By Michael Field
Here is a strange thing: why is Voreqe Bainimarama against hot bread?
Dictators always like to micro-manage, it is a central piece of their reasoning. The poor souls can trust no one, so they have to crush all possibilities threatening them. It also means while serious big issues – like a collapsing economy – have to be put aside to deal with the small ones.
One such is the Hot Bread Kitchen chain, one of the few really successful trading operations in Fiji.
The other day police arrived at the Hot Bread Shop with a big order – close.
The order came from The Dictator.
In a little noticed act of bravery, the staff replied that as there was no written authority to do such a thing, they would ignore it.
They would perform the radical act of selling bread.
Of course it was not the bread at issue; the fact is the shops are owned by Mere Samisoni – the overthrown but democratically elected MP for Lami.
She made the point that closing the bread shops would throw 500 people out of work. Each of the workers had between five to 10 people dependant on their wages to live.
As The Dictator has fired civil servants over the age of 55 – with the notable exception of the Aging Dictator Himself – the idea that so many people could lose their jobs was unpalatable.
Next day the police came and said the shops could stay open.
Word had come from the top; The Dictator, one images.
While this is a matter of some admiration, it is also a warning that some have not picked up on just yet.
It is the Mugabe Effect; Zimbabwe had a lot of shops and farms operated by people not inside the ruling clique. They were successful and made the country wealthy and self sufficient.
Mugabe seized them and gave them to his people.
Is this what The Dictator is doing – testing the possibilities of looting his own people?