Dear Editor – The current role carried out by the Chiefs and traditional leaders has been limited by law (legislation).
This limitation of power remains unchanged for 36 years since Solomon Islands Independence took effect in 1978.
There have been several reviews and reforms and several forms of governments have attempted to address the issue unfortunately the mandated roles and responsibilities of the chiefs have not been considered neither understood nor recognised within the legal system.
A power provided for the chiefs under the local Court Amendment Act 1985 has alienated the chiefs to become powerless, empty and do not know what to do.
Yet the chiefs are the gate keepers, the final power for the incoming and outgoing affairs of the community.
Currently the chiefs are not fully recognised within the legal system and are not included in the government pay roll because there are too many elected politicians and public servants who demanding higher salaries and entitlements.
Besides these you have the elected (50) Parliamentarians who are also entitled to be paid.
There are nine provincial government assemblies, executives including their spouses and the provincial staff who received fortnightly payments, salaries, wages, while the traditional chiefs who are wasting their precious time in resolving civil disputes, land cases and helped to settle some serious crimes including murder in the absence of the law enforcement people are left high and dry without a single cent of remuneration from the government.
The chiefs are trying to sort things out and put them in order and in their right perspective for peace and prosperity of our nation but the government does not understand nor recognise the chiefs and their roles and responsibilities.
I on behalf of the chiefs do appeal to the elected members of Parliament to consider that you are not foreigners but indigenous Solomon Islanders born into our culture and custom to fully recognise the roles chiefs play in our nation building.
Please enact legislation, regulation or even policies to mandate this recognition so that they could be paid and be included in the government pay-roll system.
In this way we could show to the foreign nations that we are paying homage to the memory of our ancestors to whom we owe our strength and heritage.
Pledge yourselves to guard and pass on to those who come after you to honour and value our customs and noble traditions and principles rather than strengthening the western system of government.
I call on all the parties in the country both old and the newly formed ones to consider establishing a One Country Party which could establish the importance of chiefs and recognise them to be part of the legal system as stated under the Constitution.
I also call on the traditional chiefs around Solomon Islands to support the formation of such a party.
A party that could re-direct our development for the betterment of our nation, to uphold our customs, norms and practices, involve chiefs in the government payroll and which does not rely much on the western system of government for operation.
Finally but not the least, the new system to be adopted should be “Unity” which shows that life and power is rooted in our diversity.
Unity cannot appear in this country unless:
1. We are real Christians (not carnal)
2. Free movement but respect culture and custom.
3. National leaders show unity in word and action.
Communal democracy can be best achieved if the proposed new legislation and amendment are drafted and framed according to the views of the people (men, women and youth) is our deepest concern.
Clerk for Olemaoma/Baelelea Council of Chiefs