Analysis | Politics

More Drama Behind The Scenes As Members Of Suspended Party Choose Their Reps On Board

There are claims and counterclaims over the way some of the meetings are being conducted. Questions are being asked whether proper protocols are being followed. But what are these protocols?
10 Jun 2020 11:34
More Drama Behind The Scenes As Members Of Suspended Party Choose Their Reps On Board
Ro Teimumu Kepa (left) and Ro Filipe Tuisawau. Photos: Ronald Kumar.

Analysis:

Vanua solidarity has been shaken to the core over differences in the convening of constituency meetings to elect 42 members of the Management Board of suspended SODELPA.

There are claims and counterclaims over the way some of the meetings are being conducted. Questions are being asked whether proper protocols are being followed. But what are these protocols?

Rewa delegates

In the case of Rewa, SODELPA, delegates from the respective tikina (districts) were notified of the meeting by the Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi or paramount chief of Rewa and the Burebasaga Confederacy, Ro Teimumu Kepa, and members of her inner circle. The tikinas represented branches.

It is understood that her nephew, Ro Filipe Tuisawau, was informed, but he did not attend the meeting, which unanimously elected Ro Teimumu as Rewa’s delegate in the Management Board.

If this is true it comes as no surprise because they belong to rival factions of suspended SODELPA – Ro Teimumu with the Vijay Singh group and Ro Filipe with the Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu crowd.

Their deep-seated rivalry is steeped in history and tradition in the chiefly family over the chiefly title.

History

In the 2006 General Election, Ro Filipe stood as an independent after he lost the primary to choose the candidate for the Soqosoqo ni Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL), led by the late Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. She won her seat and became Minister for Education.

Although Ro Filipe failed to win a seat, he made a statement by the number of votes he won particularly among the younger Rewans.

It was the same support that saw him go over the line in the 2018 General Election. In some of the tikinas he polled the highest leaving, a significant margin between her and him.

This constituency battle is a replay of previous encounters.

One of his supporters questioned how Ro Teimumu was appointed. He claimed they knew nothing about the meeting.

If it was advertised or broadcast, which media was used? They only learned about it was when they read it in the Fiji Sun.

But it is understood that Ro Teimumu followed the normal procedures and contacted most, if not all of the tikina reps, also referred to as delegates to the constituency.

There were enough in attendance to form a quorum, it is claimed by her supporters.

But the anti-Ro Teimumu group claims otherwise, and that Ro Filipe was not aware of it.

If the rival groups are referring to the constitution the confusion may be caused by the different versions that are circulating.

This is not the last we will hear about this issue.

First, Mohammed Saneem, the Registrar of Political Parties, will adjudicate in the matter when he reviews the processes that were followed. It may even go right up to the Management Board.

Naitasiri meeting

The next highly charged constituency meeting is in Naitasiri tomorrow. This is a peculiar gathering because it is a meeting of all village elders and chiefs from different political affiliations and it is apolitical.

It is based on the philosophy that whoever is selected represents the people and province of Naitasiri in terms of development.

The same principle is applied with other political parties. Whether this system is in line with what Mr Saneem is expecting remains to be seen. The vanua is at the apex of any decision that involves the province and its people.

A petition that had been circulated against Vijay Singh, the leader of one of the two rival factions in suspended SODELPA, is expected to be high on the agenda. It has caused outrage in the province, especially among chiefs because it implicates all of Naitasiri and gives the province a bad name.

As constituencies scramble to hold their meetings questions are now being asked whether some previous members of the Management Board were properly chosen using the provisions of the constitution and good governance principles as a guide.

They now have the opportunity to do it right.

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