A March 3rd letter by long time advocate and member of the pro-democracy movement, Mosese Manuofetoa, to PTOA Chair ‘Akilisi Pohiva has leaked to the media. The letter decries the Chair’s inability to restore faith in the Party, and “a government by the people.”
Manuofetoa has been a core member of the Human Rights and Democracy Movement. The letter claims there was a deal between Manuofetoa and Pohiva. Manuofetoa agreed to stand down in the 2010 election to give way for Pohiva to run for the final time. Then Pohiva would retire and support Manuofetoa in 2014.
However, Pohiva recently declared that he will run again in 2014, again for the final time, and has personally selected new candidates for the Party for the upcoming election. They did not include Manuofetoa. Now Manuofetoa and Pohiva will be competing candidates for Tongatapu 1 constituency.
The letter reveals PTOA inner sanctum feelings towards Pohiva. In it, Manuofetoa blames Pohiva for ineffective leadership and the Party’s failure to lead and form a government in 2010.
Manuofetoa also states that Pohiva’s very persona is a source of “bitterness” from other constituencies and fellow Representatives.
One section of the letter, in Tongan, translates as “I believe their support and ‘attitude’ would be different to the work we (PTOA) are doing, if a different person carried our demands”.
This embitterment of non-PTOA MPs about Pohiva, states Manuofetoa, is because of years of prosecution and accusations levelled by Pohiva against them, and systematic smear campaigns by Pohiva’s propaganda arm, the Kele’a.
The letter gives the example of Sunia Fili, Eua Representative, who broke with the Party ranks in 2010 as a result of a personal smear campaign against him by the Kele‘a during the election campaign. Fili, now back in the PTOA, proposed Tu‘ivakano to be Prime Minister in the Parliament ballot for Prime Minister.
Manuofetoa reminds Pohiva of the many ‘sacrifices’ that party members have undertaken, in order to affect Pohiva’s wishes. Manuofetoa gives the example of a teary Falisi Tupou, former Kele’a journalist and later hopeful Party candidate for Tongatapu 9, who was told by Pohiva to stand down and make way for Kaveinga Fa‘anunu. When Fa‘anunu passed away, Tupou was then elected in the By-election.
In the letter, Manuofetoa also alludes to several millions in alleged corruption in government, including alleged passports sales to Asians where the passports were issued to the sponsoring company instead of their actual names, purchase of a ship from Ramanlals, illegalities in the bech de mer quotas, the alleged 33 million ‘gift’ from Tu‘ivakano to HRH Pilolevu, etc.
“I believe we could have saved these huge millions if only you’d have been Prime Minister instead of Tu‘ivakano”, states Manuofetoa.
“The people’s hopes have been in vain and we’ve suffered these things for the last three years.”
With both Manuofetoa and Pohiva publicly indicating their intentions for the 2014 election, the campaign and competition for votes in Tongatapu may become a case study, and potential precedence, in Tongan political evolution.
Pohiva has been the dominant and established power in the popular elections for Parliament for the last 30 years without winning Executive Power, and so failed to affect government policies.
By waving “Cause of the People” and “Justice Crusade” banners, Pohiva has claimed natural rights to the elections and government in opposition to the King and the status quo.
The election of 2014 will show if these labels are also worthwhile.