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Analysis: Rabuka’s Strategy: Engage PM, A-G From Outside Parliament

Analysis: Rabuka’s Strategy: Engage PM, A-G From Outside Parliament
SODELPA Leader Sitveni Rabuka
July 10
13:09 2018

When SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka released his video on the Budget on the eve of the debate, he was targeting the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy.

Never mind the Opposition SODELPA Economy spokesperson Aseri Radrodro or even the Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa.

He wanted to engage PM Voreqe Bainimarama and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum from outside of Parliament.

Even though he does not sit in Parliament as a member, he can contribute in the debate from party headquarters.

He is acting as a parallel economy spokesperson for Opposition SODELPA.

Yesterday, he held a press conference at party headquarters in Suva to respond to a stinging response from Mr Bainimarama against his video presentation. This is exactly what he wants. He wants attention to increase his public profile. The tactic could be straight out from his book as a military strategist.

While he tries to minimise the collateral damage, that is a secondary consideration. His ultimate goal is to consolidate his leadership position.

Yesterday, he denied there was in-fighting and disagreement in SODELPA. Mr Rabuka is obviously unaware of what’s happening inside his party.

He said: “In a true democracy, people should be allowed to voice their disagreements and share their differences.”

He said they encouraged  freedom of expression even if it was against the party leader.

“I encourage members of the SODELPA family to share their opinions openly so that differences can be addressed through consultation and dialogue.”

But when Ro Teimumu spoke from the heart and expressed her concerns about the party’s refusal to pay $3000 of overtime to staff, Mr Rabuka called her irresponsible for making such statements as a high ranking party official.

His criticism of Ro Teimumu contradicted his statement yesterday.

Instead of commenting on the overtime issue,  his criticism was a personal attack on another leader.

For Mr Rabuka’s information, his attack was out of line and upset Ro Teimumu and her allies in the party.

He seemed to have glossed over the issue and thought it would magically go away. But, it wouldn’t unless he retracted his statement and apologised to her.

Mr Rabuka said: “While in SODELPA, I continue to embrace my slogan ie, ‘leadership that listens’ and encourages members to raise issues without fear of victimisation.

“The experience in the SODELPA General Assembly held two weeks ago is a clear indication of democracy at work where members are encouraged to share their concerns openly, despite the fact most of the issues raised were unconstitutional.”

If this was true, why did the party bring up the motion to expel Sainiana Radrodro, wife of SODELPA MP Aseri Radrodro.

The damage had been done before the motion was dropped. She had been humiliated for speaking her mind on social media.

Mr Rabuka had criticised FijiFirst, claiming that “if you don’t toe the line, you are either kicked out of the party or sidelined.

“Most members of the FijiFirst Party are reluctant to contribute or share their opinion to their party because they fear victimisation.”

In light of what he said after the party’s annual general meeting at Namoli Village in Lautoka, his words on freedom of expression ring hollow.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce


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