The Ombudsman Office of Vanuatu has completed an extensive enquiry into the appointment of Wade Evans as the Acting Principal of the Vanuatu Institute of Technology (VIT) and the subsequent suspension of Charley Mandava and Johnny Garae, members of the VIT staff. A public report summarizing the findings of the enquiry has been issued, highlighting several key points.
The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether the appointment of Mr Wade Evans, a Fijian National, to the position of Acting Principal of Vanuatu Institute of Technology (VIT) was done lawfully and whether the suspensions of Charley Mandava and Johnny Garae were done lawfully as well.
The investigation revealed that the appointment of Wade Evans as Acting Principal by the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) did not comply with the Vanuatu Institute of Technology Act. The TSC failed to follow the legal process outlined in Section 21 and Section 24(1) of the Act, which require appointments to be made on merit following a fair and transparent selection process. The position of "Acting Principal" is not recognized or provided for in the Act, raising concerns about the fairness of the appointment.
Furthermore, the Ombudsman found that the TSC did not act as a good employer when making the appointment outside the provisions of the VIT Act. By disregarding the legal process, the TSC members failed to appoint Wade Evans on merit, as required by the Act.
The Ombudsman also identified that the Teaching Service Commission members involved in the appointment were in breach of sections 13 and 14 of the Leadership Code Act. Their actions were found to be contrary to the standards expected of leaders, as they did not adhere to the proper legal processes.
Regarding the suspension of Charley Mandava and Johnny Garae, the Ombudsman concluded that the suspension was not carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Teaching Service Act, Section 32(1)(b), the VIT Act, or Chapter 7, Section 6.2 of the VIT Staff Manual. The necessary processes and investigations were not followed, raising concerns about the lawfulness of the suspension.
In light of these findings, the Ombudsman Office of Vanuatu recommends that the Teaching Service Commission rectify the appointment of the Acting Principal by following the proper legal processes outlined in the Vanuatu Institute of Technology Act. The Office also advises that the suspension of Charley Mandava and Johnny Garae be reviewed and conducted in accordance with the applicable laws and staff manual provisions.
The Ombudsman Office emphasizes the importance of upholding transparency, fairness, and adherence to the law in all appointments and disciplinary actions, especially within educational institutions. It is crucial to ensure the integrity and proper functioning of the Vanuatu Institute of Technology and to safeguard the rights of its staff.
The Ombudsman Office of Vanuatu is an independent institution responsible for promoting good governance, transparency, and accountability in the public sector. The Office investigates complaints, conducts enquiries, and issues reports to address issues of maladministration and protect the rights of individuals and the public interest.