By Joseph A. Kamanda
In what many describe as a wind government leading to the subsequent announcement of a blotted cabinet and Foreign Service staff placements list, the public has raised serious concerns on the scope of public expenditures by government, with the creation of four news embassies and ministries added already to the long list of recipients of tax payers’ moneys.
The cabinet shake a means for doling jobs for the boys from president Julius Maada Bio are mere compensations to loyalists in Falaba, Koinadugu and other places, but failed to divert our fix focus on Sierra Leone’s 2019 Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
The widely publicized good news of six hundred million United States Dollars $ 600 award, doled from the US initiative, for what is being described by the corporation as government is seemingly doing extremely well in fighting corruption, ruling justly; economic freedom the list is long with very miserable grades in all indicators. Yet eleven out of twenty indicators approximately seventy-nine percents (79%) scored by Sierra Leone, though largely unmatched with the harsh realities on the ground.
For instance the rating on inflation at “16.9%”, fiscal policy 4% which the last administration left at 43% clearly represents poor and very bad economy. There is in fact a whole lack of microfinance for small scale and medium enterprises making the situation worst for petty traders, which is quite the opposite to that of the MCC scorecard.
Thus the MCC should not be warding Sierra Leone government whiles the national economy is on a life support machine, the people are dying of hunger and starvation, political harassments, intimidation, economic enslavements and hardship, regional, tribal and political intolerant and divisions, arbitrary arrests and detentions of opposition party members, journalists as well as host of other undemocratic governance misrule which the MCC failed woefully to underscore in its 2019 scorecard as if those above mentions state of affairs are not happening in Sierra Leone and affecting the people.
So no need to have even come out with data on “political rights” which has nothing to talk about in as much as political rights are concerned because as we speak there are opposition party members and supporters behind bars for politically motivated ignited against them by their opponents, that is why rating at 28% is an overstatement by the MCC but there is no political rights to opposition politicians. The more reasons we consider the scorecard as cooked up accolades the west the US in particular wants to add to the feathers of the SLPP and president Bio. All leaders made giants strides in fighting corruption and the fight is not a new was.
The corporation should not be awarding a country that does not respect democratic values and principles, that does not respect the paramount supremacy of parliament, civil liberties that went out of its way and turned down seats of democratic rights of ten All Peoples Congress APC Members of Parliament to the ruling SLPP MPs via a supreme court verdict stamped down by justice Komba Kamanda that now the MCC is here praising sing government, president and his team. Sierra Leone has come a long way with her democracy so what went wrong for us to be rated in “civil liberties at 37%”.
Ruling justly is completely out as there is no regards for law and order, procedures and constitutionality, leading to breaches causing failures in all the indicators.
However, the US embassy in the country and the MCC office are well aware of breakdown in administrative structures ranging from inadequate supply of electricity and water supplies to communities in Freetown and so many other parts of the country. Sierra Leone does not deserve an international award for abusing the rights of its people and imposing poverty on them.
The US mission is also fully aware of the indiscriminate sackings of officials of the last administration, massive sufferings of the peoples due to the imposing economic status in the country, wherein government workers hardly receive salaries on time…mostly receive alerts on 8th to 10th on the new month, people remained largely deprived of essential social services as healthcare, safe drinking water supply and sanitation in the wake of sky rocketing prices of food and other vital commodities, bad tax policies that are stalling down local and international businesses, fall in local currency Leone. Also why the MCC should have under studied the situation back home very well before misplacing that award because much of what the MCC indicators claimed to be up and running perfectly is less that 45% manned by the SLPP Bio led administration. And the huge assignments still remained unsolved as bread and butter issues continue to confront authorities with challenges of self food sufficiency everywhere. Where is the said “economic freedom”?
The fight against corruption in governance is not new and the best Anti Corruption law was passed even before president Bio and Francis Ben Kaifala came to office, though the best is far being bring enacted yet. The law inherited from their predecessors gives the ACC more prosecutorial powers and the anti-graft battles since the establishment of the ACC has never been reversal-the probing of past government workers except in the Bio and Kaifala era the country is going through this kind of hate and politically motivated anti-corruption fight. Does government wants to tell the world that since president and the SLPP set in office none of them has ever committed a corrupt offence. Government officials are deep neck in corruption but are being covered up by the bias ACC authorities to protect the image and reputation of the SLPP party. Does the ACC wants to make belief to everyone that they are not aware of wives and relative of president Bio, cabinet minister amongst several top public officials receiving government contracts from their siblings ministries, heads of departments, and agencies? The same thing on going like they were busy criticizing the APC.
The ACC are aware of high profile corruption in the incumbent government but are deliberately protecting their own party people against the main opposition APC members. ACC corruption fights should be looking into issues around what government does not past officials, rather than exposing the misrules of the present SLPP regime. What a shame MCC for misplacing that honorable award, for the fact that the control of corruption is only targeting past public officials and not the incumbents, makes the graft battle partial and the commission is rapidly losing its credibility for politically positioning itself with the powers that be, despite Kaifala’s brags of fighting corruption by every by means possible and the same time, failing to expose graft in the present government. Corrupt practices are taking place everywhere under the foot and watchful eyes of president Bio and his top political commanders, but Kaifala always tend to be ignorant of what his people are doing while in office now.
As for what could fashioned as economic freedom there is nothing to point much as that is concerned because it’s not applicable in the context of Sierra Leonean situation, for there is no economic freedom in the country, government relies largely on door supports for everything including moneys to pay salaries which is why workers are experiencing late payment of salaries off late. Is that what our MCC donors call economic freedom? People hardly acquire three square meals a day amidst government’s imposed poverty through rendering so many people jobless, bad trade policies with high taxes levied on businesses all in the so-called economic liberty.
The people are not free to get what they actually voted president Bio for especially the economic welfare before we talk of freedom which is not possible now before the government continues to lies to the masses. In fact, less concern is being dedicated towards the economic welfare of the people and as a matter lawful obligation the authorities should ensure that the very welfare of every citizenry of the country is being provided by the state, before we even start tolerating the discussions around what MCC factiously called economic freedom, whereas people keep facing serious economic enslavements in Sierra Leone and not economic freedom as falsely reported in the MCC scorecard. Economic freedom is the exact opposite of what the people of Sierra Leone are going through.
President Bio and the SLPP regime are not ruling the country and people justly as implied in the 2019 MCC scorecard in that the office of the president is always involved in everything done thereby narrowing the involvements of other stakeholders in the processes which is why most people are questioning the MCC 2019 data mobilization processes and those who were involved in the data collection.
Government through the judiciary and the court systems has on several occasions reversed rightful constitutional mandates. It’s the same judiciary that presided over the petition matters of lawfully elected ten APC MPs until their unlawful removal from parliament, yet the MC brought home an award for just ruling, whiles the people are being largely treated unfairly by the government and it operatives everywhere. Government hiring workers based on their tribal and ethnic origins, political and other nepotism connections are not just and unfair selection of certain groups of people, tribes and regions for jobs leaving those with rights qualifications but not connections with no jobs does not earn the country just ruling at all. That is not just ruling but disrespect for certain people. For instance transparency and accountability, where one would want to know how far government has come in sustaining it.
Moreover “political rights” and “civil liberties”, the country is nowhere with civilized and decent democracy as arrests and jailing of journalists and social media activists are rapidly becoming the orders of the day, not to talk of intimidation of opposition APC politicians, who are always arrested and sent to Pa Demba road prison for reasons best known to the government. The continuing detention of Abu Bakarr Daramy and former Freetown City Council Mayor Herbert George Williams as well other previous arrests and recent denials of bails to Karamoh Kabba and are gross violations of their political and human rights; showing blatant disregards for the rule of law by the Bio government. So where are we talking about “civil liberty”, in Sierra Leone under the canopy of SLPP president Bio? Where rights violations are the orders of the day with high level of impunity, or does the MCC wants us to believe that they recognizes Sierra Leone for grossly violating political and human rights of their people, or a mere misplacement of priority with that prestigious award. We deserve better convincing narratives and explanations on why the compact came this way for the people have right to know.
In the areas of land rights access there are sill clamours over lands all over the place especially western areas rural and urban, where regular tussles keep emerging for lands mostly claimed to be owned by government whiles private owners also seek redress for such property and ends up in the hands of the state at the detriments of ordinary people. Land rights is one thing the MCC would not have made attempt to talk about in its scorecard because the ministry of Land Country Planning is always chasing people and taking their portions of lands from them which is why we deem it unfit for the compact not to have come out with anything on accessing land rights in Sierra Leone.
The same thing applies to access to credit and investment in people which is selectively accessible to those closed to the top brass which does not mean government is not putting moneys into the implementation of its free education. Attentions are only focused on the free education as part of minor investment in people and not that form of human investment at a large scale as its being falsely purported in the much publicized MCC scorecard which the SLPP is making noise for everywhere.
Health care services remain another critical aspect of the scorecard that so many people could not agree with the MCC for because as we piece this article together patients; ranging from pregnant women, lactating mothers and under fives are paying Le 5,000 for one jerry can of water as well as other forms of medications at hospitals in Freetown and other [parts of the country. So no need for government to be making loud noise for these because their assignments remain critically unsolved apart from the MCC misplaced six hundred million Dollars award.
The 2019 MCC award to Sierra Leone appeared more deceptive instead of being morally objective in examining data representing indicators back home for the simple reasons that what is being published are contrary to what people are faced with in the country. That is why the rights to access to information commission should be held responsible for jointly deceiving the people by presenting false data to the MCC whereas thing on the ground are not tallying with the MCC scorecard. Let’s manage the MCC cash well in adequate provision and supplies of water and energy in homes and factories rather that wasting such funds on new ministries and embassies.