By MAIKELI SERU
A family of farmers in Muaniweni, Naitasiri, who say they were terrorised, assaulted and robbed during the height of the 2000 coup want Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to continue leading Fiji.
And, they were not alone in their call. Some students, who remember the events 12 years ago, and a village leader in the same province, echoed the same sentiments.
The farmers, whose homes were nearly burnt by so-called rebels, said Commodore Bainimarama and his Government had been fighting corruption in Fiji.
The students, on the other hand, said Government should continue because of free education.
They do not want a repeat of the events of 2000. They still remember and do not want to be traumatised again.
Meanwhile, Navatuvula Village eco-tourism committee president Savenaca Kubu said Government should continue because the tourism project given to them had become a lifesaver.
Muaniweni farmers; Vishal, 24, Vishwa, 40, Nitin Sivam, 17, and Ravinesh Naicker, 32, had just sent off a truckload of ginger to be sold in Suva when the Fiji Sun crew drove up their driveway.
They were resting on their home porch.
They are members of the Narayan family who have been farmers all their lives.
They told us their story of 2000. Their double-storey home was broken into at night by rebels.
They were assaulted, terrorised, and their groceries forcefully taken.
They said these happened when the household leader was in Suva for a funeral.
“It was terrifying. They took everything. They demanded money and took whatever they wanted, even the food we had and our groceries.
“They then told us to remain indoors and poured kerosene around and inside our kitchen which was the basement of our home. We were lucky that while pouring kerosene they wet the box of matches and could not light the fire. We were saved then, but the experience was terrifying.
“Developments are happening around the country. That is what the grassroots people want.
Commodore Bainimarama should continue because his Government is stopping corruption. Before, when we want something for our farm, or apply for loan, we have to pay money to bribe some people. Nowadays Government bans corruption and that helps us poor people,” Mr Naicker chipped in.
“We are not sure who to vote for, but if this Government stands, we will vote them because they help farmers like us. I had been National Federation Party supporter, not Labour Party because Mahendra Chaudhry is one-sided. He only helps farmers in the West. We want politicians who help everyone, not politicians who takes sides,” Vishwa said.
STUDENTS WANT FREE EDUCATION
Muaniweni students, Bunasoli Kionia and Ruci Talei, said free education now offered would help children of Fiji prosper in the future.
“I remember in 2000 that the Indo-Fijians from here were brought to our village in Naqali to be protected. We were all frightened because there was lawlessness. Now it is peaceful and we have free education. This Government should continue because through free education, some children whose parents are poor are attending school,” Miss Kionia said.
Mr Kubu said their eco-tourism had improved their lifestyle.
Yesterday there were busloads of tourists who were treated to iTaukei ceremonies and entertainment. Villagers were paid for being hosts.
“Before we work hard in our farms relying on ginger, dalo and cassava. Today we stay in the village and money is brought to us by these tourists. We have toilets which are tiled, good water system and clean home and a clean village.
This has been brought about by this Government. They should continue,” he said.