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Who Is The Leader? Ro Teimumu Or Ratu Naiqama?

Who Is The Leader?  Ro Teimumu Or Ratu Naiqama?
October 20
12:20 2014

The Leader of the Opposition, Ro Teimumu Kepa, has set a surprise precedent.

She has foregone the shadow prime minister portfolio and handed it to Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, who will have to contend with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on iTaukei Affairs and Sugar.

Questions have been asked internally within the parliamentary caucus and the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) about the allocation of the PM’s portfolio to Ratu Naiqama.

Many in the party and the caucus wanted Ro Teimumu to stamp her mark as the alternative prime minister by taking on Mr Bainimarama.

She ignored the advice and decided to take the Ministry for Education, Heritage and Arts, which she held under Laisenia Qarase’s SDL government.

Party insiders say this may suggest that she is not confident of facing off with the PM. Members of the party caucus were prepared to rally around her and support her so that she could fulfill that responsibility.

Many were surprised that she failed to accept the challenge. They felt that she could have grown into the job just like Mr Bainimarama who had to learn along the way to become what he is today.

The question now being asked is: “Will she be there in the next election?”

Party insiders say according to the SODELPA constitution, the role of party leader is reviewed after an election if the party loses.

The national executive members in the management board decided to reappoint her.

It has been the convention previously that whoever is the Leader of the Opposition is the shadow prime minister.

The delay in announcing the list of shadow Cabinet ministers is attributed to the discussion over the appointments.

Even the appointment of Dr Biman Prasad as chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee was questioned because of the lack of consultation. The caucus was not unanimous.

Questions are also asked about Ro Teimumu’s policy advisers. Who is advising her?

The Leader of the Opposition office secretariat is under the spotlight. Party members want transparency and accountability in the selection process. Mick Beddoes’ ‘appointment’ came as a surprise to many. There are six positions up for grabs. The seventh, the chief administration officer, is earmarked for Mr Beddoes. His ‘assistant’ Laufitu Malani, a former Public Accounts Committee member, is reportedly tipped for one of the six posts. Her role has also been questioned.

Unconfirmed reports say Mr Beddoes could be earning more than $39,000 when his appointment is formalised. Until then, he is being paid allowances by the party and the MPs.

The MPs were surprised last Thursday when they were asked to contribute a minimum of $100 towards the Beddoes fund. They paid between $100 and $200.

Now they are asking how long will this arrangement continue? It has also upset some volunteers in the party headquarters who feel they have been forgotten.

They felt that a token payment would help offset some of their expenses and show that the party cares.

The cost of setting up and maintaining the secretariat will be borne by the Government. A budget has been set. It is understood Government is waiting for the Opposition office to submit the list of the seven officers who will include researchers.

Expressions of interests have been invited and applications will go through a transparent selection process.

Anare Jale, a former permanent secretary, who failed the qualification test to stand for SODELPA in the election, has been tipped as a key member of the selection board.

Ro Teimumu, has not started on a positive note as Opposition leader because of all these negative signals.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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