Five senior members of SODELPA’s management board have called for a special general meeting to discuss serious internal issues.
They have asked the top officials to stand aside and allow the party to review its internal processes.
The issues relate to the controversial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between SODELPA and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Three letters have been sent to the party’s headquarters, the first just before Christmas last year, calling for the special general meeting.
So far there has been no word about the next special general meeting. The party had not responded to questions sent to it when this edition went to press.
The call to hold a special general meeting was made after it was discovered that former PDP president Vijay Singh was not a SODELPA financial member when he was elected one of the three vice-presidents at the special general meeting on December 9.
Mr Singh, too, is waiting for the new meeting because he wants to contest his vacant seat now that he has become a financial member.
The group is concerned about what it describes as a lack of transparency about the signing of the MOU in the wake of the Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem’s ruling.
Mr Saneem ruled that while the MOU was not a merger document, Mr Singh’s election breached provisions of the Political Parties decree. He also referred the matter to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC).
A copy of the MOU, signed by Lynda Tabuya (then PDP leader) and SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka and sighted by the Fiji Sun, said: “We will offer the position of Vice-President of SODELPA to Vijay Singh.”
When the election of office bearers was held on December 9 many did not know about this condition. The MOU was signed after the special general meeting on the same day.
The group in question had also written to Mr Saneem to express its concern.
But some party officials were not happy that an internal issue was communicated to Mr Saneem. The standoff led to one of the five being asked whether he was a financial member. That has not gone down well because the official concerned had paid his subscription.
Among the demands the group of five has made include:
A copy of the minutes of the special general meeting on December 9 meeting
A copy of the MOU which the five claim is privy to only a few. They strongly feel that the three-page document should have been vetted thoroughly before it was endorsed. It would have avoided the embarrassing blunder regarding the election of Mr Singh which has now been nullified. The MOU caught many by surprise and caused concern. But party leader Sitiveni Rabuka defended it saying he was given the mandate by the party to pursue unity moves with other Opposition political parties.
More details of the content of the MOU emerged yesterday.
Both parties agree that:
- PDP will not contest the 2018 general elections
- It’s party leader, Lynda Tabuya, will contest the elections under SODELPA, not PDP. This will require the party leader to resign from PDP and join SODELPA.
- PDP, through its party leader, unites with SODELPA in purpose and a common goal to contest the general elections in 2018.
- PDP commits its support base of members and affiliates.
The MOU says SODELPA “will offer the position of a national candidate to PDP party leader Lynda Tabuya”.
She is the second candidate to get this privilege, apart from Mr Rabuka. It means they can campaign any where in Fiji. Other candidates are restricted to their constituencies based on the 14 provinces.
The MOU says SODELPA will adopt specific policies of PDP like:
- The national election campaign of $4 an hour minimum wage rate
- The removal of short-term contracts of civil servants and the return to tenured contracts
- The fair exercise of collective bargaining rights as enabled in the Constitution of Fiji 2013
- The review of labour laws in Fiji to be fair to workers.
The document also says SODELPA will invite PDP members to sit on various working committees regarding workers and union issues.