Lynda Tabuya has today asked where is the justice in the process after raising concerns on the way the Fiji First General Secretary, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem have handled the Rock The Vote Fiji complaint.
Tabuya says Saneem issued a press release on Thursday 22nd September, as well as on their FEO Facebook page, stating that the FEO refers the Rock the Vote Fiji organisation to FICAC for breach of the Political Parties, Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures Act.
Tabuya says yesterday morning 23rd September at 11am, she received an email with a letter from the Supervisor of Elections, with a list of questions regarding Rock the Vote Fiji and the COVID-19 Maternity Fund.
She says she is confused as to what the Supervisor of Elections is doing.
Tabuya says he stated in the media release that he referred the matter to FICAC, and yet in his letter to her had no mention of this but the SOE is seeking answers to questions.
She says she will be writing back to the Supervisor to ask him, has he or has he not referred this matter to FICAC.
Tabuya says that will then determine her next steps legally and she will not be discussing further or answering questions on the substance of the allegations made.
She also says she received the letter from the Supervisor seeking answers to questions regarding the complaint after Sayed-Khaiyum publicly displayed the complaint, the Supervisor of Elections publicly displayed the complaint and then referred the matter to FICAC.
She says that was the first time she was ever contacted by the Fijian Elections Office about the complaint seeking information on Rock the Vote Fiji and the COVID-19 Maternity Fund.
She expresses her shock and disgust at the way Sayed-Khaiyum has so publicly displayed the complaints to the media and how the Supervisor of Elections responded publicly to the media, and she is the last person to be informed of the complaints.
Tabuya says if she is being implicated of a crime, where is her right guaranteed in the Bill of Rights in the 2013 Constitution to allow her due process of the law, natural justice, the opportunity to be first heard and where is the respect for the rule of law and democracy.
The Fijian Elections Office has referred Rock the Vote Fiji to FICAC, and Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem says they have found that the organization breaches the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding & Disclosures) Act.
The FEO says from their assessment, based on Rock The Vote Fiji Facebook accounts, the organization purely exists to promote the election of Lynda Tabuya and other representatives of The People’s Alliance.
Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem says it is also not clear as to who are the executives of the organization and even more unclear is the management practices of this organization.
The FEO say the organization has organized numerous sporting activities, hired buses and sold merchandise to individuals.
Saneem says they have definitely earned thousands of dollars from donations and fundraising and all of it is purely for political purposes.
The FEO states that the electoral legal framework requires that all donations to political parties and their candidates are declared.
It says in this case, it is noted that senior officials of The People’s Alliance have actively participated by either donating money or hosting events via this organization.
The FEO is concerned that Rock the Vote has been created to by-pass key electoral laws that protect Fijians from unfair campaign practices as well as to protect political parties in terms of a level playing field.
According to section 2 of the Political Parties Act, the definition of political party means an association of persons or an organization, the object or activity, or one of the objects or activities of which is, the promotion of the election to Parliament of a candidate or candidates endorsed by it.
The FEO further notes that since its inception, Rock the Vote Fiji has been promoting Lynda Tabuya and the activities of The People’s Alliance extensively.
Saneem says that speaking from the records of the organization from Facebook, it appears to be as if it is another political party itself.
He says it is clearly not registered as a political party.
The FEO states that section 3(2) of the Act states that if any association of persons or an organization operate, function, represent or hold itself out to be a political party without being registered in accordance with the provisions of the Act, then any person who is a member of or holds office in any such association or organization commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or to both.
We have sent questions to The People’s Alliance on Rock The Vote Fiji.
People’s Alliance Deputy Leader, Manoa Kamikamica says Rock The Vote is not a project of the People’s Alliance, but they applaud it since they are doing a civic duty to encourage our citizens to register to vote and then turn up to vote, which is supporting the work of the Fijian Elections Office.
Kamikamica says this is no different to Jerry Tuwai with his billboard encouraging our citizens to vote or the USPSA running workshops with students to vote.
Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem has referred The people’s Alliance and Rock The Vote Fiji for alleged breaches of the Electoral Act after a complaint by the FijiFirst.
The FEO states that section 3(2) of the Political Parties Act states that if any association of persons or an organization operate, function, represent or hold itself out to be a political party without being registered in accordance with the provisions of the Act, then any person who is a member of or holds office in any such association or organization commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or to both.
By: Vijay Narayan
People’s Alliance Deputy Leader, Manoa Kamikamica says party is shocked and angry at the unjust persecution by the FijiFirst party, which has led to the People’s Alliance being referred to FICAC without it being given a chance to respond to allegations labeled against the party.
Kamikamica says at around 6pm on Tuesday, Fiji First General Secretary, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum made serious allegations and defamatory statements at a press conference in the FFP office, which haven’t been provided to them by the complainant despite he telling the media the People’s Alliance was copied in the complaint.
Kamikamica says Sayed-Khaiyum’s claim to have copied letters of these allegations to Sitiveni Rabuka, Sajal Narayan, Lynda Tabuya, Liliana Warid, Daniel Lobendhan, Cecil Brown, Filimoni Vosarogo, Keni Dakuidreketi and Ajay Bhai Amrit, is an outright lie.
He says no such 19-page letter was directly received by any executive or cited by any member of the People’s Alliance that evening or even this morning.
Kamikamica says instead they have had to endure anxiety and confusion as they waited for a copy of these allegations, even then they were swiftly referred to FICAC without the simple due process of seeking a response from them as a party.
The Deputy Leader of People’s Alliance says they will not be cowered by fear when they have done nothing wrong, except be on the receiving end of blatant political thuggery.
Kamikamica says this manner of political persecution has happened to their Party Leader, Sitiveni Rabuka in the past, again causing chaos on the eve of the 2018 elections so this modus operandi is predictable.
He stresses that the People’s Alliance and the people of Fiji will not take this lying down.
Kamikamica also says they want to make it clear that The People’s Alliance Party reserves the right to lodge complaints against the FijiFirst for its alleged blatant vote buying practices.
He also asks whether the position of those named by Sayed-Khaiyum in his press conference been compromised, was he acting as prosecutor, judge and jury, what role was he speaking in - Minister for Elections, AG or Secretary General of Fiji First.
Kamikamica questions whether the investigation and possible legal proceedings will be influenced by Sayed-Khaiyum’s detailed and outspoken criticisms.
The Deputy Leader goes on to say that there is a wide public perception that the government is using giveaways including money, equipment, tools, boats, infrastructure and other items to influence voters during an election campaign.
Kamikamica says to avoid any impression of that, the ministers involved, including the Prime Minister, should not use government vehicles to attend ‘giveaway’ functions.
He says they should go in their private vehicles and not be accompanied by large official delegations.
He also says democratic parties like People’s Alliance and NFP hold annual meetings.
Kamikamica says these are a staple of democracy and serve an important function. He says it appears the FijiFirst does not have annual meetings.
Kamikamica says properly organized parties, like the People’s Alliance and NFP, have wide networks of branches to serve the interests of the local members. He questions whether the FijiFirst have such a network.
He also says democratic parties regularly stage polls to elect key officials at a national and local level.
The FijiFirst Party has written to the Fijian Elections Office highlighting what they believe are various breaches of the electoral laws by the People’s Alliance, Rock The Vote Fiji, SODELPA and the National Federation Party.
Party General-Secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says a provisional candidate of the People’s Alliance, Sajal Narayan has offered employment to people in the USA and this is under the banner of the People’s Alliance.
Sayed-Khaiyum says by making such promises, Narayan has offered a direct inducement to voters, and has done so in exchange for their votes, whether to Narayan himself or to the People’s Alliance.
He adds this is not an isolated incident and they have highlighted postings which confirm that Narayan, other provisional candidates, office holders, members and representatives of the People’s Alliance have engaged in vote buying.
FijiFirst has also highlighted the issue of Rock the Vote Fiji Campaign.
Sayed-Khaiyum says Rock The Vote Fiji is no original concept which Tabuya or the People’s Alliance have come up with.
He says Rock the Vote is an American not-for-profit political advocacy organisation dedicated to increasing youth voter turnout in the United States of America. Sayed-Khaiyum adds the clear difference between the original Rock The Vote brand and TPA and Tabuya's Fijian spin-off, is that Rock The Vote in the United States of America is not conducted by politicians.
He also highlighted that Rock The Vote Fiji is not registered with the Companies Office as a business or as a limited liability company and it is also not registered as a Charitable Trust.
He says the People’s Alliance, who he calls TPA, should inform the Fijian Elections Office where Rock The Vote Fiji’s earnings are going to.
Sayed-Khaiyum further says a concerned Fijian brought to their attention the People’s Alliance Bula Shirts which are for sale at their offices for $50.
He claims these Bula Shirts do not have any authorisation details in compliance with Section 112 of the Electoral Act.
Sayed-Khaiyum also highlighted that in the 6th September 2022 publication of the Fiji Sun, one Faith Grace who is a provisional candidate of SODELPA says that her campaign will highlight three main issues, one of which being TELS Debt Forgiveness.
He says to date, Faith Grace and SODELPA have not explained how revenue for the financial commitment is to be raised, how expenditure for this financial commitment is to be made, how expenditure is to be allocated to different sectors and budget sector agencies and if the expenditure exceeds revenue, how the deficit is to be financed.
Sayed-Khaiyum adds they also find it irresponsible on the part of the Fiji Sun to have reported Faith Grace and SODELPA's campaign promises without receiving adequate compliance in terms of the electoral laws.
He further says they have come across a Creative Working Calendar with photographs of NFP's General Secretary and provisional candidate Seni Nabou, which is being sold for $30 per calendar.
He says in the event a donor decides to purchase this calendar, he or she can make a further donation of only up to $9,970.
Sayed-Khaiyum adds the same applies to the People’s Alliance and all other political parties.
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