Analysis | Opinion

ANALYSIS: Ratu Naiqama’s Challenge

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu flies into a political firestorm on Tuesday. It’s the day the SODELPA president arrives back in the country after attending weeks of fundraising activities and advocacy work
23 Aug 2015 10:00
ANALYSIS: Ratu Naiqama’s Challenge

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu flies into a political firestorm on Tuesday.

It’s the day the SODELPA president arrives back in the country after attending weeks of fundraising activities and advocacy work in the United States and Australia.

Ratu Naiqama’s first official engagement will be convening the management board meeting to discuss the controversial confidential report which has split the party.

The report is critical of Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa’s leadership and the Opposition Office governance. When Ratu Naiqama arrives in Suva, he will be briefed by party general secretary Pio Tabaiwalu and a meeting time will be set. It is expected to be next week.

This is his first real test as president and it will indicate whether he has what it takes to lead the party into the 2018 general election when he returns to Parliament in 2017 after his suspension.

He needs to show decisive leadership and conduct an inquiry to find out the accuracy and integrity of the report and take the appropriate action as stipulated by the party constitution.

He should not be influenced by either the Ro Teimumu’s group or the Mosese Bulitavu faction.

Mr Bulitavu and four other SODELPA MPs, Ro Kiniviliame Kiliraki, Semesa Karavaki, Aseri Radrodro and Mikaele Leawere have asked the board to institute an inquiry into the report.

Mr Beddoes, who is named in the report as one of the people who should go, has filed a complaint against Mr Bulitavu.

Whichever way the inquiry will go, it is expected to affect party support. But it is generally felt that it’s better to sort out the row now then let it fester and develop into a major problem that will be hard to resolve.

As it is, Ratu Naiqama would wish he was not in this position.

After his successful overseas trip, where he consolidated support and fundraised for the party coffers, he has returned home to a divided house.

Incidentally, in his last fundraising activity in Sydney before flying home, the event was sold for A$50 a ticket limited to 200 people. A$10,000 would have been collected. If there were 10 events, the party would have got A$100,000 (about F$156,000). The funds would help kick-start its election campaign. Lack of funds was one of the problems for the party in last year’s general election

On the inquiry, Ratu Naiqama knows he cannot sweep the report under the carpet. He would get to the bottom of it and at the end try to get the two factions to bury their differences.

In the run-up to 2018, he needs unity not division.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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