The criticism directed at Sam Saumatua raises some interesting questions.
His critics say he is unworthy of SODELPA endorsement because he was willing to serve the regime he now stands in opposition to. Some just say he’s tainted because he’s ex-RFMF.
Most of his critics don’t know him. Like many in the SODELPA line-up he has a record of leadership in his field. Unlike Bainimarama he served with distinction in the field as a real military leader in Lebanon.
People who think he should have simply overthrown Bainimarama have no sense of how the RFMF was scarred by the mutiny in 2000. Like everybody else, RFMF officers could see that Bainimarama had betrayed the clean-up coup with corruption and cronyism of his own. But what could they do without ripping the RFMF apart and plunging the country further into chaos?
How many other RFMF brothers are there who might have done something but held back thinking the time was not right to effect a clean change? If there ever was a right time Roko Ului and Driti certainly didn’t pick it and who knows when of even if RFMF officers could have done anything to remove Bainimarama.
As for serving the regime, how many others have thought they could exercise influence from within, only to find that the regime is a two man-band? The trail of sacked board members and CEOs who tried to have a voice and ending up only on the scrap heap is long and sad.
Now is not the time for SODELPA to start a witch hunt or allow divisions to grow within, just as it is also the time to draw closer and stand shoulder to shoulder with opponents of Fiji First. Democracy has no future if Fiji First is not decisively defeated.