Renbel MP Agikimua accused of lying about his stand over mining on Rennell
BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
MEMBER of parliament for Rennell and Bellona is accused of being ‘two-faced’ over the issue of mining in Rennell.
Concerned constituents of Renbel alleged to Island Sun that MP Dr Kaituu Agikimua presents himself to be against mining operations on Rennell, but in reality has signed his land over to be mined.
Agikimua had earlier published an ‘explanation’ publicly via Facebook page Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII) on April 21, 2018, which implied that he is against mining on Rennell.
However, early this month, documents surfaced which challenged Agikimua’s self-claimed stand against mining in Rennell.
A letter, addressed to the general manager of Bintan Mining company and copied to the attention of the Director of Mines, dated November 26, 2017, showed the MP as a co-signatory allowing mining operations into his land.
This revelation has led constituents to question the integrity of their MP, saying he is claiming to be a champion in the people’s fight against mining in Rennell but in practice, he is actively allowing mining to continue.
Agikimua, in his FSII statement, had blamed the Lilo-government for hastily signing Rennell over to be mined, and detailed his efforts to stop mining in Rennell, which he claims were futile because the government had ignored him.
“I raised this mining issue at all levels, in caucus cabinet and in parliament. No one listen as the government (Lilo) approved the mining to go ahead and the LOs signed up to have their land mined.”
He concluded with the all-too-familiar cliché of passing-the-buck over to landowners to be the frontline against mining: “The only way to stop the mining continuing is, LOs not to sign up with Bintan/APID. The mining will continue as long as APID has a legal ML and LOs sign up to have their land mined.”
In contrast, the letter which was published in one of Renbel’s Facebook fora, paints a different picture of Agikimua. He is a co-signatory with five other landowners of the Tehakamagoku land, Central Rennell, in the letter, which states: “We the undersigned are remnant and true traditional customary landowners of the said land (Tehakamagoku).
“We have met recently on a very important meeting and had unanimously resolved to consent our land to sought after a better agreement with your company to mine our land.”
Concerned Renbel public, responding to the revealed documents in social media, have decried the Renbel MP as ‘lying to the people of Renbel and Solomon Islands’, and being of ‘double standard’.
Speaking to Island Sun on condition of anonymity, a senior figure in Honiara’s Rennell community, says, “We accept Honourable’s [Agikimua] explanation about how hard it is to just simply stop mining in west Rennell. However, what we don’t accept is that he paints himself as siding with the people of Renbel against mining and pursuing their plight, and even advising people [landowners] not to sign land over to mining companies, when he had in fact signed his very own land to be mined. That is totally unacceptable.”
Another concerned Rennell woman, speaking on anonymity, says, “We feel betrayed because we had thought the MP [Agikimua] was with us against mining in west Rennell. The letter showing his signature is making us lose hope. He should just come out clear in the first place. If this letter had not surfaced, we would still be fooled into thinking that he [Agikimua] is with us against mining.”
Meanwhile, Renbel’s Constituency Development Officer (CDO) Mr Timothy Johnston, who is reportedly a very close relative of MP Agikimua, confirmed the letter’s authenticity on Facebook, however defended it as a means of protecting their land.
“We signed up this solidarity Agreement to protect our land and if it is mining, it will not repeat the story of logging,” said the CDO, referring to logging activities during the past on their lands being not dealt fairly.
“Anyway, I am going to revoke our tribe’s signatures now and our land will not be mined by any one and Bintan. Anyone who tries to touch our Land, it will like touching the apple of the eye of our Tribe. Let there be no miscalculation.”
Island Sun had contacted MP Agikimua to gauge his comments over the issue. He texted saying that his side’s explanation over the mining at Renbel has already been detailed on FSII.
When the paper attempted to interview him at his office yesterday, he sent word through his receptionist telling Island Sun to go and see the Minister of Mines instead.