How much does it cost to change a government?
Details have emerged about the intensity of behind-the-scene attempts to buy politicians to switch sides in a bid to unseat Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare-led DCC Government during last month’s political upheaval, highly placed sources have revealed.
Up to $300, 000 per MP was on offer to anyone who was willing to switch sides, the sources said.
“When you consider how many MPs were involved, you are looking at millions of dollars being used each time there is a move to change a government,” the sources said.
In last month’s political upheaval, which almost sank the DCC Government, Government MPs were offered hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In one instance, an MP who was carrying a travel bag full of money approached a Government backbench MP in a hotel room.
“He zipped open the bag and said to the Government MP, take whatever you need. The government MP reportedly refused. According to the Government MP, the travel bag must have contained well over a million dollars that day,” the sources said.
In another instance, a government minister was approached at his suburban home with offers of hundreds of thousands of dollars if he joined the Opposition. He was allegedly told that Government MPs close to him had joined the Opposition group.
“You’re the only one left. They are waiting for you,” he was told by an Opposition MP who was waiting in a car outside the Minister’s house that evening,” one source said.
The Government Minister managed to talk his way out of the Opposition’s approach.
In a third incident, a Government Minister was man-handled by supporters of a senior minister who had deserted the government and had signed off with the Opposition.
The Minister managed to escape by jumping out of the car that evening. He was reportedly paid a traditional compensation later.
But a group of seven MPs, including senior ministers who deserted the Government missed out altogether on the money promised them as well as ministerial portfolios.
“They have missed out altogether, not only on the money they were offered but also the ministerial positions they once held.
“That group which consists largely of senior government ministers before they moved away from the Government is now floating aimlessly in the political wilderness,” the sources said.
“While those who lured them over have got something, the seven deserters have received absolutely nothing,” the sources said.
How much the political game costs each time a vote of no confidence is afoot is anyone’s guess.
One industry leader has estimated that the costs of entertaining political power play run into tens of millions of dollars each year.
“That’s the kind of money that this nation should be spending on education, health and other social services,” the investor industry leader said.
“This kind of thing will only scare away investors from Solomon Islands,” he warned.
By Alfred Sasako