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Opinion, Opinion

Wish List Part of SODELPA Applicant Lineup for Elections

Wish List Part of SODELPA Applicant Lineup for Elections
Sitiveni Rabuka
April 18
11:00 2017

It’s become apparent that the SODELPA list of applicants for election tickets is a mixture of a ‘wish list’ and those who actually applied.

The list of 110 names was published in Saturday’s Fiji Sun.

The wish list includes those who have not formally submitted their applications to stand for the 2018 general election.

They are those who:

  •  might have been head-hunted and approached to apply
  •  had informal discussions with party representatives to apply
  •  gave an expression of interest, verbally or in writing
  •  Hadn’t been contacted but to be approached later.

Academic Jone Dakuvula, Reverend Orisi Terei of Navuso Technical College, and Lynda Tabua, the new leader of the People’s Democratic Party are in this group

Rabuka in the US

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka said in the US that there were people in the party who did not like him as leader but he would press on.

There is concern here about the mixed message he had given to US supporters. While he was pandering to SOPELPA’s pro-indigenous supporters there, some party members are concerned about the difference in the leader’s messaging.

In Fiji, he hardly talks about those issues he responded to in the US. In fact, here he has been advocating a multiracial line, watering down the strong pro-indigenous lobby which influenced the party’s main platform in the 2014 general election. It’s part of his advocacy to broaden the party’s policy base and appeal to other races to join the party.

But in the US he has played right into the hands of the pro-indigenous movement who keep going back to 1987 and 2000.

It raises the question about the party’s manifesto for the 2018 general election because the issues raised in the US were in the 2014 election manifesto. Will these issues be part of the 2018 manifesto?

Great Council of Chiefs (GCC)

Mr Rabuka said in the US the position of the party on this issue was not for “sentimental reasons”. He said it was for “practical reasons.” He praised the GCC as a stabilising body.

“It has been a voice of reason and voice of moderation,” he said.

He said we could not afford to ignore the wisdom of the chiefs. He said it was the GCC that ceded Fiji to Great Britain in 1874.

He said it was the GCC that advised the Alliance Party on the 1970 Constitution. He said it was the GCC that steadied the ship after the turbulence of 1987 and 2000.  Mr Rabuka said the GCC also contributed to the 1990 and 1997 Constitutions.

Mr Rabuka, who led the first military coup in 1987, said there were chiefs who supported. There were other chiefs who opposed him on matters of principles, he added.

The chiefs eventually resolved the situation in the “vakaturaga way” or chiefly way, reaching an agreement.

  • Fact: What Mr Rabuka’s statement means is that some chiefs had supported him to the overthrow a democratically elected government. That was an act of treason and it confirmed that the GCC was a hotbed for politics and its abolition was justified.

If it was the voice of reason and wisdom, it would have advised against any treasonous acts. They gave the Rabuka regime legitimacy and the support to grow.

It caused deep ethnic divisions and racial animosity. It also caused a major blow to the economy and sent some of our top brains and professionals to flee and seek safer countries. In hindsight that first coup should not have happened.

Qoliqoli Bill

Mr Rabuka said the resolution of the Qoliqoli Bill was still outstanding. He said qoliqoli boundaries should be allocated to the iTaukei so they could have rights over their fisheries just like their land.

iTaukei Land Trust Board

Mr Rabuka said Government was in control of TLTB. He claimed there was no voice of the vanua (landowners) because the entrenched provisions that existed in the previous constitutions were no longer there.

  • Fact: But the preamble of the Constitution recognises the indigenous people or iTaukei, their ownership of iTaukei lands, their unique culture, customs and traditions. This is further spelt out under Section 28 (1) (2). Any amendment to the Constitution would have to be passed first by Parliament. Then the Speaker refers the Bill to the President who refers it the Electoral Commission to conduct a national referendum for all registered voters. The Bill requires three quarters or seven five per cent voting for it before it is passed. It is highly unlikely that Parliament will pass a Bill depriving iTaukei landowners of their rights to their land and resources. So there is no basis of fear over iTaukei land and their rights, especially under Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s watch. He is also an iTaukei landowner too.

iTaukei scholarship

Mr Rabuka said they supported the then Fijian Affairs Board Scholarship. It was designed to help iTaukei students from villages who could not afford to pay their way and who might miss out from mainstream assistance.

  •  Fact: However, it is understood that system did not benefit a cross section of iTaukei, bringing the selection criteria into question. There was a perception that most of the beneficiaries came from the elites. It would be interesting to find out the success rate of the scheme in an audit. Today iTaukei students have more choices like everybody else to pursue tertiary education. They can qualify for the Toppers and TELS (Tertiary Education Loans Scheme) to enroll at any tertiary institution in Fiji. Those who cannot make it there, can enrol at technical colleges and do vocational training.

Voice of iTaukei

Mr Rabuka said the voice of the pro-indigenous iTaukei would be heard if they elected a government that was sympathetic to their cause. He said that it was the only way to re-establish their rights as indigenous people.

  • Fact: This is an erroneous perception by people who do not live here. The fact is iTaukei rights are intact and iTaukei have never been in a better position than ever before to take advantage of the numerous development initiatives by Government.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  nemani.delaibataiki@fijisun.com.fj

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