From the Editor’s Keyboard

Hard Times and Personal Integrity in Sierra Leone

By  | 1 March 2011 at 06:13 | 395 views

There has recently been a rash of indictments of formerly well respected and usually highly educated Sierra Leoneans by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission.

The scandalous indictments, the media frenzy and media trials have already done so much damage to these individuals and their reputations that the final punishment from the ACC would only be the last nail to the coffin, if one might put it that way.

It’s hard, very hard, to hold a public position in Sierra Leone today and retain your respect and integrity or dignity in the face of harsh economic realities and fourth world salary structures.

Many fail the test and go on a thieving spree, sailing through the usually very inept bureaucracy and poor, very poor accounting and auditing systems in the public sector. Some get caught, some escape, thanking their stars. Those that get caught are usually grabbed and publicly disgraced by the media before the ACC can even get at them. Some of the media exposures are unfortunately false but a good number are simply brilliant with facts and figures.

There are so many thieves, petty and grand, that the ACC staff are constantly running up and down, chasing this criminal and wrestling with the other one in the dust. They (ACC) need help and some journalists are happy to oblige. The public loves to read and hear about scandals; they love it when the high and mighty fall with a bang. Good for business. But it’s not all about money; sometimes it’s also about love for one’s country.

Yes, life is tough in Sierra Leone. The global recession is hitting the country very hard, right between the eyes. But that does not mean people who have been placed in prominent positions to move the country forward and to create the conditions that would make life easier for the struggling masses should rob the country blind. Where is their morality? Where is their patriotism and personal integrity?

Thank God we still have many Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad who will never steal a penny, no matter their suffering. Like Zubiru Jalloh, the Sierra Leonean cab driver in New York who recently returned jewels worth one hundred thousand dollars that he found in his car to the rightful owner.