Powerful government now want to run the villages

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Well it gets better. After years of meddling with people’s lives in so many ways, what we’ve feared all along is about to come true.

That is Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and his administration it seems now really cannot help themselves but are getting their hands in the sacred affairs of villages. 

With a verbal threat to review how village Mayors are selected, it might soon come to the point where the government handpicks who will run the different villages. And when that happens, the politicisation of Samoa by a power hungry administration will be complete. 

It’s a scary prospect but a very real one.

But then why aren’t we surprised? The writing has been on the wall for sometime now. This is a government that has become so powerful over the years it obviously feels like it could do anything. And it has. 

You see, it has already changed the Constitution with regards to the most sacred position of the Head of State. 

It recently ordered a Commission into the work of the Judiciary, which has met some form of resistance from what we’ve been told.

And now it has confirmed plans to change the way villages operate and run, threatening a review of how mayors are appointed.  

Listen to Tuilaepa again:  “Some pulenuu are lazy and the government is wasting money paying them when they are not doing any work.

“In some cases, the village might even appoint an elderly man who can’t even go to the plantation. The Alii ma Faipule should ensure the right person is appointed to push the development for the village.

Now “there will come a time to review the work of pulenuu otherwise we’ll just cut the appointments from here and look for someone else.”

To be fair to the Prime Minister, he’s got a point there about the need to appoint the right people to the right places. What’s more the fact is the pulenu’us are paid by the government – which inevitably makes them responsible to taxpayers, especially if they don’t perform.

But making these appointments are not as simple as that in many villages. 

They are negotiated using traditional protocols that are particular to individual villages. It varies from village to village. These protocols are sacred; they have been passed down from generation to generation. 

Why then is the government looking at meddling with these things? Are they not satisfied with the unquestionable power it already possesses? Don’t they have better things to do?

The painful truth is that life for a lot of people in this country has become downright tough. That’s why these politicians have got to stop their silly games and get on with the business of resolving issues that are hurting members of the public.

Look at the plight of so many people in the Village Voice for example. But it’s not just the lack of money and income generating opportunities they are having to struggle with. Basic things like water, proper roads and the lack of job opportunities have been clearly identified as challenges. 

What that means is that those poor farmers will just have to brave the tough elements to make a tala or two while the politicians responsible for their demise continue to drive around in their pimped up vehicles.

Now isn’t this so painfully distressful? Where is the justice in that?

Elsewhere, the businesses that are largely responsible for growing the economy, are crying out for a reprieve. Yazaki’s decision to shut shop, as well as the closure of the canneries in American Samoa will not help matters.

But that’s not all. Whereas tourism related-businesses are struggling to stay afloat, other businesses are finding that life is almost unbearable. 

In the not too distant past, a survey by the Chamber of Commerce indicated that the most significant constraints to business growth in Samoa includes the high cost of essential services. These include electricity, fuel and taxes.

They’ve got a point. As a matter of fact, when it comes to taxes, everyone is being over taxed in this country – including people who could least afford it. They are being taxed to the bone so that they have become so skinny they can barely breathe.

But how are their taxes being spent by their government? Where are their hard-earned taxes disappearing? And is the government making good use of their bitter sweat?

You have your answer. We have ours. But if the recent reports by the Controller and Chief Auditor as well as the Officers of Parliament Committee (O.P.C) are anything to judge by, you really have to wonder.

Suffice to say these reports revealed allegations of unbridled corruption that had apparently been perpetrated within certain government corporations over a number of years. This cost this country millions. 

What is being done about them? That’s what we want to know.

And what does that have to do with the government and the village mayors, some people might ask?

It’s simple really. If Prime Minister Tuilaepa is concerned about “wasting money” paying those village mayors, what about officials implicated in these reports who were found to have colluded to defraud taxpayers? Shouldn’t that annoy him and his administration even more?

Have a happy Friday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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