Analysis | Politics

The Sort Of Leader SODELPA Should Be Looking For

The new leader should be responsive to the voices of all people - members and non-members. SODELPA cannot just champion the interests of one race only, in this case just the iTaukei, if it wants to continue as a viable political party. It needs to broaden its base by incorporating inclusive policies in its manifesto. For example, when it talks about poverty, the issue transcends race.
18 Aug 2020 15:10
The Sort Of Leader SODELPA Should Be Looking For

Analysis:

As candidates vie for the party leader role SODELPA should be looking for the following qualities in the ideal leader.

He or she must be decisive – not afraid to make the right decisions for the common good even if they may not be politically expedient. The decisions should be based on careful and thorough analysis on what is best in the national interest. Those that are made for short term political gains are not sustainable and will eventually flounder. While they may be popular at that particular point in time, they will not last or endure because the results or outcomes will expose their weaknesses and frailties.

The interests of the iTaukei

The new leader should be responsive to the voices of all people – members and non-members. SODELPA cannot just champion the interests of one race only, in this case just the iTaukei, if it wants to continue as a viable political party. It needs to broaden its base by incorporating inclusive policies in its manifesto. For example, when it talks about poverty, the issue transcends race.

The reality is that the poor are in all racial groups. This may be more pronounced in some groups than others.

There is no doubt that the iTaukei need economic empowerment.  The FijiFirst Government is addressing it but more needs to be done.

The iTaukei are asset rich. They communally own more than 91 per cent of Fiji’s total landmass. But they do not have the economic strength and wealth to show for it. The Government has come up with initiatives to help iTaukei develop their land for commercial purposes.

Leader qualities

Mastering the art of communication is essential in a leader. He or she must maintain the communication channels open with party members, the Government and the people. The leader must learn to listen and act on their views.

The old party leadership was guilty of lack of communication. It failed to do enough to resolve the grievances of a disgruntled group after the 2018 election. It led to the group taking the party and its officials to court, in what is believed to be the first case of this type. The landmark ruling highlighted breaches of the party’s constitution and declared that the General Assembly (annual general meeting) null and void and therefore invalid.

A bitter split ensued leading to the suspension of the party by the Registrar of Political Parties for breach of its constitution.

The breaches were later rectified and the suspension was lifted.

The new leader must be committed to respect the governance principles of accountability and transparency. That means complying with the provisions of the party constitution.

He or she should be humble and respect opposite views, but then act on the best interests of the people and the country. Humility is not a sign of weakness. It is treating everyone equally.

The new leader should be able to talk regularly with the leaders of other political parties and find common grounds on urgent matters of national interest.

Good leaders are not necessarily those with grey hairs and bald – a general perception that wisdom comes with age.

Whoever is selected must be on the basis of merit. He or she has the qualities outlined earlier and brings that freshness to the party. We do not have to look far for an example.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is an excellent role model. She was first elected to Parliament as a Labour list MP in 2008 when she was only 28-years-old. She took over as Labour Party leader on August 1, 2017, only weeks before the election, when the party was struggling in the preference polling with abysmal showing.

The charismatic Ardern turned the party around in a “rock star” performance and became the youngest Prime Minister of NZ at 37, after going into coalition with Winston Peters’ NZ First.

After what it has gone through, SODELPA needs a new leader who can re-energise and lift it to a credible opposition first before it even starts thinking of toppling the FijiFirst Government.

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