The choice that we make should count for something

Weekender

By STEVEN WINDUO
EARLY in the morning a week ago I had a visit from my good “brother” and friend, Wangi Giwi who lives in Morata 1. Wangi is from Buang and is the eldest in the family. He told me that he had been writing letters to the candidates standing for election in Moresby Northwest and Moresby Northeast.
I laughed at him and told him that the candidates probably have no money to give him at this time of the election. He wanted money to repatriate the body of his uncle to Bulolo in Morobe.
Wangi was convinced that the candidates standing for Pangu would have money to give. He said in Tokpisin, “Em taim blong en nau (It’s time for it now).”
Wangi was following a certain kind of logic. The logic of identification with the individuals rather than with the political party, as the Registrar of Political Parties has been admonishing.
Dr Alphonse Gelu is concerned with the way some of the candidates are carrying on with their campaign strategies, which misses the point about the end result. That is, the party with the largest number after elections will form the next government.
Independent individuals do not form the government.
According to this logic, voters should associate their candidate with the political party he or she stands under. Small parties cannot form a government. A party, with sound policies and stable performance index, that wins more seats will have the right to form the next government.
Wangi, is an ordinary person who was born and raised in Port Moresby. His wife, Leah, is from Baruni village. Between them they have four children, one they gave away for adoption. Wangi has grandchildren from his eldest daughter. He, like others, do odd jobs around the city to make a living. Wangi and his wife are close to my family–he was responsible for landscaping my house and his beautiful wife looked after my children as well as the house.
Wangi’s people live in both Moresby Northwest and Moresby Northeast electorates. Morata and Nine Mile are known places where the Buang people live among other Morobeans. Though they form a distinct group, they live among other ethnic groups from the highlands of Papua New Guinea. It has never been an easy living, but one which is stitched with conflicts and uneasy tension among the different groups in the settlement.
Settlements in Port Moresby are also home to senior public servants and those earning good salaries. Housing and high rentals have forced public servants to seek sub-lease and rentals in the settlements. This has changed the demographics of settlements over the years.
Wangi, and others like him, with no formal employment will miss out again on having direct benefits from the leaders they vote into Parliament this month. Over the years Wangi has voted for the Member of Moresby Northwest he has never had any direct benefits from. His family still remains on the margins of society. Wangi is till running around unemployed. When a suffering such as death happens in the family they scramble around for help from people they know.
It seems Wangi and his lot’s suffering is irrelevant to the Member of Parliament they elected. They will continue to vote in leaders, but the leaders will continue to let them down.
Voting in general elections is an exercise of democracy, but what good is it when the perils of everyday life become ever more precarious each time.
The likes of Wangi or other Papua New Guineans such as those living in Budibudi, a remote atoll in Milne Bay will continue to suffer, if not perish completely from the face of the earth as victims of climate change.
The challenge for any leader is to address the real bread and butter issues that affect many of our people whose suffering we ignore. People are not interested in high ideals and grand ideas promoted through election campaigns. People are interested in where they will get the money to put food on the table today. People are interested in finding the money to meet the hauskrai and funeral expenses. People want to be happy in their lives.
Political leadership is not an area I am an expert in, but recognising good leadership from bad leadership is something I have plenty of experience to vouch in. I have my own record of who has performed and who has not as a political leader. I trust my own judgment over these matters of mandating political leaders by way of voting in national elections.
I also have so much confidence in the democratic ideals of our nation. Our Constitution is one of the best in the world and through it we induce the ideas of a free nation. Those who get elected into office must respect the Constitution and live and work in the spirit of the Constitution.
All too often some of our political leaders elected to Parliament seek to test the power of the Constitution. Our scorecard on this indicates there is no improvement.
The best part of election is that it is time for us to change leaders who have failed in their term in office or continue the confidence in a leader who had delivered during his or her term as MP.
The act of voting in election is an absolute power that individuals have in expressing their citizenry. It is absolute because it is one-person-one vote. If it is something else then it is not absolute power.
The absolute power exercised in the principle enunciated above must translate to tangible returns. If there were tangible returns then the sufferings of Wangi and his fellows on the fringe of the society would have disappeared. It seems that we haven’t got this right yet.
I write this with absolute confidence in the principles of democracy we enjoy.
I am mindful that my vote is also for the future of my grandchildren.

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