By Kalafi Moala
Nuku’alofa, Tonga – A Vote Of No Confidence (VONC) in the Prime Minister, Rev. Dr. Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, has been submitted to Parliament by his own Deputy Prime Minister Vuna Fa’otusia yesterday (Wednesday 9 December, 2020).
A successful VONC would mean there would need to be another vote by Parliament for a new Prime Minister. But this may not be debated and voted on until 20 January 2021.
Hon. Fa’otusia was in New Zealand for medical reasons, but remained there for several months and could not travel back to Tonga because of the Covid 19 lockdown. But he was able to return recently, went through the 14-day quarantine then released last week.
He has done what many people had been expecting. It was rumored that while he was in New Zealand, he had been following events in Tonga, and had expressed some real concern about the way Government was operating.
One insider says that he was extremely concerned that the Government was being led by ‘Etuate Lavulavu, the Prime Minister’s co-leader of the People’s Party (PAK), and not the Cabinet. The Prime Minister was not listening to Cabinet, it was alleged, but just following the dictates of the controversial Lavulavu, who is not a member of Cabinet, or a member of Parliament.
The Prime Minister has also come under tremendous criticism for his excessive use of taxpayer money to fund his Prayer and Fasting Tours, something that was said to be more a campaign tour by his Party than a genuine prayer and fasting call. A conservative estimate of $500,000 pa’anga by the time the fasting tours are completed. Which in a deficit budget economy, that is a lot of money spent on a religious fast.
He has also been under criticism for the way he has been openly arrogant in public speeches and communication, attacking those who criticize or question him, even blatantly lying in the process.
Add to that how he lied to the public concerning Lulutai Airlines, the cyber bullying he carried out on a number of civil servants; the lack of transparency concerning his own past and current moral behavior; problems of apparent corruption by some of his Ministers; the current problems with Government inaction to help the watermelon growers; the use of Government funded opportunities for his personal gain as well as those of his cronies; and the list goes on.
As one member of Parliament has said, this Prime Minister in just over a year, has done far more damaging and questionable things, “even though we trusted him at first”, than the things blamed on the previous Prime Minister.
It is also interesting this week, there was guarded concern expressed by the Chairman of the Whole House Committee, Lord Tu’i’afitu, that Parliament has been in recess because of the absence of the members; and a number of Bills were passed quickly in Parliament without proper public consultation.
The Fasting Tours by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet seemed far more important than their responsibilities in Parliament, which is about to go into recess for the Christmas holidays.
Despite very limited information received from Parliament, it was confirmed that all nine members of PTOA supported the Deputy Prime Minister in the Vote Of No Confidence. It is not yet confirmed whether there were other People’s or Nobles’ representatives who signed the VONC.