Sierra Leone’s parliament is among the most corrupt institutions – says report

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 September 2020:

The latest Corruption Perception Report published by the DFID-Funded PFM Consortium in partnership with the Center for Accountability and the Rule of Law in Sierra Leone, says that the most corrupt institution in Sierra Leone is the Police, followed by Parliament and the Ministry of Health.

According to the 2019 Corruption Perception Report, about 70% of respondents surveyed said that poverty, greed and lack of integrity are the main causes of corruption in Sierra Leone; 80% of citizens said the ACC is the most credible reporting channel for corruption

The report concludes that the Government of Sierra Leone should reduce opportunities for corruption in the public sector, by decreasing points where cash is exchanging hands.

Reacting to the findings of the report and its conclusion that parliament is one of the most corrupt institutions in the country, a statement was published last week by the Department of Public Relations of the Parliament of Sierra Leone, saying that “parliament is not a corrupt institution”.

This is what the statement says:

“The Parliament of Sierra Leone objects and takes serious exception that it is the second most corrupt institution in Sierra Leone; following the conclusion of a 2019 Corruption Perception Report released by the DFID-Funded PFM Consortium including Center for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL).

“The Parliament of Sierra Leone is the supreme legislative body in Sierra Leone that has the constitutional authority to hold the executive to account.

“The Parliament is accountable and answerable to the people of Sierra Leone in light of Section 5(2a) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone that places sovereignty in the people from whom through the said constitution power, authority and legitimacy is derived.

“The main objections of Parliament are on the following grounds:

1. Due to public outcry, Parliament abandons its stance for improved conditions of service; having in mind it is the least paid Parliament in the subregion.

2. Parliament concedes and listens to the cries of the people in light of the economic reality, even though it has power under the Constitution in Section 74(4) to determine its conditions of service and the power of the purse.

3. Parliament openly conducts its business both at Committee and the Plenary in the full view of the public; most times it is streamed live on radio, TV and other social media platforms.

4. Parliament had organized its Open Day in the full view and attendance of the donor community to promote an open Parliament and increase citizens understanding about the functions and operations of Parliament.

5. Due to public outcry again, Parliament had expunged a certain section in the then Finance Act that provides for non-accountable imprest for the President, Vice-President and the Speaker of Parliament.

6. Due to its commitment to the implementation of the Bo Declaration on procedural adherence, Parliament now settles division with voting by standing in the open.

7. Parliament spars on radio on allegation of corruption and the matter is being investigated by the ACC.

8. Parliament is also constrained with late disbursement of funds to carry out its oversight obligation.

“This is an open, transparent and accountable Parliament to the people of Sierra Leone devoid of corruption.

“In light of the above, Parliament strongly condemns the outcome of the said survey relating to its image and sees it as an affront deliberately fabricated to damage its reputation.

“Parliament now challenges the said consortium to advance its evidence as it deems the outcome of the survey as a solitary figment of imagination to destroy the good image of Parliament.

“The Parliament of Sierra Leone is constitutionally required to make law for the peace, security and good governance of the country; to represent the people and hold the executive to account for the overall development of the country.”

This is not the first time that an independent report has found Sierra Leone’s parliament to be corrupt.

A report published by the Campaign for Human Rights and Development International – Sierra Leone (CHRDI – SL) four years ago, found serious levels of corruption in the country’s parliament. But CHRDI was similarly condemned by parliamentarians for its damning report.

Calls for the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to conduct an investigation into the findings of these reports have fallen on deaf ears. Many in Sierra Leone believe that the ACC is protecting its paymasters.

www.carl-sl.org/corruption-perception-survey-2019/

Watch a video on corruption in one of Sierra Leone’s main hospitals:

 

13 Comments

  1. Alusine Fallay says—“ This perception survey was conducted between 2015 to 2018 and the current parliament is not included in this survey. ”

    Hey chief Fallay, contrary to your FALSE assumptions, click the link below to get the FACTS.

    https://www.anticorruption.gov.sl/blog/anti-corruption-commission-sl-news-room-1/post/latest-dfid-sponsored-corruption-perception-survey-report-on-sierra-leone-indicates-spectacular-progress-in-the-fight-against-corruption-294

  2. This perception survey was conducted between 2015 to 2018 and the current parliament is not included in this survey. But based on the incident that occurred on Radio F.M 98.1, when a brilliant journalist was successful in setting up the clerk of parliament Mr. Paran Tarawally and Honorable Ibrahim Tawa Conteh both of the SLPP, this will definitely confirm this perception.

    Even the increase in salary for the parliamentarians and the Imprest Fund for the President and the speaker which most people regarded as a “blank check” is not even helpful for the parliamentarians. But thanks to President Bio the bill was withdrawn.

    The reality is, where there is an effective and incorruptible parliament, the idea of forming Anti Corruption Commission is unnecessary, because the duty of our parliamentarians is writing laws, oversight and holding both government and business officials accountable. Finally, even though this current parliament had a rough start, they still have more time to turn this perception around.

  3. Yes, there was corruption in the previous administration – hence the establishment of an exclusive 18-month long Commission of Inquiry (COI) that ended in March 2020. Six months on, the people are still waiting for the government white paper that is supposed to recommend punishment for the perpetrators of this act. Meanwhile, corruption is rife in all angles of the governance structure – including the Executive, the Judiciary and Parliament. A series of questions instantly come to play.

    Was the COI just an exercise designed to blackmail and subdue the outgoing administration whilst preparing the ground for the ensuing activities of the most corruptive government in the history of the country? Why is the present government dragging its feet on the implementation of the white paper? Do the current administration really have genuine motivation to eradicate corruption in the social fabric of society? The saying: ‘once a thief always a thief’ is now resonating loudly in people’s minds. The allegation of the disappearance of US$18 million amid his first stint as NPRC junta leader is still hanging on the President’s shoulders.

    The President runs the country as if it was his own private enterprise. Transparency and accountability is non-existent. Intimidation and human right abuses are at his disposal to satisfy his sadistic quest and the suppression of dissent from the populace. Corrupt Ministers are penalized by a slap on the wrist, only to be reinstated in the same positions before even the dust had settled. So, is it a surprise to learn that the Legislature is one of the most corrupt branches of this government? The Speaker of the House of Parliament – a well renowned crook – was forcefully imposed through the eviction of Opposition Members by the intervention of Police Officers that obtrusively broke into the sacred well of parliament.

  4. I was so tempted to jump on the bandwagon, driven primarily by members of the National Grand Coalition Party in lambasting the Bio-led SLPP Government in sleeping on the job as the Sierra Leone Economy tanks, the Leone’s trajectory enters a freefall mode in a “new direction” and inflation skyrockets as majority of Sierra Leoneans grapple with a triple whammy of dodging a marauding deadly virus, a cost of living crisis and potential instability due to the Government’s lackadaisical attitude to an imperative of economic progress predicated upon peace, stability and national cohesion.

    I got the impression from the recent postings here that the Government is either on the ropes covering her face, is sprawled on the canvass gasping for breath or is exhibiting the last throes of a proverbial dying horse. I did not want to rub it in, send the last punch or kick to finish her off. Only joking. One reason, I did not join the fray is that I am not impressed at all with the efforts of the NGC both in and out of the legislative body in holding Bio and his Government accountable by putting their feet on the fire and calling them out on the numerous misteps they have taken so far on this their uncertain and galloping journey to an unfathomable “New Direction”.

    The path they are taking is a rather well-trodden one punctuated by chaos and economic mismanagement. The NGC party has been a rubber-stamp in the pockets of the SLPP so far in this terrible journey approving almost every appointment and legislation brought to Parliament. Do they think that will buy them one MP in the South East in any future elections? Another reason I am holding fire is out of principle. I tend to give any sitting Government any where in the World a honey moon of three years before I could make a sound judgement call on their economic competence. Few more months to go but the warning lights are flashing profusely. The omens are not good but I hope for the sake of the motherland, that I will be proven wrong.

  5. Nobody should be shocked or surprised by the report. Hardly any public figure in the country is clean. If a member of the executive (the chief minister) is on video encouraging corruption then what should one expect from the other branches of government – the legislature and judiciary? Ben Kaifala’s ACC has become impotent and on its last kicks like a dying horse. Ben has become less than a shadow of his former self.

    Most of our parliamentarians lack integrity, conscience and morality. They have no political ideology to guide them in their everyday actions. And the Almighty knows that a good many of them are functionally illiterate, they can hardly follow or participate in a debate to its logical conclusion. We pay them for nothing.

    Since most parliamentarians are idle all the time, they use the part of their mind that is bent to devise intricate ways of defrauding the nation; this is where they have phenomenal expertise that’s unrivaled. Most importantly, it isn’t lost to them that come election time most of us will judge them sentimentally and return them to parliament for them to continue with their escapade. We are a pitiable people. It’s as if the Almighty has given us His Back. Those who have reservoirs of tears should be prepared to shed them for a few more generations.

    • Mr Sorie I can’t agree with you more. President Bio and these shameless politicians know exactly what they are doing. Don’t forget the Leopard will never shed its spots. You can take the man from the village to the city, but you cant take the village out of the man. That’s a tall ask. President Bio’s approach to running the affairs of state is to say the least is military precision. Every military term is deployed to achieve his aim. Cannon fodder – the YOUTHS of Makeni, lunar, Tumbo, and pademba road prison riots.

      Strike by stealth, Major Conteh and Dr Bylden, and the best one creating a smoke screen to disguise yourself, so the other side don’t see your actions or the last of it. More like to keep the general public in the dark so he and his educated ministers don’t take the blame for their corrupt ways. What better to do it thancreate the ACC. He tried blaming the APC. It didn’t wash with the public. So he created the ACC. Poor Ben Khalifa took the bet as head of this charade. MORE LIKE IF YOU ARE SIERRA LEONEAN WORRIED ABOUT CORRUPTION AND LACK OF PROGRESS, PLEASE PHONE BEN KHALIFA OR BLAME THE ACC.

      I as your president don’t know what is going on with my own out of control thieving ministers. Please Mr president return to sierra Leone. You are doing a good job of running our country down like your personal company. If all things fail pick a fight with the creole community to deflect public attention. May God bless Sierra leone.

  6. It’s ludicrous for the public relations department of parliament to issue out such an aggressive, shameless, and arrogant press release, challenging and demanding a rescindment of a corruption survey conducted by a reputable DFID funded organization, which by all indications couldn’t have been so accurate in reporting on the stark realities of corruption within our nation’s institutions. Exactly what do these so called parliamentarians think of the citizens of Sierra Leone? A bunch of fools who can be taken advantage of at all times and still turn around applauding the very individuals responsible to dupe and deprive them their citizen’s rights? Exactly who does not know that our so called members of parliament are nothing but puppets of the executive branch?

    Since our nation’s return to democracy, each successive executive occupant has managed to have his way in our parliament with absolutely no checks or accountability being utilized from these crooks that call themselves parliamentarian. With greed, selfishness, and thirst for personal aggrandizement, the executive branch has long since figured it out, always ensuring voluminous BROWN ENVELOPES are judiciously distributed among members of the good for nothing parliamentarians to keep both their lips and mouth shut.

    With a ‘I rub your back, and you rub my back’ scheme, the citizens of Sierra Leone are left to fend for themselves while the so called political elites maintain their positions at the top of the pyramid.

  7. I have always maintained that we need to scrap and dismantle all of the institutions in Sierra Leone and start building again from scratch with a keen eye on the future stability, security and prosperity of our beloved nation. When people are corrupt to the innermost core of their beings, go right ahead and reduce the amount of cash public officials are allowed to handle and it wont matter at all – they will still find dubious ways around it. First things first, make running for public office totally arduous and financially unattractive.

    Next, empower the constituents of every community by giving them the mandate to call for new elections after a period of two years if the leaders representing them are under-performing and unable to make any kinds of progress for their constituents. Again increase incentives and benefits for all those who have proven themselves to be go-getters and overachievers after a period of two years. Two years is the magic number, for if you find yourself still struggling to know the differences between your knees and your elbows after two years then you’ve gotta Hit The Road; that public office you are holding is not for you – give someone else a chance.

    Again, we must strive to create a financial digital system that is handy and transparent and easily accessible to every citizen that owns a phone. When government generate incomes, the citizens are alerted,and every penny spent on monthly salaries, purchases of vehicles, traveling allowances is laid bare to the general public; giving them a chance to voice their opinions,approvals or discontent. Its time for the excesses,the overspending and government superfluity to come to an end. A meager salary and just one vehicle is enough for anyone ready to serve Sierra Leone for love of country;lets put it to work and only then will we know those who truly love our beloved Sierra Leone.

    • Mr Stargazer you are spot on. The scrapping of Parliament and rebuilding of institutions that have failed us is well over due. The right of recall of underperforming MPs should be part of the manifesto promises of all political parties that aspire to run the affairs of state. An undertaking we as Sierra Leoneans need to confront at some point. It’s time we Sierra Leoneans wake up from our SLUMBER of ignorance and smell the coffee. These corrupt politicians have no interest in developing our country.

      Corruption amongst our elected representatives, has only bought us one thing misery and division. These corrupt individuals masquerading as honourable men are in fact greedy and selfish individuals, who see the country’s resources as a cash cow to enrich themselves. And in the context of Sierra Leone, the very word is now synonymous to a giant micro organism that is devouring everything and everyone in its part. When president Bio was living in London, he recognised the problem holding back our country – corruption. Indeed every living Sierra Leonean knows this cancer is where we trace all our problems.

      The problem then becomes, why do these same politicians, when they get elected, engage in the very activities that they know is detrimental to our country’s development? Is there a VIRUS in the Wells of Parliament that affect the mental faculty of these MPs? How many fancy cars and houses? What does being rich means to these fat cat politicians? All the while the people that put them there are wallowing in abject poverty. May God save our country from their unpatriotic Sierra Leoneans.

  8. Parliamentarians Never account for the constituency development funds given to them every year. Some parliamentarians do not even go to their constituencies yet collect this money which in the last parliament was sixty two millions a year per constituency. Why that money is not subject to auditing by the auditor general remains a mystery.

    How Tawa has shown how the constituency fund if use deligently can make a difference in each constituency.

  9. Well what a surprise. The only thing that would suprise us, if an independent report like yours comes out, that claims Sierra Leone and its corrupt political class is the least corrupt in the west African subregion. This report reinforces what is already in the public domain. It is open secret Bio and previous politicians are corrupt to the bone. Both the Sierra Leone police and our elected MPs are the most untrustworthy people in the country.

    I wouldn’t trust an MP to look after my grandmother, or she might starve to death. Because he will steal her living allowance. And even steal the family silverware. These corrupt politicians will stop at nothing to make money. These no hopers see parliamentary representation as a way of advancing their moribund careers. A Sierra Leonean MP is elected by his constituent to look after their intrest. This family man or woman MP goes to parliament with one house and a broken down Jeep in his drive way. Or in his previous life, his only mode of transport is sharing a Poda poda, or an Okeke with the suffering people of Sierra Leone.

    After two years, he is appointed to a ministerial position. Suddenly his fortune is transformed. He hits the jackpot. Next thing you know he is driving around with the most expensive car and has two big houses in Freetown, an assortment of girlfriends, and one or two country homes from the village he comes from. More like making a statement to his comparators that their son or daughter has hit the big league of WHO’S WHO IN SIERRA LEONE SOCIETY. This cancer of corruption is like a gaint octopus, with its tentacles spread in every part of Sierra Leonean society. And the mother of all corrupt places where public officials take their clues is the Sierra Leone Parliament. Meanwhile our country continues to slide backwards.

  10. Whom we should believe in this particular context, when the many parties are arguing that they are not corrupt. Sierra Leone will cry as always.

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