CONTINUING ON FROM our last story “Part Two, Chapter Four of Constitution”, we look at chapter five of our National Constitution which is about the National Council of Chiefs; The Malvatumauri. For this chapter Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) met up with MP Joe Natuman to ask him about why chapter five (5) was created. MP Joe Natuman was a member of the National Constitution Committee in the late 1970s.
“Before we achieved Independence in 1980, Chiefs had no say in the decision makings of the country, they only had a say in their Nakamals,” MP Natuman explained.
When the Constitution committee was given options of the type of parliamentary systems, the committee agreed that for Vanuatu the Unicameralism practice will be the parliamentary system to be used.
Unicameralism is a very new word for a lot of us, but this term generally represents the practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber. Thus, a unicameral parliament or unicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of one chamber or house.
“After that, we decided that another institution should be created to recognize the traditional government system in Vanuatu, that is why we created the National Council of chief or Malvatumauri (in Chapter five),” Mr. Natuman told TIV, “this is to ensure that the parliament can work together with the National Council of Chiefs.”
Thus, as mentioned in chapter five of the constitution, “anything to do with our customs, culture and land the parliament cannot make its own decisions without Malvatumauri’s opinion”.
This chapter promotes the integration of the traditional system with the western system, and it empowers the National Council of Chiefs to have a say in any decision making in the parliament when matters concerning Vanuatu’s traditions, cultures, the land, and identity arise.
It is important that those of us that are not aware of these stories must be informed, to understand what happened then will encourage citizens to appreciate what we have today and cherish it. The learning from this story is simple and clear; before Independence, chiefs had no national institution, but when the constitution was setup, this national umbrella of chiefs (Malvatumauri) was formed, and this is constituted and protected under chapter five of the constitution.
Mr. Natuman further said that this section of the constitution is a good thing, because it builds and unifies the country.
“This national umbrella brings chiefs together to discuss and promote their chiefly roles and responsibilities as well as work to protect our traditions and cultures,” Mr. Natuman said.
Mr. Natuman was a member of the National Constitutional Committee that drafted the constitution in 1979 and was the youngest of all the members of the Constitution Committee at that time.
Next week we will look at chapter six of our constitution and the reasons behind it. Transparency International Vanuatu will be getting in touch with those that signed the constitution to get their stories and to share it. We believe it is important that today’s generation are aware of these stories. We also believe that taking ownership of the freedom and being proud of our national identity will empower us to develop Vanuatu in the rightful way.
You can read more of our stories online at www.tivnews.wordpress. And if you have any comments regarding this story please share it with us on Facebook, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: 25715.
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