SODELPA Sinks Deeper Into Quagmire After 3 Go Against Rabuka’s Peace Bid
Sitiveni Rabuka’s plan to reconcile factions in Social Democratic Liberal Party has suffered a major setback.
It has been skewered by three defendants in the landmark SODELPA court decision which ruled against them.
Despite a decision by the caretaker party leader not to pursue an appeal, general secretary Adi Litia Qionibaravi, removed president Ro Filipe Tuisawau and removed general secretary Usaia Waqatairewa have filed their intention in court to appeal.
They could have based it on Mr
Rabuka’s original statement that the party would appeal.
However, he has since changed his mind because he wants to unite the factions and indicated that he would like to save the potential legal fees to prepare for the 2022 election campaign.
It is understood that he is attracting backers to his plan including one of the defendants, removed vice-president Anare Jale. Mr Jale declined to go with the trio.
The only functioning vice-president, Vijay Singh, on medical treatment in Australia, is understood to be supporting Mr Rabuka’s plan. Mr Singh should be leading the party according to the party constitution, but because he is in Australia, the mantle of leadership has been passed on to Mr Rabuka in the interim.
It is likely that the trio’s appeal is personal and not endorsed by the party because Mr Rabuka does not support an appeal and the management board, the party’s governing body, has not met yet. The trio are paying for their appeal not the party. But the process will incur costs for both sides and dampen efforts to reconcile them with the appeal hanging over their heads.
This current status quo highlights the confusing state the party is in. Mr Rabuka, a seasoned politician and a former prime minister, realises that unless he comes up with a rescue plan, the party is heading straight into an abyss where it is hard to come back.
He has had previous experience. It happened to his Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT) Party. He could not stop the internal revolt against his leadership.
The breakway of a group which led to the formation of the Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua (CAMV), a party whose powerbase was from the Cakaudrove-Bua-Macuata bloc, triggered the demise of SVT. Mr Rabuka believes that the only hope for SODELPA’s future is reconciliation not confrontation. The fact is that its current state is not sustainable in the long run.
For Mr Rabuka, personally, this is his last throw of the dice, to return to the country’s top job he once held, to make good his failed promises and right the wrongs of the past.
So it is in his interest that the party rises above Justice Sharma’s judgment, rectify the governance woes and position the party for the 2022 election.
Justice Sharma ruled that the annual general meeting at Yaroi Village, Savusavu in June last year was null and void.
The election of office bearers was therefore invalid. But is Adi Litia’s, Ro Filipe’s and Mr Waqatairewa’s appeal intention a show of no-confidence in Mr Rabuka’s leadership? Adi Litia has yet to respond to queries on this issue.
But it raises several other questions about the party. If it cannot get its act together how can it confidently present itself to the people as the alternative government in 2022.
How can it govern the nation if it cannot get things right internally? It cannot bank on its performance in 2018 when it came together despite its unresolved internal differences and won six extra seats in Parliament.
An increasing number of members are asking questions, like the recent letter of grievances from Tovata SODELPA USA.
Unless it resolves outstanding issues, it can forget 2022.
Ro Filipe Tuisawau.
Adi Litia Qionibaravi.
SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka.