Analysis | Politics

The Rise And Fall Of Adi Litia Qionibaravi

In her short political career, she has earned the reputation of a fighter and survivor in her own unique and indomitable way. Will she have a last hurrah before she decides to bow out?
11 Jun 2020 16:50
The Rise And Fall Of Adi Litia Qionibaravi
Suspended SODELPA Opposition Member of Parliament, Adi Litia Qionibaravi. Photo: Ronald Kumar


Adi Litia Qionibaravi is well known as a fighter and survivor.

She is not new to controversies but many in SODELPA are wondering whether she has finally met her match in her latest challenges.

The landmark Civil High Court ruling that implicated her on governance issues and the subsequent political fallout could be too much for her to chew.

She has gone quiet after the ruckus in the Working Committee meeting and the standoff between the two factions.

She has probably been advised to keep a low profile and work quietly to help suspended SODELPA avoid deregistration. Reports from the field say she is encouraging constituencies to hold their meetings with the hope that most of them will support her and the Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu group of which she is a prominent member, in the Management Board.

Architect of the amended constitution

The Suva lawyer and former CEO of the then Fijian Affairs is the architect of the amended constitution of the suspended party, which increased the board membership from nine to 42. Some members were highly critical of that move saying it was unwarranted because it was easy to work with a smaller board.

The passage of the amendments was controversial. It was vehemently opposed by then party leader Ro Teimumu Kepa and her camp because one of the amendments later forced her to relinquish her leadership role.

The increase in board membership was designed to widen the voice of the people. It was probably based on Adi Litia’s experience in dealing with the 14 provinces during her CEO tenure. It was a clever move to engage a broader representation of the grassroots support and almost pulled off a surprise upset in the 2018 General Election. What she did not foresee, however, was the practical problems in try to convene a board meeting because of the logistical nightmare.

She spent a lot of long hours in the office preparing documents for party meetings and mapping the way forward. Her close supporters say she had no assistant and, in the process, may have lost her way a bit.

Her opponents, however, say there is no excuse and want her out.

Her options are limited, and the circumstances could dictate that it’s now time to call it quits.

In the short time she has been in the political arena she has had a meteoric rise.

She was a key figure in the reforms that have transformed the party despite stiff opposition from some quarters.

In her own unique way, she has developed a resilience to counter internal and external opposition.

There was even motion from the Naitasiri constituency for her removal on the basis of allegations on governance. But that motion was defeated in the Namoli annual general meeting in Lautoka two years ago.

In the 2014 General Election, Adi Litia accompanied Ro Teimumu Kepa in campaign meetings. But the two drifted apart after the election. Adi Litia joined a group of “reformers”, mostly from Vanua Levu, who wanted to lift the party’s performance in preparation for the 2018 General Election.

Gaunavinaka Report

The exposure of the controversial Gaunavinaka Report gave the “reformers” the platform to pursue the reforms.

The report was critical of Ro Teimumu’s leadership as the then Opposition leader and the administration of the Opposition Office after an audit. No one has claimed responsibility for that report.

The reforms were only possible if the party constitution was amended to legitimise the changes sought.

Adi Litia drafted the amended constitution, which was passed by a special general in 2016.

With the support of Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu and some of the senior party executives, she had grown as a powerful figure in the party.

She made a late decision to enter the 2018 General Election knowing the prospects for the party were good. She beat then sitting MP Jiosefa Dulakiverata, who was regarded as popular in Tailevu North. He was not the only MP who lost his seat. It sparked questions about the strategy used in the final weeks of the campaign.

Businesswoman Mere Samisoni became the voice of the disgruntled group. When they were not happy with the response given by then general secretary Adi Litia, they took the party and officials to court and won. Adi Litia and her group are appealing the ruling.

Adi Litia continues to remain one of the pillars of the advocacy for indigenous rights and interests. Her position was strengthened as CEO for the then Fijian Affairs and being in charge of the secretariat for the then Great Council of Chiefs (GCC). She was dismissed after the takeover in 2006.

All kinds of allegations were thrown at her, but she denied them all and they fizzled out.

Indications are that she would fight her latest demons to clear her name. But how far is she prepared to go?

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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