CEO Contract Extensions “Ended” while Awaiting Recruitment Process, “Not Terminated”

L-R: Magele Hoe Viali (MWTI) and Fualau Talatalaga Matafeo (MCIT).

Wednesday 23 February 2022, Apia Samoa. The Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure (MWTI) has confirmed contract extensions for two Government Ministry Chief Executives have ended, awaiting the recruitment and interview process, and not terminated by Cabinet.

A local radio station reported on Tuesday the extension contracts of MWTI Chief Executive Magele Hoe Viali and Ministry of Communication & Information Technology (MCIT) CEO Fualau Talatalaga Matafeo had been ‘terminated’ by Cabinet, quoting a “Cabinet Minister who did not wish to be named” as their source.

“Their contracts were not terminated by Cabinet,” clarified Hon Olo Fiti Vaai.

The MWTI Minister explained the positions were advertised last year and three month extensions were given to allow the recruitment process to be carried out. Those extensions have expired. “So simply put,” said the Minister, “their contracts have ended”.

In October last year, seven government CEO positions were advertised through the Public Service Commission Circular, including MWTI and MCIT. Applicants had until 19 November 2021 to submit applications.

Responding to questions from Samoa Global News, Magele Hoe Viali who has served as Chair of the regional Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) since 2020, said it is not unusual for contracted personnel to take leave while the usual PSC process of interviews is being carried out.

“The clarification from the Minister is correct,” said Magele. “My contract was not terminated, the extension expired on the 28th of January.”

Magele was serving his third term as CEO of the Samoa Airport Authority when he was appointed to lead the MWTI in January 2019.  In March 2021, PASO’s 10-member states unanimously re-elected Magele to continue as Chair of the regional aviation safety forum.

Magele confirmed he is reapplying for the position he has held for the past three years, and adds that it has been a blessing to spend time with his family to await the government’s normal recruitment and selection process.

A public servant for 42 years now, Magele says all government CEOs are on 3-year contracts which allows for a healthy review process every three years.

“If I get reappointed, praise be to God, and if not, then that’s all part of life, but I am enjoying the time out with my family..”

Before taking on the Airport Authority CEO position in 2011, Magele served 10 years as an Assitant CEO – five with Airport Authority and five with the MWTI.

Fualau Talatalaga Matafeo could not be reached by press time.