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Analysis: Rabuka Moves To Counter Opponents In SODELPA

Analysis: Rabuka Moves To Counter Opponents In SODELPA
SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka
July 13
14:11 2018

Sitiveni Rabuka is on the path to political self-destruction.

The SODELPA leader’s strategic move to purge the party of dissidents or rebels is likely to backfire on him and the party as it prepares for the 2018 general election.

Mr Rabuka and his most trusted ally, Lynda Tabuya, believe that they have enough support to be able to survive a leadership battle.

But contradictions on issues that have already been highlighted in this column don’t seem to ruffle the pair.

They have alienated some pioneers of the party with insensitive public statements such as calling Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa irresponsible in the debate over the party’s staff overtime row.

After maintaining that the party remains united contrary to public knowledge that it is not, he has confirmed that the party is divided.

He indirectly supported the division by deciding to respond to the 2018-2019 National Budget on the eve of the Parliament debate in a video without consulting with party’s MPs, including the Opposition SODELPA Economy spokesperson Aseri Radrodro.

He effectively stole the limelight from Mr Radrodro, who had guided the MPs in a Budget workshop last week before the debate.

It would be naïve for him to think that he would get away with it as he did with his criticism of Ro Teimumu.

They are two big issues that have driven the Rabuka-Tabuya and Ro Teimumu-Radrodro camps further apart.

The perceived increasing influence of Ms Tabuya in this internal conflict has exacerbated the situation.

She has been heavily criticised on social media for her role in defending Mr Rabuka.

Her critics are incensed that she is new to the party, but she is behaving as if she is number two to the party leader.

Even those who have taken the neutral position in this rift are beginning to express some doubts about Mr Rabuka’s leadership in the wake of his recent statements.

It appears he has taken the move to find a shadow leader and a deputy leader personally and has interpreted it as an attempt to oust him.

The idea was in a motion moved at the party’s annual general meeting at Namoli Village, Lautoka, on June 30, by the Naitasiri constituency.

While it was defeated, it obviously left a sour taste. The rationale behind it was that it should be part of a contingency plan in case Mr Rabuka loses his court case. The deputy proposal was to be filled by a representative of the youth voice.

But Mr Rabuka and supporters were not happy because the two motions represented a direct threat to his leadership.

The Budget and Ro Teimumu incidents were the first prominent public examples that he would counter his opponents. They are also signs of desperation.

Because of the internal opposition, he had sought and got outside allies from the Fiji Labour Party and People’s Democratic Party.

It is a replay of what happened in 1999 to the defunct Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT), which Mr Rabuka led as Prime Minister.

Despite reservations from within the party, Mr Rabuka went ahead and forged a coalition with Jai Ram Reddy’s National Federation Party.

The coalition suffered a heavy defeat in the election which resulted in FLP winning with a landslide victory and the swearing-in of Mahendra Chaudhry as the country’s first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister.

Ro Teimumu, Mr Radrodro and others will not respond to Mr Rabuka’s actions to minimise collateral damage to the party before the general election.

It is understood they do not want to be blamed for the fate that awaits the party if Mr Rabuka fails to change course.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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