Residents of Leimātu’a have complained after queries directed at their MP ‘Akosita Lavulavu during a parliamentary meeting were answered by her husband ‘Etuate Lavulavu.
Reliable sources told Kaniva news that residents repeatedly told ousted MP and Cabinet Minister ‘Etuate Lavulavu during the meeting they did not want him to answer their questions because he was not a member or staff of Parliament.
‘Etuate was also accused of interfering, altering the meeting’s agenda and pushing to close the meeting after a request to keep the meeting open because the people still had questions to ask their MP.
When asked for comment by Kaniva News, ‘Etuate denied the accusations and said the people at the meeting were just making fun.
The incident happened last Saturday during the annual parliamentary meeting in Vava’u 16’s Leimātu’a constituency.
The meeting was held as part of Parliament’s annual visit to constituencies which gives voters the opportunity to talk to their MPs about projects created using their constituency funding and tell their MPs what they wanted.
The Leimātu’a residents asked MP Akosita to explain a number of issues including a trip to China and the government’s roading project but at some stages ‘Akosita allowed her husband ‘Etuate to answer the questions for her, a reliable source told Kaniva News.
The source said some who attended the meeting were disappointed by ‘Etuate’s action.
‘Etuate was also accused of trying to dominate those who spoke at the meeting.
“ ’Etuate was just like someone who was brought to the meeting to cover for the MP when she could not answer the constituents’ queries,” our source said.
After the meeting some of the men who attended the meeting discussed their disappointments with ‘Etuate during an evening kava session in Leimātu’a, the source said.
A copy of the agenda for the meeting, seen by Kaniva News, showed that at the end of the meeting, a speech from the village was scheduled to be delivered by the Leimātu’a town officer.
The source said this was changed and the delivery of the speech was assigned to Ma’u ‘I Vaihoi, one of the Leimātu’a heralds.
When it came to his turn, Vaihoi told MP ‘Akosita the people at the meeting still needed more time with her because they still had questions to ask, the source said. He asked Akosita to keep the meeting open.
But ‘Etuate stood up and apologised to Vaihoi and the meeting before he signalled to another man, the district officer, to say the vote of thanks before the meeting was closed for the day, the source said.
“It was suspicious why he was trying to end the meeting while the residents still have questions to ask,” he said.
‘Etuate, also from Leimātu’a, downplayed his constituents’ concerns and complaints.
He told Kaniva News that what had happened during the meeting was done in jest and claimed the accusations against him were not true.
He said Leimātu’a people were humorous people and they were just making fun of him just to make the meeting laugh.
“It’s normal to make fun against each other,” ‘Etuate said.
“They just made fun of me, but at the same time their hearts were full of love and happiness for their MP ‘Akosita Lavulavu.”
Parliamentary Chief Clerk Gloria Pōle’o told Kaniva News the meeting in Leimātu’a ended peacefully.
She said this has been confirmed to her by two Parliamentary staff who were at the gathering..
She said the parliamentary meetings were recorded in full and would be reported to the House by each MP before they were broadcast on air and made available in Hansard.
“The purpose of the meeting was for the people of the constituency to meet and directly gave their MP whatever they wanted and the MP must be accountable to them,” Pōle’o said.