DEPARTMENT of Provincial and Local Government Affairs secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc has told Western Highlands provincial administrator Malcolm Culligan not to make changes to the position of Mt Hagen’s city manager.
Mr Zurenuoc, in a letter sent to Mr Culligan last Monday, said there were legal issues involved.
“We need clarification from our lawyers. In the meantime, Mr Culligan is advised not to make any changes to the position of the manager until further notice,” he said.
He said Victor Megao would be allowed to remain in office as the acting city manager.
Mr Zurenuoc intervened after the city Lord Mayor Titus Doa did not recognise the appointment of John Pamunda by the provincial administration in 2008 as the new city manager.
Mr Doa said the Mt Hagen urban local level government council was a separate body of its own with its own structure and staff ceiling.
He said the provincial government or its administration did not have the power to appoint a city manager.
He also said the powers to hire and fire of the urban local level government was with his board and no other.
Mr Doa appealed to business houses in the city not to deal with any other person, adding they would not be held responsible.
He appealed to the business houses to pay their land rates, sanitation and garbage and trading license and to conduct business as normal.
Mr Pamunda was appointed by provincial administrator Mr Michael Wandil on Aug 16, 2008.
His appointment was made through the recommendation of the provincial executive council and was endorsed by the assistant secretary for Local Level Government Affairs and Law and Order Benny Laki.
However, due to political tussle within the administration, Mr Pamunda was reluctant to take the office after his appointment until last Tuesday, when he decided to move in but was allegedly refused entry by the city authority staff.
Mr Laki, in a letter dated June 24, 2009 to Mr Doa, said the appointment of Mr Pamunda should take effect immediately as of July 1, 2009.
Mr Laki said in the letter that in compliance with Section 75, 76 and 78 of the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government, he endorsed the appointment of Mr Pamunda as city manager.
Mr Doa, in his reply to Mr Laki’s letter dated June 29, 2009, said the appointment of the city manager was the prerogative of the Mt Hagen urban local level government and no one else.
Mr Doa said that Sections 75, 76 and 78 of the Organic Law on Provincial and local level government were grey.