TRANSPARENCY Solomon Islands (TSI) thanks Hon Lanelle Tanagada for her responses and comments regarding the trend in the election of women into parliament. First and foremost, Hon Lanelle Tanagada, either intentionally or ignorantly has commented on a subject that is not the subject of Transparency Solomon Islands. Getting more women into parliament is something that Transparency Solomon Islands fully supports thus it campaign against corruption and its work empowering the constituencies with the right information regarding Constituency Development Fund. The use and the manner in which this funding scheme is administered and managed has resulted in the monetization of the elections making it difficult for women to get into parliament as it does also for other aspiring upcoming leaders, allowing for inter -generational leadership change to occur. The article is not questioning eligibility nor the legal processes governing the election procedures. Here TSI reminds the Hon. Lanelle Tanagada of the issues raised in that articles that needs addressing and that she should respond to:
- For a number of years and still continuing millions of dollars are being spent in Solomon Islands and in the region in the name of getting women into parliament.
- In Solomon Islands no women can be said to have got into parliament because of the impact of the programmes that are being spent on this
- Nor can we say that those elected have come through with campaign that women will act differently in parliament and deliver for all.
The campaign to get women into parliament stipulates that women will act differently in parliament and deliver for all. Women it is said will stand up for women issues, they will not be grasshopping once they got it, they will be transparent, accountable and list goes on as leader at the parliament. The question is why they are not delivering, and why are they not even talking to the women leaders and women’s organisations and women who would love to share with them, raise the issues from their perspectives and make themselves available for questions and answers, take that initiative and do things differently from what the campaign alleged the male members of parliament are not doing.
TSI then makes suggestion on options for creating a level playing field for all guaranteeing free and fair election. There are electoral systems that could be explored to make it much harder to buy votes and where women or anyone standing will not need so much money to be a candidate with some chance of success.
The argument by Hon Lanelle Tanagada MP during the Sine Die motion in parliament, stating that Transparency Solomon Islands talk about the election processes than targeting candidates, or check on eligibility of candidates rather than relationships between former candidates suggests that here is another member of parliament amongst the rank and file members of parliament that tend to be apathetic are generally inclined to accept subordination and idolize leaders and not fight for what the country needs.
Intentionally or ignorantly or believing that Solomon Islanders are so ignorant not to have worked out things for themselves, she attempts to downplay the fact that she became an MP through when a successful petition was lodged against her husband and most likely to have been influenced by how the CDF was used whilst he was still in parliament. Her first election victory by way of by-election standing in the place of her husband who was successfully petitioned against and can be said to be from sympathy votes. There is nothing wrong with that, but the fact remains, she came into the office through by-election held after her husband was found by the court to have been elected illegally. Transparency Solomon Islands does not question her eligibility nor the legal process that got her into parliament. TSI only looks at the trend currently with regard to women getting into parliament and the monetization of National General Elections, not creating a level playing field for women and men who do not have access to finances, compared to sitting members of parliament and the wives of those MPs that could not continue as MPs for various reason.
Her argument on eligibility and electoral processes are not the subject of the article and therefore non-issues. The trend is there and not one that is looking good for women either and impacting on the campaign to get women into parliament needing to be review so that women who got in do so in a level playing field. These are questions to be asked, no matter how difficult, areas requiring examination for her being in a position of power to call for changes to current electoral system, and the termination of the CDF Funding Scheme going through members of parliament etc. that will create level playing field for all, women, men, young and old, rich poor come election year and day. Transparency Solomon Islands wishes to remind Hon. Lanelle Tanagada that prior to your election victory in April 2019 in Gizo/Kolombangara constituency, she contests the by-election in 2018 and won after the husband was ousted in a petition case in the High Court for defrauding the election process. Of course, the millions channeled through her husband in the three years he handled the CDF influence the outcome of the election. From then she won again in the April 2019 National General Election (NGE) from the millions of public funds CDF that was channeled through her for her constituency. People are not blind to the power of CDF, TSI is only sharing what is public knowledge and the issues to be addressed.
The fact remains out of the current four elected women in parliament, only one can be said to have truly contested among a male-dominated constituency to win the election instead of succeeding a petition-ousted or otherwise husband in a by-election. The recent victory of Mrs. Ethel Vokia as MP for North East Guadalcanal in a bye-election results in four women in the 11th parliament the highest decision – making and law-making body of Solomon Islands as a sovereign nation. The three female MP who succeeded their husbands are Lanelle Tanagada, Lilly Maefai and newly elected Mrs. Ethel Vokia. The allegations that Hon. Ethel Vokia distributed projects straight after the by-election raises a lot of questions that should be addressed by Leadership Code Commission and other relevant Institutions of Integrity for where she got the resources from as well as were these promised before the election. Regardless, one thing is clear that women do not behave any differently to the men as soon as they got into parliament, as is the campaign for getting women into parliament where millions have been spent with not successful outcome.
It is encouraging to note that Hon Lanelle Tanagada notes that there is something wrong with the Bills and projects, areas that she has directed Transparency Solomon Islands to put its attention to. Thank you Hon. Lanelle for recognizing that and TSI will continue to attend to those. From your position of power you could help by ensuring transparency and accountability and pushing for investigating of fake Tubi gazette, forged signature of the Commissioner of Lands and non-responsiveness of the police in cases of cyber bullying, ensuring any cyber-security laws does not curtail people’s constitutional rights, and give police enormous powers that could be abused politically, criminally and civilly, areas that TSI has raised needing addressing.
Transparency Solomon Islands heartily congratulates all the women voted into parliament and wish them a successful representative of their people during their term in the round house. TSI calls on you to make a difference in the male dominated parliament. TSI congratulates all the women who were voted into the provincial governments of Solomon Islands as they can prove at the provincial level their capability to lead and govern our people and province. You are one lot of representatives that have shown your worth in the provincial government. Yes, we need women in political leadership, the campaign must however be reviewed and reformed to address emerging and chronic issues that affect women’s chances of getting into parliament.