The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 May 2013
Sierra Leone has one of the worst crime figures in West Africa. A survey conducted last year found that the majority of people in the country do not trust the police force.
Over 70% of people also said that the police force is the most corrupt institution in the country.
This is a highly damning record, for an institution which takes its roots from the British tradition of ‘fair cop’ and fair-minded enforcement of law and order.
Last year the country’s police were accused of murder, when armed officers opened fire on law abiding mine workers out on strike in the northern district of Tonkolili, killing one woman. Their only crime was to protest against exploitation by foreign companies.
The striking workers were demanding better working conditions and higher pay from their employers. Yet, police boss – Inspector General Munu is proud of his force’s record.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 May 2013
On 24 May last year, I went to Kailahun with the Peace Project to donate crutches to the disabled. And whilst I was there, the blind also requested we help them with walking canes.
We promised to be back with the 500 walking canes, once they arrive from the United States.
When I got back to Parliament after the trip, I bumped literally into Hon. Alice Foyah (Photo). And after apologising for my clumsiness, I told her of my trip to her constituency. She smiled fully, her eyes like two shining buttons.
She placed her hand on my shoulder and said warmly: “Why didn’t you let me know you were going to Kailahun, so I could have made my people give you the respect you deserve? I could have made them treat you to the ‘Kailahun pemahun’ and, well, everything you would have requested. Come on, you deserve it – you know – you’re such a good reporter.”
Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 May 2013
Actions it is said have consequences. Plans have implications. Sadly, policy paralysis is leaving many ordinary Sierra Leoneans in the cauldron of agony, as hunger, poverty and economic hardship, caused by the lack of an appropriate and relevant structural transformation agenda for prosperity.
An African saying wisely warns that you should beware of a naked man who offers you clothes. Barely six months after last year’s general elections, the so called ‘operation 4-4-4’, embraced by the majority, has yielded only the dividend of ‘rough-rough-rough’ for the average Sierra Leonean, who is no longer waving- but drowning.
They are gasping for palliatives, amidst rising inflation.
While they welcome roads, they will be happier with food more. They would have liked life to be a little easier for themselves and their families, just as it is for those who throw crumbs at them.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 May 2013
When a king decides to disrobe the king-maker, there are bound to be alarm bells ringing as rumours of treachery and betrayal make their rounds.
But, was the unceremonious disrobing of the king-maker a mere act of showing who is in charge of running Sierra Leone?
The leader of Sierra Leone’s opposition Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) – Charles Margai (Photo), was publicly humiliated by president Koroma last Friday, when he was arrested by heavily armed security officers at his home in Freetown.
He was locked up in the country’s notorious CID headquarters at Pademba Road, where he was denied access to his medication, before he was yesterday released on bail, set at Le100 million.
He is accused by the police of making subversive statements, which they say are inimical to the security of the state.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 May 2013
The pervasive fear of violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe’s 2013 elections contradicts political leaders’ rhetorical commitments to peace, and raises concerns that the country may not be ready to go to the polls.
Zimbabwe: Election Scenarios, the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, reviews developments in what remains an inchoate political environment, and describes possible paths towards elections, expected to be held between July and November this year.
Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government – the country’s uneasy power-sharing experiment, based on a 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA) between, principally, President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party – averted greater political violence and repression. But it has not delivered political or economic stability.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 May 2013
There is something disturbing about the way the government of Sierra Leone make decisions about spending.
And the impact of that decision making process on the country’s parliamentary democracy and the fight against corruption is enormous.
When a finance minister goes on a shopping spree outside of the country to borrow money for unscheduled spending, which is outside of government’s spending plan presented to parliament, questions must be asked.
Sierra Leone’s finance minister – Dr. Keifala Marah was in the US last month, signing a loan agreement with the Director General of OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) for a whopping $13 million, which according to the government – will be spent on the redevelopment of the country’s premier university – Fourah Bay College.
Is this just another ‘get rich quick’ scheme by and for ministers and officials?
Dr. Marah told OFID that; “The cost of rehabilitating Fourah Bay College is estimated at $36.65 Million.” (Cocorioko News).
But how will this huge funding shortfall be met? And what are the expected benefits for the economy that has been in serious recession for the best part of six years?
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 April 2013
Sierra Leonean born Director of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) – Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, spoke in Washington DC last Saturday, as Sierra Leoneans across the world, celebrated the country’s 52nd independence anniversary.
Sierra Leone is rich in natural resources, but after 52 years of independence from Britain, industrialisation is yet to become the engine of wealth creation and prosperity.
Successive governments have failed to build a diverse economy that is resilient and robust enough to promote economic growth and eradicate abject poverty.
But Dr. Yumkella is confident about the future. Well renowned for his economic development philosophy of ‘adding value’ through the promotion of innovation and creativity, he sounded clear in his thinking, as to some of the key challenges facing Sierra Leone.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 April 2013
The people of Sierra Leone are today marking 52 years of independence from Britain. But with economic hardship and massive unemployment – estimated at over 70% of the economically active population, this year’s celebration is a quiet affair.
Despite deafening government propaganda that standards of living in the country have risen since 2007, not many people are out celebrating the country’s independence today.
There is serious fuel shortage in the country. Residents of the capital Freetown and other major cities – such as Bo, Kenema and Makeni are reported to be suffering from the lack of petrol, electricity blackouts and shortage of clean drinking water.
Reports from Freetown say that the capital is today eerily quiet, with few signs of independence celebration.
The Sierra Leone telegraph: 22 April 2013
In December last year (2012), the information unit of State House in Sierra Leone, announced that the president will leave no stone unturned in finding out what happened to the $8 million.
The money was part of the mineral resources fund, set aside to help rehabilitate and develop communities displaced and blighted by the environmental impact of mining companies in the country.
News of the missing $8 million was buried amid the political fall out that emerged; following the disclosure that $5 million meant for fighting malaria in the country had also disappeared.
In a press statement issued by State House information unit in December 2012, shortly after the announcement of presidential election results, president Koroma said that there will be a thorough investigation conducted by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 April 2013
In less than ten days president Koroma is expected to officially launch his ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ for nationwide public consultation. He told ministers and heads of public agencies at a recent presidential retreat that; delivery of this new agenda cannot be allowed to fail.
“The targets we set in the Agenda for Prosperity will be directly aligned to the Performance Contracts that I will sign with Ministers. My election as President was an act of performance contract signing with my employers – the people of this great nation. I must fulfil the objectives of my employment” said president Koroma.
Such promise, coming from the president is nothing new. It has been heard before. What is different this time?