Sierra Leone loses $240 million a year in corrupt tax waivers: Why blame the IMF for government’s follies?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 December 2014

Ebola - Weep Not MotherThe Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone has brought out the worst of human character – including the embezzlement of funds meant to feed the sick and the concealing of the infected by relatives.

But no one expected a well respected group of university researchers to blame the International Monetary Fund for the failure of the Koroma government to live up to its electoral promise – the provision of decent health care for its people.

No one, except those that are benefiting from the grotesque and rampant corruption in the country, will go so far as to shift responsibility for the deplorable state of the country’s health care systems away from the government.

But a group of researchers from Cambridge University’s Department of Sociology, today claimed to have “examined the links between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa” and concluded that:

“Economic policy reforms advocated by the IMF have undermined the capacity of health systems in these three nations – systems already fragile from legacies of conflict and state failure – to cope with infectious disease outbreaks and other such emergencies.”

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Breaking News: Ebola hits Sierra Leone’s political establishment?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 December 2014

Sierra Leone ParliamentTonight, unconfirmed, though reliable reports from Freetown, say that one of the Koroma government’s most powerful parliamentarians – Osho Williams, who represents Constituency 107 in the capital Freetown, is suspected to have contracted the Ebola virus.

Osho Williams is believed to be seriously ill and has been removed from his home in Dundas Street, and taken to the Kerry Town treatment centre.

If proved to be Ebola positive, it will seriously and literally bring the entire parliament into chaos, as the quarantining of every single member of the country’s parliament may become absolutely necessary.

There are 112 MPs in the country’s parliament and 12 paramount chiefs, all of whom are now back at their respective constituencies, following president Koroma’s call for them to go and sensitise their constituents about Ebola.

Mr. Osho Williams is one of the most popular and affable politicians belonging to the ruling APC party.

Poverty in Sierra Leone He is also a strong grassroots politician, who has been at the forefront of the Ebola sensitisation programme, especially in the slum communities of Freetown.

If Osho Williams, who has been attending parliament regularly, until it was this week closed for the two weeks ‘door to door Ebola search operation’ announced on Wednesday by the president is proved Ebola positive, then Sierra Leone’s establishment is in deep trouble.

On Thursday, veteran doctor Victor Willoughby died of the Ebola virus, after a very short illness, bringing the total number of doctors to have died of Ebola to eleven.

Osho Williams represents a constituency, comprising of some of the most deprived communities in the capital including Kroo Bay, Susan’s Bay, and several other slum communities, which are believed to be highly infested with the Ebola virus.

But there are speculations tonight as to whether Osho, who regularly travels to the UK for health reasons may have recently been treated in Freetown by Dr. Victor Willoughby, who died of Ebola on Thursday.

Since the death of Dr. Willoughby, there have been calls for a concerted action to trace all those who may have come into contact with Dr. Willoughby in the last two weeks, including his patients and staff working at his clinic.

But so far, there are reports that the ministry of health has not taken this necessary action, which is now causing confusion and anxiety among many across the political class, as well as Freetown’s socialites.

More on this later.

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Like the Rebel war – like the Ebola war

Reflections of an eyewitness

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 December 2014

rebels enter freetown“Operation Octopus”, “Operation Barras”, “Operation Final Push”. These were some of the code names for specific military assaults against the Revolutionary United Front during Sierra Leone’s civil war.

Not to be undone in ‘operational expressions’, the rebels also declared their own operations. We will not forget that infamous macabre “Operation No living Thing.”

Over a decade after that civil war, we are witnessing the deployment of special operations for a different kind of war: the professed war against the invisible, but arguably a more lethal enemy – the Ebola Virus Disease.

In September, the government of Sierra Leone declared “Operation Ose to Ose Ebola Talk”. And on 17th December, 2014, President Koroma declared another operation – “Operation Western Area Surge”.

I have the feeling that like the rebels, this enemy has also declared its own operation – “Operation Upset Everyone”.

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What shall we say to the coming generations?

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 December 2014

salone poverty1James Garfield once said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable”.

My belief is that Sierra Leone is gradually approaching the other side of midnight, when the farce and tomfooleries that have been our diet, under the façade that we have a divine right – at the behest of our leaders, for our tomorrow to be alright, must completely fade away, so that we can create a future that will not continue to impoverish and emasculate us.

Sincerely speaking, I don’t know about you reading this, but for me, after five decades of freedom and with the abundant comparative human and natural resources available to us, what I find excruciatingly painful is that we continue to sing the same old song.

The generality of our people teeter along without any real sense of purpose. And the nation itself, lacks a coherent vision in a world where some other smaller countries, such as Rwanda, Burundi, etc., have taken flight into the higher realm of human development.

What is most painful, is that day-in day-out in our bullet-ridden nation, which seems to be clinging on to dear life, we see the negative outcomes of the enduring problems of corruption and violence, of gut-wrenching poverty and grotesque political incompetence, as well as the mess that is Sierra Leone.

And yet, we still keep a straight face and pretend we can’t grasp what is happening.

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Sierra Leoneans in despair as Doctor Willoughby succumbs to Ebola

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 December 2014

Dr Victor WilloughbySierra Leone’s top physician – Dr. Victor R. Willoughby, this morning succumbed to the deadly Ebola virus, just four days after he was officially pronounced Ebola positive by the country’s chief medical officer – Dr. Brima Kargbo. (Photo of Dr. Willoughby, taken just days before he was confirmed Ebola positive).

Medical sources say Dr. Willoughby’s condition drastically deteriorated last night, after serious multiple organ failure, which left him in deep coma.

Today, Sierra Leone has been plunged into darkness, with the preventable loss of another doctor. How much more can the people of Sierra Leone endure.

The remains of the diseased doctor will be laid to rest at the Ascension Town Cemetery in Freetown later today, by the Ebola burial team.

Dr. Willoughby is the 11th Sierra Leonean doctor to have so far succumbed to the deadly Ebola virus, just as preparations are being made for the trialing of the convalescence serum therapy – a treatment for Ebola, he personally championed. Ebola’s cruelty.

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Christmas cancelled in Sierra Leone as the Ebola crisis worsens

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 December 2014

president santaAfter much speculation as to whether there will be a national Ebola lockdown this Christmas, and uncertainty as to the extent of such an action, latest report from Freetown says that President Koroma has this morning announced a military style – house to house search for Ebola victims starting from today.

This response comes, after serious criticisms for failing to back calls by the mayor of the capital Freetown to take tougher measures, aimed at curbing Ebola in the capital.

President Koroma is now reported to have acceded to proposals for change in market and street trading pattern, which many believe is a major source of Ebola transmission in the country.

The president has announced banning of all Sunday trading throughout the country, and has restricted Saturday shopping to morning hours only.

Koroma also announced that travelling between districts will be curtailed, as a measure to curb the rampant transmission of the virus between districts.

And for the first time in the country’s hundreds of year’s history, the president said that New Year’s Eve church services are to end before 5 pm, and that all New Year’s Day festivities, including church services are prohibited.

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