We will admit the events of the last week or so have disrupted discussions around the Yellow Bucket. Our focus was on a new year review of prospects for our various political players but then the PM dropped one of his Friday evening bomb shells.
Not that it was entirely unexpected as he has clearly been setting this up for a while, see Vijay Narayan’s interview with him last year. The Prime Minister has plenty of well-known reasons to want to see the back of Aseri Radrodro and this “drama” provides an early test of just how secure the Coalition Government is as we enter year two of their term.
When we first heard the news, opinion around the Yellow Bucket was mixed. As we’ve said, no surprise, but a little concern about whether this time the Prime Minister was going to make it stick and the impact it would have on his coalition.
Early reaction from SODELPA general secretary Viliame Takayawa was typically bullish. Lots of strong words, hints of pulling out of the coalition and then the extraordinary call to replace Sitiveni Rabuka as Prime Minister with his deputy Manoa Kamikamica.
But as the weekend wore on and after a strong explanatory statement from the PM, it started to look like this time was different. Not that there weren’t some worried coalition partners, and we believe Mr Khaiyum was busy doing the rounds sniffing for opportunity. As the week unfolded we saw a steady withdrawal from SODELPA. There were apologies from Radrodro (not to the PM but to the people of Fiji), a plea to get his job back and a back track from Takayawa leading finally to a unanimous management board request to the PM to relent and reinstate him.
The Prime Minister’s initial response as reported by fijivillage on the weekend wasn’t clear. Then we had his comment following initial attempts to present a matanigasau that reminded us that this “dispute” has deep and very personal roots. Then the announcement that it had taken place and accepted this time with the Qaranivalu Ratu Inoke Takiveikata present. But ….. the Prime Minister has made it clear this doesn’t get Radrodro his job back and that he has to go to the back bench to do his penance. Not only that, it does appear that some of the more disruptive elements in SODELPA have been told to behave!
The conclusion, for the moment, leaves the coalition much stronger. The Government enters it’s second year having successfully strengthened their relationship with the Military and dealt with the lingering potential SODELPA problem i.e. Aseri Radrodo. It would appear despite all the doom mongering on social media that it is now entering a period when it can concentrate on doing the job it was elected to do ….. governing the country.So, where did this all come from and where does SODELPA stand now? The dysfunctional state of SODELPA sits at the core of all of this. This first became apparent in the twists and turns that led to the formation of the People’s Alliance. Then we saw it surface again in the machinations that led up to the formation of the Coalition Government and it has been bubbling away ever since culminating in this current showdown.
Unfortunately, SODELPA’s constitution, (that leaves legal experts in despair), was written in a climate of distrust and bitter infighting and a lot of it relates ironically to Rabuka himself. His participation was always contentious with many of the founders determined, understandably, to move past the coup era by excluding any previous participants. Later, other disputes and rivalries formed that split the party even further between those determinedly anti Rabuka and those who could see his value ultimately leading to the formation of the People’s Alliance.
Long time fijivillage users may remember the Yellow Bucket opinion column that ran in the years leading up to the 2006 coup. Well following the repeal of the MIDA Act we are delighted to announce that YB is back!
The Yellow Bucket is something of a Communications Fiji Ltd institution…. Yes it exists…. A real Yellow Bucket that the CFL team and visitors gather around after work to drink grog and discuss the day. Legend has it that every Fiji Prime Minister has at some stage enjoyed a bilo from the bucket.
The YB column ran from 2003 to early 2007 when it was shut down under extreme pressure from the military government. Later the MIDA Act specifically forbade any use of nom de plums or pseudonyms requiring every published article to have a named author.
So why the pseudonym. The YB column was and will continue to be a product of group thinking and discussion, so it would be impossible and a little unfair to attribute it to a single author.
It will continue to provide fact-based opinion offering context to the complex and constantly unfolding story, that is our home Fiji. We stress, FACT BASED…. No rush to judgement here ….. Our aim will be to run weekly but that could change depending on the situation.
Stay tuned for the latest news on our radio stations