Saying one thing while meaning another is called double talk and people in Fiji are hearing a lot of this in the lead up to the elections.
Take, for example, three incident during the recent visit of SODELPA to the island of Kadavu.
Incident 1. Double Talk. Elsewhere, Fijians are bombarded with news from all the political parties, but according to islander Lemeki Nabua the SODELPA visit was an "eye opener". Apparently, people on Kadavu had only been “hearing what the current government has been doing.”
“Don’t get us wrong,” he said. “We are appreciative of the assistance that government has provided for us”, but “development is the responsibility of any government in return for revenue earned from VAT on goods and services.”
He thought Government should have consulted the people before passing new laws, expressing concern about the removal of the Fijian Affairs Scholarship which leaves “parents struggling to send our children to tertiary education.” ¹
In other words, Lemeki is covering his back. Thanks to Bainimarama, no thanks to Bainimarama. He's betting a dollar each way, so he can’t lose on the election outcome. But it's obvious he'd really prefer SODELPA. .
Incident Number 2. Tears. It was also in Kadavu that Ro Teimumu www.fijisun.com.fj/2014/07/25/tears-flow-at-sodelpa-rally/ burst into tears when speaking of supposed threats to Taukei land and customs, and the hardships people had faced, for the first time, under the Bainimarama Government.
“The struggles that people said they faced like the removal of the Fijian Affairs Board scholarships, the cost of living, fears and pain over the abolishment of the Great Council of Chiefs were just too much for the party leader to take in. Overwhelmed with emotion, the hall broke in silence briefly as the villagers saw Ro Teimumu crying.”
Incident Number 3. Deception. Not to be outdone, Laisenia Qarase explained that the election ballot papers would not include party names and symbols that would have helped voters to identify the various candidates. Instead, they would have to vote by candidates’ nominated numbers.
Qarase was responding to queries from the elderly who doubted they could memorise the numbers of the various party candidates (sic!) they wanted to vote for.
Qarase did not tell them they would not be voting for various party candidates. They would vote for only one candidate and have to remember only one number.
Normal election tactics? Perhaps, and they may well be successful, but some voters will be wishing SODELPA would address real issues and real threats that affect all Fijians. There is no threat to Taukei land. It is better protected now than ever before.² There is no threat to any religion and no threat to anyone's cultural identity.
¹ Scholarships are now non-race based but there's a "topping up" provision to allow for gross under-representation.
² See Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum's detailed comments on land in the Constitution and in the Land Decree.