Transparency Solomon Islands continues to carry out civic advocacy, advocating for good governance and good leadership ahead of the National General Election using the Constituency Development Fund as an entry point to addressing unrealized developments, and service delivery in Central Guadalcanal and North East Guadalcanal Constituencies.
TSI was invited by community leaders from the constituencies to conduct awareness at Mataruka and Tasimboko. Community leaders there speaking on behalf of their constituency said the awareness was very informative, simple and easily understood, relevant to us. It clearly explained and walked us through the relationships and connectivity of National General Elections, our vote, the duties and responsibilities of the position of Member of Parliament, the Legislature, the Executive Government and the Judiciary and the responsibility that we the voters have to hold our leaders accountable after voting them in. Our eyes are now open, and we now understand why nothing much has progressed in our communities and constituencies.
We now know how the government makes it money and for what it should spend it on like providing our communities with basic services such as water supply, sanitation, good community infrastructure, roads, support our chosen income generating projects etc. One elder said “Before we are blinded by the gold tooth, not knowing that it is false tooth and only benefit the owner of the gold tooth. He is the only one that it feeds, makes his life better and make him look good while we the voters who voted for the gold tooth do not benefit”. I decided not to vote come 2019 but after this I will vote, because my vote might just make the difference in choosing a good, responsible, transparent and accountable leader who will lead with integrity and be our voice.
The awareness educates voters on the importance of National General Elections and Provincial Elections, awareness of role, duties and responsibilities of the position of Member of Parliament, the power and responsibilities that citizens have pursuant to the provisions of our supreme law the Constitution, the importance of realizing this power and exercising the same during elections, the value of citizens’ vote, importance of choosing good leaders, keeping leaders accountable, and saying no to vote buying.
Understanding these responsibilities is important to make informed decisions as voters prepare to vote for their next Member of Parliament on April 2019. “The rural people have been the ones who have had a lot of questions on CDF formerly known as RCDF, but no information was available”.
“The ignorance of many rural people led them to believe that everything the MPs and CDOs say were true.
Tasimboko residents and Mataruka residents said they do not know where the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) has gone and it has not made a difference to their cry for water supply, road infrastructure and other developments. Mataruka residents said it was a blessing to have TSI coming to our doorsteps to explain everything clearly to us to understand. Now we will not be blinded by any lies and know that our responsibilities continue after we cast our vote come election day.
During question and answer session Community leader of Mataruka Malachi Rubo express his disappointment at the government for the non-enforcement of the CDF Act 2013. He calls on the government to gazette the regulations of the CDF Act and announce the date of it coming into force. This will help in minimizing the abuse and misuse of CDF Fund.
“I call on 50 constituencies must vote for right leaders into parliament to push for the enforcement of CDF Act 2013,” Rubo said.
Transparency Solomon Islands respond to participants questioning how they could access the CDF acquittal report is to request Public Solicitor Office to help constituents to access the report. It was explained to the participants that RCDF acquittals are not confidential as they have led to believe.
Transparency Solomon Islands explain that all constituents are equally entitled to benefit from the CDF. All constituents are potential recipients and the CDF is in place to develop the constituency and improve people’s livelihood, without discrimination. TSI believes informed citizens will be empowered to act and exercise their rights in holding leaders accountable.
At Tasimboko, Transparency Solomon Islands was joined by team from Public Solicitors Office, the Community Policing Unit and the Guadalcanal Provincial Police, walking participants through the services they provide, and this was much appreciated by the participants.
The Guadalcanal Provincial Police presented the Crime Prevention Strategy that they are rolling out. During the awareness the police educate the community on the election offences and penalties and responsibilities of registered voters and public.
The Community appreciated the team’s approach by the three groups and the interactive open discussion session.