Statement from the Registrar of Political Parties

Statement from the Registrar of Political Parties

18 September 2020

  1. The Registrar of Political Parties has received notification from the National Federation Party [NFP] that it has appointed an Auditor recognized by the Fiji Institute of Accountants to audit its accounts for the 2018 financial year. The Registrar had required in the letter to NFP dated 10 September 2020 that the NFP has 30 days from today to furnish the Registrar with its audited accounts under section 26 of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding & Disclosures) Act, 2013. In the event further time is required, the Registrar will consider the same once any request is received.
  2. Upon receiving the confirmation of the Independent Auditor, the Registrar has requested for a meeting between the NFP Accounts team, representatives of the Independent Auditor with the Registrar’s verification team so that the issues that the Registrar’s team has identified is conveyed to all the parties.
  3. The Registrar also wishes to advise that the verification of the accounts for the NFP for the years 2015, 2017 and 2019 have also been completed. Only 2016 is pending as the Registrar is yet to receive all the receipt books from NFP for the year 2016 and once the receipt books are received then the verification of the accounts will be finalized. The NFP has until the 23rd of September to furnish the Registrar with the receipt books for 2016.
  4. Following on from the accounts of the NFP, the Registrar will also be verifying the accounts of all the Parties and once the verification exercise for all the parties is completed, the entire set of accounts will be published in the gazette.

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Response to Fiji Times Article

Response to Fiji Times Article

12 September 2020

The Fijian Elections Office [FEO] sent out a press release on Friday 11 September 2020 at 4.53 pm to the media regarding the National Federation Party [NFP] being referred to FICAC.

The FEO maintains a media emailing list that is used to disseminate communication materials like press releases and the list includes media organisations like the Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, FBC, Fiji Live, Islands Business, Fiji TV, Fiji Village, Mai Life Magazine and others.

There is an article in today’s Fiji Times by one Unaisi Ratubalavu titled “Biman: There’s nothing to hide” where the writer states: “Meanwhile there were media reports last evening suggesting the Fijian Elections Office had referred NFP to FICAC once again. There was no official communication of this to The Fiji Times when this edition went to press last night”.

As the Fiji Times is included in FEO’s emailing list, the FEO assumes that any communication material that is sent out by the FEO including press releases will be received by them, and at the same time as any other organisation that is in the media emailing list.

Yesterday’s press release was sent to the following people from Fiji Times; Fred Wesley, Margaret Wise, Unaisi Ratubalavu, Luke Rawalai, Repeka Nasiko, Nasik Swami and Litia Cava among others.

The press statement was also sent to their general email, timesnews@fijitimes.com.fj, to ensure that the organisation receives it. The Fiji Times has previously asked the FEO to send all press statements and media invites to this general email as well as any other emails that we have.

Supervisor of Elections Mr Mohammed Saneem expressed his disappointment at the said statement made against FEO in the article.

“To our knowledge, if we send out a press release and copy more than seven [7] people from the organisation, it is questionable when the Fiji Times claims that it did not receive it. Some of the reporters have also given us their personal emails making double sure that they receive our communication under any and all circumstances.,” Mr Saneem said.

“The statement by Ms Unaisi Ratubalavu in the abovementioned article is false and reflects poorly on the writer’s credibility as a journalist and on the Fiji Times as a source for reliable news.”

After seeing the article this morning, the FEO communications team verified and ascertained that the press release was indeed sent to Fiji Times yesterday.

“To our surprise, we received an email on the FEO communication channel at 10.23am this morning from Mr Luke Rawalai of Fiji Times about why the said press release was not sent to them,” Mr Saneem said.

“Mr Rawalai also asked if the Fiji Times was under a media ban from the FEO. Such an allegation is preposterous as the FEO has always been very cooperative with the media and maintains impartiality.

“The FEO has corrected Fiji Times articles several times in the past, but when we send out communication material, we still copy in as many people from the organisation to ensure that they get the right information.

“This leads us to really question if the Fiji Times had written that article during the day on Friday and did not want to amend it after the press release was sent.”

The FEO closes its office at 5pm and before that the press release was issued.

“If the Fiji Times indeed knew that there were media reports being circulated on the issue, they could have reached out to us via email or phone as they have done so on numerous occasions in the past,” Mr Saneem said.

“Despite believing that there was a press release that other news organisations had received and being under the assumption that they did not receive it, the Fiji Times chose not to contact the FEO but publish a false and speculative story making an issue of something that never actually transpired.”

Historically the Fiji Times has always acknowledged actions and published stories that were disseminated by the FEO using the same exact emails and communication channels.

The FEO is disappointed that the Fiji Times recklessly concocted information designed to negatively impact the FEO’s excellent relations with the Fijian media. One would have hoped for better.

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Registrar refers breaches of the law by National Federation Party to FICAC

Registrar refers breaches of the law by National Federation Party to FICAC

11 September 2020

The Fijian Elections Office [FEO] published the irregularities identified in the Financial Disclosures of the National Federation Party [NFP] for the year 2018. It was mentioned that these discrepancies also result in breach of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Act 2013 [Political Parties Act].

It is noted that some of those breaches constitute offences under the Act and therefore the FEO has today referred the National Federation Party to the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption in accordance with section 18 of the Electoral Act for allegedly breaching sections 23, 26 and 27 of the Political Parties Act.

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Public Notice- Financial Disclosures of the National Federation Party –year 2018

Public Notice- Financial Disclosures of the National Federation Party –year 2018

1 September 2020

The Registrar of Political Parties wishes to advise members of the public that have recently accessed the Financial Disclosures of the National Federation Party for the year 2018 from the Registrar’s Office that:

1. The Registrar will be meeting with the National Federation Party on 02 September, 2020 at 2pm to address variances that have been identified in the Disclosures as against the Annual Audited Accounts.

2. Once the variances have been properly accounted in the disclosures and appropriate corrections made, members of the public will be able to access the most correct accounts of the Party. Announcements on this will be made once completed.

Members of the Public are further advised to seek proper receipts from Political Parties for all donations made to Political Parties. This includes fundraiser events and any other form of activity that will generate an income for a political party. Political Parties must record the source of all the income they receive.

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FEO to conduct National Union of Workers Elections

FEO to conduct National Union of Workers Elections

12 August, 2020

Following a meeting between FEO Industrial Elections team and the current General Secretary of the National Union of Workers, Mr. Felix Anthony, it has been agreed that as per s154 of the Electoral Act, the FEO will conduct the elections of office holders of the Union.

In light of the requirements in the law, the Nominations for National President, two (2) National Vice Presidents, National Treasurer and General Secretary will have to be submitted to the FEO. The FEO further highlighted this it was imperative that the Nominations process was handled independently as the General Secretary, who has conduct of the Union office, was also up for election.

To ensure that the Union’s Constitutional timeframes for the process was not impacted, the FEO has agreed to adhere to the Notice already issued by the Union in both newspapers on 08 August 2020.

“We have agreed to move the receiving of Nominations to a neutral venue and for the administrative processing of Nominations by the FEO Returning Officer. The Vetting of the nominations as required under the Union Constitution will still be done by the Union and FEO will thereafter handle the election process through postal ballot if any of the positions are contested” clarified Mr. Mohammed Saneem, Supervisor of Elections.

The FEO therefore advises that Nominations for National President, two (2) National Vice Presidents, National Treasurer and General Secretary are to be submitted to any of the FEO Offices around the Country:

  • Lautoka Office – Ms. Amali Kunabilo at the FEO Lautoka Voter Services Centre situated at Vitogo Parade, Lautoka.
  • Labasa Office – Mr. Mohammed Fazil at the FEO Voter Services Centre situated in the Legal Aid Building opposite Labasa Bus Stand.
  • Suva – FEO Headquarters situated on 59 High Street, Toorak, Suva.

Nominations close on Saturday 15 August 2020 at 12noon.

“The National Union of Workers has over 3000 members that work in 25 companies around the country. The FEO has expanded the locations for members to submit nominations to its Offices around the Country rather than just Lautoka. This should make the election process more accessible to all the members” explained Mr. Saneem.

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Application for Registered Officer by SODELPA

Application under Section 11 for Registered Officer by Social Democratic Liberal Party (in Suspension)

18 June 2020

The above application was received by the Registrar of Political Parties Mr Mohammed Saneem this afternoon. Below is the Registrar’s decision on the said application:

“I note that Ms. Emele Sima Duituturaga was appointed Acting General Secretary at the Special Management Board meeting of the (Suspended) Party held at the Holiday Inn today (18 June 2020). The application is duly supported by the Office Holders of the Party.

The process for appointment of General Secretary is governed by section 18.3.1 of the SODELPA (In Suspension) Constitution. Section 18.3.1 states:

“The General Secretary shall be recruited under nationally recognized best practices on terms decided by the management Board. He/She shall sign a Work Contract with the Management Board and shall deliver under a Performance Agreement to be signed with the Management Board.[Emphasis added]

It must be noted from the Constitution of SODELPA (In Suspension) that the Management Board does not have the powers to carry out direct appointment of the General Secretary nor does the Constitution provide for Acting appointments for General Secretary. The Constitution is clear on the process and the requirements that need to be met to appoint the General Secretary.

From the application received this afternoon, it is evident that the Party Management Board neglected and/or failed to ensure that it complies with section 18.3.1 of the SODELPA (In Suspension) Constitution.

In light of the above, I do not find that the appointment made at the Special Management Board meeting complied with section 18.3.1 of the Constitution of the Party.

Section 18.3.1(a) states that “the General Secretary of the Party is also the Authorised and Registered Officer of the Party.” Having found that the appointment process of Ms. Duituturaga failed to comply with the Party Constitution, I am unable to endorse the application by the Party to substitute the name of Ms. Duituturaga as the Party Registered Officer under section 11 of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding & Disclosures) Act, 2013.

The Application is therefore not approved and the Party is directed to comply with its Constitution in making the appointment. The Party remains suspended as per earlier decision.
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