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Monotaga requirement targets political rivals: Olo

Former Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, says moves by the Prime Minister to amend the monotaga provision in the Electoral Act 2019 would be to hinder rival candidates.

The former Member of Parliament for Salega East believes that the inclusion of monotaga as a requirement for an individual to be able to run in the general election is politically motivated.

He said the inclusion of the provision was done deliberately to stop Samoans living abroad from returning to contest the elections.

Olo's comments were in response to a recent announcement by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, that the Government would amend the Electoral Act in relation to the monotaga, after the Supreme Court disqualified six candidates and ordered the registration of five new ones after the electoral petitions hearings.

"Monotaga should not be included as a requirement in the law, I have argued this before in Parliament. A monotaga should not be included as one of the requirements," he said.

"This is why once you are born into this country, your monotaga or service begins. Note that the explanation for monotaga at the moment is service. 

“The law does not specifically explain monotaga as a service of a chief; it generally says, it is a service rendered to the village, church and family.

The outspoken former MP is of the view that monotaga starts at a very early age, from as early as a child’s Sunday school. 

"This is why I am saying, wherever you are, you start from Sunday school, you give your offering, that's a monotaga in church. 

“After school, you go to do the chores of untitled men, that is a service until you are a chief."

Olo added that from his perspective, even the remittances that Samoans living abroad send to their families within the country, should be called monotaga.

"What I'm trying to say is the Electoral Law only recognises your service after you are conferred a title. 

“But what about the many years you have served for before that from when you were young leading up to your chiefly title?

"This is why I am saying, this is all a result of dirty politics."

The monotaga requirement is contradictory to the Samoan traditions, Olo further emphasised and made reference to the Samoan proverb "the pathway to leading is serving."

"When making these laws, these rascals say the Samoan traditions, yes, but the Samoan way is you serve until you lead, which is when you are conferred a chief title," he said.

"But what this law imposes is you first get conferred a title and then render your service to get into Parliament, disregarding a whole life of service from when you were a young child in the village."

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