By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 17 NOVEMBER 2020: The village of Palauli, Savai’i has banished their Member of Parliament, Tuifa’asisina Misa Lisati from the village and opted to support his younger brother, Aiolupotea Toni Palemene as their candidate for next year’s general election.
The MP was banished in a village meeting last Saturday.
The brothers have taken their differences to court and Tuifa’asisina is challenging his brothers’ eligibility as an electoral candidate as well as the Electoral Commissioners decision to accept the candidacy.
Both are running against five others for Palauli 3 electoral constituency under the Human Rights Protection Party flag.
Tuifa’asisina believes that his brother is not eligible to run as he has not satisfied the 3 years monotaga requirement and should not have been accepted by the electoral office as a candidate.
However, counsel for Aiolupotea, Fuimaono Sarona Ponifasio pointed out to Tuifa’asisina that the complaint was lodged on the basis that he was banned from the village, and that the village have rendered support behind Aiolupotea.
In July 2020, the village met to discuss the issue of their Parliamentary seat and to choose a candidate.
Tuifa’asisina confirmed that he was asked by the village decision makers to leave the meeting and wait at the other house as the meeting continued.
In the meeting, the village agreed for Aiolupotea to be their candidate in the general election, and later presented Aiolupotea to be registered as an HRPP candidate.
“I put it to you that you lodged the complaint because you were not happy with the village decision and so you wanted to tarnish Aiolupotea’s chances,”asked Fuimaono.
Tuifa’asisina responded that the village was not fully represented in the meeting.
Fuimaono was quick to ask Tuifa’asisina if all three high chiefs – Tu’ua of the village were present at this meeting and Tuifa’asisina said “yes”.
“They are the ones who decide on the village affairs,” and again Tuifa’asisina said “yes”.
Village secretary’s monotaga record
The village secretary Autagavaia Mu testified that Aiolupotea does not render service (monotaga) to the village, but according to Fuimaono, her clients monotaga is performed by Tuifa’asisina Iakopo, a relative who resides in the village.
No according to the Secretary’s book that records village matais contributions – Api o Monotaga.
Tuifa’asisina Misa also testified that in 2019, Aiolupotea told him that he wanted to resume his tautua to the village but did not have the money to do it.
“I advised him that once he got the money then inform him so both can go and relay his wishes,” said Tuifa’asisina.
They met with Faleao, the village Tuua and presented $2000 as a means of resuming Aiolupotea’s monotaga in the village, according to Tuifa’asisina’s account.
He emphasised the fact that if his brother was rendering service, then he would not have asked him to approach Faleao for the purpose of resuming his service.
But the secretary testified that the $2000 was to start Aiolupotea’s monotaga.
Both Aiolupotea and Tuifa’asisina Misa do not render monotaga osi (for matais residing in the village), but monotaga ai-tau-malele – as both reside in Upolu and someone residing in the village is rendering service on their behalf.
For Aiolupotea, this service is rendered by Tuifa’asisina Iakopo and for Tuifa’asisina Misa, the monotaga is performed by his sister.
Justice Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma asked Tuifa’asisina if he accepted that a relative can render service on someone else behalf to which Tuifa’asisina agreed.
The case continues.