Lands Minister Steven Kalsakau has approved a lease over large area of the customary lands of Lelepa and Mangaliliu (Lelema) to a Mele man for 75 years, against the wishes of the customary land owners. Mangaliliu Chief Mormor said at the time of the creation of a customary lease application for their own lands, back in May: “We want a custom land lease ourselves, over our land, to protect ourselves and our land”. The North Efate land owners now have to protect themselves from the Minister of Lands. Daily Post leads with this story today. It covers how the chiefs of North Efate wrote to the Minister requesting a halt to all further land dealings in their area after nearly two years of consultation and mapping and for six community leases to be issued so their lands could truly remain theirs in perpetuity.
The Land Reform Act [Cap 123] gives the Minister for Lands the power to approve leases on behalf of customary owners if the land is in dispute. However, the Lelema lands are not under dispute and are unalienated. Minister Kalsakau here is acting in breach of the Act and against the letter of the Constitution. There is speculation too that the Mele lessee is just a front man for powerful foreign business interests.
Govt, Minister Carlot hold press conferences to “clarify misconceptions” over Phocea, dodgy land dealingsPosted: September 19, 2012
Government is engaged in a headlong rush to hold press conferences to ‘clarify’ misconceptions which they claim have been generated by the media. VBTC News and Daily Post both report on what was said at these press conferences.
Neither news source has yet reported the huge loss to Government on land lease sales. Daily Post has partially reported the Café du Village story, writing that the Ministry of Lands sold the lease to the Café du Village site for the pathetically low amount of Vt 500,000. Vanuatu has lost up to Vt 150 million on what was claimed to be “unmanageable” public land, but which is actually prime, commercial real estate. When will Government hold a press conference to explain this? We are holding our breath.
Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot yesterday “broke his silence” with his press conference over the Phocea. Yes, he, Carlot, was invited on board the yacht Phocea with a formal invitation, as were all Ministers. “Mr Carlot says Pascal Anh Quan Saken has helped him out a lot financially”, reports Radio New Zealand International today.