Let us be catalysts in the fight against corruption
– SLAJ Secretary General colleagues
The Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Mr. Moses A. Kargbo has expressed gratefulness to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) for inviting them to the First Quarterly Civil Society and Media Forum and to allow them to make a statement at such an important forum.
He described the forum as a laudable initiative by the ACC to be updating the media and civil society on its activities on a quarterly basis. He pointed out that the media and civil societies are the most dependable partners to look up to for genuine support in the fight against corruption especially when all other options seem to have failed.
Mr. Kargbo further intimated that corruption has proven to be a major stumbling block in establishing an effective and modern state in Sierra Leone and constitutes a primary reason for the country’s low development when compared to other nations.
He emphasized that this is more the reason why fighting this cankerworm should be a national effort that should not be left in the hands the ACC alone. He further stated that the media and civil society are crucial in uncovering corrupt practices and promoting effective anti corruption efforts.
‘’What has become worrying of late is the lack of fear of public officials in stealing public funds,’’ he noted, adding that the more ACC casts it net wide the more it seems public officials summon the bravery to siphon state resources put in their charge to finance the affairs of the state.
He reiterated that in that regard it is the view of the media that for the ACC to succeed in ridding our society of corruption, the Access to Information Law which was passed last year by Parliament has to be effectively utilized to uncover high profile corrupt practices in Government Ministries and agencies, departments and parastatals.
He opined that for the fact the law has been passed does not presuppose that the Government is prepared to function more transparently and accountably.
“Let us be the catalysts, the protagonists in taking the corruption fight to the door steps of the corrupt moguls if we are to succeed in this fight,” he challenged.
In his statement, the ACC Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara disclosed that the national perception survey has been completed and that they will soon launch the study for national consumption. He dilated that the objective of the survey is to gauge public perception on the fight against corruption which will in effect guide the ACC’s intervention in dealing with the scourge. He further disclosed that they are almost concluding modalities on the development of a Bribe Payer’s Index to be conducted later this year.
Mr. Kamara made it known that they have also increased partnership with civil society organizations he media such as the National Photographers Union, a group that is bent on fighting corruption through the eye of the lense.
The Commissioner also explained that as part of their cooperation, the photographers are working with the Commission to capture live photos or videos of corrupt practitioners in action.
He admonished that as Sierra Leoneans we have to be careful now because the cameras are rolling, adding that the cameras do not tell lies.
He re-echoed that they have also received willingness to partner with them from organizations such as Society for Democratic Initiative, Attitudinal and Behavioural Change, and the National Commission for Democracy.
The commissioner continued that they are additionally working on a documentary that aims to expose the true cost of corruption in Sierra Leone.
He disclosed that the review of their strategy is almost complete and that the zero draft of their new National of Anti Corruption Strategy 2014-2018 and Policy Matrix for implementation will be hopefully launched by President Ernest Bai Koroma in March.
He also revealed that they have concluded Systems Review of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Cooperation and the report has been validated and it will be out soon.
Representing the Civil Society was the Director of Society for Democratic Initiatives, Mr. Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai Saffa who thanked the ACC for inviting civil society organizations and the media to what he referred to as a laudable venture.
He stated that the fight against corruption was not the ACC versus the people but that the work of the ACC is a national concern and the fight against corruption is about service delivery of every Sierra Leonean.
He stated that talking about corruption means the public should be in the forefront of the fight and not a matter to do with political affiliation, religion, sex, colour, tribe or region.
He implored all Sierra Leoneans to take centre stage in the fight against the menace and he invited the media to serve as a working tool in the fight against the scourge.
He stressed that anyone caught in corrupt practices must be sent to jail in addition to confiscating his or her wealth and properties if we are to make public officials tear to steal from the state.
By Abdulai Mento Kamara
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