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THERE’S NO TURNING BACK FOR SODELPA

T here is no turning back for SODELPA. It either changes according to the approved reforms or heads down the path to self destruct. After Thursday’s management board meeting in
28 Nov 2015 10:19
THERE’S NO TURNING BACK FOR SODELPA

T
here is no turning back for SODELPA.
It either changes according to the approved reforms or heads down the path to self destruct.
After Thursday’s management board meeting in Suva, the stage is set for the board to start the clean-up campaign to bolster the party’s chances in the 2018 general election.
Major issues the party should focus on are leadership, accountability, transparency and service delivery.

Leadership race
 The process of accelerating Ro Teimumu Kepa’s exit from acting as party leader will begin in earnest after next Friday. The Leader of the Opposition tried to defend herself and the Opposition Office during Thursday’s management board meeting in Suva.
But she was told to leave the room so that board members could deliberate on the investigation team’s findings on the controversial Gaunavinaka Report which was critical of the Opposition Office governance.
The board endorsed a recommendation that SODELPA Opposition bank account be closed and the remaining balance be shifted to the party’s main account.

Contenders
 Aseri Radrodro is a strong contender as party leader and next Opposition Leader.
He has the credentials and the capability to steer the party away from the quagmire it is bogged down in right now. Since he has taken over as party finance chairperson, he has been cleaning up the systems and ensuring they comply with the law.
He will not compromise or bend the rules to please people, including some of his close associates.
To him, the people they serve in the electorates are more important than politics. He has stepped on a few toes but he walks around with a clear conscience.
He is one of a few SODELPA MPs who will challenge the leadership on certain issues.

 Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, the Tui Cakau and SODELPA president, has lost a lot of ground since his suspension from Parliament after making derogatory remarks against the Speaker, Dr Jiko Luveni.
His close links with the party’s old guard are attributed to his indecision at times. While he is articulate and captures attention when he speaks, he needs to be decisive in his decision-making.
 Other likely contenders are former career civil servants Anare Jale, Ratu Jone Yavala Kubuabola, and Opposition Whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca.
 The party leader position will be advertised soon and aspiring candidates must apply.

Governance
The findings of an investigation into the Gaunavinaka Report highlight some serious governance issues. Reforms passed at the last special general meeting, when implemented, will address these issues.
The Opposition Office will now be monitored closely by the party. It is required to regularly consult the party and report on its activities.
The amended party constitution carries sweeping changes designed to strengthen party’s preparation for 2018.

Future
If the next national election was held today FijiFirst will win by an even bigger majority because of SODELPA’s deep division between the reformers and the old guard.
There are indications that the old guard will not give in easily. The party dynamics are so fluid at the moment that it’s hard to say who has more votes in the parliamentary caucus or support among the voters.
As the reforms kick in, those backing them are determined to push them through.
There will be continued resistance from the old guard. The reformers are hoping that the opposition will eventually die out and allow the party to focus on its new strategy and campaign.

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