6 May 2014

Liberia: Public Works Minister Ignores Civil Service On Wrongful Dismissal

Monrovia — Liberia's Public Works Minister, Dr. Antoinette G. Weeks, who upon taking over the ministry was embroiled in a series of controversies ranging from a bitter spat with other senior officials and the transfer of several high ranking employees, including the procurement manager, head of human resources amongst others is once again in the spotlight.

According to communications in the possession of FrontPageAfrica, Minister Weeks has ignored an advice from the Civil Service Agency (CSA) which is responsible for dealing with Human Resources related issues emanating from agencies and ministries of Government to reinstate a dismissed employee.

The CSA is responsible for improving the human resources, service delivery, effectives and efficiency of the service and investigating issues arising between civil servants and heads of ministries and other agencies of Government.

Following an investigation between one of the affected employees of the Public Works Ministry, Vincent B. Smith, former Director of Human Resources and Training and Minister Weeks who heads the Ministry, the CSA concluded that the action was wrongful dismissal and ordered Minister Weeks to reinstate Smith. In a letter dated March 21, 2014, George K. Werner, Director General of the CSA advised Minister Weeks to reinstate Smith.

Stated the CSA communication "With compliments, we wish to inform you that the case: Mr. Vincent B. Smith versus the Ministry of Public Works for wrongful dismissal, was heard and investigated by Examining Committee of the Civil Service Board of Appeal, on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.

The unanimous decision of the Examining Committee of the Civil Service Board of Appeal is that Mr. Vincent Smith was wrongfully dismissed. The decision is based on the fact that Mr. Smith was not accorded the opportunity to exculpate himself through an internal investigation in keeping with Section 4.2.1 of the Civil Service Standing Orders, prior to his dismissal".

The CSA in the letter advised Minister Weeks to reinstate Smith, "Against this background, we advise that Mr. Smith be reinstated to the position which he was transferred, that is as Director of Warehouse".

Since the March 21 communication from the CSA advising Minister Weeks to reinstate Smith, the CSA's advise is yet to be implemented as Smith told FrontPageAfrica that he is yet to be reinstated. It remains to be seen the next role the CSA will play in protecting an employee who was wrongfully dismissed after it was proven through investigation that the Minister of Public Works acted wrongfully.

Minister Weeks is one of the strong members of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf kitchen cabinet whose actions go unchecked and upon taking over at Public Works has ensured that her will is done. President Sirleaf is said to have dismissed and replaced nearly four officials of the Ministry including Deputy Minister Victor Smith after according to inside sources Minister Weeks declared that she could not work with these officials.

Deputy Minister Smith was dismissed and ordered not to leave the country after he and Minister Weeks were involved in a heated argument in early 2014 that drew onlookers. It was unclear what triggered the argument which eyewitnesses spurred a shouting match between the pair as both senior officials at the time traded nasty insults which included cursing each other's parents.

Weeks relative, Angeline Weeks, who heads the Liberia telecommunications Authority recently committed the LTA to a 1.5 million lease agreement which ignored the Public Procurement and Concession Commission Law of Liberia. Although President Sirleaf took the decision to freeze the account of the LTA but today the entity is using the building in question and still operating smoothly, an indication that the President's action was just a public charade.

Following several suspensions at the Ministry of Public Works, the CSA placed a stay order on the transfers, but yet still Minister Weeks effected her action. Smith could just be another Liberian facing the wrath of an elite friendship club that is now running the affairs of the Liberian nation.

A similar situation occurred at the General Auditing Commission of Liberia, where over 40 employees were redundant by former Auditor General Robert Kilby. The Liberian Senate investigated and found that the employees were redundantly wrongfully mandating the GAC to reinstate the affected employees. Update that is yet to be done.

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