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Govt. responds to Gataivai incident

The Government has denied wrongdoing in relation to an incident at Gataivai Savai'i last week where a delegation, including senior Members of Parliament, was asked to leave.

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (M.W.C.S.D.), the Government also dismissed claims there was no communication between the Government and the Village Mayor about the planned consultation.

The consultation was set up to discuss the Government's development agenda in the constituency. 

Senior matai of Gataivai, Laulu Tiatia Mapesone, told the Samoa Observer the delegation was asked to leave. He accused the Government of overstepping the boundary by using the Women’s committee to promote their “agenda” – which he said was not just about small developments in the villages.

But M.W.C.S.D. refuted Laulu's claims in the statement.

“The Government – through the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development – strongly denies unfounded claims that the Government has overstepped the boundary of central government and the constituency of Palauli I Falefa as reported by the Samoa Observer on Tuesday, 6 April, and other publications on social media by Laulu Tiatia Mapesone,” a translation of the statement reads.

“It is not true and it is a lie that there was no communication, and that the villages of the constituency were not informed about the programme from the Ministry for the development of the villages.

“All five villages of the constituency that includes, Sili, Gataitavai, Papa and Puleia were informed through their village mayor, the women representative and the Member of Parliament in relation to the programme to establish a guideline for the development of the constituency.”

According to the press release, the village mayor for the village of Gataivai had requested to have the programme held at the village. 

The Ministry accepted and scheduled the consultation at the Methodist Church hall in Gataivai. 

“The Ministry did not contact the women’s committee but had contacted the village mayor and the women representative of the village directly because they are the contact people for the Government in villages,” the statement said.

“Since the beginning of the programme, this is the first constituency that such conflict has occurred in the Government’s effort through the Ministry of Women to establish a guideline for development and the betterment of villagers and constituencies. 

“There are 29 constituency that have had their guideline for development established and in the process of seeking assistance for the developments recorded in the guidelines. The programme will continue to include all constituencies for the betterment of villages and constituencies.”

Contacted for a comment on Monday, Associate Minister of M.W.C.S.D., Tofa Lio Foleni, confirmed the incident. 

He said the issue was that the constituency was not aware of the consultation despite the fact the Ministry had contacted the Village Mayor about it.

“The pulenu’u are the ones that are supposed to inform the villages of any government developments,” he said. 

“The consultation is for the betterment of the villages and we have met with several other villages in Upolu and Savai’i on the same project.

M.P. for Palauli i le Falefa and former Cabinet Minister, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, was the second Member of Parliament involved.

“We weren’t booted out of the village,” Faumuina said, “we were asked by the elders to postpone it so the constituency can discuss it. They wanted time to discuss their priorities because they had not met to discuss it and to see where their priorities lie.  

“So they will meet after Easter and will reschedule another day for the Ministry to meet with them.”

Faumuina added it appears there is a lot of “misinformation” on matters relating to land in the constituency.

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