Sodelpa’s Challenge

SODELPA must stamp its mark as an alternative government this year if it is to offer a credible challenge in the 2018 General Election. This means it should be united
10 Jan 2016 09:00
Sodelpa’s Challenge
Leader of the Opposition Ro Teimumu Kepa.

SODELPA must stamp its mark as an alternative government this year if it is to offer a credible challenge in the 2018 General Election.

This means it should be united and well-prepared to debate a raft of bills that will be introduced by the Government  starting on February 9.



With Mick Beddoes gone from the Opposition Office, the way is clear for the joint management board and parliamentary caucus committee to implement changes to lift the office performance.

It’s abundantly clear so far that party headquarters cannot be isolated from the Opposition Office. The two need to be working hand in hand, in consultation, to achieve optimum results.

That seldom happened. Advertisements are expected to go out soon for the 11 posts in the Opposition Office. The party is looking for suitably qualified research officers who would help SODELPA MPs give quality responses to Government’s positions on national issues.

The position of party leader should be filled by June to replace Ro Teimumu Kepa (pictured) who will ride out her time as Opposition Leader to the next election.

She had hand-picked Mr Beddoes for the top administrative job in the Opposition Office. She was not happy to see him go. If she had her way she would have kept him. It would be interesting to see how she would handle Mr Beddoes’ replacement.

Her loyal MPs like Viliame Gavoka have come out in defence of Mr Beddoes. In a Facebook posting, Mr Gavoka praised Mr Beddoes for his contribution to the party.

He said: “Mick was the personal choice of the Gone Marama Bale, Roko Tui Dreketi.

“The choice was applauded by the stalwarts in the party, who realised that with eight years without parliamentary democracy, there were very few operatives as accomplished as Mick to look after us.”

But other MPs and party officials think otherwise. They said Mr Beddoes’ utterances sounded good, but lacked substance which placed the party and Ro Teimumu in a precarious position on a number of occasions. One of those incidents attracted a strong reaction from party president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

Ratu Naiqama wrote to Ro Teimumu protesting the party’s weak response to the resignation of Mosese Tikoitoga as then Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

He also protested the Opposition’s decision in giving the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, chairperson of the Constitutional Offices Commission, a blanket approval to decide on acting appointments.

The real test will be whether Ro Teimumu and the old guard will accept changes brought in by the reformers.

Also pending is the management board’s decision on the two conflicting reports over the controversial Gaunavinaka Report which was critical of the Opposition Office governance and Ro Teimumu’s leadership.

The Anare Jale Report endorsed issues in the Gaunavinaka Report and recommended closure of the Opposition bank account, and remaining funds transferred to the party’s main account.

But the disciplinary committee report by Tupeni Baba and Emitai Boladuadua, disagreed and cleared the Opposition Office of any wrongdoing.

If SODELPA can resolve these differences, then the new changes can be implemented effectively.


Quality response

SODELPA MPs have to raise the level of the standard of debates. There are a number of bills that will be debated this year. Technically speaking, there will be six not four sittings if we take January to December as the parliamentary year.

The four sittings are based on September as start of a new year. SODELPA will have to do a lot better than last year if it is to be regarded as having the potential to form the next government.



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