The phone rings. Newly-elected MP picks up the call. The caller asks, ‘have you been given a portfolio as we had instructed you?’ MP responds, ‘sorry brother, we’ve been left out as there needs to be fair sharing…’
The caller blasts the MP and scolds him over the phone. This plunges him under intense last minute pressure in an already-politically-heated room. Caller continues to the MP whose eardrums must already be about to burst by now, ‘either you lobby for a portfolio now and get it or your fall from power commences tonight’.
MP turns around to the newly elected PM and openly demands a post or the MP crosses over to the other side with immediate effect. The PM sacrifices another candidate and settles the dispute.
That’s just a snapshot of what happened that long, drawn-out evening. The yellow-carded MP was awarded ‘as instructed’, and he revels and basks in the glory of his ascendancy to ministerial power that same evening.
The good and the bad
Some leaders ascend to leadership because they are ‘called’ to serve. You can see it. They work their guts out transparently, with painstaking effort, strategically, and with much creativity and commitment to prove their worth. Only a certain number of leaders in today’s society apparently qualify here.
The bad apples tend to bribe and corrupt their way up to power.Because we live in a pretty small national community where information flow is now almost instantaneous and widely prevalent through social media, people usually know who these rotten apples are. Their past track records continually haunt them.
But you think they care? They don’t! They crank up the engines of corruption almost immediately when the race pistol is fired at the starting line. You’re not talking about mad people. Some of them are educated and they know exactly what they’re doing. But their sensibilities are benumbed. As Lord Acton once said, ‘Power tends to corrupt’.
The meaningless Oath
An oath is ‘a solemn promise about your behavior or your actions’. Often when you take an oath, ‘the promise invokes a divine being’. That’s why it normally ends with, ‘so help me God’. Let’s get back to the rotten apple – that corrupt guy.
He lies twice in a row that same evening before day dawns the next day: first lie, in the Parliament Chambers, second lie, at the public arena where he swears an oath(s) if he is awarded a portfolio as minister.
The oath is meaningless. He does it just to comply with legal processes and requirements. He lies through his teeth and that’s perfectly normal for him. He does not budge at the idea of lying under oath before a Supreme God. He does not sense wrongdoing.
A total of 7 have been registered, discounting the killer – criminal cases. The stories are very interesting and entertaining to listen to. A few of them are listed below.
Candidate #1: After completing a campaign at a particular village and before departure, he directs the residents to a boat-full of ‘cargo’ brought over by Father Christmas.
The whole world celebrates Christmas in December. These villagers commence theirs in March, on the heels of Chinese New Year. The candidate visits another village, after having completed his campaign he leaves the entire sound system to the youths in the village. His intelligences have done prior homework on needs assessment.
Candidate #2: He made a hilarious decision no member of parliament anywhere else in the world might have ever done, and must be awarded space in the Guinness Book of Record. He has very close associates in the Far East. It is alleged he bribed his way into parliament.
The villages on his home island flourished with yellow VT5,000 notes like autumn leaves. He might smell the roses when they bloom from the garden of power for a moment, but not for too long.
Candidate #3: This guy, it is alleged, had very strong support as far as the ballot box. The voters were not allowed their rights to personally choose their candidates. It is alleged somebody else standing next to the voting booth selected the candidate and handed the picture over to the voter who inserted it into the envelope and dropped it in the ballot box. This story appears very fictitious, but grapevine news indicates at least one unsuccessful candidate might have lodged a case against it.
Candidate #4: Then the story of the 200+ voters who turned up at a certain polling station whose names weren’t on the roll. They pressured and threatened to cause trouble so they were allowed to vote and the roll would be ‘fixed later’. Nice precedence for the future?
Candidate #5: We better not discuss this here. It involves a very senior civil servant in position of extreme power who it is alleged has been involved in some pretty lucrative deals in the system. If the allegations are proven true, only God knows the unfortunate verdict.
Candidate #5 and a colleague attended school together; they were classmates. There was a project that needed to be supported in department X headed by his schoolmate. The colleague was called in to Mr. big shot’s office one morning. Eyes on screen, hands on keyboard, he asks former classmate, ‘what’s the issue with your project again?’
The friend explains. The big shot goes, ‘ok, I’ll look into it…but remember I only deal with big leaders, not small officials’. Conversation ends, the poor colleague quietly closes the door and leaves. Mr. big shot presented himself as far more important than some humble State ministers I’ve worked with in Government!
To conclude, Vanuatu is generally considered to be, and is a praying nation. The mountains, the vast universe and galaxies beyond us should humble us of our frailty so that we can do things better and more transparently. The vastness of the cosmos above and beyond us should help us realize that we are small, finite and vulnerable.