Thirty-six years of H.R.P.P. rule and Govt’s renewed vigour to stop “election corruption”

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

On Wednesday’s Samoa Observer, a story titled “Govt. moves to stop election corruption” was published on page 2. 

The story naturally attracted attention for the simple reason that as far as we know elections and corruption go hand in hand regardless of where in the world they are held. 

And here we are in small Samoa where the Government has just declared that it is out to put an end to corruption. It’s a bold declaration, that’s for sure, especially from a government that seems to have been doing everything in its might to ensure they stay in power. Forever. 

In that pursuit, corruption is never far off, it’s always knocking on the door.

Which is understandable of course given that the nature of politics is to win – whatever it takes - and keep the power for as long as possible. 

Here in Samoa, the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) know a lot about winning elections. They have been winning for close to fourty years to the point where they have completely annihilated any opposition so that today we basically have a one-state party Parliament. 

But the leadership of the H.R.P.P. is not satisfied. 

They are concerned in fact about election corruption. 

By whom? We don’t know. The fact is 47 of Parliament’s 50 members belong to the H.R.P.P. Which means that if they are so concerned about corruption, could they perhaps be worried about themselves? 

Now in their haste to get rid of this corruption, behind those closed doors, they have been working away on a new Electoral Act 2018, which should be tabled before Parliament by March.

According to a statement, the Act will be accompanied by the Electoral Constituency Bill 2018 and the Electoral Commission Bill 2018.

The Government goes on to explain that the reforms are part of a “wholesale approach by Government to completely overhaul the local electoral processes to eliminate corruption and illegal practises during general elections.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa, the man driving the proposal, is clearly not happy about the corruption he has witnessed so that today, he is itching to change the Constitution once more to ensure this is addressed once and for all.

“Do what is right and what is just in the eyes of the beholder,” he said.

“It’s a cardinal sin to turn blind to what we as elected leaders are obligated by our sworn oaths. There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Wow. 

Impressive stuff, don’t you think? 

But Tuilaepa wasn’t done folks.

  “It is crucial to have a robust electoral system and for everyone to cast their votes freely in order to get the best candidates to run the government,” he said.

“Understanding how the electoral system works and the importance of voting are fundamental in a democracy.” 

“If the process of elections is corrupt, then we elect those in Parliament who make decisions that will have an impact to our country’s development.” 

We couldn’t agree more with the Prime Minister about the need to have the best candidates run the Government.

But here is the thing; if the Government has been doing such a stellar job of running the country, why should they be worried now?

Indeed, if our elections, which have returned the H.R.P.P. to power time and time again were deemed not corrupt, why is the Government so concerned then? 

Here is what we see. By making all these “wholesale” changes to the Constitution, would it be wrong to suggest that this is a direct admission by this administration that the election process has been corrupt all along?

Hasn’t anyone heard of the good old adage that if it aint broken don’t fix it?

Obviously Prime Minister Tuilaepa and his administration know something we don’t. 

You see, the H.R.P.P. has been in power since 1982. 

That is 36 years of winning elections, which is a mighty impressive achievement by any standard, anywhere in the world.

Why is it then that in 2018, they are so hell bent on finally stopping election corruption, and in doing so shooting themselves in the foot? 

What have they been doing all these years?

Have a pleasant Sunday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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