Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 August 2021:
Elected councillors of the Freetown City Council have written a letter to the international community in the country, who are responsible for bankrolling the government every year through aid amounting to over $300 million.
They are calling for the immediate intervention of the international community in a dispute between the ministry of local government and the council, over what they describe as the appalling behaviour of the council’s chief administrator – Festus Kallay who is accused by the councillors of dereliction of duty, insubordination, and sabotage.
Two weeks ago, the councillors wrote to the minister of local government demanding the removal and replacement of the chief administrator, whose presence in the council the councillors said is no longer tolerable.
In response, the local government minister said he will investigate the councillors’ complaint instread of taking action to remove the unelected administrator.
But the councillors say that this is a political tactic by the minister aimed at frustrating and crippling the good work of the mayor and the council.
So, they have written a letter to the British High Commissioner, the Irish Ambassador, the European Union Head of Delegation, the American Ambassador, and the German Ambassador. The letter was also sent to the vice president of Sierra Leone – Dr Juldeh Jalloh, and the chairman of the parliamentary committee for local government for urgent action.
This is what the letter says:
“We bring you warm felicitations and write to ask for your immediate intervention on the below subject matter, with a view to ameliorating a deteriorating situation.
“Sir, you may have noticed the news and information being shared in the local media about ongoing tensions within the Freetown City Council. We, the undersigned Councillors would like to formally bring to your attention that the actions of Chief Administrator of the Council has been stifling, derailing and unnecessarily impeding development and progress for the municipality. Since we took up office as elected leaders of the municipality, the Chief Administrator, with acquiescence from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has been acting in ways that seek to frustrate, malign and deter our efforts to serve our constituents diligently and efficiently.
“As Councillors, we strongly believe in the rule of law and due process. As such, we wrote to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, as the supervising Ministry, requesting them to intervene by transferring the belligerent Chief Administrator to another department or agency.
“This request is also in line with our functions as provided for by the Local Government Act 2004 (as amended). We are however saddened to inform you, that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development serving as the supervisory Ministry have deliberately refused to act on our request. In fact, their response to our letter suggests support for the Chief Administrator’s insubordination and unprofessional behaviour.
“We are therefore constrained in the options available to us, to address this stalemate. We no longer have confidence in working with the Chief Administrator. We cannot continue to entrust the administrative functions to an individual who has repeatedly demonstrated acts of sabotage, gross misconduct and who by all intent and purpose is determined to undermine the development achievements we are making as elected representatives of voters in the city.
“It is against this backdrop that we feel compelled to ask for your immediate intervention as one of our country’s international development partners and moral guarantors, in a bid to avoid any further rancour between the political and administrative wings of the institution. We have also attached, for your ease of reference, our complaints and request to the Minister of Local Government.
“We thank you in advance for your anticipated intervention and hope that your involvement into this matter will help resolve it for the good of Freetown and its residents.”
What many in the capital Freetown find truly perplexing about the refusal of the minister of local government to accede to the request of the elected councillors, is the fact that the minister’s intransigence and belligerence totally disregard the overwhelming documentary evidence of sabotage and insubordination by the Chief Administrator of the council – Festus Kallay, as far back as 2018.
So far there has been no response from the international community in the country, who are funding most of the council-run projects that the government is accusing the mayor and councillors of mismanaging.
But what is evidently clear, is that should this impasse continue, come November this year, the council may be paralysed because of uncollected rates and taxes, which could put at risk the millions of dollars the UK government and others have invested in the city to improve the lives of people.