The termination of CEO ‘Emeline Tuita’s contract has revealed allegations of misconduct, abuse of power and disobedience in the Ministry of Tourism.
Strife between the Minister and Tuita has also been revealed following the hosting of the Mate Ma’a Tonga team while they visited Tonga after the 2017 World Cup.
Tuita, whose contract with the Ministry of Tourism was terminated on July 31, was accused of using her ministerial position to benefit her own private business.
She was also accused of disobeying Tourism Minister Hon Sēmisi Sika after she refused to cancel an unofficial prayer service she organised as part of the welcoming events for the Mate Ma’a Tonga team in November 2017 without the Minister’s consent.
Tuita has been contacted for comment.
The Minster, who is the president of the Mate Ma’a Tonga rugby league, has described the allegations against Tuita’s conducts and actions as huge (“fu’u lahi”).
Hon Sika told Kaniva News Tuita allegedly employed some new workers at her Tourism office at the Fā’onelua Convention Centre without him being aware of it.
The Minister claimed these employees had been recruited to work for Tuita’s owned company.
Hon Sika claimed Tuita used her position with the Ministry to establish a link between her business and overseas business partners.
Mate Ma’a Tonga welcoming event
The Deputy Prime Minster said he was only made aware of the prayer service organised by Tuita at the FWC Centenary Church to welcome the Mate Ma’a Tonga, the night before the event.
The service sparked a controversy the next morning after Mate Ma’a Tonga fans arriving in Nuku’alofa learned that the prayer service clashed with a parade in the centre of the capital.
As Kaniva reported at the time, some fans accused church leaders of not working together with the Minister and his rugby league committee to avoid the clash.
Others accused the government of stopping the players from attending the prayer service.
The only team member to attend the prayer service was Tu’imoala Lolohea. All the other players joined the parade.
Hon Sika ordered the unofficial prayer service to be cancelled, but Tuita refused to cooperate, he said.
“She disobeyed my order plus she misused her position at the Ministry,” the Minister said in Tongan.
Report to PSC
The Minister said after the welcoming of the Mate Ma’a Tonga he thought it was about time for him to report Tuita to the Public Service Commission.
The PSC worked on the Minster’s report for three months before terminating Tuita. She had been in the job just under a year.
Hon Sika said the Mate Ma’a Tonga players asked him they wanted to come to Tonga after the World Cup to meet their fans and families. The Prime Minister endorsed the request and the government helped brought the team to Tonga.
The players indicated that they would appreciate it if there was a chance for them to parade on the road while they were in Tonga so they could have more space and meet as many people as they could.
Tuita was the first ever female CEO to be elected by Tonga Rugby Union in 2013.
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