Is it corruption when a political camp feeds the whole community? Or when bags of second hand clothing are delivered to communities by a contesting candidate?
Reports of questionable acts by several candidates who contested this snap election surfaced from around the islands of Vanuatu. Several incidents of questionable acts informed to Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) by citizenry observers identify as bribery, gift giving, and treating. All of this acts are labeled as corruption under the Representation of the Peoples Act.
In one particular report a candidate was said to be distributing copper roofing’s to households during the night, and in another report a shipment of bags of rice, cartons of canned fish and bales of sugar were delivered to the supporters of a candidate on one island.
Furthermore, information received from an advocator against corruption claim that an amount of around VT300, 000 was allegedly given to a provincial councilor by a former member of parliament.
Also reported was that some political supports were going around to pay voting cards at the price of VT3, 000 to VT4, 000.
On 19 January, which was the last the day for the campaigns, information received by Transparency International Vanuatu claimed that a candidate was planning to host a ‘Pablik kakae’ as part of their campaign rally. A public feasting would of course fall well under the offence of Treating.
Treating happens when political parties and candidates provide foods and drinks to people who come and listen to their campaign. It means paying for a voter’s kava or food for the purpose of influencing the voter to vote in ones favor, this is an offence under the Representation of the People’s Act.
Also received was an allegation that a certain candidate had given VT10, 000 to pay food at a children’s party. Furthermore, reports surfaced alleging that a candidate had bought cattle and materials to give to a group.
Moreover, a candidate reportedly used a donor-funded project that cost over four million vatu as propaganda for his campaign while a school was closed, and was promised only to reopen, if a certain candidate was voted by the students’ parents.
The last two weeks of election campaigning has so far raised a lot of questionable acts to ponder on, however in most areas contacted the perspective was different with one observer stating that “this area is clean,” meaning activities like bribery, treating and exedra have not been heard of since the start of the election campaigning period on 5 January.
The allegations of corruption contained in this story have been provided by ordinary citizens from around Vanuatu who are tired of corruption. They have been advised to properly record these corrupt activities and to report them to the appropriate authority to investigate.
Transparency International Vanuatu is available to assist any corruption complaints from members of the public specifically during this election period.
Other related stories:
- Transparency Vanuatu raises election bribery concerns – Radio New Zealand.
- Election bribery report a concern to Vanuatu NGO – Radio New Zealand.
- Transparency International Vanuatu says election was not clean in some outer islands. – ABC.