A.C.E.O. cleared of mistreatment allegations
The Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) will take no further action against the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Seumalo Afele Faiilagi, over allegations he mistreated subordinates.
The P.S.C. examined the allegations complainants made against Seumalo, which it found were “very personal” in nature.
The decision is contained in a 29-page Public Service Commission which outlines their judgement and reasons for deciding on the complaint.
The document revealed a total of 14 staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) had co-signed the complaint.
The decision to take no further action was made by the P.S.C. Chairman, Aiono Mose Sua.
The complaint was lodged to the P.S.C. in March 2020.
Allegations levelled at Seumalo included nepotism in decision-making by the A.C.E.O.; abuse of Government vehicles and “abusive language and [mistreatment of] staff.”
Seumalo, who was appointed in 2018, oversees the Ministry's Division of Environment and Conservation (D.E.C.).
According to the P.S.C. document, which is dated 29 September, the Commission reviewed the letter of complaint; a grievance committee report and audio recordings made by the Commission.
“After careful consideration of the complainant’s allegations and evidence in support and the respondent’s statement; [the P.S.C.] found that the allegations were very vague and lacked specifics,” the ruling states.
“The investigation could not identify specific incidents of Seumalo’s behaviour that could be objectively assessed such as the dates, time and the description of the alleged misconduct.”
The P.S.C. found that the allegations lacked sufficient evidence to lead to the drafting of charges against Seumalo.
“All charges created under the Public Service Code of Conduct must contain enough information (known as particulars) for Seumalo to [respond]; failure to do so may expose the process to unfair procedures,” the ruling states.
The report also says the majority of the allegations were specific to Seumalo’s decision making ability as the A.C.E.O. of D.E.C. in matters that were operational and strategic to the administration of the division.
“We found that Seumalo in his capacity as A.C.E.O. had the authority to make decisions on how to properly manage the division and its resources to achieve its set goals and targets. His authority is, however, subject to the C.E.O.’s directives and relevant public service laws but that was not the issue in this matter,” the ruling said.
The allegations were also found to be highly personal and subjective, in relation to complainants’ feelings and emotional state. The Commission also ruled out factoring in allegations relating to Seumalo’s conduct at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishers (M.A.F.).
“For this reason, Seumalo could not respond accordingly to some of the allegations. We noted on several occasions that the complainant raised Seumalo’s previous conduct with [the (M.A.F.)] has no bearing in determining whether Seumalo breached the code at [the] M.N.R.E. Each matter is to be treated on its own merits,” the report said.
“The only relevance of previous conducts is when resolving an appropriate penalty if Seumalo was found to have breached the public Code of Conduct.”
The P.S.C. then concluded not to take further disciplinary action but would seek to achieve conciliation between the A.C.E.O. and the complainants.
“The Commission will chair a reconciliation meeting between Seumalo and the complainants,” the report said.
All the parties are required to attend once a suitable time and place is confirmed.