Opinion

Analysis: SODELPA Misses Golden Opportunity To Advance Cause For Bipartisanship

It is understood sitiveni rabuka indicated to Ratu Epeli during the New Zealand Waitangi Day celebrations in Suva recently that his party would support Ratu Epeli as Speaker. An unconfirmed report claimed Mr Rabuka went close to resigning because colleagues failed to support him in this.
12 Feb 2019 16:24
Analysis: SODELPA Misses Golden Opportunity To Advance Cause For Bipartisanship
Newly elected Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau at the parliament house on February 11,2019.Photo:Simione Haravanua.

SODELPA missed a golden opportunity to advance its repeated calls for a bipartisan approach to making decisions on national issues when its MPs rejected Ratu Epeli Nailatikau as the new Speaker.

However, the three MPs from the junior Opposition partner National Federation Party took the smart approach and supported the FijiFirst Government’s nominee.

They left politics aside and voted according to the dictates of their conscience.

It was a no brainer. Ratu Epeli was the best candidate for the role.

With all due respect to Tanya Waqanika, the SODELPA nominee, this was Ratu Epeli’s moment. Her time may come one day.

Ratu Epeli’s credentials are not only impressive but unbeatable in the context of the current political climate.

Opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka and his close allies could be regretting yesterday’s vote because it could be seen as a contradiction to their strong advocacy for chiefly leadership.

This was a wonderful opportunity to show that they are serious about their party policies. Instead, they let the radicals in the party have their way.

They allowed politics to get the better of them.

The radicals based their decision on Ratu Epeli’s performance as President when he signed the decrees before the 2014 General Election. Whatever their reason was it was a further dent on the party’s credibility.

The country has moved ahead from the situation in pre-2014. We have a Constitution which guarantees equal citizenry and basic human rights for all races including the iTaukei for which SODELPA claims to be the voice.

But when an iTaukei chief like Ratu Epeli ascends to an important national role, SODELPA sings a different tune. It does not make sense.

This would have been an ideal situation to show unity and make the call for bipartisanship more meaningful and a reality that can be sustainable.

Mr Rabuka, who has been preaching diplomacy is up against militancy from inside his party.

It is understood that he had indicated to Ratu Epeli during the New Zealand Waitangi Day celebrations in Suva recently that his party would support him as Speaker.

It was an informal encounter between two former military commanders who pride themselves in living true to their words. But a majority of the party caucus had other ideas.

An unconfirmed report claimed Mr Rabuka went close to resigning over this but he stopped in the interest of the party.

For Ratu Epeli, he has stamped his mark as a great statesman who will stand prominently among his peers by accepting the call to duty.

As a former military leader, civil servant, diplomat and advocate for various noble causes he has shown humility, patriotism and civic duty to accept the invitation to become Speaker.

Some say it’s an insult to see him come down from the high office of President to become Speaker. That’s just a perception. It will be interesting to see how SODELPA MPs will treat Ratu Epeli.

One thing is certain Ratu Epeli will go down in history as the real and genuine modern-day iTaukei Chief who put the nation first before self.

That will be his legacy.

Some in SODELPA should wonder if they would ever be regarded like this.
Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



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