SAMOAN SCHOLAR TOUTS VILLAGE MATAI SYSTEM

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Tavita says traditional methods of governance often better

By Pio Sioa

APIA, Samoa (Samoalive, June 5, 2008) – Former National University Lecturer and current head of the internal affairs division of the Ministry of Women and Community, Maulolo Leaula Tavita, a noted authority on Samoan culture believes that local governments in the villages are better than the Westminister system of rule, if the decision making matais stick to traditional protocols.

[PIR editor’s note: The Westminster system is often criticized for breeding a variety of political cultures which undermine its effectiveness as a truly democratic and accountable system.]

Former National University Lecturer and current head of the internal affairs division of the Ministry of Women and Community, Maulolo Leaula Tavita, made the statement at the Institute of Directors luncheon on Friday.

Village governments are more transparent and accountable, as far as Maulolo is concern.

"Everyone in the village takes part in the decision making process from the top down. "The matais (chiefs) are primarily the decision makers, their authority combines the role of Parliament and the Executive of the Central Government as practiced in the Westminister System.

"Included in the circle of decision makers are a separate grouping of untitled men and women, who are basically the sons and daughters of the matais. They too are allowed to have a say when and if required by the matais. So whatever is discussed and agreed is basically a collective decision openly made before everyone, which is good governance."

Maualolo felt the system is let down when the high ranking matais make single handed decisions without regard to observed protocols required by the culture.

He case studied the current Malietoa title controversy as a classic example of what can happen when the protocols of good governance in the villages are overlooked.

"There are set protocols in the process of deciding the Malietoa title that were not carried out properly.

The influence of the Malietoa clan fans out from Tuamasaga District, as the seat of power, to cover several districts in the country that are culturally aligned to the paramount title.

In the event of a bestowal, the villages of Malie where the title is bestowed and Afega as one of two villages to offer ‘papa’ (blessings,) are required to initiate the process of informing everyone.

Maulolo claims this was not carried out properly and the controversy was sparked off when Malie unilaterally went ahead and bestowed the title.

"This controversy could be avoided if established protocols were observed properly."

Maulolo acknowledged the pressure of new changes on village governments but the structure continues to holds firm and steadfast.

Samoalive: www.samoalivenews.com/

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