Get The Truth – The Great Council Of Chiefs
SODELPA and other political parties say that they will constitutionally reinstate the GCC and that without the GCC the indigenous people become rudderless and lose their sense of identity. The GCC should not be confused with the existence of our Chiefs and the Chiefly system. It is well known that over time the GCC became increasingly politicised. Instead of making service its priority it made politics its priority. It perpetuated elitism and fed into the divisive politics that plagued Fiji for decades after Independence. By the end, the GCC was not looking after the interests of all iTaukei and the Bainimarama Government believed that ordinary people should have more power to make decisions for themselves through their representatives in the Provincial Councils and now through Parliament. The strength and health of iTaukei culture and identity does not depend on the existence of the GCC, an institution created by the British during Fiji’s colonial period. In fact the British created a body called the Native Council in 1875 only so that could rule over the iTaukei and Fiji through the handpicked elites and chiefs. Only later on after World War I when it suited the British they renamed the Native Council to the Council of Chiefs and then the Great Council of Chiefs. The Bainimarama Government believes that rights and practices of the iTaukei – protected under the supreme law of the land, which is the Constitution – are distinct and fundamental aspects of our culture and have very deep roots. The assertion that these roots are shallow and weak and that if “you take away the GCC, the indigenous people become rudderless and lose their sense of identity” is absurd. It is an insult to the iTaukei and to their cultural heritage that extends far beyond the establishment of the GCC in the 19th century. This is easily demonstrated by the fact that over the past 4 years the GCC has not met but it has not resulted in the loss of iTaukei culture, tradition, language, land and identity. If anything it has been strengthened in recent times and is protected by our Constitution. It also demonstrates that the Chiefs still very much wield power in the Vanua. None of the Bainimarama Government’s decisions are meant to damage the mana and authority of our chiefs. On the contrary, their authority is strengthened by removing them from the political process. While individual chiefs are free to stand for Parliament, the chiefs as a whole are now above politics. They can concentrate on their ceremonial duties and their traditional roles of looking after the interests of their people. They need to maintain the trust of the people because of their leadership qualities and by setting an example to everyone with the highest standards of personal conduct. And while-ever they do that, they will have a treasured place in the vanua and in the nation as a whole. FijiFirst believes that in an era when Fiji is seeking a common and equal citizenry for its people, whether commoner or chief, the GCC a British created institution is no longer relevant. Fiji must focus on the future in which all Fijians including our chiefs are represented on the same basis and respected.