THANKS, but no thanks. That seems to be the response by voters everywhere to the proposed extension of the 11th Parliament by 12 months. Extension they say is not justified.
Election they say must be held next year. Period.
The story is the same – everywhere. All over Solomon Islands.
Now sensing potential defeat, the DCGA government is reportedly scheming to lure voters, using the same old tool – money and ignorance, some describe as deceit and in some cases outright lies to win back voters.
Some report has it that the government is introducing a stimulus package to target rural voters. The campaign by the government is summed up well by the American Country Music Band, Highway 101 in one of its hit songs.
The lyrics says and I quote,
“It‘s not whether you win or lose, It‘s how you play the blame.”
In this case the government lays the blame on everything but truth to justify extending the 11th Parliament by 12 months.
From hosting the 2023 Games – a clash of time it argues to the economic costs inflicted by last November’s riots and the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic – none convinces voters.
Voters from all over the country see the ruling coalition as a government of wasteful spendings and deceit and, in some cases, outright lies. They have a point.
In a space of just six months, that is, between last December to May this year each MP in the government was paid $400, 000 to remain with the government. These are funds intended for funding micro-economic projects in the Constituencies.
The amount is made up of $250, 000 of National Development Fund (NDF) paid to Government MPs to vote against a no confidence motion in Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare last December.
The outcome of the vote was a landslide victory for the Government.
The second payment of $150, 000 was made in April/May this year. Each Government MP was paid a consultant fee of sorts to undertake the DCGA Constituency Awareness program in their Constituencies.
Again, the funding comes from the NDF, the same source of funding for micro-economic projects in the Constituencies. Government Minister and MP for East Kwaio Stanley Festus Sofu bore the brunt of the East Kwaio anger.
Hon Sofu, who was once “worshiped” by East Kwaio voters was literally chased out in each of the three meetings he held. And the opposition was led by none other than Kwaio Fadanga Chiefs, who once offered sacrifices to ensure his election victories.
It got so bad last Wednesday that Atori police had to be called in to protect the MP from angry voters who were getting rather violent and accusing their MP of 16 years of being untruthful.
“You are not welcome here in the Constituency,” they shouted him down.
Each of the East Kwaio Fadanga Chief spoken to also vented their anger at the Government Communications Unit (GCU) reporter within the Prime Minister’s Office who accompanied the MP.
“There’s not a grain of truth in what he reported. He must have been paid to spread lies here too,” they said.
Oddly, only Government MPs benefited from this taxpayer-funded misuse of public funds while Opposition MPs are left to fend for themselves.
Sadly, while Government MPs enjoy the luxury of life, social services for the populace have fallen to their lowest in years – one more reason why voters could not wait to see the back of the DCGA government.
“This is the most corrupt government in the history of Solomon Islands,” some say.
The fierce opposition against extending Parliament by 12 months, hence the DCGA government continuing in office may just be the beginning of a new round of voters versus government. It could prove more destructive and deadly to the economy.
Who then do we blame in the end?
By ALFRED SASAKO