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ANALYSIS: SODELPA Woes Complicated

The simmering internal SODELPA row has been festering for awhile. It is complicated because it cuts across traditional allegiances and cultural sensitivities. At the centre are the Tui Cakau and
15 Aug 2015 11:35
ANALYSIS: SODELPA Woes Complicated

The simmering internal SODELPA row has been festering for awhile.

It is complicated because it cuts across traditional allegiances and cultural sensitivities.

At the centre are the Tui Cakau and SODELPA president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu and Ro Teimumu Kepa, the Roko Tui Dreketi (Paramount  Chief of Rewa Province and Burebasaga Confederacy). Two rival groups have emerged, one supporting Ratu Naiqama and the second favouring Ro Teimumu.

But the problem with SODELPA goes back to the pre-election period.

The exposure of a confidential report this week, critical of the Opposition Office, Ro Teimumu and others,  has forced things into the open. Underpinning the problem are the following: Refer to inforgraphic:

WHO IS IN CHARGE?

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu is party president. Opposition leader Ro Teimumu is the parliamentary party leader.

The party will soon discuss constitutional changes to clearly define the roles of the president and the parliamentary party leader and determine the overall chief.

It is likely that Ratu Naiqama will be the overall chief.

FUTURE SCENARIOS

  • Collision course. If the two rival factions continue on their current path they will head to a showdown. And that could mean a leadership challenge. But with Ratu Naiqama still on suspension from Parliament until 2017, it could complicate matters for his group.
  • Truce, bury differences and rebuild. Ratu Naiqama and Ro Teimumu could call a truce, resolve their differences and rebuild the party. But it looks difficult at this stage with the action on confidential report still pending.
  • Report Fallout. The confidential report about the Opposition Office, Ro Teimumu and others is going to be a key document in the process of formulating a strategic plan for the 2018 general election. It cannot be swept under the carpet.

The management board is expected to meet soon to discuss the content of the report, which among other things, calls for Ro Teimumu to step down.

There could be casualties. Already, MP Mosese Bulitavu has given the party seven days to establish the truth in the report. He has threatened to resign in protest as a matter of principle if his demand is not met.

Five Causes

– Personality differences. The strong personalities of some of the politicians made it impossible for an enduring unity.

– Political agendas. The former president, Silivenusi Waqausa, alluded to the different political agendas that politicians brought to the party. They made it difficult for the party to achieve its goals.

– Flexibility. There was a lack of it. It was difficult to get things going and it became frustrating  for those in-the field workers

– Lack of funds. It became evident early in the run-up to the election that there was just not enough cash to run an effective campaign. Many of those politicians  had to dig deep into their own pockets. This was compounded after the election when differences arose over the Government allocation of $225,000 for SODELPA Opposition parliamentary group.

– Demarcation line between Opposition Office and party headquarters blurred. It led to a communication breakdown, misunderstanding, differences and tension. Party HQ felt it had been left out in the cold because of lack of consultation on major decisions.

Leadership styles Ratu Naiqama & Ro Teimumu

– Ratu Naiqama is a leader in waiting and Ro Teimumu knows that.

– Whether that played a crucial role in her decision not to vote for Ratu Naiqama in the party presidential election is not clear.

– She voted for Anare Jale,  instead. Yes, Mick Beddoes would put a spin on it and say it’s all part of the democratic process. But it didn’t look good and fuelled speculation that the two didn’t see eye-to-eye. Subsequent events proved it.

– The recent letter from Ratu Naiqama to Ro Teimumu, criticising the Opposition Office statement on the resignation of Mosese Tikoitoga as Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander, underscored the tension between the two leaders.

– Ratu Naiqama said the party should have been consulted. It was not the first time.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 



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