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The challenges of implementing Corporate Governance in Sierra Leone

The challenges of implementing Corporate Governance in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leoneans all over the world will soon be celebrating 50 years of Independence from the British. Sierra Leone is very rich in mineral resources, possessing most of the known minerals types of the world. Our population is estimated at 6.5 million and is among the largest producers of titanium, bauxite, gold, rutile and diamond. Despite the population and natural wealth, the country is plagued with poverty because of lack of Corporate Governance.

President Ernest Koroma took office in 2007 after winning second round elections because of his promises of good governance and that he will run the country as a business. President Koroma cannot achieve his dream because he lacks the committed team and compromising his power to reshuffle his cabinet and make changes to some of his advisers.

Some of the reasons why he needs to change his cabinet, because after 3 years, majority of his ministers can only boast or talk about electricity. Even for example, minister of Employment or Agriculture when talking about achievements only boast of electricity. He should change some of his advisers because some of them have been creating negative media coverage and giving him wrong advices. He was advised to read his report card and address Sierra Leoneans in USA instead of attending the media programme in Sierra Leone where it should have been quick, simple, cheap and will have increase his popularity.

Corporate Governance covers every area that have a system which is governed, controlled and decisions have to be made that will ensure that government act responsibly and to the interest of stakeholders. President Ernest Koroma is facing problems with implementing Corporate Governance because his team members are not committed, lack integrity and because of their regional affiliations.

This article will cover three key areas that President Ernest Koroma should concentrate if he intends to win the next elections. 1- Environmental areas 2- Anti-Corruption and Audit and 3- Agenda for Change via Policy development and implementation.

Agenda for Change via policy development and implementation

Agenda for Change covers activities that the government should carry out to deal with problems, crisis or how to develop Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone every Ministry, Departments and Agency is faced with policy crisis which can cause security problems, diseases, natural disaster, unemployment, poverty and corruption.

In order to achieve President Ernest Koroma Agenda for Change the government should be ready to deal with breakdown in governance and accountability of those in authority. Agenda for Change cannot be achieved through high power meetings in top hotels or through flashy conferences but will be achieved through strategic policy formulation by consulting citizens in every areas of the country taking cost benefit analysis into consideration.

Agenda for Change can be achieved by process governance that will aim to promote sustainable human development. Policies needs to be researched based on the objectives that the government intends not copied and paste from other Commonwealth countries. It is good to use other policies as benchmark target but the main target is to engage with the environment.

The main mission for the Agenda for Change is to promote good governance, economic participation and sustainable human development in a manner that will lift Sierra Leone from poverty. In the development of policies, government should hire Sierra Leoneans with diversity of education and experiences that will be applied to problems. Too much bureaucracy, regional politics in policy will not make Agenda for Change a success.

Therefore, policy analysts and advisers should be recruited that could read the situation very fast, feel secure to deal with the problems. These policy analysts and advisers should replace the idea of District Officers and they should be divided into team that can support the government in district and central level. The two teams should be able to adapt to the people, political situation, ensure that they advise the government and department on policies and strategy that will lead to development.

Environmental Area

Corporate Governance will cover the way and manner in which the government of President Koroma behave in society and how accountable they are to citizens. This area can be monitored by various independent bodies including the Attitudinal Behavioural Change secretariat and Open Government Initiative through institutionalize mechanism of participation, consultation and accountability. Civil society groups and media should be active in challenging state resistance by following issues as stipulates in the constitution and translated into various legal and statutory provisions.

I have read articles relating to the London Mining and African Mineral contract and do appreciate that these companies are creating jobs for citizens but government, civil society groups and media should ensure that the community are engaged when making decisions. These mineral companies should ensure that the community achieve their objectives other than imposing conditions on the payment to government.

The money paid to the community should be used for community development by building schools, playgrounds based on their actual profit. Anti-Corruption Commission should monitor the way and manner the money given to the community are properly spent. Anti-Corruption should monitor the way and manner in which government officials’ associate with these mineral companies that will lead to familiarity threats, abuse of position and embezzlement.

Anti-Corruption and Audit

In order to transform Sierra Leone as the best country in Africa, Anti-Corruption Commission and Auditors General Department should promote good governance and attain sustainable human development. Anti-Corruption Commission and Auditors General department should ensure that government carryout viable projects, reduce travelling cost, increase the quality of education, security governance and other areas that will lead to long term growth or improve the economy. Good governance can only be achieved by ensuring that the behaviour of the state was accountable to citizens by considering citizens as customers.

I read about the introduction of Performance Audit which will require a procedural reform of the public service, setting standards and controls. Performance audit will lead to managerial efficiency which will be justified by changes in procedures, strategy and policies. With the introduction of Performance audit, ministry, department and agencies will have to operate on the basis of private enterprises practices. Performance audit will require performance management contract for management, employees, and decentralizing activities.

Sierra Leoneans are saying bravo to the new Anti-Corruption commissioner and let’s hope he will start recovery process of the cash that were stolen from ministry, departments and agencies reported in the last audit report. This recovery will be easy as audit and part investigation has been done and this will send signal that will deter abuse of office in the future. Government officials can only be accountable to the people if there are appropriate institutional mechanisms and procedures of checks and balances both within government and the community.

By Dylan Sogie-Thomas

The author Dylan Sogie-Thomas CFE, CertIA, CertIFR, PG Dip, ACCA Finalist
Is a student in Masters in Corporate Governance/Graduate ICSA at the London South Bank University United Kingdom. His research is titled An Overview of Corporate Governance, Accountability and Performance Management in Sierra Leone. sogiethomas@yahoo.com

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