Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau says they’re far from dead
By ROSI DOVIVERATA
There is a glimmer of possibility that the spirit of Green will be back for the September 2014 election.
Green Party of Fiji founder and former Minister for the Environment in the Bainimarama-led Government,
Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau, says they are regrouping.
She said: “We are not as big in numbers as our older and more experienced political parties and neither do we have former political leaders or ‘warlords’ as the other parties but we do have young minds and energy and that is gratifying and gives us a lot of hope.”
The Green Party was formed in November 2008.
Like most green parties around the world, the party follows principles of ecological wisdom, social justice and non-violence participation democracy and sustainability.
The recent requirement for the Registrar of Political Parties, Mohammed Saneem, to deregister any political party that does not comply with the decree has only brought a Greens response.
“Because we are deregistered doesn’t mean we curl up and die,” Mrs Rounds-Ganilau said.
“The spirit of “Green” is still inherent in our members and you can’t stop that. The media release … on the deregistration of parties has also brought us a new wave of interested persons, and for other members of the community who never thought the other parties were still in existence.
“So our spirit and values are still very much alive.”
According to Mrs Rounds-Ganilau the Green Party of Fiji started after her short term as the Minister for the Environment in 2008.
“Because there was an interest in Green philosophy and some of our citizens were concerned at the growing lethargy towards environmental preservation despite us ratifying or signing various conventions and protocols.
“We wrote our own charter and constitution based on international green philosophies and so it’s homegrown and applies to us in Fiji.”
She said Fiji still needs to green its legislations and regulations. Fijians need to be serious about it and not be swayed in the name of so called development in the degradation of our coastal areas, marine life and forests.
Earlier this year, Mrs Rounds-Ganilau had publicly stated that she was approached by a few political leaders to consider joining a united political party.
This would mean that the new united party will be able to meet the criteria of the Political Parties Decree.
However, the report said Mrs Rounds-Ganilau was hesitant as she was not willing to lose the identity of her party.
Now serving in various non-governmental and community organisations like the Fiji Loloma Foundation and Home of Compassion, Mrs Rounds-Ganilau, talks about her political experience.
WHAT GOT HER INTO POLITICS?
“Women. Because I worked as an NGO and worked with many women and worked many years as a communicator in the media. I was constantly being asked if I would ever go into politics.
“I was never interested as I thought all politicians were crooked.
And then I thought to myself “so what was I going to do about it – continue to have this perception or try to do something about it?
“It took me only three months to make up my mind – and that was it, and I ran for the first time in 2006.”
Mrs Rounds-Ganilau contested and won the Suva City General Communal Constituency for the United Peoples Party defeating independent candidate, Kenneth Zinck.
Prior to this election, Mr Zink was the Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Productivity in the Laisenia Qarase government.
“I was privileged and honoured to work with great political veterans and pioneers like Vincent Lobendahn and Fred Caine and from behind the scenes, an amazing political strategist, Vero Jang.
“What a team – they in turn had their own chosen and trained personnel. The volunteers that helped me along the way were amazing – and Mary Nelson was dynamic with her fundraising and assistance.
“When the votes were counted, I was in Beqa building a smokeless stove and doing a jewellery workshop with the ladies of Lalati village so I didn’t know until much later that I had won. All other memories were good as I was serving my country and I was voted in democratically.
“I can’t recall. I lost friends and relatives who objected to my joining the military government and that’s to be expected.
“But more importantly I experienced and felt the unwavering strength and loyalty of others, particularly my dear late husband Rabici and my close family members and friends and that was something very very precious that I still hold dear to my heart.
“As the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations I was called on to resign several times by the trade unions when talks broke down during the nurses’ strike, but these are situations you expect when you take on public office, and especially during those challenging times.”
Mrs Rounds-Ganilau’s resilience can be attributed to her 30 years of work in NGOs where she “did the hard yards.“So challenges and criticism were not new to me.”
“As a democratically elected parliamentarian, none whatsoever.
“As a member of the military government at the time, I did what I did at the encouragement of my constituents and campaign team as I was the only ‘general’ voice in the Cabinet line-up.”
WOMEN POLITICIANS YOU MOST ADMIRE?
“Adi Losalini Dovi, Irene Jai Narayan and Maureen Rouse – three amazing women who served in Parliament and local government at the same time in the 1970s – women from different ethnic and religious backgrounds but who all had the one goal – a truly better Fiji for all.”
Five attributes needed in aspiring women politicians?
Believe in yourself! Believe in yourself! Believe in yourself! Believe in yourself!