Sunvoice

Editorial: A Question for Rabuka: Where Is SODELPA’s Compassion for Ordinary iTaukei on lease money?

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka speaks as if he has the mandate of the iTaukei. The fact is he has no mandate to say that iTaukei want the equal distribution of
30 Oct 2018 12:15
Editorial: A Question for Rabuka: Where Is SODELPA’s Compassion for Ordinary iTaukei on lease money?
Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka speaks as if he has the mandate of the iTaukei.

The fact is he has no mandate to say that iTaukei want the equal distribution of lease money to stop. He says SODELPA, if it becomes Government, will bring back the old lease payment system which gave the bulk of the money to the chief or the head of the yavusa (tribe) and the head of the mataqali (clan).

Mr Rabuka and those in SODELPA who support this move are out of touch with the needs and aspirations of ordinary iTaukei in modern day Fiji.

Where is their compassion for the common people they profess to serve.

It is hypocritical that on one hand they want the bulk of the lease money to go to a small group of privileged elites while the majority of ordinary iTaukei feed off the crumbs and sulk in silence.

SODELPA claims to believe in social justice. One of the tenets of social justice is equity, fair and equal distribution of wealth.

How many of SODELPA candidates have gone into the homes of ordinary iTaukei in villages across the country and seen how they live from day to day? They eke out their living through hard work under extreme circumstances. Sometimes their hard-earned income is just enough to help them get by from one day to the next.

The equal distribution of lease money provides them with much-needed relief.

A couple of hundred dollars may not seem much to Mr Rabuka and SODELPA, but they do to the ordinary villagers.

Without trying to overstate the point, to take away that help is like pulling out the life support system from a person who depends on it for dear life.

The equal distribution was implemented in 2015 by FijiFirst and many iTaukei are used it to it now.

In fact if they were asked whether they want to give it up, when it is helping them live a decent life, they would say a big NO. We can’t blame them. It’s a no brainer.

Would it weaken or destroy iTaukei culture? Of course not. But this argument is being advanced by the proponents of bringing back the Great Council of Chiefs. These are the traditionalists and the chiefs’ hangers-on.

Time has shown that the GCC has become irrelevant. The iTaukei culture is still intact.

There seems to be a claim among some in SODELPA that if we don’t restore the GCC and the old lease payment system that iTaukei culture will go into decline. This is far from the truth. It is being used to scare iTaukei into believing what Mr Rabuka is saying.

It is a shame that it is even being suggested that the chiefly system is inextricably linked to money. Before money came to this country, brought in by the foreigners who settled here, the chiefly system had existed without it.

When the GCC was abolished in 2012, the chiefs continued to perform their traditional role. And people still honoured their obligations to them. The chiefs still remain as heads of yavusa and mataqali. Traditions and customary practices are still being practised. If there are changes, it’s because they have been modified to keep abreast with modern changes.

It is often said that a vibrant culture continues to evolve. The equal distribution of lease money is part of this evolution. It empowers ordinary iTaukei in a way that they can better fulfil their traditional obligations to their chiefs.

Instead of sitting in their ivory towers in Suva and other urban centres those SODELPA candidates who feel strongly about this party policy, should visit some of the homes in the villages the next time they go there to campaign. Instead of heading straight to the community hall to expound their policies, they should visit some of the homes first and see how they live.

Talk to the villagers and ask them whether they need the lease money instead of just deciding what’s good for them.

Nemani Delaibatiki

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



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