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Analysis: Why SODELPA Under Media, Public Scrutiny

As the second biggest party in Parliament, SODELPA is hoping that it will win enough votes in this election to form the next government. At the moment it is the
20 Feb 2018 12:23
Analysis: Why SODELPA Under Media, Public Scrutiny
From left: Adi Litia Qionibaravi, Stiveni Rabuka. and Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

As the second biggest party in Parliament, SODELPA is hoping that it will win enough votes in this election to form the next government.

At the moment it is the only political party that offers the ruling FijiFirst Government, the closest challenge in this election.

But it is under the microscope to see if it is fit to form the alternative government. The people have a right to know, through the media, whether the party meets their expectation as an alternative government.

If party officials like general secretary Adi Litia Qionibaravi are wondering why the Fiji Sun has been focusing on SODELPA policies and activities, that is the reason.

The Fiji Sun is not the only organisation interested in what’s happening in SODELPA. Some party members and some officials who are seriously concerned with some of the internal issues rely on the Fiji Sun to get their news on what’s happening.

Take for example the five dissident senior members of the party. It is understood that they are pleased that their grievances are out in the open now.

They are concerned about the perceived lack of transparency and accountability in the internal processes and systems of the party, which they strongly feel if they are not addressed now, they could one day come back to haunt the party in a big way.

They refer in particular to the December 9 special general meeting last year. During that meeting, only a few officials knew about a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between SODELPA and the People’s Democratic Party. Many did not know that among the conditions in the MOU were:

The election of former PDP vice-president Vijay Singh as a new vice-president of SODELPA when he was not a financial member. Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem ruled he had breached the Political Parties decree and referred the matter to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC). Mr Saneem ruled that the MOU was not a merger. But the dissidents feel SODELPA, by implication, is not out the woods yet because of outstanding Vijay Singh case with FICAC.

The elevation of former PDP leader Lynda Tabuya to be a national candidate. She is one of the two national candidates. The first is party leader Sitiveni Rabuka. The dissidents are asking how Ms Tabuya was given this privilege as a new party member.

There is no sign of a resolution yet to the more than one-month old row. More and more SODELPA members are asking what’s going on when the party should be focused on its election campaign.

The group apparently has a list of questions for the top three party executives, president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, party leader Mr Rabuka and general secretary Adi Litia Qionibaravi.

The questions also relate to the finances of the party. These are all important issues that the party needs to address before the election.

It cannot afford to bury its head in the sand and expect the problem to go away. It cannot also afford to divert attention to the Fiji Sun which many SODELPA supporters are reading to get their information. The debacle of December 9 should not have happened if the party had done its due diligence. This is what the dissident group has been fighting for, to ensure that it does not happen again and put the party into jeopardy. It regards it as a serious governance issue. Just like the party’s position on its social media policy. Adi Litia says the party has a social media policy. A few days later Mr Rabuka says there is no social media policy.

The bottom line is if SODELPA cannot put its act together and resolve this dispute, how can it form and run an effective government like FijiFirst is doing.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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