Turmoil in media industry as three senior leaders dismissed

Tonga’s media and communication industry is in turmoil this week, with three senior managers fighting dismissal.

The chair of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission, Lady ‘Eseta Fusitu’a has refused a TP$40,000 offer from the government settle a court case over her dismissal.

The TBC reported  that Acting Attorney General ‘Aminiasi Kefu made the offer on  behalf of the Minister of Public Enterprises, Hon. Poasi Tei .

The TBC reported that she had  been offered the money if she agreed not to be reinstated as chair.

The government also offered to pay 10 percent interest on the money, plus court costs and would discuss further compensation.

Kefu said he was seeking instructions on making an apology.

Fusitu’a ‘s lawyer, Clive Edwards, said the offer had been refused because it would send a message to the public that there was no respect to the rule of law.

As Kaniva News reported earlier this week, Hon. Tei has fired TBC  general manager Nanisē Fifita.

The TBC board has been restructured, with ‘Ahongalu Fusimalohi replacing Tapu Panuve as chair.

Meanwhile, the TBC has reported that the former CEO of Tonga Communication Corporation is suing the company for wrongful dismissal.

Chairman of the Information Communication and Technology Board Tapu Panuve terminated Rizvi Jurangpathy’s employment on the grounds of gross misconduct.

Jurangpathy is claiming a breach of natural justice, breach of mutual trust, confidence and good faith and injurious falsehood and emotional distress.

The turmoil comes on the heels of news that Tonga’s press freedom rating has sunk on this year’s Reporters Sans Frontiers index of 180 countries.

Tonga fell from 37th place in 2016 to 49th.

Minister’s response

Minister of Public Enterprises, Hon. Poasi Tei issued a statement last week in response to  media coverage of the removal of Nanisē Fifita.

The Minister said that under Section 26(1) of the Public Enterprises Act 2002 the board was empowered to appoint a Chief Executive Officer with the approval of the minister.

Hon. Tei said he was not made aware of and did not consent to the renewal of Fifita’s contract.

Because the Minister’s consent was not obtained under section 26(1), the renewal of the contract was deemed void under section 30(1).

“It is a matter for the Tonga Broadcasting Commission’s Board of Directors to consider the letter from the Minister, and decide whether to repudiate the contract of the CEO for TBC,” Hon. Tei said.

The main points

  • Tonga’s media and communication industry is in turmoil this week, with three senior managers fighting dismissal.
  • The chair of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission, Lady ‘Eseta Fusitu’a has refused a TP$40,000 offer from the government settle a court case over her dismissal.
  • As Kaniva News reported earlier this week, Hon. Tei has fired TBC general manager Nanisē Fifita.
  • Meanwhile, the TBC has reported that the former CEO of Tonga Communication Corporation, Rizvi Jurangpathy, is suing the company for wrongful dismissal.

For more information

 

Tonga’s press freedom rating sinks; report cites bad blood between PM and broadcaster

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