Thursday, May 23, 2024

Commemorating the Late Dr Alphonse Gelu

Late Dr Alphonse Gelu at Government Haus
By William Garena
The 4th of January 2024 marks the first year of the late Dr Alphonse Gelu’s death anniversary. This article in a way is part of commemorating the tremendous contributions the late Dr Gelu has had on the Registry of Political Parties through his professionalism and wonderful personality. Since joining the Registry of Political Parties as the Deputy Registrar in 2011 to his appointment as the Registrar in 2013, and until his resignation in April 2022, he has contributed enormously to the development pf political parties and democracy in the country. He will always be remembered as an astute commentator and expert in the National Elections, and a fine academic and researcher in the field of political science and public policy. But more so, his name will be synonymous with the word “Democracy”.
The work of the Registry of Political Parties began to take prominence under his leadership as the Registrar through his prudent administration of the Office, and the significant work programs and key activities he initiated. The late Dr Gelu had continued to promote and uphold principles of democracy through political parties during his tenure as the Registrar.

OLIPPAC: The work on reviewing the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC) after the Supreme Court decision in 2010 will remain a testament to the late Dr Gelu’s tireless efforts in strengthening the political party system. This could have been one of his greatest legacies if the revised OLIPPAC was passed in Parliament. Although attempts were unsuccessful in passing the OLIPPAC over the last three parliamentary terms, the review process continued. He believed that once the revised OLIPPAC is passed, it would greatly strengthen political parties as important political institutions. The new law would be integral to creating political stability and most importantly, for political parties to recruit, train and produce strong political leaders in driving the country’s development agendas forward. Dr Gelu asserted that the focus of the revised OLIPPAC is to strengthen and promote political parties as an important institution of democracy, as opposed to regulating the behaviour of Members of Parliament (MPs).

L&D PROGRAM: Throughout his tenure at the Registry, Dr Gelu emphasised the need for political parties to be more structured and organised by introducing the Learning and Development (L&D) Program that ran from 2012 - 2022. It is a flagship program of the Registry that focuses on training party executives in building their capacity on how to effectively manage their respective political parties. The trainings were conducted in a series of workshops that was facilitated by Dr Gelu and staffs of the Registry, together with key partners such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Australian Labour Party (ALP) and the Australian Liberal Party.

AWARENESS AND ELECTION OBSERVATIONS: Political parties’ awareness is an ongoing activity that was identified by the late Dr Gelu as a key activity in raising public awareness about the important roles political parties play in service delivery and how they contribute towards nation-building. The awareness drive is a nation-wide campaign aimed at promoting political parties which the late Dr Gelu spearheaded effortlessly. It involves activities such as district visits, radio talk-back, Political Party Expos, cultural show visits, merchandising and advertisements, etc.
According to Dr Gelu, the rural masses do not know why it is important to vote for a political party, or they do not know which party their MPs belong to. He argued that the Registry must be financially equipped to continue to roll-out awareness so sufficient information is accessible to the vast majority of people throughout the country. This is crucial because people will be able to make better choices when voting for a political party in the National General Elections and the LLG Elections. The work on awareness was based on the theme, “know a party, join a party, Know a party, vote a party” Due to the work on awareness, the Registry of Political Parties has participated as domestic observers for the National General Elections and LLG Elections since 2012.
Unlike other domestic election observers, the Registry’s election observation focuses on the performance of political parties and the performances of women candidates. Dr Gelu was a staunch advocate for the legislation of women’s political participation and representation. In the 2017 National General Elections Report by the Registry and the draft report of the 2022 National General Elections, the awareness on political parties has proved fruitful in that more than 70 percent of seats in Parliament was has been won by party endorsed candidates compared to independent candidates in the last two elections. The late Dr Gelu was adamant that awareness on political parties must continue with funding support from the government.

ADMINISTRATION: As the Registrar, he was very committed in ensuring that the operations of the Registry was managed efficiently and the development of the Registry’s Corporate Plan 2017-2022 captured the necessary plan and vision on how political parties should be administered. Under his leadership, he made the following critical decisions to allow for the Registry to function sufficiently in supporting its programs:
- Revised the OLIPPAC;
- Initiated office restructure and established self-accounting system;
- Secured funds to purchase new IT Server;
- Established partnerships with key stakeholders; and
- Initiated the Registry’s quarterly news publication “Singaut Bilong Politics”.
>Br> He has been a mentor to many of us in this office and a fair and loving “Boss” who is deserving of a highly regarded statesman. The late Dr Gelu was a humble and dedicated professional who served the country with commitment and distinction during his term as the Registrar of Political Parties.
We pay tribute to him and celebrate his life’s work and service to the Registry of Political Parties, his family and friends and to his country.