Salone News

The SLPP Government: A Fortress of Corruption?

2 November 2006 at 00:55 | 1834 views

Commentary

By Joe Sandie

Corruption in Sierra Leone is not only endemic but systemic. Even though the government, like other African governments, painfully constrains itself in creating an Anti- Corruption Commission a little over five years ago, this commission’s impacts on the status quo, are yet to manifest themselves.

Any attempt at itemizing every corrupt practice in this article would be very laborious. I would therefore limit myself to more current episodes.

The first incident concerns a thirty million leones (Le 30,000,000) donation made by a group of senior civil servants to the vice president Solomon Berewa in August, who is also the presidential candidate for the SLPP.

Every citizen has the right to vote for the party and candidate of his/her choice. But when civil servants have the guts to breeze into the V.P’s residence in two buses to boost his campaign trail, we are bound to be concerned. The civil service as we know it, must be impartial. Our civil service has the worst salary structure in the country; so how could they have raised this money? Apart from funds that are meant for national development,there is no other source for them. This despicable act which has received the blessing of the government’s leadership has again endorsed corruption and motivated civil servants to continue to plunder public funds.

One would expect that president Tejan Kabbah would have raised eye brows at his lawyer V.P (as lawyers in Africa are never known to be clean) because of his experience as a civil servant. Unfortunately nothing good can be expected from a man who had to flee Sierra Leone for fear of prosecution as a result of a financial scam he was in volved in. Consequently his house at Juba, was seized by the then APC government in the early seventies. President J.S. Momoh was however magnanimous to return the house to his ownership not because he was exonerated by the courts. This was the Tejan Kabbah who became an adviser to the NPRC government and was made chairman of a law reform commission to review the 1991 constitution but he and his cohorts failed woefully.

When in 1996 he won the presidential elections amidst massive vote rigging, he immediately made Dr. James Jonah finance minister being as it were, compensation for over seeing a worthless election that earned him the presidency, even though he knew it was wrong for him to have made that appointment. Dr. Jonah saw the abnormality, and was quick to relinquish his office as soon as his first term in office was over.

Tejan Kabbah really condones corruption; let us look at the current boss at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank who was dismissed at Barclays bank for financial impropriety. But because he is his tribes man he gave him the job.

Also his presidential spokesman who is also his kith and kin lost his job as boss at the Sierra Leone postal services for financial embezzlement by a commission of enquiry but was picked up by Kabbah and made spokesman after Kabbah had ordered another committee to review the report, clean it as it were, so that it could pass through parliament. And guess what, Kabba has again appointed Kanji Daramy to chair the telecommunication commission. The ratification of his appointment by parliament was manipulated by the SLPP. Members of the opposition A P C party walked out of parliament. This notwithstanding, the SLPP parliamentarians endorsed his appointment. This further shows how the SLPP would continue to systematize corruption in Sierra Leone.

At the end of the 2004 council elections the NEC boss Mr. Eugene Davies had to relinquish his post because he could no longer stand the political pressure that came to bear.

This then brings me to the recent crowning of a new paramount chief for the Biriwa Chiefdom in Bombali district. This Chiefdom comprises nine sections and the Limbas occupy seven sections. The Mandingoes occupy one section which is Kairinneh. The remaining section has a mixture of Mandingoes, Fulas, Lokos and Limbas. This explains why Mandingos have never won a chieftaincy election in the Chiefdom. Because as strangers, they do not meet the requirement which basically says, only people from ruling houses must contest. The now crowned chief Dr. Sheriff claims his grandmother was married to one of the Limba chiefs decades ago so it was right for him to be chief.

He knows too well that the lineage to the chieftency is paternal. So, in present circumstances since Tejan Kabbah is corrupt he instructed the manipulation of the tribal authorities lists in the gazette which resulted in 36 names from the Limbas missing out. And 22 names from the Mandingoes added into the list. The Limbas wrote a protest letter to the government but the letter was merely put aside. The Limbas then realizing that the whole issue was being politicized, sought an injunction at the high court against Dr. Sheriff’s candidacy. The Limbas appeared in court and presented their case and Dr. Sheriff failed to appear. His absence could have been seen in any civilized country as a blatant contempt of court. But it would surprise you to know that the matter was thrown out of court.

Tejan Kabbah with his arrogance instructed his minister to go ahead with the crowning exercise by hook or by crook.

Attempts to do this met with strong resistance from the Limbas resulting in death and injuries. The situation became very messy but instructions were issued from the president’s office asking the NEC boss Miss Thorpe to provide voting materials for the exercise. Miss. Thorpe who was part of a delegation to the community and chairman for one of the sessions refused to provide the materials on the following grounds.

1. That the constitution under section 32 mandates the NEC to conduct all elections in Sierra Leone.
2. That the elections cannot go ahead when an injunction was hanging.
3. Conducting any elections in the current atmosphere would be recipe for chaos.
4. The list of tribal authorities be reviewed.

The above not with standing, the provincial secretary for the South like a sycophant went ahead and conducted the elections on Saturday, 12th August. A group of 150 well armed OSD personnel barricaded the venue keeping everybody else at bay, except Dr. Sheriff and his 132 TAS. The other candidates and their well over 300 tribal authorities (TAS) were left out.

It would appear as if Tejan Kabbah is in a hurry to make a Mandingo chief ; no matter what his level of education one would except him to be intelligent enough that the situation he has created would only precipitate chaos, make the chiefdom ungovernable and cause the SLPP never to win a seat in that chiefdom expect through rigging which would be disastrous. He is taking this country back to civil unrest. This is just an example of how the 2007 elections would be like.

Tejan Kabbah, in reconstituting the National procurement authority has appointed a Mandingo as Director. The chairman of the board of directors is also a Mandingo. This is complete Nepotism, tribalism and corruption.

Even the generally acclaimed NACSA is a very corrupt place. Officers in that place receive commissions for every structure completed. The best thing for this country is to kick this corrupt and tribalistic government out of power and any other future government would rescind what is in place now.

The people’s power is mightier. We know they would fight hard to stay in power but no wonder why this government has refused to get rid of the criminal libel laws and the death penalty out of the law books.

They want a state of fear to continue to pervade the air. It is then important that those who have brought us this far must never bury their heads in the sand and allow this country to go back into the drains.

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