By OSWALD HANCILES
Jarrah Kawuse-Konte, former Director of State House Communications Unit in the APC government of former President Ernest Bai Koroma (2007 to April, 2018): Thanks for posting in THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN WhatsApp forum apparent words of the United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Her Excellency Maria Brewer: “We certainly encourage them to do more in the Anti-Corruption (Commission). We can only really judge the anti-corruption measures when they turn the focus inward, and not at just the previous administration…(And she asked the Bio Administration).. Are you really committed or is it just a way to punish the old guys?”
My take on her the words of Her Excellency Maria Brewer: For the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Sierra Leone to build up greater trust amongst the populace that it is serious about waging its avowed War on Corruption which the ACC Commissioner, Ben Kaifala, said last year is like “fighting for the soul of the nation”,
there must be a clean sweep of identifying and prosecuting, and influencing the conviction of, those engaged in corruption – all corruption, from Grand Corruption to petty corruption. This broom should sweep back to the end of our civil war in 2002; even if this would mean a people’s-bill to change the relatively mild anti-corruption laws which are not a deterrent to corruption, but really incentivized Grand Corruption.
That is not a new position by me.
Over the past two years especially, I have been regularly publishing in THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN, and on social media, that to build up greater trust across our incendiary partisan poisonous political space, the ACC need to avoid the perception or reality of “Selective Justice”.
Senior government positions, cabinet positions, in the APC government of former President Ernest Bai Koroma appeared more peopled by APC members of the Temne-speaking peoples of the Northwest; so, it does appear as if a disproportionate number of those investigated, and found wanting, by the Bio Administration-
established Commission of Inquiry (COI) have been these Temne-speaking Northwest peoples.
But, it does appear to me that during the ten years that former President Ernest Bai Koroma held the reins of the presidency (September, 2007 to April, 2018), the majority of senior civil servants, and other senior public sector workers, were Mende-speaking Southeastern people, who are traditionally sympathetic to the SLPP. In the Civil Service, they were the “Vote Controllers” – they would determine the specificity of how money is spent, and contracts awarded, etc. in government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).
Corruption would largely take place in government ministries and agencies with their collaboration. Now, to focus only on ministers who are likely to be Northwest peoples and turn a blind eye to the next tier of the government officials who are likely to be Southeasterners… smacks of Selective Justice.
In 2009, when I was head of the Public Affairs and Tax Education unit in the National Revenue Authority (NRA), I had published in THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN an article on the “Unexplained Wealth” clause of the ACC Act of 2008 – which needs to be popularized, and given mass-support-tiger-teeth. I think it is in the strategic interest of the ACC to invoke this Unexplained Wealth clause in a broad sweep today. Whilst it could be possible for the corrupt in government to escape the net of culpability whilst examining their administrative and financial dealings in government, I am not so sure whether they would not be ensnared when the Unexplained Wealth clause is invoked. As I have often written: “Even the blind can see the flagrant fruits of Grand Corruption in the $500,000 mansions and $700,000 apartment buildings likely owned by government officials earning on average $10,000 yearly; mansions on the undulating mountains of the Freetown Peninsula making fun of the ACC” – in a country like ours where over the past 20 years there have been no growth in businesses by the largely government-
employed elite who own these buildings. No private banks owned by Sierra Leoneans. No factories owned by Sierra Leoneans. No huge commercial agricultural farms owned by Sierra Leoneans. The importation and sale of construction materials apparently dominated by recent immigrants from the Middle East who could be sending their profits in foreign currency back to their home countries. The importation of foodstuffs and other consumables, even spare parts for vehicles, apparently dominated by recent immigrants from other West African countries.
Where are the monies coming from to justify the building boom in Sierra Leone over the past twenty years? Most are stolen money from the impoverished majority.
It is in the interest of the Bio Administration to give a free hand to the ACC to be more robust in its War on Corruption; and to try to avoid the “Sacred Cow Syndrome (SCS)”. It was this SCS that robbed the SLPP government of former President Tejan Kabbah of its earned credibility after winning the 2002 presidential election with a 72% landslide victory – leading to the SLPP presidential candidate, Vice President Solomon Berewa, losing the 2007 presidential election. The Bio Administration risk not earning a second term if it does not try to be transparently waging its War on Corruption.
The words of the US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Maria Brewer, must be taken gravely, given the reality that she represents the United States government; the government with half of global military expenditure and the most militarily powerful nation ever in human history; the wealthiest nation ever on planet earth, with most of the world’s quality human resources within its borders, especially in science and technology. As Sierra Leone is poised to clinch the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the US government and could rake in $400,000,000 GRANT… Sierra Leoneans who are rational must study every word of H.E. Maria Brewer, and take cues from her.
But, when I take off my pragmatic glasses, and look at Maria Brewer through ideological prism, I hiss with contempt at her condescending ‘sermon’ to Sierra Leoneans. The United States government is corrupt! The United States has been wallowing in corruption for centuries. The wealth of the United States has been built on rank corruption – from the genocide on the indigenous peoples the European invaders met in the Americas starting in the 16th century in pre-United States America; to the about four centuries of the Protracted Holocaust of the Atlantic Slave Trade; to the rigged post-World War Two economic systems that have allowed the United States to preside over the rape and plunder of developing countries, especially in Africa. Demonic and Corrupt United States is the major culprit for global warming and man-made Climate Change – that which has so corrupted the earth’s natural systems that all humanity faces an existential threat today, as credible scientists have crescendo-ed in recent years. The virulent and institutionalized corruption of the United States does not make it benign because it is disguised, but it yanks the halo over the heads of representatives of the US government. My advice: let Maria Brewer – an African-American, a descendant of one of the Great Survivors of the Atlantic Slave Trade; her race still a victim of intrinsic corruption of the United States’ corruption within the US – work with enlightened forces within Sierra Leone to conduct greater research on corruption in Sierra Leone, and address its root causes; and imaginatively strive to eradicate Grand Corruption. Not preach patronizing sermons about corruption in Sierra Leone.
“$2trillion annually for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation measures in Africa from the richest nations of the world” – Oswald Hanciles. That is my mantra; my vision. Those shortsighted Sierra Leonean governing elite and political and bureaucratic elite who believe that only through corruption would they enrich themselves… provide the argument for Africa /Sierra Leone not to get part of its share of the $2trillion it should from its former enslavers and colonizers. They are ‘enemies’ of the people.
United States President Joe Biden has given the right emphasis to the urgency of Climate Change and the imperative of all humanity to collectively address its greatest threat. Joe Biden ought to know that Climate Change and the gluttony of the West and global poverty are intertwined. I am hopeful that Joe Biden’s presidential pronouncement for the greening of all industries and systems in the United States would be an embrace widened to lovingly-hug poverty-stricken countries like Sierra Leone. This should include the United States government being more resolute in not being the haven for the corrupt from countries like Sierra Leone, with US banks used to hide stolen monies. I hope Joe Biden would help retune the vampire-like global economic systems wherein Africa’s commodities are CORRUPTLY priced very low.
Oswald Hanciles, The Guru.
Founder and CEO of the SLAVE SHIP-FREEDOM SHIP Movement
Email Addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org/oswaldernest email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org