Freetown’s councillors will go on street protest if government does not act on their demand

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:

2 Comments

  1. “Book sense and common sense always lead us to duality of thought”. Reason tells us that pure thought cannot know itself because that would set up a duality which would be false if pure thought is the only real existence. But this is only reason’s inability to measure what transcends itself. Although all ordinary experience confirms it, extraordinary experience refutes it. The idea to say that an administrator is incompetent comes from the judgement of his job description and what he is capable of doing. Also remember that when the commission of inquiry was set up to look into the administration of past governments, little did we realized that most of the issues that crop up were based on administrative blunders on the part of the ruling government. If we are to go by this thought, can we say that this administrator is incompetent when he fully know that a commission of inquiry is likely to be set up to look into the administration of governments exiting powers?

    Perhaps, why the hue and cry of councilors at council is that they have put the interest of their party first rather than working for the betterment of the people of Freetown. I want to make specific reference to this article where it is stated that 48 councilors in this municipality got elected under one party alone which happens to be in the opposition now. With common sense, what will you sense out of this, when the administrator of the council happens to be a public servant. He was not appointed by any politician to become an administrator but, rather posted in that office under a well structured body called the public service commission. This requires some thoughts.

  2. This is political sabotage of the highest order.Festus Kallay act of sabotage,or insubordination at Freetown city Council , with out the say so of the disruptor in chief, President Maada Bio will be impossible to pull off without his tactical approval .He is just following a script written by Bio. More like Mr Kallays’s political gerrymandering is doing the dirty work of Bio, against the elected Mayor of Freetown. It appears this Bio sidekick, Mr Kallay is doing a very good job at it. So far he hasn’t disappointed. This political stunts or gimmicks, call it what you want to call it, is keeping in line with how Bio have behaved since he was sworn in to the presidency in 2018.The only thing that seems to be consistent with Bio is his lack of consistency.

    His erratic behaviour,lack of desire to look for a third way to conduct the affairs of the presidency,and seek a better understanding of how to work with the opposition parties, so we can have the meaningful changes we all want to see take place in our country, and more alarmingly his tendency to pick a fight with his political opponents real or imagine is just out of kilter what the presidency is all about . His first acts of political vendettas, and plots is like Nollywood scripts written for Central casting. The first two years of his presidency was spent fighting loosing battles in the Sierra Leonean Courts. He arrested and imprisoned Dr Sylvia Blyden on false charges.He invited Rt Marjor Paolo Conteh at State House at the start of the covid19 pandemic, only to turned on him and accused him of an assassination attempt.

    His mantra of fighting corruption took him to the door steps of fomer president Enerst Bai Koroma. His unhinged behaviour worked up to point, when the British and other international partners like the European union, and the United Nations, that invested so much in peace building in Sierra Leone , by helping end the brutal RUF wars threatened to pull the plug on his government aid funding. That was the only time Boi had his road to Damascus conversion amd released Dr Blyden, and Rt Marjor Conteh. This political sabotage is not new. The best way to discribe it, is when one political camp felt threatened by the opposition, they deploy the only tool left in their arsenal to engaged their political opponents in other to disrupt their agendas. More like they are following a script. Madam Akin Sawyer remains the only credible politicians in Sierra Leone that is offering the city residents of Freetown what is possible. And demonstrating in her own unique ways , with transparency and accountability, politicians of all colours can deliver for their people as long as they know their job description . What we are witnessing now is Bio have lost the plot. He is trying to disrupt, harass and damage the reputation of the Mayor of Freetown.

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