SODELPA Crisis Soars

Another SODELPA showdown looms tomorrow between the reformers and the old guard when the management board meets in Suva. Issues the board will discuss include:  The haphazard way in
22 Oct 2015 12:58
SODELPA Crisis Soars

Another SODELPA showdown looms tomorrow between the reformers and the old guard when the management board meets in Suva.

Issues the board will discuss include:

 The haphazard way in which the Opposition leader Ro Teimumu’s tour of the North was organized resulting in an embarrassing situation in Savusavu

 Finalising the details before the position of party leader is advertised to replace Ro Teimumu

 Reaffirming the appointment of MP and chartered accountant Aseri Radrodro as SODELPA’s chairman of finance, replacing Mere Samisoni despite some opposition from within

 Implementing the recommendations of the Disciplinary Committee after an inquiry report about the controversial and confidential Gaunavinaka report.

 Implementing fully the recommendations adopted at the last special general meeting about the new provisions in the party’s amended constitution.

 Articulating latest political developments regarding Sitiveni Rabuka’s increased community activities in the North.

 The possibility of a new political party formed by party dissidents if deep divisions in party not resolved

 The role of chiefs in politics. Are they valuable assets or a liability to the party in the lead-up to the 2018 general election?


Ro Teimumu’s North Tour

Many party officials were taken by surprise by the tour. Those in Vanua Levu are disappointed claiming that they were not consulted.

They claimed it was disorganized and they were ashamed with the way it turned out.

In Savusavu, the provincial administrator there denied they shut out Ro Teimumu as alleged by MP Niko Nawaikula who posted the progress of the tour on his Facebook page.

Party officials are questioning the object of the exercise although Mr Nawaikula has stated that the tour was to check out development projects promised by the FijiFirst Government.

Some say it has done more damage than good, upsetting party officials and workers there who strongly felt that they knew what was happening in their electorates than anyone else.

If she had contacted them they would have given her an accurate assessment. They are not happy with Mr Nawaikula, saying he should have known better because he is from Vanua Levu.


Party leader

The management board is keen that the appointment of a new party leader is processed as soon as it’s practicable. It has given itself a timeframe of up to June by which time Ro Teimumu’s replacement is on board.


Chairman of Finance

Mr Radrodro was appointed recently as SODELPA chairman replacing businesswoman Mere Samisoni. But the appointment did not go down well with the old guard. He represents the reformers trying to position the party to give FijiFirst credible challenge in the 2018 general election.

He was one of the five MPs who filed a petition calling on the management board to conduct an inquiry to examine issues raised in the Gaunavinaka Report. The report was critical of the leadership of Ro Teimumu and the governance of the Opposition Office.


Disciplinary Committee

The Disciplinary Committee has made recommendations on an inquiry report into the Gaunavinaka Report. It is understood that the Opposition Office refuted 48 issues in the report which was compiled after an audit. The inquiry into the report was headed by Anare Jale and handed to the Disciplinary Committee headed by former diplomat Emitai Boladuadua and academic Tupeni Baba.

Their report has identified a number of breaches and recommended the appropriate action that needs to be taken. Mr Baba’s status will also be discussed after a complaint was made against Opposition Whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca. Ratu Isoa nominated Mr Baba when he is also named in the Gaunavinaka Report so there was an conflict of interest issue, it is alleged.


New Political Party

Sitiveni Rabuka, a former prime minister, has dismissed speculation that he may return to SODELPA or form a new political party. He said: “I am no longer interested in that party, that door has already been closed and I have no intention to become the leader of the party.

“Yes I have been involving myself in community work and I won’t deny that but with no political intentions at all. I have no intentions to form a political party to stand in the next upcoming elections. What i am doing is just community work.”

There has speculation in the party of the possibility of a new party being formed by Mr Rabuka. The former prime minister has been busy helping rugby clubs and communities in the North.

If SODELPA cannot put its act together Mr Rabuka could pull dissidents to his proposed party, according to party insiders. However, there is a strong lobby in SODELPA that feels that Mr Rabuka would be the ideal replacement for Ro Teimumu. He would feel more comfortable leading the party into 2018 without Ro Teimumu in the party.

Ro Teimumu has indicated that she may not be available for the next election. Historically, some current SODELPA members or their families were members of Mr Rabuka’s SVT Party. With the demise of SVT, they joined Laisenia Qarase’s SDL Party before transitioning to SODELPA.


Chiefs’ Role in Politics

Because of the cultural sensitivities that go with chiefs into the political arena, there is a growing movement in the party that wants chiefs to play a low profile role to avoid controversies. The Jese Sikivou letter in support of Ro Teimumu from the so called Vanua of Rewa has been labelled as a precedent. The reformers do not want a repetition and the only way out is to keep chiefs away from the frontline. They will face the traditionalists in the party.

The question they will address is: Are chiefs an asset or liability to the party leadership?








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