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!