Edited Version for the Blog: Entry for the 2017 Papua New Guinea Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Essay & Journalism Category by Samuel Lucas Kafugili.
Samuel is from Kiunga, Western Province and this is his first time to send in an entry.
Papua New Guinea 2017 General Election is smeared with all kinds of negativity across the nation. It’s bursting the seams of the country with fullness of allegations of all sorts. The elections has left a place with full of wounds and death. Every elections in Papua New Guinea isn’t election, but wounds. It is hazardous, but people and especially man strive and do whatever it takes for power. It has never been facile; however it has been as dynamically complex and constantly going through different phases of morphs. The different regions in a country aren’t the same. They experience different levels of perplexity. I feel like I am in a battle field, filled with the wounded and the corpse rather than an institution with an institutionalized practice that is a pillar of democracy.
More than a life is usually lost in every election in Papua New Guinea. The recent election has perhaps been by far the worst. In almost all occasions, the aspiring politicians do not clearly identify their political platforms but base their campaigns on rhetoric that are usually to flatter and deceive. The conduct of the elections is mechanical. It does not follow the rules as specified by the organic law and all other governance, administrative and legal instruments. The conducts are littered with bribery, dishonesty, deceitfulness, fraudulence and even forcefulness (aka “doing the Tonde”). The Intending candidates offer voters a massive inducement, sometimes outwardly stated, other times leaving trails of innuendoes. This rapidly declining state of institution is dangerously moving the country toward anarchy. And if for some reason, only one person steps forward and control everything, then Papua New Guinea may eventually go from anarchy to authoritarian or fall under dictatorship.
So where to from here? As the elections were winding down, we see a government that is mixed. At the time of writing this essay, not all the results were out. But the candidates that were declared had many issues with them. There were not a lot of fresh faces. Whoever made the government will have 5 years to fix the institutions. There are two institutions. The physical institution, which is the Electoral Commission, has issues with its structure and its systems. These have been tortured, raped, manipulated and violated with. It is for the new government to mend and re wire the bits and pieces remaining from the assault. The election as an institution has been completely mutated to resemble culturally based practices. The highlanders, whether they like it that I say this or not, play with money, pigs, food, and other cargo. Recently guns and bombs have been used. In some places there is usually only on voter who votes on behalf of everyone else. The coastal cultures also use money and cargo. There is some level of embarrassment to openly do these. However there are still areas of practices that are not in agreement with correct and respectful ways. ways that define democracy. This is an area where many government have failed to sort out in all these years so that we have one standard and democratic practice. This is my call to the 2017 Government to do something about this.
A leader of the country is not tribal or familial or not hereditary. It is a mandate by her or his people in the constitutionally approved constituency. The assurance and trust are all bestowed upon the leaders by the people. This year’s election was mixed in this area. There were many seasoned politicians masquerading as leaders and there were others who were clearly loved by their voters as leaders. Politicians are politicians, not all of them are leaders. Unfortunately our parliament lack leaders. This situation is bad because if we do not have leaders, we will have politicians forming a corrupt government in Papua New Guinea.
The rising corruptions at almost all levels of administration and governance are posing all kinds of risks. Transnational criminal activity, terrorism and resource exploitation could send this country to oblivion.