Chief shuns Fiji’s law talks in protest over ‘gross disrespect’ to landowners

Ratu Tevita Nabekwahiga Makutu
Ratu Tevita Nabekwahiga Makutu ... "The action of [the Bainimarama] government undermines the trust of the landowning units." Image: Koi Qwali/Facebook

By Repeka Nasiko in Suva

Nadroga Navosa paramount chief Na Ka Levu Ratu Tevita Nabekwahiga Makutu says his province will not take part in the “disrespectful” land bill public consultations carried out by Fiji government.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Ratu Tevita explained the province’s exemption from the consultations following the passing of the Bill in Parliament last month.

“Sir, you are fully aware of the position of the vanua on the new amendment to the iTaukei Lands Trust Act,” he stated in the letter.

“It is disconcerting to learn that after the law has been amended, your ministry and the iTaukei Land Trust Board officials saw fit and proper to do awareness in the province to the very people who should have been consulted in the very first place.

“This demonstrates a gross disrespect to the dignity of the landowners or the iTaukei community in general.

“The action of your government undermines the trust of the landowning units (LOUs) vested to the board for the efficient and effective administration of iTaukei land.”

He said the vanua must be recognised and respected.

Vanua served faithfully
“History will reveal that the vanua has faithfully and diligently served its functions and purposes for socio-economic development of the nation.

“The government cannot operate in isolation or with a sense of distrust with people who have elected them to Parliament.

“We are the true voices of the people of Fiji, must and should be, consulted on pertinent matters relating to our land.”

Questions sent to the permanent secretary for the Office of the Prime Minister, Yogesh Karan, remained unanswered when this edition of The Fiji Times went to press.

Repeka Nasiko is a Fiji Times reporter. This article is republished with permission.

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