Ousted Manger Of Tonga Broadcasting Fails To Get Court-Ordered Reinstatement

Fifita challenged government reneging on renewel of contract

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 25, 2017) – Nanise Fifita, the former General Manager of Tonga Broadcasting Commission, has been unsuccessful in an attempt to challenge a decision of the Minister of Public Enterprises in the courts, after her contract renewal was voided by government. 

Lord Chief Justice O. G. Paulsen yesterday, 24 July, dismissed an application by Nanise for a judicial review to quash a decision by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Hon. Poasi Tei, declaring void her reappointment as the General Manager of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC) on 1 May 2017.

Nanise started working at Tonga Broadcasting Commission  in 2008. She held a working contract, as the General Manager of TBC from 1 November 2013 to 30 October 2016.

Toward the end of last year Nanise reminded the TBC Board of Directors that she had to be given three months notice on renewal or cancellation of her contract, but the Chairman of the TBC Board of Directors, Tapu Panuve had indicated a renewal; Nanise though, was conscious that the Minister had other ideas.

Hon. Poasi Tei became the Minister of Public Enterprises at the end of 2015 and had made it known that he was not happy with Clause 1.1of the contract. He wanted the position to be advertised.

On 21 March 2017 Nanise signed a new contract with TBC for the periods 31 October 2016 to 1 November 2019.

The Minister told the court that it was brought to his attention on 22 March 2017 that Nanise Fifita’s contract had been renewed without his consent. He met with the Chairman, Tapu Panuve and was surprised and gravely disappointed that Nanise Fifita was reappointed “without my final approval.”

Following this meeting the Minister left for overseas and the chairman of TBC resigned and he was replaced by ‘Ahongalu Fusimalohi on 1 May 2017.

Initially, Nanise applied for a Court Injunction to restrain the TBC and the Minister from appointing any other person as the General Manager.

A hearing of the Injunction case was scheduled to take place on June 20-21 this year, then there was an application for a delay to enable Nanise to submit an affidavit from Ane Mailangi, a former TBC secretary.

Hon. Poasi Tei also submitted an affidavit and a hearing eventually took place on 12 July 2017 and at the conclusion of that hearing Chief Justice Paulsen reserved his decision.

Lord Chief Justice O. G. Paulsen released his decision on 24 July.

The legal counsel for the Plaintiff, Nanise Fifita was Mr W. Edwards, and for the first defendant, Tonga Broadcasting Commission, Mrs P. Tupou, and for the second defendant, the Minister for Public Enterprises was Mr ‘A. Kefu SC.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
Copyright © 2017 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

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