Sierra Leone president Bio reshuffles cabinet ministers ahead of budget statement

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 November 2019:

As parliamentarians prepare to receive the SLPP government’s 2020 Budget and Financial Statement tomorrow Friday, 8 November, to be delivered by finance minister Jacob Jusu Saffa, president Bio has today announced a snap cabinet reshuffle.

Although a cabinet reshuffle was expected after calls from various sources including the Sierra Leone Telegraph for immediate reset of the president’s governing machinery and ministerial leadership, today’s cabinet reshuffle falls far short of expectations.

President Bio has resisted calls for the sacking of his finance minister – JJ Saffa (Photo) and governor of the central bank – professor Kallon, despite worsening economic crisis in the country, for which supporters of the SLPP government are blaming the former government of president Ernest Bai Koroma.

The president has also decided to keep his chief minister – Dr David Francis close by his side, after calls for his post to be made redundant, which many believe is a serious duplication of the vice president’s role.

But there are other surprises in today’s reshuffle which may be welcomed by many, including the sacking of the minister of water resources – Dr. Jonathan Tengbe, who has been replaced by Mr P. K. Lansana, as the water crisis in the country continues.

Dr Tengbe has over 30 years’ experience in the design, project and contract management of highways and civil infrastructure projects. who had spent several years working on various infrastructure projects both in Sierra Leone – and most recently in the Middle East, where he gave up his job to return to Sierra Leone to contest the presidential candidacy of the SLPP party, which he lost to president Julius Maada Bio.

Dr Tengbe was then appointed minister of water resources by Bio after the SLPP won elections last year, to help resolve the country’s perennial problem of water shortage.

Another shocking addition to the ministerial cabinet by the president is the appointment of Dr David Sengeh (Photo) as the new minister of basic and senior secondary education , replacing Alpha Timbo who was quite instrumental in helping the president establish and roll out his Free Quality Education programme across the country.

But the implementation of the government’s free education programme has been fraught with immense and complex difficulties, such as inadequate learning resources, shortage of classrooms – overcrowding in schools, poor motivation of teachers.

The declining morale of staff across the education sector after recent corruption scandals and stories of examination fraud, is also conspiring to threaten the smooth delivery of the free education programme.

Alpha Timbo is now the new Labour and Social Security Minister, taking over from Mr Adekunkle King who has been appointed Ambassador to Ethiopia and African Union.

It is not clear what added value Dr Sengeh would bring into the basic education ministerial role, after championing last week’s launch of the government’s Innovation and Digitalisation Strategy.

The question  remains as to who will take over the running of the government’s Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) as Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer – a role many in and out of Sierra Leone believe to be superfluous to the country’s priorities and development requirements.

It is understood that Dr Sengeh will now focus on bringing computerisation and internet connectivity across primary and secondary schools, to improve universal access to learning materials, and help change school curriculum. But will he continue to also run the DSTI?

The ministry of defence has also got a new leadership today. The new minister of defence is the country’s former head of national security – Retired Brigadier Kellie Conteh. He will be assisted by Retired Colonel Muana Brima Massaquoi. President Bio was minister of Defence.

Another key ministry that has received a big shake-up today is the ministry of agriculture and forestry, which for far too long has been underperforming – unable to respond to the country’s acute food shortage.

After 58 years of independence, Sierra Leone cannot feed itself. This is a testament to the massive failing of successive governments to address and tackle the problem of farming and food production in the country.

Today, president Bio has sacked both the incumbent minister – Mr. Joseph J. Ndanema and his deputy minister at the ministry of agriculture. They have been replaced by Mr Denis K. Vandi and Dr Abu Bakarr Karim respectively.

Not much is known about the performance track record of these two agriculture ministry appointees, but there are 7 million hungry mouths in Sierra Leone, wide open and waiting to be fed. Denis Vandi was sacked last year from State House by president Bio.

The Executive Chairman of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Dr. Foday Moriba Jaward, who holds a PhD in Environmental Science from Lancaster University, United Kingdom, is appointed to take over as minister of the newly established ministry for the environment which has today been decoupled from the ministry of lands and Housing..

Jaward now has the massive task of working with the ministry of lands to put a stop to the mindless deforestation, that is taking place along the Freetown Peninsular which is the cause of recent flooding that have taken hundreds of lives. He will be assisted by the newly appointed deputy minister for the environment – Mr Steven James Jusu.

Another ministry that has been broken up is the ministry of Social welfare, Gender, Children and Religious Affairs, thus creating more jobs for new ministers and deputies at a time that the country is suffering from serious economic problems.

The new minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs is Ms Manti Tarawallie. Social Welfare and Religious Affairs will now function as a separate entity under the incumbent substantive minister – Baindu Dassama.

Today’s cabinet reshuffle would be seen by many as a cosmetic exercise, aimed at repopulating the decks of a ship that is in serious trouble, as it sails closer to the shores of general elections in 2023.

While there is still time for further mid-term reshuffle next year, the economic crisis facing the country will continue if serious steps are not taken to change direction, in terms of the government’s fiscal and spending policies.

Tomorrow, Friday 8 November 2019,  is government budget day in Sierra Leone. Who are the winners and losers? Will there be more tax rises? Will the government continue its massive borrowing trajectory to keep up with its high spending?

What measures will be put in place to stimulate exports? Will the government reduce import taxes and cost of clearing goods at the seaport?

11 Comments

  1. Am sure it is now that the president has made the best appointment in the ministry of primary and secondary education. David Sengeh is truly the right person in that capacity. God bless the president, God bless Sierra Leone.

  2. The people of Sierra Leone gave His Excellency Retired Brigadier, Dr. Julius Maada Bio who is also the Fountain of Honor and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic Of Sierra Leone, a 5 years mandate to REDEEM OUR COUNTRY FROM AUSTERITY TO PROSPERITY. Unlike the APC government that promised our citizens the Agenda for prosperity in 2007 and delivered them Austerity by 2018.

    President Bio won the election by 52% of people that believed in his manifesto and majority of those people are from the South/East. President Bio is trying his best to work with what he has in his hands (which is the reality) rather than what he has in his head (a dream), by choosing the people that believe in the ideology of the people’s manifesto of the SLPP.

    Unfortunately for the APC party, only 48% believed in their manifesto, so the duty of their lifetime leader and chairman and his handpicked stooge Dr. Samura Kamara is to educate the APC supporters that President Maada Bio has based the selection of his cabinet on ideology but not tribalism, and to support the president in development rather than undermining the government through cheap political propaganda and economic sabotage ( Unexplained price hiking).

    His running mate for the 2012 election campaign was even a Temne woman from Port Loko District, that believed in the people’s manifesto. After he lost, he decided to migrate to the UK to further his studies and gave the political space to the lifetime leader and chairman of the APC to govern peacefully, and the majority of the SLPP supporters were calling him (Bio) “ MUMU” because of his long silence.

    Finally this reshuffle is based on trust and change of strategy to focus on the challenges that the country is facing like the Economy and climate change. I hope and pray that the people of Sierra Leone will respect the wishes and wisdom of the President, because the constitution and the voters gave only him that mandate to hire and fire. RESPECT!

  3. Another memorable day has come, gently emerging out of countless forgotten yesterdays and yesteryears, like a snail coming out of its protective shell. Indeed, we must all give thanks and show gratitude to Existence for her unfailing, tireless efforts in providing us with endless, magical, beautiful days and nights.

    And we must also strive to remember those lost, profitless, disgraceful days full of debilitating, poor judgment by Milton Margai and their frightening effects that can be seen and felt even today, because of the weak, unstable foundations he laid, in slackness and negligence, for our beloved nation since Independence. The SLPP and attitudes of unproductivity, laziness and incompetence, are inseparable – the Finance Minister is just towing the line,marching in the footsteps of their mentor Margai.

    Another day has come indeed out of countless Yesteryears, to showcase outright and shocking incompetence – another day to sigh and cry, for the struggling masses, because of being left far behind, neglected and unprovided for in his forthcoming unsustainable, insubstantial budget.
    Surely? Wait and see after its release, like a bomb in a market place, if the cock doesn’t protest and crow noisily in broad daylight and if suckling infants do not chuckle, while feeding off their mothers breast.(lmao) Ouch! Do your thing, Mr Money Man, no need to get distracted – go right ahead, bring out your cruel hangman’s noose – we will be watching…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  4. For gari, palm oil, rice, meat and the ingredients for our daily consumption I won’t blame any government. I’ll blame the government for bad institutions, poor roads, poor health care, poor educational system and bad economic policies. The ground work of this government over these 19 months in power is good and they should stay focused in laying down the foundations for a better Salone.

    If you want  to compare the living standards over the years, then go back to the rural areas to see if we have progressed since 1968 till now. For the mathematicians amongst us, please compare the cost of living in 2007 to that of 2018. We should leave politics and start our basic work of educating our people that farming is the best way out for the majority of our citizens. APC had no solutions for our country and if they stay in the state they are in presently then it’s goodbye SALONE!!

  5. Am not blaming those who are talking about tribalism in this country. Am blaming our ministers who are not doing the work that they are supposed to be doing.

  6. This is a testosterone Administration! Whie other countries are showcasing women’s political leadership by appointing them into Senior positions including Cabinet, my President is increasing men’s leadership. Sexual Violence is not the only area you should be showing commitment. Failing to appoint more women in your Cabinet is a clear demonstration of your government’s lack of commitment on women’s empowerment!

    You have created even more Ministries and positions for the boys club with only 1 woman out of 17 positions. This is very disappointing and a huge Bragadier slap on our face!

    I said it in the beginning and was hoping to be wrong. But, this reshuffle confirms Your Excellency, Preisdent Bio that the

    New Direction is a WRONG DIRECTION for Women!! This is disappointing!
    @ Naasu Fofanah

    • While we have all in the past, it is not an indictment against the president if he does not appoint many women in his cabinet. The president appoints the trusted people at his disposal who he believes can deliver his vision.

      The cabinet reshuffle saw four men losing thier jobs and others moved around. All the women in the government were not affected. However, one more has been added bringing the total number of women with cabinet position to eight. Granted it is still small, but most of the positions are senior cabinet positions including the foreign and justice ministry.

      The problem I have with this reshuffling hinges on the increased position and the number of Mendes awarded. My comments on that would be left for another time.

  7. Since the SLPP New direction is now gearing towards Cabinet expansion;…we are asking President Bio to appoint the following ministers:

    1) Minister of Social Media propaganda.
    2) Minister of political Intimidation.
    3) Minister of human rights abuse.
    4) Minister of hardship, hunger and starvation.
    5) Minister of Tribal hardliners and Kamajor affairs.
    6) Minister of vote rigging and Election violence.
    7) Minister of court appointed MPs and removal of democratically elected MPs.
    8) Minister of bread and butter, rice and plasas and of course Dollar increase and Leone depreciation.
    9) Minister of bad heart, rampant sackings, partisan, tribal and regional appointments.
    10) Minister of “Arata Paopa Soldier” terrorism, suppression of freedom of expression and locking up political opponents.

    Of course JJ Blood will increase taxes, increase free education fees to finance new ministries.

  8. “Not one member of the minority tribes is appointed.” Ibrahim Bah

    Mr. Bah, your statement that there are no tribal minorities in the above list of appointed ministers and deputy ministers is inaccurate. The following individuals are from minority tribes: Brig. Kellie Conteh (Koranko); Ms. Manti Tarawally (Mandingo); Alhaji Alpha Osman Timbo (Fula); Sheikh Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura (Susu); Dr. Abu Bakarr Karim (Aku); Brig. Mohamed Mamadi Keita (Mandingo). President Bio’s cabinet is broad-based, representing all ethnicities and regions of Sierra Leone.

  9. I am not sure what will be achieved by this reshuffle other than creating more ministerial positions for a small country that has a huge budget deficit. As a country we are living beyond our means and until this imbalance is corrected by reducing Government expenditure to affordable levels, then am afraid economic stability will be a distant dream.

  10. What a cabinet? Sierra Leone it is time to share power. This country belongs to all Sierra Leoneans. When you look at this cabinet, what a discrimination. Not one member of the minority tribes is appointed. Many doctors and others. Lets turn this greedy page in our politics. We are all Sierra Leoneans whatever your ethnic or social background. Stop this tribalism and give democracy a chance. Open the door to progress. This land that we love our Sierra Leone.

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