Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 March 2016
America’s presidential hopeful Donald Trump may be a buffoon with a lot of cash, and perhaps the worst presidential candidate the US has ever produced. But to be wrongly credited with a statement about Sierra Leone, so powerful and true, is quite a stretch.
The fact is that Trump is terribly incapable of thinking logically and putting together a coherent and sensible set of ideas and constructive criticisms, which could lead to the formulation of credible policies.
But many Sierra Leoneans who read excerpts on social media of that bogus statement he was supposed to have made about Sierra Leone, especially the people who run the country, would have saluted Donald Trump had he made that statement, because every single word is painfully true.
And not surprisingly, the Sierra Leone Embassy in America and government media, were quick to denounce the alleged Trump statement.
Yet, just two weeks ago, the United Nations Development Programme published a damning report, showing that Sierra Leone is still languishing at the bottom of the Global Human Development Index.
In 2011, Sierra Leone was ranked 180 out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) and 72.7% of people described as multi-dimensionally poor.
Three years later in 2014, the report placed the country further down the HDI at 181 out of 188 countries and 77.5% of Sierra Leoneans multi-dimensionally poor – among the highest in the world, and with life expectancy at less than 50 years.
The latest Global HDI report 2015, shows that Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality in the world with 1,100 deaths for every 100,000 women giving birth; making the country the most dangerous place for a woman to get pregnant.
Equally so, is the sad and tragic statistic showing that Sierra Leone is the worst country for a child to be born, with the highest child mortality rate of 107 for every 1,000 births; and 160 children out of 1,000 dying before they celebrate their fifth birthday.
The physical growth of 45% of children, aged under-five is severely stunted because of malnutrition.
Sierra Leone has the lowest life expectancy for people aged 60, at just 12.5 additional years.
Only 44% of people aged 15 years and over are literate in Sierra Leone, with only 2.9% of GDP spent on education, compared to 13% of GDP spent on education in Lesotho where 76% of people aged 15 and over are literate. Which of these two countries will attract the most investors?
So, what didn’t Donald Trump say, that caused so much uproar among government officials, which should have been said; and will he one day soon set aside his buffoonery and call the leadership of Sierra Leone for what it is?
“Look at African countries like Sierra Leone for instance, those people are stealing from their own government and go to invest the money in foreign countries. From the government to the opposition, they only qualify to be used as a case study whenever bad examples are required.
“These are people who import everything including matchsticks. In my opinion, most of these African countries like Sierra Leone ought to be recolonized again for another 100 years because they know nothing about leadership and self-governance,” Trump is wrongfully quoted as saying.
But had he made that statement, would he have been accused of being wrong?
The truth is that most Sierra Leoneans hold these views about the country of their birth. After 55 years of self-rule, the government of Sierra Leone cannot pay for much needed public services without funding from international donors.
The country has a shockingly low tax revenue base of just 11% of GDP.
According to local media, speaking at the launch of the government’s home fair and exhibition last weekend, the general manager of the housing corporation (SALHOC) Lavern Buya-Kamara said that; “65% of Sierra Leoneans are living in sub-standard houses in the country”.
Speaking on World Water Day in Freetown last week, Water Aid Programme Director – Chiuchu Selma, said that “the government should take action in ensuring that 37.4 percent of Sierra Leoneans living without water are provided with access to clean water.”
The World Bank is providing tens of millions of dollars in funding to help rebuild the country’s electricity infrastructure, which it says currently supplies electricity to less than 10% of the population, with the remaining 90% living in darkness.
Despite the Koroma government claiming to have spent over $500 million on infrastructure since coming to power in 2007, few of the newly constructed roads are useable during the rainy season, because of poor construction and corruption.
Read the HDI Report here: