‘Phantom’ Gaunavinaka Strikes Again

The mystery person, described as the “phantom”, who was behind the controversial Gaunavinaka Report that once split SODELPA, has struck again. This time he has either leaked or aided and
06 Sep 2017 12:21
‘Phantom’ Gaunavinaka Strikes Again
Sainiana Radrodro

The mystery person, described as the “phantom”, who was behind the controversial Gaunavinaka Report that once split SODELPA, has struck again.

This time he has either leaked or aided and abetted the leakage of a confidential memorandum to the party from Sainiana Radrodro, wife of SODELPA Member of Parliament Aseri Radrodro.

It has ignited a new row just as the party was fully recovering from the fallout in the Gaunavinaka controversy.

In the memo, Mrs Radrodro launched a scathing attack against party leader Sitiveni Rabuka over his public utterances about morality issues, marriage, divorcees, adultery and national leadership

The row has gone viral on social media after the confidential memo was posted online.

Party hierarchy including Mr Rabuka have gone on damage control mode. While some in the party try to play down the negative impact of this new row as just another minor distraction, party officials, including Mr Rabuka, are not taking any chances as they try to quickly minimise the fallout, repair the damage and put their election campaign firmly back on track.

This latest incident has also resurrected the debate over the real identity of the “phantom” Gaunavinaka.

Many theories have been advanced. What has been established is that he is a professional, close to senior party officials with a very clear mission. In his first project, Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa was the obvious target with her inner circle that included Mick Beddoes, former principal administrative officer in the Opposition Office, and the late Laufitu Malani, a close confidante of Ro Teimumu. Ms Malani died recently after an illness.

The Gaunavinaka Report was highly critical of the running of the Opposition Office.

The report’s exposure split the party down the middle, Ro Teimumu’s group on one side, and her critics, led by lawyer and MP Mosese Bulitavu on the other. Those on his side included MP Mr Radrodro. That movement grew and became a core group of advocates for reforms to position SODELPA for the 2018 general election.

It gradually took on a life of its own. Its ultimate objective was to review the party constitution to mirror its planned changes. Subsequently the constitution was amended with sweeping changes to raise the standards that comply with principles of accountability, transparency and democracy.

Part of the changes was Ro Teimumu relinquishing the position of party leader because she failed to win the election for SODELPA in 2014. That did not go down well with her camp. Mr Rabuka was later elected to replace her. The wound from that episode has not completely healed even though an internal inquiry pardoned the antagonists in the Gaunavinaka Report.

The question has been asked about the motive of the person that leaked Mrs Radrodro’s memo. He is understood to be someone who strongly supports Mr Rabuka with the aim of discrediting Mr and Mrs Radrodro. Coincidentally, the memo leakage came in the wake of a Fiji Sun article which rated Mr Radrodro as one of the two front-runners for number two in the SODELPA leadership pecking order after Mr Rabuka.

The other contender for the top job is lawyer Niko Nawaikula judging by the work they are putting in on the campaign trail and the response from the people. In other words, one of them could be the new party leader if Mr Rabuka fails to win the election for SODELPA.

Campaigners for Mr Rabuka are wary of Mr Radrodro’s rapid rise. They are trying to build Mr Rabuka’s popularity as FijiFirst did with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama but Mr Radrodro could be standing in the way of Mr Rabuka achieving the magical figure of 50,000 to surpass Ro Teimumu’s votes in 2014, not by design but by his popularity.

When Mr Rabuka called for a public poll to be conducted to determine how many leaders were in adulterous affairs, he infuriated many people, particularly divorcees. He also wanted to know how many were divorcees. Mrs Radrodro responded. Mr Radrodro was married to Mr Rabuka’s daughter previously. Mrs Radrodro also had a previous marriage.

“I can easily pick out all of us who are divorcees in this party and now live happy lives. Also I know of many whose adulterous lives were public, and know likewise that this party has people who had illegitimate children before marriages and some during marriage, but it’s not in our place to judge them or anyone for that matter,” Mrs Radrodro said in her memo.

She said Mr Rabuka at the Opposition parties’ Leaders Forum, stated that he didn’t like engaging in protests.

“And yet we were there to gather signatures for a petition for free and fair elections which itself was a form of passive resistance or protest so to speak,” she said. She said Mr Rabuka should be told to be careful of what he uttered publicly.

This incident is the last thing that Mr Rabuka wants in his campaign. It’s so sensitive for him personally that the less said about it the better for him. There has been no official response from the party.

But for the “phantom”  Gaunavinaka, he is probably planning his next project.

Edited by Maraia Vula


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