A LOT has been said about the HCC saga, so let’s now urge the authorities to act appropriately, to bring normalcy to the situation.
It would seem, judging from the reactions in the social media, that a majority of Honiara residents (and they have a right to demand it) wish to see the current Council dissolved, to pave the way for the HCC to be led by new councillors.
TSI has suggested, a new election takes place to elect new councillors.
While the suggestion is appreciated, given the population dynamics in the city, a new election based on the current electoral system, could potentially waste every-ones’ time and good efforts.
Why do I say this? Well, electing new councillors based on the current electoral system could return the same people again, and we won’t get what we are looking for – which is to change and get new people in.
Because of this, a new election held on the basis of the current electoral system will not yield the desired change that is being sought.
Instead, may I suggest that, there in Mathew Wale’s counsel to change the system lie what may inherently inspire the accomplishment of the desired change that all residents in Honiara are looking for.
To stabilize Governance of the HCC, may I suggest that the Minister of Home Affairs dissolve the current Council, and in their place he should appoint interim Councillors who would go in and work to improve HCC Governance, strengthen management, and develop a modernization plan for Honiara.
The appointed Councillors will also work on changing the electoral system ahead of the conduct of a new election to elect new Councillors.
May I further suggest that the new system must return councillors who are representative of the diversity of the different cultural groups that call Honiara home.
This would imply that universal suffrage won’t work, as we have seen.
Instead, the ballot will be based on segregated suffrage which would allow councillors to be elected on the basis of their cultural origins.
So the new electoral system will be based on the usual election requirements, except the actual voting, which will, in the new system occur on cultural lines (hence the name segregated voting).
So for example, the Chinese community will have a rep and only members of the Chinese community will elect their representative.
The other expat community will also have their rep, and only them will be able to vote for their rep, no one else.
All communities in Honiara, Temotu, Makira/Ulawa, Malaita, Central, Isabel, Western, Choiseul, Renbel, will have their reps in the Honiara City Council, but only members of their own respective community will vote for their specific representative.
All will have one rep each except for Guadalcanal, which in recognition of her special status, shall have two reps in the HCC.
So in total the Council will have 12 councillors.
The results of the new change of course are that all communities (including our Chinese and other expat wantoks) in Honiara will be represented in the Council and that all councillors will be focused on developing Honiara as the capital, and not on the wards as currently is the case.
The wards of course will not lose out as these will be incorporated in the development programs of the three constituencies in Honiara.
In this way, the MPs will actually become involved with the development of Honiara in a more elaborate and concerted fashion than the current selective and disconcerted approach.
Finally, may I venture to even suggest that this new change will yield a durable solution that will motivate all Solomon Islanders living and working in Honiara feeling included in the governance of our capital city, and who knows may be the city will have a different outlook and fell to it – well planned, clean, modern and well governed, and respected capital city.
A far cry from what Honiara is today, a dirty, corrupted and unplanned urban sprawl of settlements and shanty suburbs.
Since Honiara is our capital city, it deserves better!
So it’s worth pursuing the proposed changes.