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Criticise ‘stars of Fiji politics’ on performance ‘not other things’, political expert says

Thursday 25 January 2024 | Written by RNZ | Published in Fiji, Regional


Criticise ‘stars of Fiji politics’ on performance ‘not other things’, political expert says
Lynda Tabuya and Aseri Radrodro at the Victoria Parliament in Melbourne. August 2023 Photo: Victoria Parliament/240124112

Victoria University of Wellington Comparative Politics professor Jon Fraenkel said the management of Fiji is far more important than what he considers to be "private matters" between the Women's Minister Lynda Tabuya and sacked Education Minister Aseri Radrodro.

"Lynda Tabuya is a new and extraordinary politician," Professor Fraenkel said, adding "She was attacked straight away saying she didn't have the right dress sense."

Tabuya told RNZ Pacific the allegations were "fake news". However, she is set to front an inquiry into her alleged conduct by the People's Alliance Party.

"No one is above the law and if I have breached a provision of the [party] constitution, I have the right to defend myself," she told The Fiji Times.

Radrodro has refrained from commenting on the allegations at all.

Professor Fraenkel said women in politics were often unfairly targeted on social media far more than their male counterparts.

"These are the stars of Fiji politics. They should be criticised on how they perform their ministerial duties not all these other things. It's a breath of fresh air for Fiji that they are there.

"I think we should concentrate on her competence as a minister and not her private business," he said.

However, despite the scandal and the sacking of the key member of Cabinet, the Deputy Prime Minister Biman Prasad played down concerns that government was crumbling.

Prasad, refusing to comment on the alleged affair, said that despite some changes to government the three-party coalition remains "strong".

Professor Fraenkel said the Fijian government should be "celebrated" for its co-governance of indigenous and Indo-Fijian parties working together.

On the issue of Radrodro's dismissal, he said the prime minister "had to make a lot of concessions to keep Sodelpa on board".

But he believes coalition leaders were on the same page concerning axing of Radrodro.

"There have been continual disagreements between [Radrodro] and the Prime Minister. There was an attempted re-shuffle in August last year," he said.

"He'd be foolish not to do that. Rabuka is not a fool. He is a very astute politician."

Radrodro was removed as Cabinet minister last Friday by Rabuka, who said he failed to follow his directives.

But Radrodro rebuffed the allegations on Monday and demanded Rabuka rescind his decision.