Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 August 2021:
Elected local councillors controlling the Freetown City Council held a press conference yesterday, calling on the government to immediately act on their demand for the ministry of local government to remove the council’s chief administrator Festus Kallay from office, after he was accused by the Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr and the elected councillors of gross misconduct, insubordination, and dereliction of duty.
In a letter written a few weeks ago to the international community working in the country, the councillors requested their intervention to help resolve the impasse. But so far, there has been no indication of the international community pressing on the government to accede to the demand of the elected councillors, as local service delivery continue to suffer in the hands of the government’s political fight with the elected councillors and Mayor.
This is what the letter written to the international community a few weeks ago said:
“REQUEST FOR YOUR IMMEDIATE INTERVENTION
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 rancor 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.
Yours in service, Freetown City Council,Councillors.” (END).
The government’s reaction to the councillor’s demand is that the chief administrator will stay in office, while promising to conduct an investigation into the accusations of gross misconduct.
But so far, no investigation has been conducted while the chief administrator is still in his job – believed to be working for the government to help bring down the Mayor and destroy the work of the council in delivering vital services to the people of Freetown.
There are 48 elected local councillors in the western urban municipality of the capital Freetown, which is under the control of Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr (Photo), with the main opposition All Peoples Congress Party (APC) controlling every single ward but one held by the ruling SLPP.
Political analysts believe that this ‘political mathematics’ is the reason why the ruling SLPP party is trying hard to derail the work of the Mayor and the elected opposition councillors, hoping that if they could cripple service delivery in the capital, electorate will vote for the ruling SLPP at the local council elections next year.
At yesterday’s press conference, the elected councillors warned the government that if their demand for the removal of the chief administrator is not met, they will walk out into the streets in large numbers in protest.
Speaking on behalf of the elected councillors, the chairman of the council’s information communication committee Abdul Karim Fofanah said this in Krio: