Who engages 2023 Pacific Games CEO?
AS the countdown begins for the opening of the 2023 Games, a rift which could undermine the final preparations has developed between the Games Board and its Chief Executive Officer, Peter Stewart.
And informants say the Games Organizing Committee including the Board need to know who employs the CEO.
The rift has apparently been brewing over a raft of issues for several months and only now the bubbles – or at least some of it – have come to the surface.
Central to the issue is the engagement of Mr. Stewart as the Chief Executive Officer for the SBD1 billion event being held in Honiara over November/December this year.
Athletes and officials from some 24 countries, territories and ethnic groups are expected to be in Honiara for the Games due to be officially opened in November. The region’s sporting bonanza will last about two and a half weeks.
The issue of the employment of the CEO has factionalized the GOC and its workers.
What angers member is that no one seems to know the CEO’s contract.
“No one has seen his contract. In that regard, no board member knows who engages the CEO. The Board has asked him several times to show his contract, but to date he has not done so,” insiders familiar with the situation told Solomon Star.
The Board is responsible for hiring individuals – both locally and from abroad – for the Games.
“The Board offers contracts and has the power to hire and fire. In the case that exists at the Pacific Games Organizing Committee, the Board is powerless to do anything, because it does not know who engages the CEO in the first place.
“As such, the mystery surrounding the CEO’s engagement leaves the door wide open for abuse of process as there are no checks and balances,” insiders said.
The Board’s fear was realized several months ago when the CEO allegedly sacked Solomon Islands’ veteran IT man, Harry Zoloveke without consulting the Board.
Zoloveke was hired by the Board as a Consultant on the Games’ technical and broadcast committee. His contract was to last to the end of the Games in December this year.
Insiders said it was only after Mr. Zoloveke was sacked that the CEO informed the Board.
Solomon Star sent an email to the CEO more than a month ago, but received no response.
The sacking last July simply exacerbated an already volatile situation in the relationship between the Board and the CEO, with some calling for the removal of the CEO.
“The situation got so bad that it ended up at the Board meeting three weeks ago,” insiders said.
Unconfirmed reports suggest the CEO and Mr. Zoloveke have resolved their differences and have since signed a new consultancy agreement. Neither CEO Stewart nor Mr. Zoloveke could be reached for comment yesterday.
One of the difficulties the Board faces is the view from the Office of the Prime Minister that the local people do not have the talents and capability to run the Games.
“I guess that’s where the CEO draws his strength to hire and fire from because foreign people always get government support in any situation. That is sad because we have talents here and lots of it,” the insider said.
“Samoa, for example and other pacific neighbors), are urging us to own and run the Games using local talents. They did and they succeeded in running their Games four years ago, inside 8 months only. They are saying to us, you can do it and we can and that’s how it should be.”
The sour relations between the GOC Board and its CEO is not the only problem the 2023 Games is faced with.
“Budget continues to be an issue. Duplication of roles is another and the location of the different committees throughout the city simply add to the problems of hosting the Games,
“In terms of the Budget, the DCGA government last year for example, announced an $800 million budget for the Games and yet, 12 months on nothing has come from the government. We are here simply using borrowed money to do our work.
“And this includes contractors or subcontractors who won projects connected with the Games,” the insider said.
According to the insider, the Board is surprised that the Government has yet to accept offers by China in providing technical support for the Games.
By Alfred Sasako