Fiji Elections 2022: Unity Fiji rep disputes breach complaint

Unity Fiji provisional candidate Ratu Jope Naucabalavu insists that he has not done anything wrong after Fiji’s Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem referred him to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) for a probable breach of Section 114 (1) of the Electoral Act.

In a statement, the Fijian Elections office said the SOE acted on a complaint received from a member of the public highlighting a Facebook post in which Ratu Jope “agreed to sponsor a set of rugby uniforms in return for a pledge of support to Unity Fiji by a rugby club.”

Section 114 (1) of the Electoral Act 2014 states:

“During the campaign period, it shall be unlawful for political parties, candidates, and their representatives, either personally or through other persons, to give or offer to any citizen money, gifts, material goods of any value (except for campaign material) or services free of charge, to sell goods or services to persons at a preferential price, or to promise to provide any monetary fund, gift, material goods or services of any value for the purpose of gaining or influencing votes”

Ratu Jope said his intentions were far from it, adding that the players of the Unity Top View Brothers rugby team from Nakorosule are part of the party’s youth group.

“No, I don’t agree with whatever they have mentioned,” he said.

“Because they are already part of the party. They are part of the youth, and they want [one of] us to buy them a set of jerseys since there’s no rugby jersey, a set of rugby uniforms for them.  So, I stepped in to help.”

James Roko, team manager echoed Ratu Jope’s assertions.

“I am the team manager, and I sought his help not only because I know him but because we are related as well. I am also the youth leader in our village in Nakorosule. We attended the party candidates’ naming. They never forced us; you know for them to sponsor then we vote for them. It was not about Unity Fiji getting our votes in return because we are already part of the party.”

This is the second time that Ratu Jope is contesting the elections under the Unity Fiji party banner, having stood for the party in the 2018 General Elections.

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