Legislative Assembly stays mum over Clerk’s absence

The Speaker of Parliament, Tole’afoa Leaupepe Fa’afisi, has refused to deny or confirm what has happened to the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Sefuiva Charlene Malele.

Approached for a comment after Parliament on Monday, Tole’afoa said: “I don’t have time, I have other obligations.” 

When he was approached again the next day, he reiterated: “Oh no, I am very busy, please speak to the Sergeant (at Arms for Parliament) but I don’t have time right now.”

The first Parliament session of the year ended yesterday. 

It has been adjourned until 19 March 2019.

The Samoa Observer wanted to know what has happened to Sefuiva and whether she is still the Clerk of Legislative Assembly. 

She was absent during this week’s proceedings. Deputy Clerk, Leatisa Uitime Tala, was the Acting Clerk.

Attempts to get a comment from Sefuiva on the telephone – including a visit to her house at Vaitele - were unsuccessful.

But the Sergeant at Arms for Parliament, Sergeant Setima, told the Samoa Observer that the official vehicle that Sefuiva used has been returned to the office.

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He explained that in August 2018, Sefuiva returned to work after taking leave. 

However, she was placed on leave again not long after, and has not returned since.

“Whether she is coming back to work or not I do not know. However, the only person who can give an official comment is the Speaker, sadly he is not available for comment right now,” he said. 

Last year, the Audit Office investigated an official complaint filed by a Parliamentary driver on allegations of misappropriation of Government funding, human resources issues and alleged abuse of government properties. 

The complaint was lodged by the driver to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, whose portfolio also covers the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly (O.C.L.A.).

Senior staff members at the O.C.L.A. told the Samoa Observer that Sefuiva no longer worked there. One senior officer, who doesn’t have authority to speak to the media, said “we were officially informed” last week. 

When asked about the Audit investigation, Sergeant Setima said: “I can’t say anything about the findings of the report, all I know was that majority of the staff testified before the auditors during the investigation.”

Last year, Vaipou Fetuliai Lagaaia, of the Audit Office, told the Samoa Observer that the “results of our audit has to be communicated back to the responsible Ministry and authorities." 

“As such our audit investigation report of the OCLA will be submitted this Friday to the relevant authorities which is the Honorable Speaker of Parliament and also to the Hon. Prime Minister as he is responsible Minister for the OCLA."

“As for the Audit report to Parliament, please note that it will be table through the usual process. Therefore the audit report on the OCLA investigation will be included in our 6 months report ending 31 Dec 2018."

 “We respect your interest in publishing our audit findings but we kindly advice that you wait for the report to be tabled in Parliament pursuant to Standing Order and section 42 of the Audit Act 2013 before it can become a public document.”

This was on the 29th August 2018.

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