Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 August 2016
A few days ago, the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas, caught up with the man appointed early this year to take over one of the most difficult jobs in Sierra Leone – tackling corruption, to talk about his vision and the measures he is putting in place to control a virulent virus that is crippling the country.
He is Mr Ady Macauley – the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, who until his appointment by president Koroma in March 2016, was a senior prosecutor at the Commission, leading investigations and bringing those responsible for corruption to court. (Photo: President Koroma welcoming Anti-Corruption Czar – Mr Ady Macauley).
Speaking to the editor, Mr Macauley was unequivocal in his determination to get to the heart of corruption in Sierra Leone, so as to cut off its blood supply.
While focusing on ensuring that so called big fish are not allowed to escape the net, he says that petty corruption is just as destructive as large-scale and organised corruption. And he seems determined to tackle both with an iron fist.
“Corruption, however petty, diminishes people’s trust in each other, state institutions, their belief in local or national government and social values. It destabilises our society and contributes towards creating the conditions for conflict,” says Mr Macauley.
But will he succeed where others before him have struggled, because of political interference?
This is what he said:
The President’s Recovery Priorities have made governance a cross-cutting priority, targeted at improving the delivery of basic public services across all the priority areas.
Here at the Anti-Corruption Commission, our strategy to help achieve this objective is to enlist the support of citizens in the drive to tackle petty corruption within the public sector, through the ‘Pay no Bribe’ campaign – our new anti-corruption call-centre and on-line platform reporting mechanism.
‘Pay no Bribe’ gives us all, a secure and anonymous way to report when and where we have been asked to pay a bribe by officials in the police force, water utility, education, health and electricity sectors, in order to gain access to those basic services.
It recognises that regardless of the amount of money involved, there is nothing petty about the corruption that businesses and ordinary people experience, when they seek government services they are entitled to.
It also recognises that we all have every reason to be concerned about corruption and bribery, and do what we can to eliminate it from our public sector.
Transparency International describes petty corruption as the “everyday abuse of entrusted power by low- and mid-level public officials in their interactions with ordinary citizens, who often are trying to access basic goods or services in places like hospitals, schools, police departments and other agencies.”
Individual demands for Le5,000, Le10,000, or Le20,000 in bribes may appear small, but there is nothing petty about the amounts that can be accumulated over time. These can be much greater than individual acts of grand corruption.
Nor is there anything petty about the resources that should fund the provision of vital goods and services, being diverted into private pockets, or demands for gifts or favours in lieu of cash, which very often perpetuates the abuse of women.
Evidence suggests that poorer women and girls are often asked for sexual favours in return for public services that they are already entitled to.
For the most vulnerable and poorest in society, there is nothing petty about the proportion of their already stretched income that goes on bribes to access the services they desperately need – health, education, power, water and law and order.
Nor is it petty when they are deprived of these services because they do not have the money to bribe – it means children do not get the education they need to build a better future for themselves and our country; and the sick die because they are denied life-saving treatment or vital medication.
Corruption, however petty, diminishes people’s trust in each other, state institutions, their belief in local or national government and social values. It destabilises our society and contributes towards creating the conditions for conflict.
No wonder the World Bank has identified corruption as among the greatest obstacles to economic and social development.
Fear of speaking out often deters people from reporting corrupt practices. However, the fight against corruption and our ability to enforce anti-corruption measures, depends on knowing where it is taking place and who is behind it.
The ‘Pay no Bribe’ system is intended to work in tandem with the progress that is currently being made on developing a stronger criminal justice system, as well as improving governance, access to decision-makers and management controls.
It will make anonymous reporting possible, and give us the data to assess the efficacy of our work to eliminate corruption in Sierra Leone.
The President’s Recovery Priorities represent a considerable investment in key development initiatives across the country. Their success depends on ensuring that resources allocated are targeted where they are most needed.
By using the ‘Pay no Bribe’ online reporting system, you can help make Sierra Leone’s recovery the success it needs to be.
Stop Corruption now and improve public service delivery, Full Stop!
On Mamba TV show this past Saturday, the ADP chairman and Presidential aspirant Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray informed the audience that public officials from the ruling party boldly brag among themselves about how much their mansions cost. Can you imagine that!
It’s no longer in contention about whether resources have been stolen or corruption is taking place, but how much is really stolen and taken from the national treasury and diverted into individuals’ pockets.
Our nation bleeds while public officials continue to bankrupt the state for their own pleasure and material gain, at the expense of the ordinary citizen. The irony is that folks see them as heroes and the President reward them for even greater positions for job well done. Really! Accountability is vague and blurry.
The Anti-Corruption Commission continues to peddle the false narrative of fighting corruption, by targeting essentially the weak and the little fishes who can readily be sacrificed to the gullible public, leaving the powerful and ‘bad actors’ diverting big money, thus draining the economy.
One only has to see the mansions being built by many of the public officials, despite the meagre salaries they take home every month, which can’t equate to the assets they own.
We have to do more about corruption, and we must no longer pay lip service to it. We will continue to urge the ACC and the new Anti-Corruption Czar – Mr Ady Macauley to get bolder and go after the most powerful, if the ACC is to win the fight on corruption.
The New ACC Czar is being described as tough, with even more rhetoric on his fight to curb corruption; and he sees no distinction between petty bribery and big money corruption. For the new ACC czar, there is nothing petty about corruption?
Here is what I would add, as I said this morning; the government of Sierra Leone should now be seriously thinking of paying a living wage to public workers as a way of removing the motivation for officials to take petty bribes in return for providing access to public services.
By paying a decent salary to a police officer for instance, we would have removed that desire to receive the bribe he needs to survive on a daily bases.
If folks are being paid a living wage and still continue to take petty bribes, then that is a whole new narrative. It would mean that such public officials are plainly corrupt and have no business serving the public, and should be prosecuted without hesitation.
The way the ACC is going about corruption is backward. Its gutting the weak and leaving the big defaulters to conduct business as usual.
If I were in the ACC, we will go after the wealthy and powerful. We will seek to do a survey and do data collection on assets owed by every sierra Leonean and linked that that data to income, to see if there are disparities.
I’m truly certain that in the near distant, such a survey will be done. So let people continue to build such expensive mansions from resources that they know cannot be accounted for! Accountability must be a must for all someday.
The real fight against corruption continues…… But this must be a fight that must be won for the greater good of Sierra Leone.
Senesie I concur, I cannot agree more. APC governance strategy is a merry-go-round business. No meaningful change happens, everything moves in a close circuit within the power rank and file. They are so power conscious but in poor performance style. What matters to them is keeping the power safe.
A countless number have been through this institution but no one came up with result. Yet again, a high authority that was within the failures has been redeployed to take control, earning 15,000 dollars monthly, which is more than the remuneration of a European minister. Oh poor Salone!
We might be going in for a surprise this time, but I remain skeptical. There are a myriad of Sierra Leoneans out there fit and capable to do a much better job. But, as they are not party affiliates to the APC, they are not qualified for the job. They’re not members of the Caboodle.
‘There’s nothing petty about petty corruption’. What a huge statement of intent!
The problem here for me is while investigations or clamping down of government officials are underway, what has the Anti-Corruption got in place for individuals and private sector workers who embezzle government funds especially EBOLA money?
If petty thieving or petty corruption is not going to be tolerated, then what about the big corruption going on in the country?
The government must be held accountable for most malpractices in that country as they have failed on numerous occasions to yield to NGO and public cries. Organisations such as CHRDI ( Campaign for Human Rights and Development International) have politely, but robustly requested the S.L government to be accountable to its electorate.
However this has fallen in deaf ears; and their request was called to question their legitimacy. So one is tempted to ask if this is a witch hunt or the beginning of a new non-corruption politics in our country.
The fact remains that the current government is playing on the intelligence of the people. Elections are just round the corner and they want to be seen as the credible party. Lets not be fooled.
Mr Macauley, do you realise that 75% of the population of Sierra Leone are unemployed – that is about 5,250,000 of the over 7 million people. And of the 1,750,000 people that are employed, I don’t know how many of them are employed by the government/public sector.
And you Mr Macaulay is earning over 15,000 US Dollar a month. Do you realise that the average school teacher earns about 50 dollar a month and a medical doctor is now earning about a 1000 dollars a month. How do you expect the 75% who are unemployed to live? I am in Australia and it is very hard to find anyone living on such low income a month.
Please Mr Macauley, can you elaborate how you use such money you earn to fight corruption FOR the less vulnerable whilst you and your predecessor had overlooked the ‘sacred cows and fat cats’ involved in the 12 million dollars Ebola funds, the Lebanon Waste disposal to Sierra Leone, etc, as YOU HAVE BEEN A LONG TERM MEMBER OF THE ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY AS A PROSECUTOR?
Travelling to and from the airport gives you a view of the face of Sierra Leone. Corruption starts with the first taxi you take.
You have to add something, because the trip back would be difficult. Thus start the payment: Le5,000 to enter the port, Lewis 10,000 to Carry your bags, Le10,000 to enter the airport and so on. You keep paying until you enter the aircraft.
Mr. Ady Macauley is just another stooge of the corrupt Ernest Koroma. Tackling corruption in Sierra Leone must start with Ernest Koroma. Haunting petty opposition members and other members of the public while APC operatives continue to fatten themselves at the expense of public funds is not an efficient way of fighting corruption in any polity.