Integrity Fiji has gained its first step towards accreditation as a chapter of Transparency International. This signals a long fight to get the chapter recognised by the international body. It is now recognised as a national contact.
The previous Fiji chapter of Transparency International - Fiji resigned from the international movement some five years ago after some internal issues.
Thanks to the leadership of Mr Joseph Veramu and his board led by Jofiliti Vaikoso, Integrity Fiji was formed to rebuild a chapter and has received national contact status, the first step in achieving accreditation.
Mr Veramu is a well-known educator in Fiji and has worked tirelessly to get this far. He focused on building membership though youth and formed a subgroup of Integrity Fiji called Youths for integrity.
It’s a very active group of youth who spend their weekends and after school and university developing anti-corruption material including plays, songs and dances and then making videos which they perform and distribute on their social media sites. Joseph often makes an appearance in those videos along with other board members. The following of Youths for Integrity is in the thousands.
Joseph and his Board were determined to gain accreditation with Transparency International. But with no money or permanent staff it was a struggle. However thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in particular one of the managers, Mr Leonard Chan they secured enough funding to pay a small stipend so Joseph could concentrate on accreditation. They were also able to pay for selected TINZ members to visit Fiji and assist in developing the structure and policies needed.
While doing all this their profile has been built not just with youth but also with government departments, NGOs, academia and churches - all of which were online to support the announcement that achieving national contact status has been granted.
Jofiliti Vaikoso, Chair of Integrity Fiji said he didn’t imagine that the group would get this far when they first came together to advocate for transparency and accountability in Fiji.
“We didn’t have any funding at all. We used our own resources, engaged on digital and traditional media on anti-corruption seeing the need for it. We learnt to be courageous such as we did with the draconian police bill that was put out in parliament which we successfully stopped going through in its current form.”
Daniel Eriksson, CEO of Transparency International recognised the strength of Integrity Fiji is their youth programming. “Youth is where we have the best chance to ensure that the next generation does not accept any form of corruption and that corruption is seen as the dirt that it is. We hope the rest of the global movement will be able to draw on the lessons that Integrity Fiji have accumulated successfully working with youth”
This was echoed by Transparency International New Zealand Life Member Claire Johnstone who has worked alongside Integrity Fiji for a number of years.
“Youth For Integrity, your energy, enthusiasm and creativity is outstanding. You are the young leaders of the future and you are already setting the agenda for what the future for Fiji is. Congratulations to Joseph, the Board and all its members.”