By LULU MARK
FOR father-of-five Katume Jaita, 74, the 2022 General Election is the 10th time he is exercising his democratic right to elect leaders of his choice to Parliament.
Katune, from Henkae in the Kamano Local Level Government of Kainantu District, Eastern Highlands, woke up early last Friday to make sure he arrived early at the polling venue in Ensisi Valley, Moresby North-West electorate.
In fact,k he was the first male to cast his vote when the booths opened at 9.34am. He was given two ballot papers to fill – one for his choice as the Moresby North-West MP, and the second for who he wants to becfome the National Capital District Governor. His wife Arie accompanied him and joined the queue for women to vote too.
Katume left his village when he was 21 in 1969, armed with his Grade Six certificate, to look for work in Port Moresby. He completed Grade Six in 1966.
“With my broken English, I got a job at a warehouse in Down Town where I worked for more than 25 years. When I gained experience, I was promoted to be a manager in one of the sections of the warehouse.
But when the company became liquidated, I became jobless.”
He focused on church work as a deacon at the Waigani Carr Memorial Seventh Day Adventist Church. But he quit his church post 10 years ago.
In the first general election in 1977, he voted in Down Town where he was working and living.
“I didn’t know how to go about it (filling the ballot paper) but a lady I worked with who was well-educated assisted me.”
He moved to Ensisi Valley in 1986 and first voted in the Moresby North-West electorate during the 1987 general election.
“It has been my home since, where I raised my five children. A few families have lived here for a long time and we have watched more people move in. Now the place is packed with people. The polling lines are longer.
“But it is good to see separate lines for men and women. Before it used to be just one line which gets really long.”
Voting in the general elections is something Katume always looks forward to. He checks to ensure that his name is on the common roll early, so that he can vote every five years.
Last Friday was the eighth time to cast his vote as a resident of Ensisi Valley.
“My wife (Arie) and I secured a big block of land behind the university where we plant crops to eat, sell at the market, earn money and support our family.
“It is important for everyone in the community to vote. It is through voting that we elect good leaders. I have always been the supporter of the late Sir Mekere Morauta.
“We must elect good leaders that will make good decisions for the country. The safety of our people and job opportunities are important.”
He returns home to Kainantu every now and then and stays for a couple of months before returning to Port Moresby. When it’s a general election year, he remains in the city.
After casting their votes with wife Arie on Friday, the couple returned home as there were garden produce to sell.
“We prepared things to sell. So after voting, we return home to go and bring them and sell them here.”
Although he is always excited to take part in general elections, he does not want to be carried away by it completely. He still has a family to look after too.
“ It is important for everyone in the community to vote. It is through voting that we elect good leaders.”