Get your house in order

Editorial

AT any other time, the discord within Pangu Pati can be brushed off as an in-house matter which is not for public consumption.
But we are on the eve of a national election. And it is certainly of public interest that the Pangu Pati parliamentary leader Sam Basil and the party council are divided on who to endorse as candidates.
Yes, we have reported that the party has finally submitted a list of candidates for 72 or the 111 parliamentary seats.
But interestingly, the list is quite revealing of the battle of wills between the party council and the parliamentary leader.
In a letter to the Registry of Political Parties, party president Patrick Pundao and general secretary Morris Tovebae submitted a list which shows two different sets of candidates – those picked by the parliamentary leader and those recommended by the provincial branches.
It is apparent that the party would have wanted to hand to the Registry of Political Parties and the Electoral Commission a list of names endorsed by the provincial branches, as required by the party constitution.
However, obviously due to their differences and the fact that time had run out on them, they submitted the final list on Monday to allow the Electoral Commission to print candidate posters for polling day.
Some other parties contesting this election are in similar situations. But the differences between the Pangu Pati executives and Basil have been most prominent.
All is not well within one of the country’s oldest political parties.
Pangu had not fared particularly well in the 2012 elections. When its lone MP, Ludwig Schulze of Angoram, passed away in 2013, the party had no representation in the house. That was until Sam Basil broke ranks with Belden Namah’s PNG Party to revive the party and lead it.
Basil presented himself as the promising young leader the old party needed and started the campaign to rebuild it.
Weeks prior to the start of nominations, he started moves to organise and strategise for the election.
To begin the process, he appointed Dulciana Somare-Brash, Jerry Singirok and Bryan Kramer to plan Pangu’s election strategy. The trio, by the way, are also the party’s candidates respectively for East Sepik Regional, Madang Regional and Madang Open seats.
As far as the party council was concerned, these appointments and the selection of candidates later by Basil were done without its knowledge.
Tovebae and Pundao’s letter to the Registry of Political Parties this week further proves unresolved issues within the party which would be carried into the election.
They claim that people with vested interests are trying to paint a negative relationship between him and the party council.
They lay the blame squarely on Basil, claiming that the parliamentary leader was causing instability in the normal operations of the Pangu Pati by not respecting the party constitution, the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates and election laws that govern registered political parties.
Provincial party branches had written to the party council asking it to not entertain the party leader’s list of candidates. They even demanded his termination from the party on the eve of the election.
Even after the party council had approved Pangu’s list of candidates and submitted it to the Registry of Political Parties, East Sepik Regional candidate Alois Jerewai maintained that he was the official party candidate endorsed by the party branch.
This and other similar cases will present a dilemma to voters in this election.
Such situations can be avoided if political parties can manage their internal affairs better.
The Registry of Political Parties has been actively engaged in voter education, especially after the last election. It has even held seminars for party officials in a bid to strengthen parties and create a more robust party system in parliament.
The registry is advocating for a shift away from voting personalities to voting for political parties and party policies.
While we all want that to happen, it seems some parties have still to sort themselves out in order to draw support from the public and become stronger and credible players on the national stage.
If Pangu has a process its uses to select its candidates, it obviously has miserably failed. The party and others can use this as a good lesson on how important it is to properly manage party affairs in accordance with its constitution and guided by the laws governing political parties.
One can never go wrong if one follows the rules.

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