Opinion

REVEALED: Arbiter Mesake Nawari’s Report To SODELPA Management Board

It is evident from Jope Kororisavou’s grievances and others and response from the GS that the Party is finding its way through the diversity that now exists in the party covering at least 3 generations of Fijians living in the villages and in towns and cities in Fiji and abroad.
03 Jul 2019 19:44
REVEALED: Arbiter Mesake Nawari’s Report To SODELPA Management Board
Mesake Nawari (left) and Anare Jale when Mr Nawari was appointed as and Independent Arbiter in May, 2019.

INTRODUCTION

I was appointed as Arbiter in accordance with Section 25.0 of the social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) Constitution by the Acting President and Chairperson of the Management Board, Hon. Anare Jale on 27” May 2019.

According to section 4 of the Terms of Reference “ The Management Board has agreed to the following terms of reference to guide the work of the arbiter:

To enquire generally into the grievances raised by Mr Jope Koroisavou in his emails dated 8th and 12” April, 2019 and email dated 10th May, 2019,

To also consider the following documents in the conduct of the enquiry:

(a)    Letter dated 16th May, 2019 from Nasinu Constituency Counci!

(a)Signed by Ratu Isikeli Komaisavai an Mr Sitiveni Weleilakeba.

(a)(b) Emails dated 11th and 15th  April and 10th May, 2019 by the

(a)General Secretary of the Party;

(a)(c)The line by line Response to Mr Jope Koroisavou’s grievance

(a)prepared by the General Secretary dated 8th April , 2019.

Since the announcement of my appointment, I have met a number of people individually and in groups. I met Mr Jope Koroisavou, the President of SODEPA Youth and the General secretary, Hon Adi Litia Qionibaravi, within the first few days after my appointment. It was very encouraging to meet the representatives of the Women’s Forum, Nasinu Constituency Council and youth members. I also had a conference call with representatives of Tovata SODELPA USA. One thing that is clear that everyone is very supportive of the Party and they have unwavering commitment.

The approach I took was to encourage people to share openly about their views within a safé space and not restricted by time. At the end of these meetings, most people felt that it was like a burden had been lifted off them, they felt encouraged and looked forward to the future of the Party where people are heard by the “Leadership that listens”. The people are asking the Party leadership to promote fairness, justice and transparency within the Party.

While reviewing the Party documents, I realised that the Party is rooted on very strong principles and values and these are well articulated under the guiding principles and aims and objectives of the 2015 Party Constitution and the 2016-2018 Strategic Plan.  This is clearly the glue that brings people together to remain as members and supporters of SODELPA. The core of the Party’s role is to serve and give voice to the people. The Party Slogan, “Leadership that listens”, aptly reflects where this service to the people begins.

The founders of SODELPA during very challenging times in Fiji’s history founded the  Party and their dreams is that for the Party to continue to be part of Fiji’s future for generations to come. Party leaders and members have a marathon ahead of them.

With this in mind, I selected the following text from the Message Bible translation of Hebrews 12:1-4, titled “Discipline in a Long-Distance Race” to encourage everyone of the journey that is ahead and how grievances like this, complaints, challenges and differences must be handled to ensure success is achieved and sustained.

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.

And now he’s there, in the place of honour, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he ploughed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?”

GRIEVANCES

This report will consider Mr Koroisavou’s grievances issue by issue together with the General Secretary’s (GS) line by line response to the grievances submitted to the Management Board on May 17th, 2019 meeting. All the people that I met, apart from GS, agreed with Mr Koroisavou’s grievances. Specifically, Nasinu Constituency through its President, Mr Sitiveni Weleilakeba and, Secretary, Ratu Isikeli Komaisavai, advised the GS in writing on May 16”, 2019 that they unanimously endorsed Mr. Koroisavou’s concerns. Also included under the relevant issues, some of the matters raised by those that I met. Included under general matters at the end of the report are other issues raised by those that I met.

The Party Constitution referred to in this report is the Amended Constitution dated 10” September, 2015 which was adopted at the Special General Assembly held at the Epworth Hall.

Issue 1. Working Group Committee

Mr. Koroisavou’s Grievance:

“The Working group committee under the constitution was formed to be the representative of the board and to make decision on behalf of the board on all governance issues regarding the party. Our last meeting was supposed to be called on the 30th of January on which we were supposed to discuss the propose organisational restructure which included new post that were to be advertised.

No such meeting has ever been called and I do believe that the Party have now gone ahead and Implemented this restructure without our oversight or approval.

Unless we have now become an authoritarian leadership party, I do need these questions to be answered. Why isn’t there any working group meeting being called? Without the board representative making decision for the party restructure, who is now making those decisions and on what authority?”

GS’s response:

“The Working Committee (WC) met on 8th January, 2019 and approved the new integrated structure for the Party and Parliamentary Offices. The review was conducted by a joint-party parliamentary committee led by Hon. Ro Filipe Tuisawau, The Opposition Leader and Vice President Hon. Anare Jale as well as the General secretary sat in on the discussions of the Review Committee.  The other members Include Hon. Salote Radrodro, Hon. Simione Rasova and Hon. Moses Bulitavu. The Review Committee Was appointed at the Caucus Meeting held on 21 November 2018 and approved at the Management Board meeting of 21 November 2018.

 

The Party Constitution section 13.1(b)(viii) requires the Management Board (MB) to review the Party structure after each General Election. The WC on 8/1/19 exercised this function and the new structure is now in place. The restructure has seen the divestment of more administrative functions of the Parliamentary office to the Party office.  Previously from 2016 – 2018, the Party Office carried the administrative functions for the Party Office — by law and by necessity. The Party Office receives the grant from Government for the Opposition Office and administers it.

 

The Supervisor of Elections treats the parliamentary grant as Part and parcel of party funds and refused separate audit reports for it, and since 2016, all party funds are administered from the Party HQ and only one audit report is prepared for the SOE, and he has instructed, this same ‘joint’ audit report is presented to the General Assembly annually.

 

Given there are now 21 MPs compared to 15 from 2014 , no consequential increased allocation of space by the Parliamentary secretariat to the Party , has also been a factor considered in the restructure of the Party Office and the Party Opposition Office.

 

With 21 MPs, three Caucus Subcommittees (General Administration/Economic & Infrastructure Services/Social Services), and consequential need for specialised, technical research staff to serve all 21 MPs and their 3 Caucus Subcommittees, it is critical to create specialised research officer positions at the Parliamentary Office.

 

It is essential for a robust party structure that keeps our voters informed and brings their issues to the Party over the next four year term, the need to ensure the Party is operational, continuing the work of setting up branches, revitalising and keeping existing branches operational and feeding into their constituency councils, also necessitate the restructure, while bearing in mind foremost, that there is limited Party funds and limited fundraising ability due to the legislative restrictions in the PPR Decrees.

The Awareness Unit will continue to function with three new positions, as well as increased administrative and finance staff, including the Treasurer to be appointed at the Party Office. The Party Office will continue to administer all party funds, including human resources, accounting and constituency allowances for MPs, for the parliamentary opposition office.

The Review Team carried out its work between 21.11.18 interacting with Caucus, consulting with Mr. Anasa Vocea and other party volunteers on the proposed structure, before the report and recommendations were tabled at the WC on 8 Jan 2019.

It was approved, posts were advertised and recruitment began with an interview panel chaired by the Party Leader. The urgency to fill the positions in order to support the Caucus with the February and April sitting meant recruitment process was implemented immediately upon closure of the advertisement, in between official travel and other commitments of MPs and members of the selection panel.”

 

Arbiter’s comments:

  1. The GS is correct in saying that one of the responsibilities of the Management Board under Section 13.1(b)(viii) of the Party Constitution, “That following the General Election, it should ensure that the most appropriate organisation structure and credible process of selection and recruitment of staff at the Party office as well as the Party Parliament Office is cartied out within the first two months of assuming patliament office”
  1. The GS is also correct that Working Committee (WC) can perform this role which is allowed under Section 13.8.5 (b) which states that “The Working Committee shall (i) direct the affairs of the Party in between the Management Board meetings; and (ii) give directions to the Secretariat of the Party”.

In the absence of a Terms of Reference or Charter clearly defining on what the WC can do and cannot do, the WC can perform all the responsibilities of the Management Board listed under Section 13.1 of the Constitution.

Ill. The review of the organisational structure was carried out by a Joint Party- Parliamentary committee. This is a right committee choice because the task fits well with the responsibility of the Joint Party and Parliamentary Committee stated in Section 16.6 (d) of the Constitution that “The Joint Party and Parliamentary Committee shall be responsible for the effective linkage and harmonious relationship of the Party Office and the Parliamentary Office and that at all times ensure that the best interest of the Party is upheld in terms of the party Vision, Mission, Manifesto, Objectives and the commitment of the Members of Parliament to the Party Constitution”.

 

  1. Membership of this committee is also stipulated clearly in Section 16.6

 

(a) “There shall be a Joint Party and Parliamentary Committee consisting of three (3) members appointed by the Management Board with two (2) members from amongst the members of the Management Board and one (1) member to be drawn externally to the Management Boatd and three (3) members to be appointed by the Parliamentary Committee/Caucus”. GS stated that the Joint Party and Parliamentary Committee members appointed to review the organisational structure were appointed by the Parliamentary Caucus on 21st November, 2018. The MB minutes of the same day stated “The Board was presented with the earlier 7 decision of Caucus and endorsed that Hon. Ro Filipe Tuisawau be the Chairman of this Committee. Other Members are Hon. Aseri Radrodro, Hon. Mosese Bulitavu and Hon. Simione Rasova, and representing the Party are Major General Rabuka and Hon. Anare Jale”. This Joint Party and Parliamentary Committee composition  does not comply with Section 16.6 (a) of the Constitution.

There is another Joint Party and Parliamentary Committee that was formed and membership was also discussed at the MB on 21* November, 2018. According to the minutes “The Caucus considered electing 3 of its members to represent Caucus in the Joint Parliamentary Committee and also represent the interest of Caucus in the Management Board. The 3 recommended were Jese Saukuru, Ro Teimumu Kepa and Mosese Bulitavu and these names were endorsed by the Board. Mr. Vijay Singh and Jope Koroisavou were endorsed to represent the Management Board and Ms. Tanya Waqanika from outside the Board. Their Terms of Reference is outlined in the Party Constitution”. Rightly, in my discussion with Mr. Koroisavou he is confused about the two Joint Party and Parliamentary Committees. He is only aware of one Joint Party Parliamentary Committee appointed in accordance with section 16.6 (a) of the Party Constitution which he is a member of. This confusion needs to be addressed by the MB immediately.

  1. In Section 18.3.1(b) “The General Secretary shall be responsible to the Management Board, through the Party President for the day to day operational management and conduct of the Patty.,,.” According the new organisational structure, GS is reporting to the Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition who then reports to the President. This is not in accordance to Section 18.3.1 (b).

According to Section 18.5 (b) of the Constitution, “The National Treasurer reports directly to the Management Board through the General Secretary.,,” The new organisational structure refers to a Treasurer/Admin/Finance Officer role reporting to the Assistant General Secretary who then reports to the GS who reports to Party Leader & Leader of Opposition who then reports to the Party President. The position in the Constitution is called the National Treasurer and reports directly to MB through the GS. This is not in accordance to Section 18.5 (b).

VII. The MB is required under Section 13.0(c ) of the Constitution to “.., meet at least once quarterly.,, ”. There was no MB meeting in the first quarter of 2019. While it was a busy period for the Party Officials as most have become MPs and the MB meeting did not happen, it is important for members of the MB to ensure compliance with the Party Constitution. Having an MB during the first quarter of 2019 in accordance with Section 13.0(C ) would have discussed the work done on the organisational structure and appointment of parliamentary office staff.

This would have helped in addressing Mr. Koroisavou’s questions on these issues.

The MB should ensure that it satisfies the requirements of the Constitution by meeting at least once a quarter.

 

Issue 2: New Party Roles

Mr. Koroisavou’s Grievance

“As a member of the Management Board working committee I seek clarification on these issues.

  1. Have the new roles being filled?
  2. Filled by who?
  3. Why wasn’t the Board Working Group called to approve these new roles or advised on these new developments?
  4. If I do recall, on the last working group meeting it was agreed that an external human resource consultancy company was to be engaged to conduct these recruitments, why wasn’t this followed and who than has more power to overrule board decisions?
  5. Who wrote and designed all the posts that were advertised and was part on its creation?”

 

GS’s response:

  1. “After the approval by the WC and Parliamentary Caucus, the recruitment process commenced in March, and four positions have now been filled. Appointment of the Team at Parliamentary Office is the prerogative of the Opposition Leader given they are his staff, responsible for assisting MPs and the Caucus Subcommittees, and reporting directly to the Opposition Leader.

The four positions are:

  1. Pita Wise — Chief Strategist
  1. Adi Vukidonu Qionibaravi — Principal Research & Media Officer
  1. Siteri Gaunalomani- Research Officer (Economics)
  1. Josaia Tokoni — Research Officer (Librarian/Database Administrator/Media Assistant)
  1. The Working Committee has approved the restructure and recruitment in carrying out the role and mandate of the MB.
  1. There was discussion at the Working Committee on an external HR consultancy to carry out recruitment of the Chief Strategist. However given the time and expense it would require to advertise for this consultancy, the funds involved, the then very low level of funds after the 2018 campaign, that recruitment process could take up to six months that does not suit the Parliamentary Office given the urgency to fill the technical research positions, the WC gave the LOP the discretion on the recruitment process.
  1. See response above – there was a review committee appointed by the Caucus and approved by the MB on 21/11/18, it reported back to WC on 8/1/19 and the process of recruitment is underway.”

 

Arbiter’s comments:

  1. The Party Leader chaired the interview panel (refer to GS’s comments under Issue 1) who has the prerogative to appoint the Party Staff based in Parliament. The Party Constitution is silent on this authority given to the Party Leader. However the Management Board can delegate this role to the Party Leader under Section 13.2 (a) of the Party Constitution where “The Management Board may, where it deems appropriate, delegate, or revoke wholly or partly, in writing, to the General Secretary or to any of its Committees, or any person or entity such powers of the Management Board may decide”.

 

  1. In the WC minutes of 8 January 2019, Section 4.0 (xi), it “Agreed that the Staff Selection Committee chaired by the Party Leader/Leader of Opposition and 1 other member of the Working Committee being Vice President Hon. Anare Jale together with Caucus representatives Hon. Ro Filipe Tuisawau and Hon. Salote Radrodro with the General Secretary serving as Secretary to the Selection Committee are to carry out the’ recruitment process including interviews and be authorised to make the appointment of the new Parliamentary staff and Party Office staff (with the exception of the Assistant General Secretary and the Treasurer who will be appointed by the Management Board as per the requirement of the Party Constitution…” GS has confirmed that the reference to the Party Leader having the prerogative to appoint the team in the Parliamentary Committee was a decision by the members of the Staff Selection Committee to allow him to make the final decision since the Party Leader is the Leader of Opposition and Head of the Party Parliament Office.

 

The WC’s approval did not give specific responsibility to the Leader of Opposition or to a member of the Selection Committee. The above approval does not say anything about the Selection Committee having the authority to further delegate it’s responsibilities. While it’s understandable that Senior Party officials are involved and they are members of the MB, WC and Committees, it is always important to remember that the MB is responsible for all the actions of the WC and delegated roles to the Committees and further role delegation to each members of the committees. To manage the delegations properly, having terms of reference for all committees stating clearly what each committee can and cannot do must be approved by the MB. This is in accordance with Section 13.1(b)(vii) of the Constitution which requires the MB “To develop explicit Terms of Reference for each committee to avoid duplicity and ensure that there is a specific timeline for completion of the Terms of Reference”

 

  1. Under Section 16.1.1 (f) “If the Party fails to win the majority seats in the General Elections and becomes the major Party in Opposition, The Party Leader position is deemed to be vacant and the elected Members of Parliament shall elect a Parliamentary Leader from amongst themselves. The Leader of Opposition shall be elected in Parliament under the requirement of Section 78 (1) ~ (6) of the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji. The MB cannot appoint the Party Leader to lead the recruitment because there is no Party Leader. However, the MB can appoint the Parliamentary Leader because the Party has appointed him under Section 16.1.1 (f) of the Constitution. The right position titles should be used in compliance with the Constitution.

 

III. Under Section 13.4 (a) “Every Member of the Board, or Committee or entity established under this Constitution, shall declare any interest in any matter to be discussed by the Board or Committee or any entity established under this Constitution’ (b) “A declaration made in accordance with this provision shall be made at the first meeting of

 

III. The Board or Committee or entity established under this Constitution, held after he or she becomes a member of (if already a member) after he or she commences to hold the office or to possess the property”.

 

III. In my meeting with Mr. Bani Drauvesi, a member of the WC, advised that Hon. Sitiveni Rabuka, when asked to chair the interviews in the meeting of 8th January 2018 had declared his interest stating that Mr Pita Wise is his relative and he also said that Adi Vukidonu Qionibaravi is GS’s daughter, who are currently performing two of the roles that will be advertised and they may be interested in applying . However, the minutes of the meeting of 8th January 2019 had no declaration of interest noted. There’s no other document reviewed stating the declaration of interest after the applicants list was finalised for the position of Chief Strategist and Principal Research & Media Officer. I asked the GS about this matter and she advised that she was the secretary and not a

III. member of the committee and she does not have any voting power.

 

III.

III.Section 13.1 (b) of the Party Constitution which says that the MB “It is responsible for conducting the business, administrative and organisational affairs of the Party in all aspects which responsibility, Shall include but not limited to the following: (v) Exercise Good Corporate Governance on behalf of the Party through compliance with all relevant legal and regulatory requirements in Fiji”. Declaration of interest is a matter for any committee or board led by the Chairperson to properly manage. It is an important element of good corporate governance. If these steps were not taken during the interview and selection process, then the credible process of selection and recruitment of parliamentary staff required under Section 13.1(b)(viii) of the Party Constitution may have been compromised. The MB must investigate this matter and address it immediately. This has nothing to do with the competencies and commitments of the candidates. It has to do with the integrity of the process.

 

  1. According to 8” January 2019 WC minutes, reference 5.8 reads “Concerns was raised by Mrs Rawiriwiri on Pita Wise and the suggestion was made that consultation with Recruitment Agencies can be made but cost would be a factor to be considered. If this was to be carried out, the recommendation of the Recruiting Agency would be tabled to the Working Committee”. Tne use of a Recruitment Agency was only a Suggestion and cost was the only factor in not going ahead with it. However, there was nothing in the minutes mentioning the time factor even though the need to fill the position immediately was also a key reason at that time why the recruitment needed to be done inhouse.

 

Issue 3: Election Eye Project

Mr. Koroisavou’s Grievance:

“We have moved ahead with new changes without some major questions to be answered.

  1. How much did this Project cost the Party and why did it fail?
  2. Who was the person responsible for the project?
  3. There needs to be a board of inquiry formed to clarify, investigate and answer these questions.”

 

GS’s response

  1. “This project was approved by the Working Committee. A joint party (National Federation Party) technical committee comprising reps appointed by the Party Leaders of SODELPA, NFP, PDP, FUFP, Unity, FLP carried out the closed tender process where three competitive bids were considered and recommendation made to Party Leaders for the successful vendor.

 

  1. The project has not failed, it enabled the Party to mount the legal challenge (electoral petition), it delivered on the party’s responsibility to protect the votes of all citizens whose votes we invited, it augmented the technical expertise (institutional memory and expertise) within the Party, it engaged over 2,000 volunteers who put their hand up to protect their vote and build a culture of democracy and accountability in Fiji -and the Party now owns jointly with NFP the software. It is an investment that in our view delivered returns. The Party jointly carried out over 40 workshops Fiji -wide that have demaystified the electoral system and helped to engender a culture of democracy and citizen participation to protect their vote.

The FEEP result management system has produced an app with all results where candidate results can be analysed at divisional, provincial, tikina and polling venue level – all this would not be possible otherwise because unlike 2014 the FEO did not distribute or publish an excel spreadsheet by polling Station – only its Results App which make extraction and analysis easy – only NFP and SODELPA have access to this app and other parties and candidates do not have access to it – that is the value of this project to the Party. It is a core duty of every candidate, every Party who solicits a vote or ballot, to take steps to protect that ballot or that vote – the smaller parties who did not take part in the project due to lack of funds in our view had no business soliciting votes they cannot protect.

The only failure in the petition was the collapse of evidence from Kadavu and the refusal of the Court to allow six of our 8 witnesses. No such system was in place in 2014 hence no legal challenge.

The results management system will be presented to members at the coming Electoral Retreat/Review.

The Technical Committee appointed by Leaders of the five political parties (SODELPA, NFP, FLP, FUFP, Unity) designed this project. The leaders of the five parties commissioned the project, numerous meetings were held to design the project, learn the rules under the electoral decree and design the curriculum for polling agents – including the SOP Manuals used by Agents. All this will stand the Party in good stead for future elections.

It is a joint project and a transparent process was adopted with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement, the recruitment of the IT Consultant through a Close Tender Process and Payments in approved phases of the project. Secondly the Party’s accounts have been audited and issued with a certified opinion.”

 

Arbiter’s comments

There were other people that I met apart from Mr. Koroisavou that wanted to know not only about the cost and people involved, but also if the Election and Results Management System (EARMS) project delivered on the expected outcomes. It will be good if an independent expert that is competent and experienced in evaluating such projects to be engaged immediately to conduct a review and provide a report to the MB, The review should include the tender process, effectiveness of the awareness and training, application and utilisation of the EARMS before, during and after the 2018 general elections. There should also be recommendations of improvements required to get the maximum benefit from the EARMS for the 2022 general election.

 

  1. On page 3 of the Party Audited Accounts for the financial year ended 31 December 2018, shows that EARMS cost the party $103,744.

 

Issue 4: Strategy, Media and Manifesto Unit

Mr. Koroisavou’s Grievance

“This unit was formed during the election and I personally only knew about it when I saw the label pasted on the bottom front door of their office which was originally given for the youths. This unit towards the election was making major decisions for the party and responsible for the critical areas that would determine our election results.

There a few questions that need to be clarified about this unit.

 

  1. Who gave the approval for the establishment of this unit and on what authority under the constitution?
  2. How was the incumbent operating under this unit recruited?
  3. How much did it cost the Party to operate this unit, this should include how much were they paid?
  4. Why was the most critical document of our election campaign which is our manifesto late in its completion and who is responsible?
  5. How many were printed and how much did it cost the Party to print our manifesto?
  6. How many that was actually distributed?
  7. The unit should also clarify how much was spent in the total media campaign?
  8. Who was responsible for this unit?
  9. What was the total cost of Party Leaders’ Media campaign and DVD?
  10. How many of it was printed?
  11. Why did it fail?”

 

GS’s response

  1. “The Working Committee (WC) established this Unit – together with the Campaign Unit on 14th February 2018. The Management Board (MB) at its meeting on 26th October, 2016, had authorised the Party Leader to lead the Party’s preparations for the 2018 General Election including the Committees that were established, re the Boundary, Manifesto, Strategies, Comms and Media, Electoral Compliance and Funding, etc. The WC exercising the powers of the MB approved the Unit.

 

  1. The WC appointed Pita Wise as Team Leader Strategic Policy, Research, Media & Communications. His staff formed the other members of the Unit. He was appointed on the same day as the Campaign Manager, Mr. Anasa Vocea.

2. The expenses for this unit were commensurate with volunteer allowances for the Awareness Unit, the two units operated side by side – Team Leader and Assist TL received similar allowance to Campaign Director and his Assistant, i.e. at $200 weekly for the Team Leaders and $150 weekly for the Assistant Team Leaders.

3. The Party Leader in October 2016 had proposed to the Management Board the appointment of 7 committees to review the 2014 strategies and devise the party campaign strategies. The MB approved and those committees including fundraising, boundaries, electoral compliance, manifesto, etc began their meetings. Whilst the Party Leader had chaired all Committees including the Manifesto Committee, Ratu Yavala Kubuabola had chaired the sub-Committee to prepare the Party Manifesto. The Manifesto was drafted by different members of that committee. When Pita Wise as former PS Planning volunteered to support the party, he was requested to collate all the different contributions.

 

By what yardstick was the Manifesto “Late” – in comparison to 2014 or relative to some other event or campaign? The candidates were handed the Draft Manifesto at their first meeting in 16th February, 2018 at the FTA Hall, the sitting MPs also had another review of the Draft Manifesto at the British Legion House 23rd March, 2018 and the Candidates were again given a full run- through of the Manifesto at their meeting on 25th October, 2018.

 

The Manifesto was produced on time for the campaign and distributed by the candidates and awareness teams, as well as on social media and to the media.

 

It was excerpted in the Fiji Times and Fiji Sun (various topics expanded) and these are all there in hard copy and online, for the record. NFP Manifesto was published 1 Nov and FFP was published 9th November (after prepolls opened on 5th Nov and after postal voting opened on 24th October).

 

In any case, candidates were informed to read the PL’s press statements, the statements of the LOP and MPs, and the 2014 Manifesto – the Party’s policies were already announced prior to the publication of the manifesto – free tertiary education, removal of media and other draconian decrees, removal of anti- indigenous decrees, removal of VAT on basic food items, dual cash/card bus transport, – were all announced in 2017/2018 before the writ of election was issued! It did not hamper the campaign.

 

  1. This is a matter for the retreat and not for email or correspondence.

2. The Campaign Team was responsible for the distribution and the Campaign

 

Manager’s Report will include this information.

This is a matter for the retreat and not for email or correspondence.

Pita Wise was the Head of the Unit.

This is a matter for the retreat and not for email or correspondence.

Refer to I.

Who says it failed?

 

It was excerpted and distributed widely on social media – video views during the campaign were over  1 million. That means viewers viewed the clips again and again and again……. It definitely contributed to the 77k votes that PL received.”

 

Arbiter’s comments

 

  1. In its meeting of 25° October, 2016, the MB, under reference 10.0 Paper 4/5/16 – Establishment of Committees to support the Party’s Preparation for the General Elections, approved the membership of the 7 Committees – Candidate Selection, Manifesto, Constituency Boundaries, Fundraising, Compliance to Elections Process, High-level Research, Communications & Media Strategies. It also approved the Party Leader to appoint additional committee members as when required. MB also gave the Party Leader the leading role in every aspect of the Party’s preparations for the 2018 general election. Therefore, the Party Leader was given the authority to set up the Strategy, Media and Manifesto Unit to support the work of some of the Committees approved by the MB. This authority includes appointing new committee members and staff.

 

  1. According to the 2018 audited accounts, the gross salaries and allowances, including FNPF and PAYE payments was $189, 566 in the 2018 fiscal year compared to $168, 813 in 2017. The schedule containing the breakdown of salaries and allowances is not normally included in the final accounts. A member of the MB can request through the MB and Chairman to sight the information for the purposes of satisfying himself or herself before approving the draft accounts and recommending it for adoption at the General Assembly. The Chairman may refer the request to the Finance Committee and the National Treasurer to provide the information. As a member of the MB, Mr. Koroisavou has the right to request detailed financial information from MB Chairperson and he must ensure security and confidentiality of the information.

 

III. The external auditor of an organisation is normally invited to the Finance Committee meeting to answer any questions on the draft annual accounts before the Committee recommends it to the board for approval and signing. The external auditor will also be present at the board meeting to answer queries. Subsequently, the board will present the audited accounts for adoption at the annual general meeting (AGM) of members, The external auditor should be present at the AGM to answer questions relating to the accounts. I.Naiveli & CO. Chartered Accountants, the external auditor of the Party, should be invited to the next MB meeting that is going to ratify the 2018 audited accounts and the subsequent Annual General Assembly.

 

 

  1. According to clause 18.5(b)(i) of the Constitution, “The National Treasurer shall implement the Financial Policy approved by the Management Board including the financial control system in accordance with the Australian/Fiji audit standards and good practices”. The Party has a Finance and Accounting Policies and Procedures. Section 2.2 of the Finance and Accounting policy stipulates that a Finance Committee is established under clause 13.1(b)(vi) with 7 members including the National Treasurer and it should meet monthly, and at such other time as determined by its members. The members of the Finance Committee are the late Ratu Jone Yavala Kubuabola, Col. Sakiusa Raivoce, Dr. Mere Samisoni, Mr. Anasa Vocea and Ruci Karuru. The quorum for the meeting shall be four members. The Finance Committee’s last meeting was on 7 June 2018. The National Treasurer should be appointed as soon possible in accordance with clause 18.5(a) of the Constitution and the Finance Committee to start meeting every month.

 

  1. In Section 7.2 of the Finance and Accounting Policy, “The audited financial statements, including the Balance Sheet and Statement of Income Expenditure are to be reviewed by the Finance Committee before approval by the Management Board”. This has not yet been done for the 2018 audited accounts.

 

  1. Section 7.3 of the Finance and Accounting Policy states that “The independent auditor shall be appointed at the Annual General Meeting of the General Assembly in accordance with clause 12.6(b)(7) of the Party Constitution. The recommendation for such an appointment shall be made by the Management Board on the advice of the Finance Committee, and Treasurer following a competitive bidding process”. Again, this policy has not been adhered to.

 

VII. Having a deadline for release of the manifesto included as part of the deliverables of the Manifesto Committee would have also helped to answer Mr. Koroisavou’s claim that the manifesto was late. Specific timelines are required in Section 13.1(b)(vii) of the Constitution to be included in a Committee’s Terms of Reference (TOR). In future the MB must ensure that all

 

VII.Committee’s have a TOR with time bound deliverables.

 

VIII. GS has confirmed that the post 2018 general elections (GE) workshop was carried out on 18” May 2019.

 

Issue 5: Party strategy

 

Mr. Koroisavou’s Grievance:

 

“After our 2014 election the party spent a considerable amount of money on our lesson learnt workshop that was held in Nadave. The outcome of the said meeting was approved by the board and general assembly to be the guiding document and out of which a strategy was developed under 7 pillars.

  1. What happened to these outcomes?
  2. Why was it thrown out and what was the new Strategy?
  3. Who made those decision and on what authority?
  4. (Referenced as &). And after two consecutive elections and extensive work conducted with the last being the most well prepared and resourced election campaign, the biggest question that needs to be answered is what went wrong and who are responsible?”

 

GS‘s response:

“Strategic Plan was developed – from that the constitution review was undertaken /reforms etc – including drafting of strategic plan, appointed of PL/GS, constituency councils, and Oct 2016 plan for election prep that was approved by the MB in Oct 2016.

The Committees were established- i.e. demarcation of boundaries, selection process for candidates, drafting of manifesto, crafting of campaign strategy, fundraising, compliance to election legislations, communication and media, Indigenous Rights Committee, etc.

The Party resolved to wean the Indigenous Rights Committee which then worked with the Nehemiah Corporation. That joint Committee then registered it as a Charitable Trust re Na Yavutu.

The Party then launched its Election preparations Workshop at Vuda in October, 2016. coined as the “Lesu Ki Vuda”. The Awareness was undertaken from end of 2016 to April 2018 when the Campaign began — (as April was the earliest date when the GE could have taken place — six months to the fourth anniversary of the opening of Parliament in October, 2014).. The processes that were undertaken were not a departure from the Nadave Outcomes, but the natural progression of those outcomes – the crafting of campaign strategies and messages, drafting of manifesto and candidate selection, etc…

 

  1. See above. It was not a departure from the Nadave outcomes, but the natural progression of those outcomes – the crafting of campaign strategy and messages, drafting of manifesto, candidate selection etc…..
  2. The Management Board decided at each stage – approval of Strategic Plan, SGM approved the constitution amendments, MB approved Oct 2016 campaign preps from PL, appointment of committees, MB meeting in July 2017 approve the campaign strategy, approved constituencies and distribution of seats — December 2017, the MB approved the first group of candidates, approved the “messages”, the manifesto etc. all MB approved, and AGM/SGM approved changes of direction, i.e. Constitution amendments, Memorandum of Understanding with Peoples Democratic Party, etc.

 

  1. E. The system (including Electoral legislations, Political Parties Decrees, Voter Registration Decree) are rigged against opposition parties, the political environment has been one of fear, the media chose to adopt a self-censored attitude, Fijians remain poor after 12 years and the dependency syndrome has taken its toll in our communities – people are happy to survive and drink grog free and expect the Party and candidates to pay for all election costs, Basically no one wants to take responsibility, everyone wants the party to do it all for them.

 

We can have the most beautiful plan, the best message, but if we can’t fire up the voters to register and to actually vote and to vote for us correctly… then we will lose … Awareness Teams were tasked to check voter rolls for 1 year but they could not do it… then 172,631 people did not vote.! E SA BALETI KEDA GA NA NODA DRUKA,”

 

Arbiter’s comments

 

  1. According to the MB Papers for the 25” October, 2016 meeting, almost the entire meeting discussed the report on the analysis of the 2014 GE which gave rise to the strategies to select GE candidates, establishment of the 7 committees — Candidate Selection, Manifesto, GE Boundaries, Fundraising, Compliance to Election Process, High-level Research Committee, Communications & Media Strategies, proposal to strengthen

2. Party/Parliamentary Caucus linkage and Inter-party Co-operation Page 4 of the Party’s 2016-2018 Strategic Plan clearly states the “plan is based on the Nadave Outcomes, the May 2015 Strategic Planning workshop, and the changes effected from the October 2015 AGM”.

 

Issue 6: Candidate Fees:

 

Mr. Koroisavou’’s Grievance

 

  1. “There needs to be a financial breakdown of what was the total of funds collected from the candidate fees before election?
  2. How was it used?
  3. How many candidates was directly supported by the Party? (Banners, Pamphlets, Sevusevu, etc). To my knowledge it was only supposed to be the Party Leader, if any other was supported, we need to know who and we also need to see the breakdown of what was used and who authorized it”.

 

GS’s response

  1. “This is a matter for the retreat and not for email or correspondence.
  2. This is a matter for the retreat and not for email or correspondence.
  3. This is a matter for the retreat and not for email or correspondence.”

 

Arbiter’s comments

I understand that Mr. Koroisavou did not attend the post 2018 GE held on 18” May 2019. As a member of the MB, Mr. Koroisavou has the right to request financial breakdown and related information from MB Chairman and he must ensure security and confidentiality of the information.

This is the same as the recommendation in Issue 4: II above.

 

Issue 7: Party AGM:

Mr. Koroisavou’s Grievance

  1. “When is our next AGM?
  2. Is it true that it willbe held in Savusavu on the 28th of June?
  3. If it is true, who made these decisions without the board and on what grounds under the constitution?
  4. With major questions and issue to be addressed including party leadership I do not see any logic as to why this has to be conducted in any other location but Suva with majority of our support are based here and also in Viti Levu?”

 

GS’‘s response

  1. “It must take place before end of June under the Party Constitution. The Vanua in Cakaudrove have requested it be held in Savusavu given it is the Turaga Bale Na Tui Cakau’s last AGM as President. The Vanua and party processes are in train and we must wait for the process.
  2. It must take place before end of June. The Vanua in Cakaudrove have requested it be held in Savusavu given it is the TC’s last AGM as President. The Vanua and party processes are in train and we must wait for the process.
  3. The Vanua in Cakaudrove have requested it be held in Savusavu given it is the Turaga Bale Na Tui Cakau’s last AGM as President. The Vanua and party processes are in train and we must wait for the process.
  4. Party Leadership is appointed by the Management Board, not AGM.”

 

Arbiter’s comments

 

  1. The WC in its meeting on 17” May 2019 formally noted the Turaga Na Tui Cakau’s invitation to the Party to hold its 2019 General Assembly meeting in Savusavu on 28” June. This invitation was also presented to the MB in its meeting on the same day.

 

ISSUE — GENERAL MATTERS

 

Mr. Koroisavou’s Grievance

 

“These are a few of the issues and questions that I seek clarification on as a board member and        without the conveying of the working group committee, I have been given no other choice but to voice it through this platform.

I do hope that these issues are clarified and that it is received in good heart with the full interest of      the party and with our nation Fiji at heart.

With those concerns I therefore call and petition for the immediate sitting of the working group committee or the National Board to address these issues well before the allocated day of the Annual General Meeting.”

GS’s response:

“It is quite clear that Jope has received and worked on twisted information to suit whatever motives he and his masters have.”

 

Arbiter’s comments

MB members have the right to ask for information from the MB through its Chairperson. If the meeting of the MB was scheduled in the first quarter of 2019 as required under the Constitution, most of Mr. Koroisavou’s questions would have been answered on a timely manner. At the same time Mr. Koroisavou would have been reminded that the information is only made available to him as a member of the MB and he must attend the meeting.

The Women Forum leaders are calling on the Party Leadership to practice the Party slogan, “Leadership that listens”. This is the core of Servant Leadership philosophy. Servant leadership is more than transformational leadership. It is a visionary leadership approach that empowers people, builds a caring and compassionate attitude amongst the people involved and it translates in a more just and caring world. Research shows that more people especially the younger generation are drawn to servant leaders. The best model for servant leadership is Jesus.

While the Women Forum acknowledges that they have 3 members on the MB, they feel that the Party is still very male dominated. The Women Forum would like one of the Vice President’s position to be filled by a Woman in order to start addressing male dominance of the Party and elevating women issues to a higher level in the Party.

 

  1. The Women also feel that more needs to be done by the Party to ensure that no less than 30% of SODELPA female candidates win seats in Parliament. While the women respect the Vanua and the traditional leaders, they strongly feel that the Vanua ideology is a constraint on the progress of the Party. This ideology affects open discussions and hinders empowerment of women and youths. This is an issue also raised by some of the youths that I met. While it is a sensitive issue, the Senior Party members must take the lead in addressing it.

 

  1. The women also want strategies put in place to identify, nurture and mentor young people, not just chiefs, to be future leaders of the Party. This is one of the best legacies the current leaders of the Party can leave behind. This is the time to act.
  2. The Women also felt that there’s bullying going on by some members of the Party especially through emails and the Party leadership is turning a blind eye to this. Dr Mere Samisoni has raised this on page 3 on her grievance letter addressed to the Party leader dated 7” June 2019. The MB should address this claim and other issues raised by Dr. Samisoni immediately.

Managing generational differences is evident in the Party and is challenging the status quo. The baby boomers, those born before 1965, who make up the majority of the Party leadership today are being challenged by the millennials, those born between 1980 and 1994. It is not going to be easy for the current Party leadership to handle them. To demonstrate this generational gap, we know that baby boomers have made a lot of sacrifices, working long hours and patiently waiting for promotions. On the other hand, millennials will not work for long hours. They will use technology to leverage their work, speak their mind and expect quick promotions.

Millennials will leave when leaders do not involve them or provide them with greater responsibilities. This is a big threat to the sustainability of SODELPA in future. To address this, it is time for the Party to allow generation X, the generation between the baby boomers and millennials who are born between 1965 and 1979, to take up leadership positions in the Party. Research shows that generation X can work with baby boomers, because they are their parents generation and also work with millennials because they are their brothers, sisters and childrens’ generation and they understand them better than the baby boomers.

 

Everyone that I spoke to that supported Mr. Koroisavou have called on the MB to put in place policies for President and General Secretary not to be members of parliament. There should be clear separation of party official roles and MP roles. This is to ensure that the Party operates effectively by organising meetings at the right time as per the requirement of the Constitution, disseminating information on a timely basis, dealing with membership issues like complaints and ensuring the party preparations for the next GE gets underway as planned.

Relating to questions raised by Mr. Koroisavou on use of funds for the Party leader’s campaign, the members of the Tovata USA SODELPA are requesting for receipts for all the funds that SODELPA USA had donated to the Party. The 2018 accounts list USA Soli for 2018 is $222, 754 and in 2017 it was $57,796. The USA SODELPA will request information from MB, if it has not done so. The MB needs to decide on the release of information, who will this information be released to and the security and confidentiality of the information.

MB should note that it has a responsibility under clause 13.1(b)(1) to “Ensure the Code of Conduct for Political Parties as stipulated in Decree No.4 & 11 and other relevant legislations are upheld”. Under this Decree, Party members or members of the public can inspect the books of the Party. This means either the USA members can do it to satisfy themselves of the information they are after or they can hire an independent auditor to do this for them. Clause 18.3.1(b) states that “The General Secretary shall be responsible to the Management Board, through the Party President for the day to day operational management and conduct of the Party which shall include but not limited to the following : (iii) facilitate the right of members of the Party or the public to inspect the books or list of members in accordance with Schedule 1 of Decree 4, 2013”.

 

Action needs to be taken by the MB to immediately address this grievance when received.

People, including some members of the MB, that I met, were not sure which Party Constitution I was referring to. Is it the 2015 or 2018 Constitution? I told them that I was referring to the Party Constitution that was adopted at the special General Assembly held at the Epworth Hall on 10 September 2015.

There also seems to be misunderstanding of some of the clauses of the Constitution. For example some think that there is a constitutional crisis after they learnt that the President had resigned. Also, some people felt that the 42 member board stipulated in clause 13.0(a) of the Constitution is too large and may be challenging and costly to manage. The powers of the Working Committee contained in clause 13.8.5(b) is too broad and must be reviewed.

 

To address these issues, the MB should form a governance committee immediately to review the Party Constitution and ensure all the revisions that have already been approved are inserted, if not already done. There must be wide consultations carried out to ensure that all Party members are given the opportunity to give their views openly in a safe space. Once the revised Constitution is adopted, there should be a structed awareness programme rolled out to educate members with the Constitution and supporting policies.

The MB must deal with the current hostility towards the leadership of the Party immediately to avoid it being entrenched in the Party. Improvements in communications through the entire Party Machinery must be done immediately. There should be more conciliatory communications. Party leaders and Senior Party members should take the lead and promote it and must be careful to avoid promoting groupthink.

 

The Party President, Na Turaga Bale Na Tui Cakau, has resigned and the position of GS has been advertised, The Party has conducted the post 2018 GE workshop for some members. This needs to be done for other members. It is the right time to review the Party’s governance structure capitalising on the Party strengths, improving areas that needs to be strengthened and capitalising on opportunities early. A new Strategic Plan 2020-2022 has to be in place by early 2020.

The MB should appoint the new President and GS in the next 30 days to implement the recommendations of this report. These roles require people that are committed, honourable, fair, trusted, humble and compassionate. The leaders must restore broken relationships, help heal the wounds that may have been caused by words that have been spoken and unite the SODELPA family ready for leadership in 2022. God has promised in Psalm 133 that where there’s unity, God commands his blessings. The blessings begin flowing from the top, i.e. from the President and to everyone under him or her.

 

CONCLUSION

The Party is built on solid principles. It is evident from Mr. Kororisavou’s grievances and others and response from the GS that the Party is finding its way through the diversity that now exists in the party covering at least 3 generations of Fijians living in the villages and in towns and cities in Fiji and abroad. Recommendations made in this report should be considered as continuous improvement suggestions. All the recommendations in this report should be fully implemented by 31St December 2019 because it will greatly assist and support the Party’s GE 2022 preparations. It should begin with the appointment of new President and new GS in July, 2019 because they will implement the recommendations.

While going through the appointment process, it is vital for the MB to ensure proper entry and exit requirements and processes are followed and documented.

I encourage everyone to sort out their differences and come together as a SODELPA family and focus in regaining leadership of Fiji in 2022. I challenge all of you with these Words from Hebrews 12-14 :“So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it! Work at getting along with each other and with God”.

 

May God bless SODELPA and bless Fiji.

Vinaka saka vakalevu!

 

 

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