This week SODELPA decides on its new Party Leader
Not surprisingly, the Fiji Sun is pushing Mr Rabuka as the front runner, mainly I think because they know if he is elected, it will almost certainly secure Fiji First’s 2nd term in government come 2018. But for me, a Rabuka led SODELPA will mean the end of my membership with the party, not because I dislike him, but because he represents everything that I am opposed to.
The Leader we select this week is supposed to be the one who is going to lead our charge against Fiji First and help us win in 2018. Such a person I would have thought would already have a high and visible profile calling out the Kai-Bai government every time it acts outside the democratic framework and countering the relentless attacks against SODELPA, the party they aspire to lead.
I have looked hard to find statements or sentiments from the aspiring candidates and while there are many examples from the 3 MP candidates, the same cannot be said for Mr Rabuka and Mr Jale.
Mr Jale as far as I can see has a limited profile, Mr Rabuka on the other hand has a high profile, but not for the reasons he believes. The only 2 things he is reported to have said in recent times is, SODELPA should have a vision like Fiji First, and that ‘Frank Bainimarama’ had the right to change our current Fiji Flag? This of course is the opposite position that the SODELPA Youth under the direction of Ro Teimumu Kepa took on the flag issue and succeeded in getting it pushed back?
First of all Mr Rabuka’s commitment to the party itself is a concern. This will be I believe his 3rd attempt to try and secure our party leadership but after each previous failed attempts, he has resigned? What does this say about his commitment to the party? Is it conditional on his being elected leader?
Another problem I have with a Rabuka Leadership, is that his credentials mirror that of Dictator Frank’s in that their rise to Leadership was on the back of committing the capital crime of treason; they both refuse to take responsibility for their crimes, they both hide behind their immunity protection, while all ordinary citizens that they want to lead have no such protection, and while they enjoy this elitist and privileged position their co coup conspirator George Speight & co who committed the exact same capital crime as them, are allserving life for their 2000 effort. And what is worse, neither Mr Rabuka nor Mr Bainimarama think there’s anything wrong with this?
The other misconception that his supporters have is that Mr Rabuka will bring to the party his huge support base? But there is no evidence of this. What I can confirm however, from ‘official’ records is that 24 years ago, and 5 years after his ‘Father of all Coups , Mr Rabuka did win the General elections with his SVT Party with 154,656 votes and 36 seats formed the government and became Prime Minister. But over the following 14 years to 2006, his support base reduced through a party split and disillusion with the SVT and in 2006 they received just 238 votes. This is what the ‘official’ record of support for Mr Rabuka was 10 years ago.
In contrast to this, just 20 months ago our current leader Ro Teimumu Kepa who is, in my view, the ‘most electable’ respected, admired and courageous leader we have, and a Paramount Chief of Fiji received 49,485 votes which is 35% of the total SODELPA votes in 2014. And we think we are going forward by replacing her with someone who 10 years ago could only secure 238 votes? I mean, seriously?
Even Hon Tikoca’s supporters numbered 2,406, Hon Kiliraki has 2.413 and Hon Gavoka has 3,690, and although their numbers collectively are less than 18% of that which Ro Teimumu polled, they are each 10 to 15 times greater than the Fiji Sun’s presumptive new SODELPA leader Mr Rabuka.
As for concerns some have raised about Hon Gavoka and his relationship to the Attorney General, from my own experience with the Hon member, I can say that it does not diminish his determination to do what is right.
Winning elections is about increasing voter numbers. In 2014 we secured 139,857 votes and along with our Opposition partners and Independents, 41% of the voters voted against Fiji First and the difference between winning or losing the 2018 elections based on these results, is a shift of just 14% of Fiji First supporters to the Opposition. Consolidating our support from 2006 and working with our opposition partners to build that 41% to 55% is what will win the election for us. To the current SODELPA leadership, I say displacing the leader who polled the largest number of votes for the party and risking her supporter’s continued loyalty, after the disrespectful way Ro Teimumu has been treated by some in the executive, is an act of lunacy.
Of course we can just hand the next elections on a plate to Fiji First, all we have to do is elect Mr Rabuka as our new leader and we will have helped created a scenario where the 2 candidates most likely to be our next Prime Minister are the very ones who destroyed our democracy. What does that say about our morals and integrity as a society? Sadly what the coup culture has given Fiji is a new military and social elitewhose rise in fame, fortune and status, have been achieved on the back of acts of treason, through favours, corruption and nepotism.
Everyone born in 1987 will be 31 in 2018 and those born in 2000 will be become eligible to vote in 2018, so we have arrived at the time when the majority of our people will have never experienced real democracy, they have grown up under the shadows of coups, oppression and threats and although it’s been 29 years since the first coup that began all our problems, it’s never too late to start saying NO.
Some coup leaders in other countries are finding out that, the ‘arm of the law is long’ so while the usurpers of our democracy and their aiders and abettors may well succeed for now in ‘delaying’ their day in court, ultimately that day will come. It’s not a matter of if, but when!