Touchy feely with politics, Sierra Leone
Personal Notes : Its been a constant that this blog doesn't dwell too deep in my political views. But this is a follow up on an item of personal interest, a story that I read in 2009 in The Economist. In it states that Sierra Leone rose to 146 on the Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International. Well I am pleased to announce that it is now occupying the 134 position, which means they rose by a further 12 positions in this last period. That is outstanding that it went on. The index is of 180 countries, so there's definitely room for expansion.
Ok, some politics now, the problem of corruption concerns us as well, why not learn from Sierra Leone, its working. Article below.
IN MOST African countries, the fight against corruption is deemed important but hardly a matter of life and death. In Sierra Leone it is exactly that.
In 1991 the country descended into one of Africa’s most terrible civil wars. It lasted a decade or so, killed tens of thousands of people and spawned a new lexicon of words and images that shocked the world: “blood diamonds”, drugged-up child soldiers, warlords and militiamen amputating the hands of their victims for doing nothing worse than voting. At the end of it all, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission appointed by the government decided that one of the war’s main causes had been the rampant corruption that had infested every level of government in the preceding decades. If Sierra Leone was to avoid a repeat of the 1990s, corruption was the biggest vice to be eradicated.
Yet even after the commission published its conclusion in 2004, Sierra Leone’s post-conflict governments still struggled to solve the problem. Bribery and fraud remained normal. This put investors off the country, by then one of the world’s poorest, and made foreign governments increasingly wary of giving more aid to be squandered. In 2007 Britain, the former colonial power and biggest donor, ended direct budget support for the government and refused to give any more money to the ineffectual Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). Since Sierra Leone’s government still depends on foreign aid for about 60% of its budget, those were heavy blows.
Government and politics
Now, however, there are signs that Sierra Leone is at last having some success against corruption. The government was pleased by this week’s publication of the annual Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, a Berlin-based lobby, which showed Sierra Leone steadily climbing up the rankings, albeit only to number 146 out of the 180 countries surveyed. The days of impunity seem to be over. Twenty-seven public officials have been indicted for corruption in the past year or so, including judges and the heads of the post office and the national broadcasting service. The minister of health was sacked earlier this month after being indicted on three counts of corruption.
Two factors explain the country’s tougher attitude: a new man and new laws. Two years ago Abdul Tejan-Cole took over as head of the ACC. A human-rights lawyer, he had spent much of his career abroad, so was untainted by the country’s partisan politics. He has pursued all malefactors with equal fervour.
Last year he introduced a system whereby every public official must declare all his or her assets. He also persuaded parliament to change the law governing the ACC’s operation. Not only can it investigate corruption, as before; it can also now launch prosecutions on its own, without having to refer cases to the attorney-general, a political appointee. As in other countries, such as Kenya, the previous procedure had hampered anti-corruption campaigns. The new law has already raised the number of offences linked to corruption from nine to 29 and has lengthened minimum sentences. Such changes, says Mr Tejan-Cole, have given the ACC “more teeth”. The number of prosecutions has soared. The ACC has clawed back around 3 billion leones ($800,000) in assets from those found guilty of corruption.
The 38-year-old Mr Tejan-Cole admits that the task of the ACC remains daunting. Some ministers, he says, have given it a distinctly “mixed” reception. Too many of them are still appointed for narrow political reasons, regardless of their past record. Mr Tejan-Cole wants all the most senior people to be vetted by parliament or by the ACC before they take office. For that, he needs unqualified political support from the top. So far President Ernest Koroma has given it. It is essential that he continues to do so.
Sourced : The Economist
Visual : Sierra Leone Rainforest