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Analysis: North Retreat A ‘Feel Good Visit’ For Rabuka After West Drubbing

SODELPA Party Leader Sitiveni Rabuka has retreated to his home base in the North to recover from the drubbing he received in the West cane belt last week. His nostalgic
04 Aug 2017 11:00
Analysis: North Retreat A ‘Feel Good Visit’ For Rabuka After West Drubbing
The small crowd in the SODELPA march through Lautoka City on July 29, 2017. Photo: Charles Chambers

SODELPA Party Leader Sitiveni Rabuka has retreated to his home base in the North to recover from the drubbing he received in the West cane belt last week.

His nostalgic trip to Laucala District School, Deketi, Qamea, was part of a “feel good” visit. He was a former pupil of the school. He was in familiar territory and among friends.

The SODELPA Facebook page reported that he encouraged students that nothing was impossible and used his record as an example – “a former student who became Prime Minister, Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Chairman of the then Great Council of Chiefs, Commonwealth Peace Envoy to the Solomon Is, architect of the 1997 Constitution and is now Leader of SODELPA and a contender to be the next PM and Leader again of the nation. A humble beginning for a Statesman retracing his early life.”

The statement conveniently omitted his military coups in 1987 that unleashed the country’s worst political turmoil in our history and the collapse of the National Bank of Fiji when he was prime minister.

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

In his latest foray into the West, Mr Rabuka must have been surprised by the poor turnout to his rallies. After all the hype a disappointing crowd of about 50 participated in Lautoka City march. Those present were predominantly male iTaukei, middle-aged and older who most likely supported him in 1987.

The dismal turnout was indicative of his lack of support in the canebelts. There, he faces the might of FijiFirst, plus the National Federation Party, Fiji Labour Party and the newest party, Unity Fiji. Sugar politics dominates the battle for votes from Sigatoka to Ra. It still very much dictates the way things go although tourism is still the big earner.

But a series of Government assistance for cane farmers to boost production could eventually reinstate sugar back at the top as the biggest revenue earner. This has helped the FijiFirst Government regain  any support it might have lost.

The lack of show by youths and women in the SODELPA march reflects the party’s lack of strength in these areas.

SODELPA was to make a statement through this march that it should be seriously taken in the West. It’s a big blow to Mr Rabuka and his followers. Unity Fiji, whose powerbase is in the West, has become an added nightmare for SODELPA.

Unity Fiji party leader Savenaca Narube.

Unity Fiji party leader Savenaca Narube.

It is understood that a growing number of SODELPA voters are switching allegiance to Savenaca Narube’s Unity Fiji.

If Mr Rabuka loses badly in the West and it’s replicated in the rest of Viti Levu, then SODELPA is facing another defeat against FijiFirst in next year’s general election.

For Mr Rabuka, it is back to base, regroup, restrategise and have another crack at Viti Levu. He  has support so far in the North. But he knows that if he loses Viti Levu, he has lost the election.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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