Analysis

SODELPA Undergoes Second Wave Of Internal Clean-Up Campaign

SODELPA undergoes second wave of internal clean-up campaign. The first wave happened after the 2014 General Election when sweeping changes were made to the party constitution The second has started with a board of inquiry and the appointment of an independent arbiter
31 May 2019 14:49
SODELPA Undergoes  Second Wave Of Internal Clean-Up Campaign
From left, Mosese Bulitavu, Adi Litiana Qionibaravi and Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

Analysis:

SODELPA has started the second wave of a clean-up operation in preparation for the 2022 General Election.

The first started during post 2014 when a group of “reformers” led by Mosese Bulitavu, described as a “foot soldier” for then president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu successfully lobbied for sweeping changes to the party constitution.

The core group for the reformers is believed to be from the Vanua Levu bloc.

There was dissatisfaction with the way then party leader and Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa appointed National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad as economy spokesperson when there were SODELPA MPs such as Aseri Radrodro who could have been appointed.

At the height of this internal development, the controversial Gaunavinaka Report was exposed. It is still unclear who was behind the report. No one has claimed responsibility for it.

But it gave the “reformers” the grounds to call for changes that would bring the party up to par with internationally accepted standards and practices.

The changes were also designed to enable the party to offer a credible challenge against FijiFirst in the 2018 poll. The party went on to win six additional seats.

The Gaunavinaka Report was highly critical of Ro Teimumu’s leadership and the administration of the Opposition Office. MP Mosese Bulitavu called for the resignation of Ro Teimumu pending an inquiry into the report.

Ro Teimumu defended her position. But subsequently the “reformers” succeeded in introducing sweeping changes to the party constitution. Party general secretary and MP Adi Litia Qionibaravi played a prominent role in rewriting the constitution with the new amendments.
Among the important changes were:

  • the allocation of more power to the president; and
  • the party leader automatically losing the position when the party loses a General Election.

Ro Teimumu was the obvious target. Six months later she relinquished her party leader role. Sitiveni Rabuka was then elected as party leader to replace Ro Teimumu

It split the party into two factions and threatened to derail its preparation for the 2018 election.

The disciplinary mechanisms were activated and an inquiry was conducted to resolve the dispute. Political expediency took precedence and everyone was pardoned.

The party hierarchy wanted to preserve unity.

It was remarkable how the party bounced back to almost create an upset in the election.

But the new controversies that have broken out regarding the party’s conduct in the election and poll funding have prompted the setting up of a board of inquiry.

The spotlight is on the party leadership. Ratu Naiqama has stepped down. Mr Rabuka has one more year as party leader before he is replaced.

 

Adi Litia to step down

Adi Litia has confirmed she will step down after the party’s annual general meeting in Savusavu on June 28.

She had been targeted by some members who were not happy with her performance. In June last year, the Naitasiri constituency moved a motion at the party’s AGM at Namoli Village, Lautoka that she be removed as general secretary. But the motion was thrown out.

A SODELPA statement said Adi Litia confirmed to party members that she would be ending her term after the June AGM. She said this would enable her to concentrate on her duties as an MP and to serve her constituents. Adi Litia is party spokesperson for Justice, Elections, Information and Communications.

She is also an alternate member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts reviewing the Auditor-General’s reports. She is a registered lawyer and accountant by profession.

Adi Litia said that she had informed the Working Committee at their meeting on January 7, 2019, of her intention to step down after the June 2019 AGM to concentrate on her parliamentary duties. She confirmed that the committee on January 7, 2019 resolved that she remain as GS to complete the administrative processes for the party audit and to file necessary declarations with the Elections Office as required under the Political Parties Act and the Electoral Act. As that is now completed, she is comfortable and will be ready to hand over to her successor, once recruited, after the 2019 AGM.

She confirmed that as agreed on January 7, she had earlier tabled a paper to the Working Committee outlining the recruitment process for the position of general secretary, including a detailed position description and advertisement. She said this would enable the Management Board to recruit her successor after the 2019 AGM. She said it had been a rewarding and challenging term as GS and that she looked forward to being able to concentrate on her Parliamentary duties, and her constituents once her successor is recruited after the 2019 AGM. She urged potential applicants to keep an eye out for the advertisement and to apply once it is published.

She expressed her gratitude to the Turaga Bale na Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama for his guidance and wisdom over the last four years. She also thanked Mr Rabuka and vice-presidents MP Anare Jale, Vijay Singh and Ro Dona Takalaiyale and members of the Management Board and Working Committee, staff and volunteers.

With Mr Jale at the helm as acting president, there is confidence among members that the party will clean up its act. Former Fiji Television chief executive Mesake Nawari has been appointed independent arbiter in the board of inquiry.

Issues raised by Youth president Jope Koroisavou and former MP Mere Samisoni on the 2018 election and party governance will be part of the inquiry.

It’s regarded as the second wave of the internal clean-up campaign.

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