Fiame denies clean out plan

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 28 August 2021, 3:10PM

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa has dismissed claims that her administration is booting top public servants saying her party does not have a policy to sack the nation’s existing top public servants. 

This is contrary to recent claims to the contrary from the leader of the opposition former Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi and a recent development where the head of Ministry of Finance, Leasiosiofa’asisina Oscar Malielegaoi said he was asked to exit office.

“We don’t have a policy from the Fa’atuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) political party that when we come into office we will sack public servants or head of those offices,” said Fiame on Wednesday in a press conference. 

“It’s important that we understand what happened with the two [office holders] that are suspended and as being explained the grounds are based on [grounds of no] confidence. 

“It wasn’t planned by anyone what had happened, especially these key Government positions. Their offices have duties and the Government sees that it’s difficult to work together [with them].” 

The two office holders that are under suspension are the Attorney General, Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale and Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei. 

Fiame added that it’s not that the officials are unable to do their work but she said there is no confidence in those being cited in a contempt of Court case filed by the party that is in office. 

“It’s a difficult situation in moving forward pending proceedings…as explained before the suspension is to give them the opportunity to respond on the grounds that we cannot work together.” 

Former Prime Minister and leader of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) party, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi has blamed the F.A.S.T.  party instability for sacking top civil servants. 

In a statement, Tuilaepa this week said the new administration's pre-election promise of kicking out experienced public servants when it takes over has begun. 

He claimed five top public servants are out, two voluntarily opted out with dignity “before the axe fell”. 

The leader said the A.G. and Clerk are suspended for “dubious reasons” and one was shown the door at the end of her contract “even though the previous Government extended her contract”. 

Tuilaepa is referring to the former Ministry of Women Community and Development, Chief Executive Officer, Afamasaga Fa’auiga Mulitalo regarding extended contract. 

“These top civil servants are highly qualified experienced leaders in their own field of specialization,” said Tuilaepa. 

“And the only crime in the eyes of F.A.S.T. leaders observed the principles of good governance that of transparency and accountability.” 

Fiame had rejected the claims about Afamasaga’s position saying the position was not advertised three months prior to the incumbent’s contract expiring as in line with government policy.

She said that while there was a variation made to Afamasaga’s contract, the documents were never signed.

Furthermore, Tuilaepa reminded that the officials have had personal daily contact with diplomatic corps in Samoa and would vouch for their honesty and integrity. 

He said the ease of the new Government removing the top officials reflects a total lack of appreciation of the fact that every dollar of air monies must be spent wisely. 

“Donor funds from hard–earned taxpayers wages must never be misdirected – even budget support may also be affected – The FAST Government should cease playing dirty politics and start to govern.”

Fiame had defended the grounds given on the suspension of the office holders. 

She said it has to clear that there are grounds on why the two top officials are suspended. 

“But to say the current Government disapproves of the appointment made by the previous Government it’s not that,” Fiame said. 

“There was a time this was discussed [claims] that we will sack them and Tuilaepa’s reply was that cannot be done because they have contracts, and those words should be remembered. 

“We too are following procedures and the law that protects public servants.

“There are reasons why they cannot continue to work together especially in carrying out duties if there are events that arise where their political beliefs and why they cannot support the current Government.” 

Although this is human nature, Fiame said, the top government officials should be professional in their work and in the case of the Attorney General and the Clerk of Legislative Assembly it was a “serious” and is a result of a Court case. 

“The cup has been spilled,” the Prime Minister said about the current situation with the Savalenoa and Tiatia. 


By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 28 August 2021, 3:10PM
Samoa Observer

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