Does sacking a mayor justify being called a dictatorship?

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

We know this much. The comparison of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s administration to a “dictatorship” and comparisons of the man himself to one of the world’s most notorious dictators, Adolf Hitler, are not new.

They have been made time and time again, most of the time by different individuals who believe Samoa is being run like one.

It’s a harsh comparison if you ask this writer’s opinion mainly for the mere fact that what’s happening in Samoa today can hardly be compared to Hitler’s behaviour. When the name Hitler is mentioned, we are talking about someone who exterminated millions of people through gas chambers and other extreme forms of punishment.

Is that happening in Samoa today? The answer is an emphatic no.

It’s an undeniable though that Prime Minister Tuilaepa is a very powerful man running an extremely powerful political machine called the H.R.P.P.

 In fact, Tuilaepa is undoubtedly the most powerful man in this country today with the ability to make any changes he wants wherever, however and whenever.

Does that make him a dictator though? And can someone who was elected during a national election – make that for about 30 years – be a dictator? 

You be the judge.

Last week, the latest man to have labeled Tuilaepa a dictator was the Village Mayor of Luatuanu’u, Autu Lolesio Tauili’i. Autu offered the description after the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development terminated his services as Village Mayor.

“I’m really saddened about the way it has been done. It’s just like Hitler’s government, an absolute dictatorship,” he said. “I say this and compare the Samoan Government to Hitler because I have been terminated without any proper notification, without any logical cause.”

The dispute between the village of Luatuanu’u and the Government over an incident that escalated to involve the Police and gunshots last month have been well detailed. 

As the Village Mayor, Autu has every right to stand up for his village and the people who appointed him. 

The difficulty is that by law, Autu, like all Village Mayors in Samoa, is now an employee of the Government. Which technically makes Prime Minister Tuilaepa his boss. 

And now that Autu has said enough publically to upset the Government and the man lording over it, it’s easy enough to understand why he has been given the boot.

By the way, Autu is not the first Village Mayor to be sacked by the Government.

Over the years, this newspaper has detailed a number of instances where Village Mayors who had dared to oppose the Government have been sacked.

What do you think? By sacking a number of village mayors with the latest one being Autu from Luatuanu’u, does that make Tuilaepa a dictator?

Isn’t that part of a normal employer/employee relationship? 

We would have loved to put these questions to the Prime Minister himself. 

But during a scheduled interview for the Samoa Observer and Radio 2AP in his office last week, Tuilaepa declined to answer questions from this newspaper. 

He insisted instead that the questions be put in writing. What the Samoa Observer has done to deserve being singled out while all other media get their time with the Prime Minister, we don’t know.

Without a doubt, this is a very interesting time for this country. It’s a time defined by changes that have shaken the foundation of this nation so that the question of whether there is anything sacred left anymore is hard to ignore. 

We don’t need to tell you. History and developments in this country in the not too distant past live to testify about this.

No w back to the question of whether Tuilaepa is a dictator, a while ago, this is what he had to say.  

 “I’ve often heard statements such as the P.M. hold the key to opening and closing the door. I’ve heard people say that whatever the P.M. say that’s what goes,” he said. 

 “Such an opinion is harboured by people whom if they are given the chance to administer the government, they will run it like an army. They will rule it like a military. They will not listen to any advice from Members of Parliament or Cabinet.”

Tuilaepa added he is quite the opposite of what some people are saying about him.

 “I listen to what the party says, which is the democratic system. It dictates that for every leader, they must listen to the party.”

Now did the party tell Tuilaepa to sack the Luatuanu’u Village Mayor? Did he ask the party at all? 

Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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