Legality of PM Pōhiva’s media advisor’s job in question; no contract, works unpaid

Fehu’ia e tu’unga fakalao e ngāue ‘a e fale’i fakamītia ‘a e ‘Eiki Palēmia’. Pehē ‘e Lōpeti Senituli ‘oku teeki ke ne vahe pea ‘oku te’eki fakamo'oni ha'ane aleapau o a'u mai ki he aho’ ni hili lolotonga ia kuo' ne 'i he lakanga' 'i ha māhina nai 'eni 'e ua. ‘Oku ‘i ai e fakamatala te’eki fakapapau’i pehē kuo fehu’a ‘e he ‘Ōfisi ‘o e Palēmia’ mo e Public Service Commission pe ‘oku’ ne ma’u e tu’unga fakaako totonu ki he ngāue’ ni pea ko e hā nai e ‘uhinga ne ‘ikai tu’uaki ai e lakanga' ki tu'a'. Na’e fai e fetu’utaki ki he ‘ōfisi ‘o e Palēmia’ ke ‘omai ha’anau lau ki he fakamatala’ ni. Kaekehe ne pehē ‘e Senituli’ na’a’ ne kole ke vahe he lēvolo ‘oku ‘i ai ‘a e kau CEO he ko e lēvolo pe ia na'e vahe ai he'ene fai e fatongia tatau ma'a 'Eiki Palēmia Dr. Feleti Sevele mei he 2006 ki he 2010. Ne ‘osi totongi foki ‘e he pule’anga’ ‘a Senituli ke me’a atu mo Pōhiva ki he fakataha kau taki ‘o e Kominiueli’ ‘i Pilitānia he māhina kuo ‘osi’. Ko Senituli ‘oku lolotonga hoko ko e tokotaha ako ki ha mata’itohi lao ‘i he va’a ‘o e USP ‘i Tonga’. Na’a’ ne pehē kuo’ ne fakamālō ki he 'Eiki Palēmia’ he 'ene tu'utu'uni ke ‘oange e me'alele ke ne faka'aonga'i te'eki ke fakamo'oni ha aleapau’.

The Prime Minister’s media advisor Lōpeti Senituli works without pay and has not signed an employment contract with the government.

Senituli told Kaniva News he had not been given any work equipment, despite being in the job for about two months.

He worked in a similar capacity for Lord Sevele’s government.  Lord Sevele was Prime Minister from March 30, 2006 to December 22, 2010.

However, the lack of an employment contract did not stop the government from paying Senituli to accompany the Prime Minister to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London last month.

The government has also given him a vehicle to use.

According to unconfirmed reports the Public Service Commission and the Prime Minister’s office have asked why the post was given to Senituli without being publicly advertised.

There was also a question regarding his academic qualification for the job and whether he was qualified to be given the same salary scale and entitlements to which government Chief Executive Officers are entitled.

Senituli said Hon Pōhiva wanted him to start immediately.

“Whether it is legal or illegal is not for me to say,” Senituli said.

“I started as soon as possible. But I made clear before starting that I would work on the same terms and conditions that I was employed under when working for Dr. Sevele’s government.

“When I worked under Dr. Sevele I had access to a vehicle and a laptop and mobile phone the same week that I started work even before my contract was signed.”

Senituli said he thanked the Prime Minister for his decision to give him a government vehicle to be used.

As Kaniva News reported in March, Hon Pōhiva has appointed Senituli as his media advisor.

Senituli, a law degree student at USP’s Tonga campus was a former political ally of Hon. Pōhiva who once turned against the Prime Minister. They repeatedly clashed in public when Senituli was press secretary to Lord Sevele.

Senituli said he saw no problem in working with Hon. Pōhiva again.

The Prime Minister’s office had been contacted for comment.

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