did not need to be accorded a full traditional welcome to perform their work in parts of the country.

“Au vakavinavinaka vakalevu vei kemudou na itaukei ni qele ni dou sa bole mo dou mai veiqaravi vei keitou na cakacaka vakamatanitu ena yakavi nikua. Ke via lagati na cakacaka ni matanitu ena veivanua kece era lako kina ena veiqaravi vakavanua , sa dua nai talanoa totoka, me kua ni kau mai na veitalanoa ni politiki me vesuki na veivakatorocake e na noda vanua. Au vinakata me matata vinaka tiko vei kemudou na Turaga ni Cakaudrove tou tiko ena yakavi n siga nikua ena nodatou I tikotiko qo.”

(I thank the landowners for welcoming me and my team today. If you want to praise the work of the Government through a traditional welcome then that is wonderful, but let us not use politics to hinder development in our country. I want to make this clear to all the Cakaudrove chiefs sitting here today.)

It was the landowners, Mataqali Bolatagane (Valelevu), who own the land where the power plant sits and where the commissioning occurred, who welcomed the PM and his delegation.

It is understood that some of the landowners who own land in other parts of the hydro scheme, were not present.

It was unclear what their reason was. There were things being whispered at the site but this was hearsay.

The only plausible explanation was that those who stayed away had been influenced by some of Mr Bainimarama’s political opponents in Taveuni.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback:  josaia.ralago@fijisun.com.fj

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