Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 October 2021:
In the fast-developing story concerning President Bio’s decision to appoint former Acting Registrar of the country’s Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) as the National Electoral Commission’s Commissioner for the Western Region, opposition parties say they will not accept her appointment, and are calling on the President to rescind his decision.
The National Grand Coalition Party (NGC) published a statement yesterday, strongly condemning the controversial appointment of Mrs Zainab Morseray. This is what the NGC statement says:
The National Grand Coalition Party (NGC) opposes the appointment of Mrs Zainab Morseray as NEC Commissioner for the Western Region and therefore will not be endorsing her in Parliament. Our rejection of this appointment is due principally to her very controversial and unsatisfactory track record in her previous employment as Acting Registrar at the PPRC.
We know that our position on this matter is identical with several other political parties and we believe that Government is forcing Mrs Morseray into the NEC because she will be inclined to protect their interest in the upcoming elections in 2022 and 2023.
Serious allegations have been made against her that are still to be cleared at the Anti-Corruption Commission. Her presence at the NEC will be yet another major reduction of trust and confidence in the current set up at NEC and a damage to our hopes of having credible elections in 2022 and 2023.
Writing to the Chair of the Appointments Committee, today 26th October 2021, the NGC Parliamentary Caucus Leader – Hon Kandeh Yumkella stated:
“Dear Chairman, unfortunately I am unable to be in the meeting of the appointments committee to interview, inter alia, the appointment of a commissioner for Western Area in the NEC. I wish to state that I stand by my party’s position that we consider the candidate not suitable for this appointment for various reasons already presented by the Chairman and Leader of my party.
“Further, we believe that it is unethical to consider a candidate for such high office when the position she currently holds is yet to be cleared of wrongdoing (corruption allegations) as a result of findings by the audit service and the ACC.
“As a result, I cannot support the appointment of Zainab Morseray to be a commissioner in the NEC. If there is going to be a vote in the Appointments Committee today, my vote is NO. I would be grateful if my position is read at the meeting.”
For details about the specific allegations made against Ms Moseray, see contents of the letter from the COPPP to the ACC Chair on 21 September 2021, below:
REQUEST FOR UPDATE ON THE INVESTIGATION INTO THE ACTIVITIES OF THE FORMER ACTING REGISTRAR OF THE PPRC AND OTHERS AT THE COMMISSION IN THE PERIOD BETWEEN 2018 AND 2020
You may recall that in a letter addressed to you on 30th October 2019, sixteen senior members of Political parties under the nomenclature of APPA blew the whistle and requested that you launch an investigation into the activities of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), regarding abuse of office by the acting Registrar PPRC in the “period between the Administration of the Late Justice Hamilton and the incumbent, Mr. Abdulai Bangura, Chairman, Political Parties Registration Commission.”
Among the allegations made against the Acting Registrar were the following:
a) “Unlawful use of solicited funds to undermine political party structure and authority of political party leaders”
b) “Illegal soliciting of funds by the political parties registration commission from donors after the State President has dismantled all commissions except the national electoral commission and national commission for democracy through executive order.”
c) “Illegal Funding of convention of a rival faction of All Political Parties Association Sierra Leone.”
Considering that the PPRC is a key institution that plays a critical role in our democracy, our expectation was that you would treat and dispose of this matter expeditiously. It is therefore unfortunate that almost two years after you received that request for investigation, we are yet to see any progress made in that regard by the ACC.
This unresolved matter has since become more complex with the recent appointment of the acting Registrar of PPRC, Mrs. Zainab Morseray, who is at the centre of these allegations of corruption, as Commissioner of the Electoral Commission. This matter, Mr. Chairman, deserves to be treated seriously because it clearly puts the integrity and reliability of four State institutions in jeopardy: first, the PPRC itself where the said acting Registrar took control of the Institution and created a team that allegedly mismanaged State funds; second, the Electoral Commission, which by the appointment of Mrs. Zainab Morseray is poised to receive as Commissioner an individual whose integrity is still under scrutiny by the ACC; third, Parliament which through its Committee on Appointments and Public Service will have to consider the appointment of a public officer who is at the heart of such a dark controversy; and finally, the ACC whose delay in dealing with this matter has put all these institutions into a state of total embarrassment.
Needless to say that with this matter there is a lot at stake; for instance, how can political parties be convinced that the forthcoming elections are in safe hands when one of the managers is under suspicion of grave irregularities in her previous employment?
Furthermore, there have been more revelations concerning this PPRC story. It must be understood that in the period between the demise of Justice Hamilton and the appointment of the current PPRC Chairman (the period in which His Excellency the President dissolved all Commissions except the NEC and NCD), there was no executive vacuum at the PPRC. Section 34 (1)b and 34 (2) of the 1991 Constitution provide for an ex-officio Member of the PPRC, that is the Chief Electoral Commissioner on whose shoulders the mantle naturally fell to provide leadership during the interregnum and section 34 (3) for a Secretary to the Commission who shall be the Administrator and Registrar General.
It is interesting to note that Mrs. Zainab Morseray who was working as Registrar only in an acting capacity, managed to bypass the authority of the ex-officio Member of PPRC and the Commission’s Secretary to raise funds, have access to the PPRC account and spend monies by bringing in some junior officials as co-signatories to the account. At a discussion programme on Star Radio on 7th September 2021, one Mr. Lucien Momoh who is Media and Public Outreach Officer, confirmed that indeed he too was a signatory to the PPRC accounts.
In the light of the foregoing, we trust that you will appreciate the urgency of the matter and the reason why your investigation into the PPRC should be given priority. The conclusions of that investigation may have serious implications for the integrity of our institutions and the direction of democracy in Sierra Leone.
As we patiently await your response, we wish to thank you for your usual cooperation
Yours faithfully, Wadi W. Williams (NPD), Morseray Bangura (UP), Nfagie Kabba (ADP), Theresa Turay (PLP). Susan Williams (NPD).
COPP STATEMENT ON GOVERNMENT’S IMPOSITION OF MRS ZAINAB MORSERAY AS COMMISSIONER AT
THE NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION:
The Consortium of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP) wishes to inform the general public and Development partners that all political parties that are members of COPPP have unanimously decided to oppose the decision by Government to impose Mrs. Zainab Morseray as NEC Commissioner in charge of the Western Region.
The Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone clearly stipulates in section 32 (3) that appointment of members of the Electoral Commission shall be done by the President “after consultation with the leaders of all registered political parties and subject to approval of Parliament.”
Typically, Government did not consult with any of the opposition parties in the Consortium and is now seeking the approval of Parliament for this controversial appointment. Had the political parties been consulted the President would have had the opportunity to know the reasons why over 50% of registered political parties in Sierra Leone consider Mrs. Morseray to be most unsuitable for a position at the Electoral Commission that demands the highest level of integrity, fairness, impartiality and professionalism.
The fact that in her previous employment at the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) she worked for over a decade in an acting capacity without being confirmed speaks volumes of successive Governments’ hesitation to confer full responsibility to her. And currently, there are unresolved issues at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in which she faces serious allegations of wrongdoing.
It is unbelievable that with all this background the SLPP Government is insisting on assigning the sensitive role of Commissioner for Western Region to an individual with such negative credentials. COPPP views this with the utmost suspicion and considers the imposition of Mrs. Morseray as one further step in their on-going efforts to capture the institution and prepare for the worst elections in the history of our country.
COPPP is on record for giving maximum support to the drive for women’s empowerment in Sierra Leone and wishes to state that our objection to Mrs. Morseray’s appointment would have been exactly the same for any male appointee with a similar baggage.
To this end, COPPP has asked all members of Parliament representing parties in the Consortium and those who would like NEC to be a credible and independent institution to protest by walking out if there is any attempt to bulldoze this appointment through Parliament. (END).