24 January 2013
President Koroma’s discredited former minister of finance and economic development – Dr. Samura Kamara, now minister of foreign affairs, flew to Addis Ababa yesterday, to represent Sierra Leone at the Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union.
But he leaves behind in Freetown, a political row, which erupted over the parliamentary approval committee’s ratification of the president’s decision to appoint him as foreign minister, despite glaring and serious lapses in the vetting process.
According to the local media in Freetown, the foreign minister had failed to properly declare his assets as required by law, failed to confirm his date of birth, and could not offer the committee an acceptable verification of his academic qualifications.
Minister Samura is no stranger to controversy. His poor performance as minister of finance was a major factor responsible for the country’s economic crisis. The president had promised in 2007 to turn the economy around, during his first term in office.
Critics say that the president had failed to sack the minister because of their common tribal and blood lineage.
Many senior ruling APC party executives believe, however, that now is the time for minister Samura to prove his capability, and that the president was right to give him a second chance.
But the fact remains that president Koroma does not have the luxury of a large pool of qualified, skilled and loyal foot soldiers he can appoint to top positions in his government.
The AU executive council conference, which is taking place on the 24th -28th January, 2013, is the first major international conference at which Dr. Samura will speak, since his appointment as foreign minister.
(Photo: Minister Samura and ambassador Bangali in Addis Ababa)
The conference is also being attended by other foreign ministers of African member states.
According to report from the Sierra Leone Embassy in Ethiopia; “the Summit officially kicked off on Monday 21st January. The Ambassadors exchanged views on specific reports including the reports of the Sub-Committees on Structures; Multilateral Cooperation; Contributions; Economic and Trade Matters; the report on NEPAD as well as that of the Special Emergency Assistance Fund for Drought and Famine in Africa among others.”
According to the Standard Times: “On 18th December, 2012, Dr. Samura Kamara, former Minister of Finance and Economic Development, who was nominated by President Koroma for the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, had his nomination suffered some setbacks, when Eric Komba Koedoyoma of Constituency 27, Kono District, representing the Sierra Leone’s Peoples Party (SLPP) discovered major and questionable lapses that were highlighted and brought to the attention of his colleagues.”
“Among the lapses discovered were; Dr. Samura Kamara’s inability to justify his academic qualification, which information he supplied to the Appointments Committee; failure to record his date of birth on the Parliamentary Form; incorrect disclosure of his assets and finances.
“Notwithstanding these lapses, Dr. Samura Kamara was confirmed on 19th December, 2013 by the Appointments Committee as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation” – reports Standard Times.
Few in Sierra Leone have confidence and faith in the integrity of their parliamentarians.
Indeed, many believe that politicians are only interested in politics to feather their own nests, and the behaviour of the parliamentary approval committee reinforces this view.
At the confirmation of the new finance minister – Dr. Marah last December, by the committee, MPs openly pleaded with the new minister to help them ensure that they get their allowances on time.
Would a parliamentarian in Sierra Leone want to upset the president, who is responsible for approving the country’s budget and effectively is the paymaster-general?
President Koroma’s new season of grazing his sacred cows, has just begun.