Interesting piece of reading again this week in relation to the allocation of constituency seats for Efate and Port Vila constituencies.
The Opposition raised its concerns and cited another potential ‘RAMSI’ situation if this is left unchecked. The Government’s response has watered this down but still short of providing a convincing solution to this problem.
The government’s service delivery and development programmes are contingent to policies that promote equity or efficiency. These policies are either shaped by a) government institutions or b) individuals, that is, the policy makers.
The notion of having an extra seat for the Efate Rural constituency was a plight by the locals for having a fair representation in parliament because their population figures qualifies this.
Having a fair representation underscores the need to have more voices in the legislature to advocate for more government services to their communities.
A native citizen of Efate will struggle to digest the fact that regardless of their close proximity to the political capital of Vanuatu, service delivery seems to be bypassing them.
The Shepherds Group of Islands could almost echo the same. A ‘free and fair election’ must also produce a government that can deliver services fairly and equally as well to all citizenry.
If there is a service delivery deficit, then the real concern is not about having enough representatives but having the right persons in parliament that can design robust policies to ensure that service delivery is distributed equitably. Coming back to the above-mentioned policy shapers, it is obvious that the complaints from the citizens of Efate is a competency problem and not an institutional one, that is, the lack of quality leadership to distribute services fairly.
The government’s decision to remove a seat from Port Vila to add to Efate Rural and at the same time transfer ‘peri urban’ settlements into Efate Rural Constituency vote is laughable. What we’re witnessing is a ‘political leadership deficit’ crisis.
On the face of it, the decision is simply asking voters from the other islands to come and represent Efate’s indigenous vote because it was concomitantly made with moving a significant swathe of the current Port Vila constituency to the Efate rural constituency. No wonder the Leader of Opposition has associated this to another potential ‘RAMSI’ trigger.
This imprudent decision cannot be accepted by the right-thinking public because the government has erred seriously with this.
The decision itself exhibits Vanuatu’s failure of filling up the parliament with too many accountants, administrators, business owners or what not who have limited knowledge of the political science of electoral systems.
That is the root cause of this problem. Vanuatu, surely, does need qualified persons in parliament, but not just any person with a Master’s or Degree hanging in their lounge room. Vanuatu needs political scientists in parliament that understand the political levers of political science. In 2016, I read news reports and heard talk back radio of Vanuatu’s celebration of having more qualified persons in parliament in this current legislature. For real??? Unfortunately, this recent decision attests otherwise.
Vanuatu needs more political scientists in the policy making roles of this country. For those of you that like hopping on planes to travel abroad or locally, who do you prefer to be your pilot? A qualified accountant, a teacher, a doctor, a surgeon, a lawyer or a pilot? Likewise, for the majority that travel on inter-island vessels to the islands, ‘who would you prefer to be dictating things inside the bridge? An individual with a PHD in accounting or a qualified ship captain?
In Vanuatu politics, we have predominantly chosen surgeons to fly our planes. No wonder development programmes seem stagnated or simply just creating spoilt constituencies. That is why, like the Efate Rural Constituency, many other constituencies are also complaining and demanding for increased representations.
If Vanuatu voted political scientists into parliament that understand the functions of government and its intricate levers and also have a heart for equitable service delivery for all persons in this country, regardless of which corner of this country you’re living in, there wouldn’t be such cheap complaints for more political seats.
“Yumi Yumi” in the national anthem would finally come to reality because for once, development would actually be predicated on the needs of the entire citizenry and distributed equitably instead of dictating development to grow one’s political flagship or develop their own provinces or localities.
For a country with less than 300,000 in total population, Vanuatu is already massively over represented as far as parliamentary seats go.
In other words, we already have more than enough parliamentarians. Any discussion concerning parliamentary seats should rather be focused instead on the removal of seats instead of the opposite.
Increasing the number of seats is not the way to solve our service delivery problem. So the question is not about the adequate numbers but more so about right qualifications of our parliamentarians and their associates.
The Efate citizens’ concerns, like countless representation concerns over the years are not an institutional problem that can be resolved through an ‘institutional coping strategy’. What we have is a ‘leadership deficit’ and pleonexia politicking.
It is an individual policy maker’s problem which means we don’t have qualified political scientists in place to notice the obvious and you cannot solve that with an institutional fix.
No wonder the electoral boundaries are always redrawn during every legislature. Talk about daylight corruption. Vanuatu does not have deficient systems. It lacks competent leaders that can navigate these systems, including the electoral systems.
The sooner the voters realise this, the better it will be for all of us. With this current decision, the government is obviously trying to resolve a service delivery problem through an institutional fix.
It’s sad when they themselves don’t realise it. They can’t realise it because they ‘prefer surgeons flying planes instead of qualified pilots. In 2020, Vanuatu parliament does not need another former DG, Director or another senior government officer with Masters in Business Administration or Accounting to enter parliament to maintain the perks of privilege for their family, community, island or province.
Withal, if they can’t solve this country’s policy problems in their previous roles as bureaucrats, what’s the guarantee that they will actually deliver as politicians? Vanuatu needs political scientists in the policy making roles of this country. Politics is not that complex or deficient as we have come to experience during the better half of our nationhood.
It’s very simple. But we’ve just preferred having surgeons flying planes hence the reason why our political economy has been doomed from the day we voted.
Long God Yumi Stanap Forever.
A Philippians 3:12 Production