‘Leaders need training’

PIANGO executive director Emeline Siale Ilolahia (2nd from right) and former director Emele Duituturaga at the ADB meeting in Nadi last year. Picture SUPPLIED

It would benefit Pacific political leaders to be trained before entering into political leadership, says former Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO) executive director Emele Duituturaga.

Speaking at the Reweaving an Ecological Pacific panel of discussion on Friday last week, Ms Duituturaga, who is the new general secretary of the Social Democratic Liberal Party, said there was a dire need for leaders to be trained on political leadership, especially aspiring politicians.

While identifying gaps and lessons in the geopolitics of the Pacific region, Ms Duituturaga said leaders could continue to overlook the geopolitics of confederacies, vanua and tribal leadership.

“I think at the regional level we are driven at what our funders or donors (colonial and post-colonial) but one of the facts that leadership needs to consider is that your largest constituency is the people of your country,” she said.

“I think one of the huge gaps between our geopolitical and post-colonial powers whether they are Australia, New Zealand, US or the EU, that own constituencies I guess are subnational geopolitics and that brings in ideologies.

“I come into the political sphere with my human rights, gender equality, leadership background and people don’t understand my ideologies so there is not a lot of understanding of the discourse.

“When we talk about a different development narrative, I think a lot of people do not understand what development is because the reality is we work with governments that push clientele politics.

“So our understanding of it today is around election time, campaigning and political reality gets in the way of development so I think that’s another gap.”

Ms Duituturaga said civic education had a big role to play in the enlightenment of leaders.

“If civil society organisations do not talk to political parties, then we end up having governments that are almost disconnected about what we in CSO care about,” she said.

“Inequality is huge in this field, and I think my own journey to become a political party general secretary has a lot of gender issues to do with it, and you actually have a lot of resistance and opposition because you are not part of the old mould.

“There needs to be conversations on the intersect between development and political discourse.”

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