Politics

New SODELPA Acting General Secretary Locked Out Of Headquarters: Who’s Got The Keys?

Acting SODELPA general secretary Emele Duituturaga finds SODELPA headquarters gate locked, preventing her from entering
26 May 2020 11:47
New SODELPA Acting General Secretary Locked Out Of Headquarters: Who’s Got The Keys?
Newly-appointed acting SODELPA general secretary Emele Duituturaga (right) and SODELPA Member of Parliament Lynda Tabuya outside the party’s headquarters in Suva. The gates were padlocked and office doors closed on May 25, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Newly confirmed acting general secretary of SODELPA Emele Duituturaga could not gain access to the party headquarters yesterday to meet with staff.

Ms Duituturaga was confirmed as the registered officer of SODELPA after her appointment was accepted by Registrar of Political Parties Mohammed Saneem yesterday morning.

She was part of the Management Board that met at the Holiday Inn in Suva on Saturday.

She submitted their report yesterday. The rival group which met at the Kshatriya Hall submitted its report last night.

Speaking to the Fiji Sun outside the SODELPA HQ, she said she wanted to meet with the party staff and inform them of Mr Saneem’s ruling but it was locked.

“I came to meet with the staff if I could, just to inform them of the ruling and announcement from the Registrar of Political Parties, however, the door was locked and I’m not able to get into the office – but I’ll keep trying,” Ms Duituturaga said.

“I’m making contact with different people to see if I can meet with the staff and have access to the office. There’s no one there, the office was locked. I’ll keep trying.

“The Registrar’s announcement is pretty fresh, so of course everyone is taking time to come to grip with that – so my first thoughts were to come and talk with the staff and give my support and also find a way to assure the staff of our concern, my concern to work this situation out. But clearly no one is at work today, the gates are locked – so we will just have to find a way to talk to someone.”

When approached for a comment, caretaker Party Leader and self-appointed mediator Sitiveni Rabuka said he does not concern himself with the day to day running of the head office and that his work was limited to the administration of the Parliamentary Opposition Chambers.

He referred the matter to Adi Litia.

Adi Litia said there was no lockout and that the gate to the headquarters was always closed.

Fijian Teachers Association is the landlord for the SODELPA HQ building.

When asked whether the premises will be kept locked until a decision was made, FTA general secretary Paula Manumanunitoga said: “No comment, we have to seek legal advice first.”

Dispute

Meanwhile, Adi Litia late yesterday lodged a dispute to the application for substitution of Ms Duituturaga with the Registrar of Political Parties. She was absent from Parliament during the afternoon session.

adi litia at feo 2 copy

Her dispute was in regard to the appointment of Ms Duituturaga as the Registered Officer for SODELPA and also the list of officeholders of the party that was purportedly signed in support of Ms Duituturaga.

Mr Saneem said “In interests of natural justice, the Registrar has, on a priority basis, forwarded the particulars of the Dispute to Ms Duituturaga to seek her response. Ms Duituturaga has been allowed until 12 noon on 26 May 2020 (today) to provide her response, if any.”

Zoom Meeting

Adi Litia also claims the meeting held at the Holiday Inn was not legitimate.

She claims this was because the Vice President, Mr Singh was not physically present during the meeting.

He was connected to those at the meeting via a video link on Zoom.

According to the SODELPA constitution, the Management Board could only meet when there is a quorum and a VP present.

“Yes. They did not have a VP there. We don’t have a provision in the Constitution that allows a contemporary form of communication so there was no VP there. He (Vijay Singh) was not there.

“He was on video link (Zoom) and we do not have a provision in the party constitution that allows a contemporary form of communication.”

However, Mr Singh had chaired the working committee meeting two weeks ago via video link.

Mr Rabuka has also taken the same line as Adi Litia.

“Since Mr Singh was not present at the Kshatriya Hall meeting, the board made the decision to casually appoint Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu and Ratu Luke Ratuvuki to fill that void.”

Mr Rabuka said the decision to hold the meeting at Holiday Inn and the agenda discussed were never approved by the Working Committee.

Mediation

He said while the mediation continued between the two factions, Adi Litia couldn’t be replaced until and after the proper process was carried out according to the constitution.

He explained that the division in the party arose out of the way the party had handled grievances concerning the accounting of donations from members in the U.S. and the inclusion of a management board member representing them.

Appointments

Yesterday morning, Mr Saneem received a submission of the list of appointments from the faction that met at the Holiday Inn.

He approved the appointments.

To this, Adi Litia said Mr Saneem made the announcement based on the information provided to him.

“He is not looking behind what happened. Was it lawfully convened, the people who sat there are legally elected board members, we are not worried about it,” she said.

“We will submit and we shall show that we were properly convened, we had management board members who sat there.”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

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