Explainer

Gavoka Stands His Ground

He has also come under attack for Sitiveni Rabuka’s visit to SODELPA headquarters.
08 Nov 2021 12:49
Gavoka Stands His Ground
Sodelpa Party Leader, Hon. Viliame Gavoka

SODELPA party leader Viliame Gavoka has rubbished calls for him to step down.

The calls have come from members worried about the drop in his popularity rating from 22.7 per cent to 12.3 per cent in the latest Fiji Sun-Western Force Research public opinion poll.

He has also come under attack for  Sitiveni Rabuka’s visit to SODELPA headquarters.

In this Q & A with the Fiji Sun he stands his ground and explains the reasons:

Fiji Sun: (1.) We have received more calls for you to do the honourable thing and step down as Party Leader. People say you know you are now a liability to the party because of the conflict of interest in you being the Father-in-Law of the A-G. People suggest party members are leaving Sodelpa as a result of their not being able to trust that you will be independent when it comes to the A-G. You have too much vested interest with the A-G, claim some members.

Gavoka: This is rubbish and coming from a very vocal few. If they are being instigated by someone wanting to be the party leader, I’d say to them; ‘this is SODELPA, come through the main door if you want to be party leader, don’t climb through the window’. I was one of the 8 from SODELPA that contested for the leadership of the Party, and it became mine after a very robust selection process. The A-G angle is old hat. I have been a party member for 20 years and a parliamentarian under the Party for 7 years; my loyalty is unquestionable and that’s a huge factor in my being the Party Leader. The A-G believes in FijiFirst and I believe in SODELPA; we are poles apart.

Fiji Sun: (2.) Do you think the party is bigger than any one person? And what are your views about the drop in your rating in the recent public opinion polls. You’ve dropped lower than when the polls started. Surely, that gives you an indication that Sodelpa is losing support because of you and this is reflected in the increase in polls figures for both Rabuka and PM. 

Gavoka: Polls are not the be all in politics. They can swing wildly as in my case. One month I’m up there, next month I’m down, but there is still 9 months to elections, if it happens in July. What we have is the novelty of the new party, but it will change as we start going head to head on issues.  Actually, I am visiting our supporters with our awareness teams and the traction I witness for SODELPA is very different from what the polls are saying.

Fiji Sun: (3.) It is too close to the polls and Sodelpa voters should not be put in an awkward situation to remove you, says some members. Some members say you as a party man must realise that Sodelpa stands a good chance to do well next year against two former military men with baggage of coups. What is your position on this? 

Gavoka: I am the Party Leader, given the mandate by the General Assembly to take the party to the elections. The preparations are quite advanced, with strategies that suit our Party, which is constituency driven. SODELPA made serious mistakes in 2018 with the wrong strategies in an election we should have won. We will not make those mistakes in 2022.

Fiji Sun: (4.) SDL stalwarts have now left Sodelpa.  Sakiasi Ditoka was Qarase’s secretary in cabinet.  He is now GS for PAP. More SDL people like George Shiu Raj have in recent days shown interest in joining PAP. Mr Raj recently shared that Indo Fijians have said to him that they don’t trust you because of your  association with A-G. This should be worrying for you. With more resignations from Sodelpa members to join PAP, what are your views on this and if push comes to shove, will you put the party’s interests above your own political ambitions?

Gavoka: Rabuka’s departure we all knew was seismic and would have reverberations as we are witnessing today. People will come and go, but SODELPA is the party for today and our future generations. It protects and promotes our aspirations, and strives to make changes so that what we aspire to becomes our way of life. SODELPA is solid, driven by its constitution, and will live into the future overcoming the challenges, such as we see today.

Fiji Sun: (5.) Welcoming Rabuka to SODELPA was a wrong move, some members claim. They say he has come in to snatch the rest of SODELPA members – a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Gavoka: Three other parties came under SODELPA/SDL, namely; SVT, CAMV and PDP. Parties have their own ideologies and we cannot always reconcile them, even though we tried. SVT has left under Rabuka, others may follow. No hard feelings, the SDL people remain solid to take SODELPA forward.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



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