Repeka Nasiko, Thursday, June 29, 2017, Fiji Times Online
PRIME Minister and iTaukei Affairs Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has hit out against former and current politicians who politicised native land ownership.
While speaking to landowners in Sigatoka and Lautoka yesterday, he said landowners had not been able to fully utilise their potential because of politics.
“Of course in the midst of such protection and achievements, we’ve seen time and again the usual suspects and the Opposition go through the same tired charade of spreading fear and spinning lies all in the attempt to deceive the iTaukei people to further their own political and personal ambitions,” he claimed.
Mr Bainimarama claimed iTaukei rights had never been strongly protected by any other administration.
“My Government assists all iTaukei people equally.
“We don’t make the distinction between chief and commoner. All iTaukei people are entitled to the rights my Government has always fought to uphold for all Fijians.
“We didn’t only want to protect the ownership of iTaukei land and the rights of the iTaukei, we wanted to do one better by providing a solid foundation for growth that would empower iTaukei people and that is what this project is all about.
“iTaukei people in Fiji have long faced the issue of being asset rich, but cash poor of course one of the reasons was because of the politicians of the past and some even today politicise land ownership rather than assisting iTaukei people to benefit economically and financially from the landownership, they simply did nothing about it.
“Rather than tell landowners that if they develop the land themselves and they will not only become cash rich, but also create more wealth for the country, they sought to look after themselves.”
Mr Bainimarama claimed the politicisation of native land had contributed to the iTaukei not being able to develop and gain financially from their land which the Government had been driven to change.
Mr Bainimarama said with the upcoming election many politicians would be speaking about native land and he urged the landowners not to be easily swayed.