Unity or Disunity?

The people of Vanuatu will know whether or not Prime Minister Charlot Salwai still commands the support and majority of the Members of Parliament this afternoon.

It is ironic that the head of Government, PM Salwai is facing the first motion of no trust in his leadership in Parliament today, 24 hours after Vanuatu celebrated Unity Day.

The nation pays a high price each time the government changes.

In 2015, reliable sources told Daily Post that government changes always resulted in over Vt9 million payout for the former ministers, first, second and third political advisers, supervisors, drivers, cleaners and other political appointees.

Nine months ago, 46 of the 52 MPs elected PM Salwai-unopposed.

The first cracks in the Unity for Change coalition became obvious last month when now ousted Leader of Government Business and Graon mo Jastis Pati (GJP), MP William Tasso told Daily Post that all government backbenchers will not vote for any government bill, unless the Ministerial Budget Committee (MBC) reconsidered the Vt10 million rejected budget for each area council.

Amongst other issues, including allegations of different party stances on income tax, purported intentions to reshuffle certain political parties and a probe to locate certain missing funds the extent of the discontent was revealed when the Opposition Bloc, which usually commands 14 MPs surprisingly, deposited a motion.

Many anticipated the motion but thought it would be deposited in the Ordinary Session in December when only nine signatures would be required.

They were wrong. The Bloc deposited the motion during the extraordinary session with 31 signatories.

The motion not only bore the signatures of government backbenchers but also of a minister and two parliamentary secretaries which may indicated higher stakes.

Green Confederation MP Kalo Seule’s decision to sign the motion, cost his senior colleague MP Daniel Toara the Ministry of Health portfolio even though MP Toara himself did not sign the motion.

This prompted a call on the party’s social media page for the duo to communicate with each other and consult with their voters, when exercising their Constitutional rights.

GJP’s momentum with the swearing in of its new MP Uri Warawara , boosting its numbers to a comfortable eight was tempered when two of its MPs defected and signed the motion.

Rifts within the Union of Moderate Parties resulted in former Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Youth and Sports Seule Simeon succeeding his counterpart MP Jack Kalmet as minister.

Because UMP MP Jerome Ludvaune replaced MP Toara as Minister of Health, this particular grouping of four UMP MPs successfully snagged a ministerial portfolio and maintained their hold on another, within four days.

In the wake of PM’s announcement that more positions are available, Ambae MP Alickson Vira was appointed Special Envoy to the Ministry of Climate Change. Initially renegade GJP MP, Albert William, was the Parliamentary Secretary to the same ministry.

It appears that Vanua’aku Pati, the National United Party, the majority of GJP MPs and other parties in the coalition government maintained their loyalty to PM Salwai.

Head of the Leaders Party of Vanuatu (LPV) and Minister of Public Infrastructure and Utilities, Jotham Napat, a grouping also to be reckoned with in the incumbent government confirmed his allegiance to PM Salwai and the PM’s voters long before the motion was deposited.

On a recent visit to Pentecost to improve road infrastructure, minister Napat told the chiefs and people of Melsisi, Central Pentecost, that he will never sign a motion of no confidence in PM Salwai.

The minister said he wanted to see the current government serve the people through its full four-year term.

Changes in government and the cost of ‘paying’ MPs to maintain political stability costs millions and does not benefit the people.

There are only 13 government ministries and only as much Parliamentary Secretaries and Special Envoys that the government can appoint.

Surely there are leaders with integrity and principle who can remain loyal without occupying any ministerial portfolio and executive positions other than that what they were elected for in the first place.

If the only reason that some of the MPs are keeping loyal is the portfolios and positions, then Vanuatu has a very big problem.

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