Opposition Leader as AG agreed to Act strengthening protection of customary land – but now wants to remove those protections

Dispute over Vanuatu customary land. Photo © 2016 Vanuatu Daily Digest, all rights reserved

One of the Bills to be brought before Parliament next Monday is a Bill to repeal the Customary Land Management Act of 2013. It is described as a Private Member’s Bill. It was, however, lodged by the Leader of the Opposition, Ishmael Kalsakau, who was Attorney-General at the time the Bill was first enacted. The explanatory note regarding the Bill to Repeal, which has not been readily obtainable, claims that the Customary Land Management Act of 2013 fails to enhance the application of the constitutional rule by enabling customary institutions to deal with disputes over land owned in accordance with the customary law of each particular place. The Leader of the Opposition has opposition backbencher support for his present campaign against the three-year old legislation.

A great deal of consultation took place to ensure that every means would be found to enable the Custom Land Management Act to ensure all proper customary rules were complied with, as the Honourable MP would be aware; after all, he was the AG originally enabled this legislation – and now wants repealed.

The Customary Land Management Act was enacted to provide greater protection to customary lands against improper land dealings, by ensuring that all dealings affecting customary land involved community consultation at the nakamal level.

Kalsakau has not been available for comment (he is overseas), but a spokesman said the Malvatumauri could not comment on the attempt at repeal, because it only meets in early 2017.

The Opposition believes said to apply to Minister for Lands Regenvanu’s insistence that the Malvatumauri now be consulted concerning the proposed repeal. Until now the Malvatumauri has supported the aspects of custom land management which they administer.

The immense tasks before this Parliament, it seems, include even more weighty jobs than constitutional amendment, as ni-land being regarded by most as the main objective of Independence.

Radio Vanuatu News today says there is no firm Council of Ministers decision concerning cancellation of DG positions yet. DG Joe Ligo confirmed yesterday in Port Vila that his DG position is not being renewed. He was speaking at a luncheon arranged for some 21 staff who were to be awarded long service medals by the Head of State. The awards ceremony did not, however, take place and by publication time, Daily Post had not been able to establish why. Joe Ligo made no comment on other DGs not being renewed. The CoI is arranging a new formula for senior level appointments and the continuance of DG posts is appropriate.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is arranging new ways of controlling alcohol sales, and new applications for liquor licences are currently not being issued. The Ministry of Home Affairs sees an increase in alcohol related crime and is tightening up on loopholes it sees in the legislation covering sales of alcohol. (Radio Vanuatu)

The population of West Ambae is the latest area to report water problems and West Ambae people in the capital are being urged to donate water to their families on the island. Many other places are equally deprived. It is several months since Vanualava people were reported saying all rivers had dried up, including the Crocodile River. Maewo has also reported waterfalls and rivers drying up.

Efate’s rivers are not drying up as yet, but the Vanuatu Daily Digest has learned that renewal of a large number of Efate bridges is likely to take place soon. More details to follow.