Political Expediency Comes Back To Haunt SODELPA

It had a wonderful opportunity to make a fresh start after an acrimonious split in the party between a Ro Teimumu Kepa faction and a Mosese Bulitavu group. But it opted for the easy way out.
24 Jun 2019 13:43
Political Expediency Comes Back To Haunt SODELPA
SODELPA had a wonderful opportunity to make a fresh start after an acrimonious split in the party between a Ro Teimumu Kepa faction and a Mosese Bulitavu group. But it opted for the easy way out.


SODELPA missed a golden opportunity to clean up its house between 2017-2018.

But it opted to go for political expediency over accountability and transparency, the hallmarks of good governance.

It pardoned all those involved in an acrimonious dispute that split the party in the middle between the Ro Teimumu Kepa group and the Mosese Bulitavu faction.

It was a cosmetic treatment of a problem that runs deeper than what people see on the surface.

The wound has not completely healed. In fact, it is inflamed and it is spreading like cancer.

The party is now paying a high price for botching up that inquiry that was supposed to settle the dispute once and for all.

Governance and Accountability

It cannot continue to bury its head in the sand and pretend that everything is okay – because it is not.

The fact is that the party has serious governance and accountability issues. It has been told this by members including some of those in senior ranks. If the party has to learn a lesson it is this – it must bite the bullet, face the reality and strictly follow internationally accepted principles and standards on governance and accountability.

Its handling of the last inquiry was a cop-out and members who supported the party were shortchanged. To pardon everyone was a joke.

It was done to appease all the factions and maintain unity in light of a pending General Election.

Now members realise that they can get away with just about anything.

Mosese Bulitavu

One of the key players in the last dispute is featuring prominently in the current row. MP Mosese Bulitavu is now calling on Anare Jale, the acting president, to resign because he and the group he represents are not happy in the way he has spearheaded the inquiry into the latest clashes between members. He has questioned his integrity.

This has come as a surprise to those who know Mr Jale well. He is widely respected and is regarded as the voice of reason in the party. He came into the party with an impressive professional record as a public administrator. He rose to the highest job in the civil service as permanent secretary for the Public Service Commission.

It is now becoming clearer that some members like Mr Bulitavu feel uncomfortable with the way Mr Jale has approached the inquiry.

Independent Arbiter

He has appointed Mesake Nawari as the independent arbiter. Mr Nawari has impressive credentials too like him. It is understood that Mr Jale does not want to repeat the debacle of the last inquiry, which failed to address and solve the root cause of the problem.

It is understood there was unhappiness in the Ro Teimumu camp over the outcome of the inquiry which was dealt with internally.

Her close associates felt some should have been sanctioned as a deterrent to others.

Mr Nawari will give the current inquiry a fresh perspective and with recommendations on how to move the party forward without the excess baggage.

But some members are concerned that there is no mention of Mr Nawari in the agenda of the management board meeting on the eve of the General Assembly.

If anything, this should be top of the agenda because it will set right some of the governance problems of the past.

Nawari’s report

It’s omission begs some questions. Is Mr Nawari’s report ready? If it is not, why not and when will it be completed and tabled for discussion? If it is ready, why is it not on the agenda?

Going through all the hype about the preparation for the meetings, Mr Nawari’s report should be the most anticipated because it will reveal what’s wrong with the party.

The list of disputes between rival groups in the party indicates a disturbing trend and clearly shows that all is not well.

Recent email exchanges between members reveal that the battle line has been drawn in the sand.

The exchanges between Mr Bulitavu and Mere Samisoni, a party founder, former MP and Hot Bread Kitchen owner, have escalated and become personal.

She had complained against party headquarters over its conduct in the 2018 General Election. He accused HQ of dirty politics and undermining her and others’ re-election.

She also supported a petition by youth president Jope Koroisavou who has asked the party a raft of questions about governance and accountability.

Ms Samisoni appears to be on the side of Mr Jale. She wants the governance issues rectified otherwise the party will continue to fight a losing battle.

If these issues were fixed before 2018, who knows what would have happened in that election.


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