FGM in Sierra Leone – to ban or not to ban?

Mariama Dumbuya

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 August 2016

I have been off social media for the past few weeks and perusing through various fora/social media, I note the hot debate regarding the banning of FGM in Sierra Leone.

The unending “put under the carpet” issue of FGM reared its ugly head to gain the lime light once more, because of the death of a 19 year-old lady who allegedly was initiated prior to her demise, or died in the hands of the Soweis.

Upon careful reflection, I support the call for our Legislature to speedily enact a law that will clearly ban FGM for under 18s. However, in the case of above 18 years, let individual choice prevail.

I do not mean to offend, but please note that I’ll try to explain clearly the reasons for my stance.

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Investigation into alleged corruption at Sierra Leone’s ministry of social welfare continues

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 August 2016

Ady Macauley appointed by president Koroma

Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission seems to be going where it has never been before – investigating an alleged criminal Mr. Momo Bockarie Foh – the younger brother of the country’s vice president for alleged corruption. (Photo: President Koroma welcoming the new ACC chief – Ady Macauley to the job). 

No sibling of a sitting president or vice president has ever been arrested and, or investigated for corruption in Sierra Leone, despite evidence of massive corruption and malfeasance.

Mr. Momo Bockarie Foh is still being held in custody by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), after failing to fulfill his bail conditions last week.

Observers say that, this is a clear sign that for now, there are no ‘orders from above’, preventing or attempting to subvert the course of justice, as is usually the case in such high profiled cases in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Ady Macauley, the ACC Commissioner who is fast proving that he has the mettle to walk a straight line and keep on the right side of justice, is fully aware that the whole world is watching the outcome of this investigation.

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Sierra Leone opposition SLPP putting its house in order?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 August 2016

SLPP

The National Executive Council (NEC) of Sierra Leone’s opposition SLPP, met yesterday to discuss the progress it is making in meeting the milestones it had set few months ago, based on the advice and ruling received from the country’s Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) and the Supreme Court.

Since losing the 2012 presidential and general elections to the incumbent ruling APC, the SLPP party has remained deeply divided.

Following a series of poor judgement and irrational administrative decisions, many rank and file members have accused a section of the party’s NEC of autocracy and dictatorship.

As the party continues to struggle to find its feet in an ever increasingly turbulent and rancorously charged political atmosphere, there is strong concern it will remain divided, disorganised and too weak to fight the incumbent APC at the 2018 general elections.

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Fatmata Turay was not killed by circumcision – says Sierra Leone minister of social welfare

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 August 2016

Africa progress panel1

After much global publicity about the cause of death of a nineteen year old woman in Sierra Leone – Fatmata Turay, after undergoing circumcision, the official cause of death is now known. She died of ‘bilateral lobar pneumonia – seriously affecting her lungs’, according to results of examination conducted by the government pathologist – Dr. Owizz Koroma.

Responding to comments made at the recent press conference held in Freetown by the Forum Against Harmful Practices (FAHP), Sierra Leone’s minister of social welfare said that  Fatmata Turay “also had extensive other pathologies and conditions throughout her internal organs in her chest cavity, her abdominal cavity and her pelvic cavity”.

“It is the decision of her family members not to publicise what other conditions were found by Dr. Owizz Koroma in her chest, abdomen and pelvis. I respect that.”

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Corruption syndicate uncovered at Sierra Leone’s ministry of social welfare

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 August 2016

Poverty in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Two ministry of social welfare personnel are now at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), helping with investigations regarding an alleged corruption syndicate involving senior public officials, uncovered at the ministry.

Sources at the ACC have this afternoon confirmed that they are both persons of interest. One of whom is the permanent secretary of the ministry – Mr Momo Bockarie Foh – the younger brother of the country’s vice president Victor Bockarie Foh.

It is understood that the other individual in ACC custody, is the chief accountant of the ministry – Mariatu Harding.

Yesterday, the permanent secretary at the ministry of social welfare in Sierra Leone, was caught red-handed attempting to withdraw thousands of dollars from an account held at the commercial bank in Freetown.

The scam was exposed in a secretly recorded audio conversation sent to the Sierra Leone Telegraph yesterday.

Sierra Leone’s ministry of social welfare is believed to be one of the most corrupt and chaotic ministries in the country, which the former editor of Awareness Times newspaper and now minister in charge of the embattled ministry – Dr. Sylvia Blyden was appointed early this year by president Koroma to bring under control.

But there are massive structural and administrative problems crippling her efforts.

More that 70% of Sierra Leone’s GDP or wealth created in the country, is consumed by the country’s public sector, with very little finding its way into the private sector for investment and job creation.

This cannot be good for tackling poverty in a country that is classed as one of the poorest in the world.

With most of the country’s GDP which is estimated at $4 billion, supporting the payment of public sector wages and salaries, the delivery of essential services and the running of government, opportunity for corruption and misappropriation of funds is astronomical.

Analysts say that yesterday’s corruption scam exposed at the ministry of social welfare is just the tip of the iceberg.

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‘There is nothing petty about petty corruption’ – says Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Czar

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 August 2016

Ady Macauley appointed by president Koroma

A few days ago, the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas, caught up with the man appointed early this year to take over one of the most difficult jobs in Sierra Leone – tackling corruption, to talk about his vision and the measures he is putting in place to control a virulent virus that is crippling the country.

He is Mr Ady Macauley – the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, who until his appointment by president Koroma in March 2016, was a senior prosecutor at the Commission, leading investigations and bringing those responsible for corruption to court. (Photo: President Koroma welcoming Anti-Corruption Czar – Mr Ady Macauley).

Speaking to the editor, Mr Macauley was unequivocal in his determination to get to the heart of corruption in Sierra Leone, so as to cut off its blood supply.

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What African countries like Sierra Leone can learn from Sheffield’s investment deal with China

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 August 2016

China investments

Many Africans who are supportive of China’s economic dealings with Africa, say that the global economic giant is being unfairly criticised, for simply doing what most developed nations have done throughout history to Africans – the exploitation of the continent’s natural resources, in return for shoddy infrastructure development projects and support for poorly managed healthcare facilities.

Critics do not see it that way. They say that China is taking more out of Africa than it is putting in.

In most countries of Africa where China is believed to be investing their capital, they say that such investments are largely concentrated in mining, road construction, fishing and large-scale mechanised farming for their own domestic consumption, invariably using their own imported labour force especially at management levels.

On the surface there is little wrong with such investments. But once the veneer is removed from the agreements that China signs with their African comrades, what is seen are the massive loans at huge rates of interest that critics say will burden Africa’s future generations, as well as sap much needed cash away from current spending on essential public services.

Writing in the conversation.com, Sharif Mahmud Khalid says there is much that African countries can learn from the northern city of Sheffield in the UK, where a $1 Billion investment agreement has been signed with the Chinese.

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