African News

MCC: Sierra Leone is Still in the Race

By  | 17 November 2013 at 21:48 | 1492 views

There has been talk about the Millenium Challenge Corporation recently; it’s all over the news when Sierra Leone’s scorecard was released earlier this month. Sierra Leone’s score is average, slightly above 50% which is not so bad.

There has been a nasty war on semantics, wild arguments, even abuse and insults flying all over the place. This is totally unnecessary and the wrong way to manage a crisis or to address an issue. It is not only juvenile and puerile but ridiculous and risible, when the facts are available for all to see.

Back to the MCC Wahala or imbroglio. Unfortunately, Sierra Leone failed on one of the most important indicators, if not the most important indicator, that is, control of corruption. The MCC is funded by the American Government to help poor countries deal with poverty and other issues and one of the things Americans and other people in the Western world hate very strongly is corruption.

We are talking about money from American tax payers here and some of us who live and work in North America know how hard people here work for their money; they hate to think that their money is being stolen by some corrupt government official in some far away country.

Yes, there is corruption in my country, Sierra Leone, but we all know President Ernest Koroma and his team have been valiantly fighting against this horrible disease since they came to power in 2007 with the indictment and prosecution of many senior government officials. In fact in a recent report the anti-graft international agency, Transparency International, noted that Sierra Leone’s corruption is lower than that of many countries around the world including neighbouring Liberia.

Yes, Sierra Leone is still in the race but needs to do something drastic about corruption between now and December to stay on course and get this very important funding. What should the government do? Here are my suggestions:

1. Make sure that people found guilty of corruption not only pay back money stolen but do jail time as well. Judges should have very strong reasons for releasing people.

2. Give more powers to the Anti-Corruption Commission and help them access all government or public service documents and work closely with the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General’s office. No real prosecution of any government official will happen in Sierra Leone without the cooperation of this Ministry.

3. The Judiciary should be seriously overhauled. Too many state thieves and professional con men have been released and exonerated by our courts recently. The MCC people may have noticed this and are furious. President Koroma and the Attorney General have to do something about this.

4. Do something about the crucial land tenure system and the other indicators we did not do so well on. Reforming the current land tenure system is a thorn in the flesh, granted, but a reform is possible with full consultation of the people and traditional rulers. Land issues are huge in our traditional cultures in the rural areas. I would say this is an issue that even needs a national referendum or it can be handled by the ongoing constitutional review process.

I believe the MCC is a shrewd way by the American Government to put pressure on governments in developing countries to do the right things. There is no need to fear or be upset about the MCC if governments do the right thing. This is a very clever way to help poor countries and to free their people from poverty.

President Koroma is a very hard working President, a decent man who wants to see Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans prosper but he needs to take vigorous action to weed out unscrupolous and unproductive elements in his government fast; time is not on his side. If the MCC executives see dramatic action on corruption, they will most certainly offer Sierra Leone the funding it so urgently needs. There is no other way.

President Obama and his government love President Koroma and Sierra Leone but he (Obama) cannot do anything to save us if we do not do what is required for MCC funding, I cannot over-emphasize that. The money from the MCC is not the most important thing here; what is important is that MCC approval means endorsement to receive aid from other rich countries and other major funding agencies around the world. We need that.

So, Mr. President, bring down the hammer. You have our full support at the Patriotic Vanguard.