Lifting of Suspension for SODEPLA

Statement by the Registrar of Political Parties

Mr Mohammed Saneem

Lifting of Suspension for SODELPA

FEO Media Centre – 29/06/20 –4.00pm

Lifting of Suspension for the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA)

1. On 26 May 2020 I suspended the Social Democratic Liberal Party. You will note that I had required the officials of the suspended Party to carry out the following:

a. Provide the correct version of the Constitution of the Party to the Registrar
b. Comply with the High Court Ruling and re-submit the Audited Accounts for 2019; and
c. Make appropriate application under section 11 of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Act 2013 for the appointment of a Registered Officer.

The Constitution

2. The Officials provided the Registrar with an agreed version of the Constitution on 16 June 2020. The Registrar was informed that the Constitution had been vetted by the Taskforce as well as by Hon. Adi Litia, the former General Secretary.

3. This Constitution formed the basis of the further activities of the suspended party as it attempted to remedy the breaches.

The 2019 Audited Accounts

4. The Registrar held a meeting with the Auditor of the Party as well as the officials of the Party on 24 June 2020. At this meeting the Auditor and the Officials confirmed to the Registrar that the Audit Reports would be prepared and handed to the Registrar following the Management Board Meeting on 27 June 2020.

5. The Audited Accounts of the Party was received by the Registrar on 29 June 2020 and this completes the second requirement for the suspension to be lifted.

Registered Officer

6. The Registrar acknowledges the Application by the Office Holders of the Party to appoint Ms. Emele Duituturaga as the Registered Officer of the Party.

7. It must be noted that similar application was made previously as follows:

a. On 04 May 2020, Application was made by the Party to appoint Adi Litia Qionibaravi as Registered Officer. This was not approved as the Party did not have Office Holders to form a ‘majority’ as required under the law.
b. On 26 May 2020, Application was made by the Party to appoint Ms. Emele Duituturaga as Registered Officer. This was not approved due to lack of compliance with the Constitution.
c. On 26 May 2020, Application was made to appoint Ms. Adi Litia Qionibaravi as Registered Officer. This was also not approved due to lack of compliance with the Constitution.
d. On 18 June 2020, Application was made by the Party to appoint Ms. Emele Duituturaga as the Registered Officer. This was not approved as it was not done according to the requirements of the Constitution of the Party.

8. On 18 June 2020, the Registrar, directed the Party to section 18.3.1 of its Constitution and required that the Party initiate the process as required under that section. The Registrar also clarified that it will not accept any application unless it follows the requirements of the Constitution citing various attempts to make appointments by various factions within the Party.

9. Section 18.3.1(a) of the Constitution states that “the General Secretary of the Party is also the Authorised and Registered Officer of the Party.

10. The process for appointment of General Secretary is governed by section 18.3.1 of the SODELPA 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]

11. It must be noted from the Constitution of SODELPA 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.

12. It is also evident that the Party does not already have Standard Operating Procedures or manuals to dictate the process under section 18.3.1. Various factions and candidates for the position seemed to have their own rules regarding this process. It is highly recommended that the Party prepares and published the rules under section 18.3 in the interests of transparency and good governance.

13. Today, the officials of the Party have presented another Application under section 11 of the Act to substitute the name of Ms. Emele Duituturaga as the Registered Officer of the Party.

14. The Officials also presented the Registrar’s Office with the signed Work Contract as well as Performance Agreement as required under the Constitution.

15. The Application is duly signed by the President – Vijay Singh, Vice Presidents – Ratu Apenisa Seru Cakobau and Mr. Jone Tevita Lesuma, and, Ms. Emele Duituturaga. The Party Leader did not sign the Application.

16. Prior to the receipt of the Application this morning, the Registrar received objections to the appointment from Mr. Pio Tabaiwalu, and Mr. Usaia Waqaitarewa, both of whom were also applicants for the position.

17. The Registrar obtained responses from the Officials on the correspondence received and thereafter made necessary enquiries to ascertain the facts. Following these enquiries, the Registrar formed the view that the General Secretary position in the Party is an employee position. The Party, as the employer will have to deal with the appeals and objections from unsuccessful candidates for the position.

18. The Registrar is independent and in this matter, Mr. Tabaiwalu and Mr.
Waqaitarewa may directly seek to invoke the grievance clause of the  Constitution or consider appropriate legal action.

19. It is noted that the Party Leader did not sign the Application, however, three (3) out of four (4) Office Holders did sign and this satisfies the requirements of section 11(2)(b) of the Act.

20. I approve the Application for Substitution of Ms. Emele Duituturaga’s name as Registered Officer of SODELPA.

Compliance with the Act

21. Since the Officials of the Party have complied with the requirements of the Registrar as listed above, the Party’s suspension is lifted with immediate effect.

22. The Secretary General of Parliament has also been notified accordingly.

Special General Meeting

23. The Party is required by the Constitution to convene an Annual General Meeting on or before 30 June of every year. Since that has not happened for 2020, the Party will be calling a Special General Meeting on 25 July 2020 at the Novotel Convention Centre in Lami.

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