Analysis | Politics

Real Test For Suspended SODELPA Is If Factions Can Come Together At Constituency Committee Level

One of the underlying problems is the radicalisation of the campaign to address indigenous issues, which has developed into racist overtones. When SODELPA was setup, the focus of the party was to address issues concerning all ethnic groups in Fiji including the indigenous iTaukei.
01 Jun 2020 11:39
Real Test For Suspended SODELPA Is If Factions Can Come Together At Constituency Committee Level
Opposition Leader in Parliament Sitiveni Rabuka outside Parliament on March 27, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar

 

Analysis:

As the countdown continues for suspended SODELPA the focus is on constituency committees.

If it cannot come together at this level then the way forward is doomed – deregistration is imminent.

The battle for power continues unabated in many of the electorate strongholds.

The latest speculation is about a petition being circulated calling for the removal of Vijay Singh as the only recognised authority of the suspended party. He heads the Holiday Inn faction against the Kshatriya Hall group led by Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu and Adi Litia Qionibaravi. Suspended caretaker party leader and Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka supports this group.

It is not clear who is behind the petition. If it is not true, we still cannot deny the existence of right-wing conservatives in the suspended party who will not accept an Indo-Fijian leading a predominantly iTaukei political party.

If the concern is about Indo-Fijian leadership, where was the concern when the 1987 Rabuka-led military coup overthrew the democratically elected government led by an iTaukei Prime Minister, the late Dr Timoci Bavadra.

Call it an oxymoron, a contradiction, a paradox, hypocrisy or whatever, it does not make sense from the surface. But as you peel through the layers you will discover the different forces at play and the complicated intricacies of iTaukei politics which are sadly laced with pride and big egos.

The infighting, provincialism, and lack of flexibility and adaptability to modern change by the traditional establishment have muddied the waters and contributed to the demise of previous predominantly iTaukei parties like the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara-led Alliance  Party, the late Sakeasi Butadroka-Fijian Nationalist Party and its offshoots, the late Ratu Osea Gavidi-led Western United Front, the Sitiveni Rabuka-led Soqosoqo ni Vakavilewa ni Taukei (SVT) to name a few.

One of the underlying problems is the radicalisation of the campaign to address indigenous issues, which has developed into racist overtones. When SODELPA was set up, the focus of the party was to address issues concerning all ethnic groups in Fiji including the indigenous iTaukei. However, over the years it appears the now suspended party has lost its way.

There is no doubt that there are issues there that need to be addressed but there is a way of going about it. But we need to be careful about how we deal with real ethnic challenges.

Like other iTaukei parties that are now defunct, the suspended SODELPA is following a similar path to self-destruction unless it buries its differences and comes together at the constituency level.

If emotions are still running high we could see two sets of constituency meetings and nominees for the 42-member Management Board or bitterly fought single constituency meetings.

The two factions know that whoever controls the Management Board controls the suspended party.

So the constituency meetings are crucial.

But first basic requirements need to be adhered to be in line with good governance. Even though not much is spelt out in the suspended party constitution the factions can start by giving a seven–day notice for a meeting with an agenda.

Then election of officers should be done by secret ballot following the normal democratic protocols. Details of the election should be properly documented and sent to the office of the Registrar of Political Parties

That’s the starting block in addressing the breaches of the constitution that earned the party the suspension.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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