NEWS

SODELPA Still Has Big Mountain To Climb

Members disillusioned by infighting are already thinking about their exit strategy An attempt to pardon everyone in the SODELPA row over the controversial Gaunavinaka Report was partially achieved on Saturday.
07 Dec 2015 10:45
SODELPA Still Has Big Mountain To Climb

Members disillusioned by infighting are already thinking about their exit strategy

An attempt to pardon everyone in the SODELPA row over the controversial Gaunavinaka Report was partially achieved on Saturday.

The party’s  management board pardoned outspoken SODELPA Opposition MP and lawyer Mosese Bulitavu, referred to by some in the party as a rebel, has been pardoned.

The four MPs, Semesa Karavaki, Mikaele Leawere, Ro Kiniviliame Kiliraki and Aseri Radrodro, who supported him and called for an inquiry were also cleared of any wrongdoing.

But a decision on Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa and her adviser, Mick Beddoes, the principal administration officer in the Opposition Office, has been deferred to next month. This was decided after the board was presented a report by the disciplinary committee headed by  Tupeni Baba and former diplomat Emitai Boladuadua.

The committee had examined the findings of an investigation team led by Anare Jale.

The team analysed the Gaunavinaka Report which was critical of the governance of the Opposition Office and the leadership of Ro Teimumu.

It recommended the closing of the  SODELPA Opposition’s new bank account and the transfer of remaining funds to the party’s main account. It also recommended that all Opposition Office staff wages/salaries be paid from the party’s main account.

The team endorsed several other issues raised by the Gaunavinaka Report.

It is understood that the Baba-Boladuadua report was out of kilter with the findings by Mr Jale’s investigation team.

The report should have recommended the sort of action that should be taken based on the findings. Instead, it is understood the report raised new questions, making the whole process complicated and confusing.

In a way it watered down the Mr Jale report. Members of the management board then decided to postpone their deliberations on the matter to the New Year.

The delay has upset those who were expecting a definite decision by the board.

These are party members who support reforms and want an end to the internal bickering.

One member said: “Let’s get on with the task of cleaning up the party and preparing for the 2018 general election. We are wasting time, energy and money fighting among ourselves.”

The need for a shakeup in the Opposition Office was also raised at an earlier special general meeting of the party.

It was part of sweeping  changes and in an amended party constitution which was passed. The party has hardly started implementing those changes and questions are now being asked when they will begin.

Positions in the Opposition Office are supposed to be advertised and present holders can apply.

The main hurdle to progress is the standoff between the reformers and the old guard who have resisted the changes.

The old guard form a powerful bloc which consists of the chiefs in the parliamentary caucus, Ro Teimumu, Ratu Sela Nanovo, Ratu Isoa Tikoca and Ratu Suliano Matanitobua.

It is still unclear where suspended MP SODELPA president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu sits. He had proposed that everyone is pardoned for their mistakes in a bid to

Party insiders say  Ratu Naiqama will side with the chiefs when it comes to the crunch to preserve the traditional influence.

In the end it could be the chiefs versus the commoners. Already, sensing that things could get worse, some party members are already looking at their own exit strategy.

They feel disillusioned by the in-fighting, saying there is no point in hanging around. One thing is clear – SODELPA still has a big mountain to climb.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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