The Bigman Syndrome

This month’s bye-election in Efate Rural indicates that, for now at least, society at large is perfectly content to conduct politics as usual. In spite of sporadic efforts to build a unified and genuinely representative political presence in North Efate, those few who managed to make their way to the polls voted overwhelmingly for the status quo.

The very same ‘gift-givers’ whose judicial chastisement brought about the bye-election in the first place were returned with hardly a raised eyebrow.

But before we acquiesce completely to the knowledge that – law or no law – our leadership’s financial habits will remain hidden from public scrutiny, we need to know what we’re buying.

[Originally published in the Vanuatu Daily Post’s Weekender Edition.]

Friday’s Daily Post featured a story that would be comical if it weren’t true. Vanuatu Ombudsman Peter Taurakoto released a report recommending the prosecution of 188 public figures for their failure to submit financial reports for the year 2007. Taurakoto also recommended that the Clerk of Parliament be prosecuted, apparently for not performing due diligence with regards to these reports.

According to the Leadership Code Act, ‘leaders’ include Members of Parliament and their political advisors, the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, the VMF Commander, various officers of the provincial and national governments, as well as town clerks and the Ombudsman himself.

Given the astounding number of leaders listed in the Ombudsman’s report, one is led to ask if any leaders actually did submit a statement.

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