SODELPA Split Widens, Heated Exchange Break Out

In another mail he said they could be nominated again (E rawa ni keirau vakaturi tale). Then he said “Kaila tiko, sa voleka mai a nodatou gauna.” Keep shouting, our time is near.
12 Apr 2019 11:05
SODELPA Split Widens, Heated Exchange Break Out

The internal North-South split in SODELPA has widened as more heated exchanges break out.

It has now reached such a near crisis point that a disgruntled group is even floating a new-look SODELPA without the North bloc, claiming it has the numbers to do it or the formation of a breakaway new political party.

The row is based on the following issues:

  • Two contentious messages sent by Opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka to SODELPA Tovata USA and the way they were interpreted by party members here.
  • A strongly worded petition by Youth leader Jope Koroisavou to party headquarters asking a raft of questions and ensuing online exchanges. He asked why the party’s annual general meeting would be in Savusavu in June when most members live in Viti Levu?
  • The appointment of Peter Wise for the $50,000 chief strategist job and Divukidonu Qionibaravi for the $35,000 Principal Admin Officer role. Mr Wise is the brother-in-law of MP Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, SODELPA’s president. Ms Qionibaravi, a lawyer by profession, is the daughter of MP Adi Litia Qionibaravi, SODELPA’s general secretary.

Adi Litia was sent a list of questions last night, but she had not responded when this edition went to press. Mr Rabuka and Ratu Naiqama could not be reached to comment.

Rabuka’s messages

In a message to SODELPA US supporters, he said the party had received his and Ratu Naiqama’s resignation.

In another mail he said they could be nominated again (E rawa ni keirau vakaturi tale). Then he said “Kaila tiko, sa voleka mai a nodatou gauna.” Keep shouting, our time is near.

It can be interpreted in different ways. One group said it meant the Vanua Levu bloc could be back in control after the June AGM in Savusavu.

Party HQ has explained to members that the AGM has been held in Suva and the West. Now it was Savusavu’s turn to welcome members from Viti Levu. But many members in the Suva-Nausori corridor are not buying it. They say it is an attempt by the Vanua Levu bloc to dominate the AGM and elect their own people.

The disgruntled group in Suva and Nausori says it will boycott the AGM if it is in Savusavu. That will set in motion the movement to form a new political party, it says. It argues that the original core values of the party have been lost in the internal power struggle.

The other issue is the suggestion by Mr Rabuka that he could return as party leader and Ratu Naiqama as president. The only way Mr Rabuka can be reinstated as party leader is if the constitution is amended yet again. The last time it was amended saw his predecessor Ro Teimumu Kepa relinquish the role because SODELPA lost the 2014 General Election. There is no provision at the moment for a comeback.

It is unclear what role Ratu Naiqama will play after June. According to party HQ he had given his intention to resign.

Ratu Naiqama, in his traditional role as Tui Cakau, paramount chief of Cakaudrove, is now the elder statesman in the Tovata Confederacy, which comprises Cakaudrove, Macuata, Bua provinces, and Lau. Mr Rabuka is in his Cakaudrove Province. At the moment the top hierarchy of SODELPA is dominated by the Vanua Levu bloc.

Jope Koroisavou petition:

He questioned why there has been no working group committee meeting. One was supposed to be called on January 30.

One of the functions of the committee was to oversee the appointment of party officers.

“Unless we have now become an authoritarian leadership party, I do need these questions to be answered. Why wasn’t there any working group meeting being called?”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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