Back when Fiji first made it onto the maps of the Western world, ships would stop by and barter for food, spices and resources in exchange for knickknacks of varying value, from muskets to smoky mirrors. Later on, enterprising and less-than-honest travellers would barter similar items, this time for land, precious minerals (not too many to be found, before mining) and labour. The story of Musket Cove is that it got its name because the Chief was convinced to swap the land in exchange for a single musket.
These stories show how our forebears, raised under communal ownership, didn’t really understand the value of what they were bargaining for, or what they were giving up. Had they truly understood that the ships crews were on the brink of starvation and scurvy, and had they been less hospitable, they would have been able to drive a far harder bargain for the fresh mangoes, bananas, uto, ivi, nama and native produce without which the sailors would have perished before they reached Tonga. But, as we know from our history, our forebears were not the greatest negotiators.
And now, our President, Ratu Joseva Iloilo, the man with the highest powers in the land, the ‘here’ at which the proverbial buck stops, has carried on the great tradition by showing to all and sundry what hopeless negotiators Fijians can be.
I am not writing this piece to criticise the President. There are others, far more worthy than I, to criticise him, and may the arrows of their comment be far more significant to him than anything I could write.
Not only is the President lacking in negotiation skills. Frank Bainimarama, the hothead who has crowned himself Prime Minister and Finance Minister in perpetuity, must be one of the worst negotiators ever to walk the face of this planet.
The way in which he came to power (goaded by Chodo), has retained power (guided by Chodo) and remains in power (in spite of Chodo) clearly demonstrates the path of a man who does not know how to give and take, consider options, evaluate, nurture or walk away. In short, demonstrates the path of a man who cannot, for the life of him, negotiate.
Now he has bullied the President with Chodo’s Charter.
This farcical endorsement by the President of the NCBBF Charter bears all the hallmarks of Vore’s regime to date.
Like Vore’s build up to the last coup-d’etat, it is based on lies, bluster and a lot of hot air. Like the coup itself, it has no basis in reality or grassroots movement.
Like the regime, it has no basis in the rule of law, remains illegitimate and will fall like the house of cards it is, when that moment inevitably comes and the rug is pulled from beneath Vore & Chodo’s feet, because what goes around will always come around.
The time has come for the rug to be pulled, really pulled, from under their feet.
A good negotiator knows how to construct a deal where all parties get some benefit. A good negotiator knows when to encourage, cajole, rally, back off and challenge. A good negotiator knows the true value of what it is he is offering up, and what he will accept in return. A good negotiator knows when to walk away. If you can’t walk away from a deal, you can’t negotiate.
Since Vore can’t negotiate, we know that he can’t walk away. What is the one thing that Vore cannot do without? The loyalty of the soldiers. Why do his men support him? Some do it because they are uneducated, some because they have no other career choice, some because they believe in his cause, some because they follow the herd. But most of all, they are loyal to him because the military puts food on the table for them and their families. What if that rug were to be pulled out from under Frank’s feet?
I urge all those who would see democracy return to Fiji to contact the United Nations and implore them to extend the ban on Fiji soldiers for peacekeeping duties. Currently, the UN will not deploy Fiji’s soldiers to new assignments. Let the sanctions should go further. They should ban Fiji’s military from ANY UN assignments. Starve Vore and the Chodopu$$ of the money they (and their mistresses) crave so hungrily. Ban Fiji’s military from all UN duties until after free and fair elections.
The EU, God bless them, is standing by their sugar sanctions. So are Aus, NZ, Canada and the USA. We all know that India, China and Korea are too craven to forego cheap, unsustainable resources that Vore is so happily swapping for smoky mirrors and muskets.
God bless Fiji