ACC making steady progress in southern Sierra Leone
Corruption, the bane of third world countries cannot be tolerated forever. It must be excised from the society at any moment anti-corruption crusaders get the opportunity to do so. It must be seen as a dangerous enigma that has the potential to cripple development efforts; hence the reason why donor partners in Sierra Leone including DFID have been very supportive to the government‘s established agency, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to robustly reduce, if not to end this menace in the country.
Right at the inception of the work of the commission, like other serious minded anti-graft agencies, adopting best practices from other countries to be incorporated into the voluminous work portfolio of the commission became a foremost strategy. With a tough and professionally trained officer cadre ranging from support staff to the operational wing, ACC has plodded on over the years with remarkable achievements made in the areas of prevention, public education and investigations/prosecutions. The records are in public domain about some of the prosecutions of high profile personalities who have been found culpable of committing corruption offences.
In the wisdom of the ACC leadership, the commission has been decentralised in terms of operations and headed by regional managers. This author is the regional manager of the South. Like in the other regions the ACC currently implements a national anti-corruption strategy which gives opportunity to representatives of civil society organisations to serve as monitors in the ongoing implementation of the strategy. Monitoring of the first and second quarter has just ended and compilation of the report is in progress. This means that fighting corruption is not just a fire brigade process. It needs the combined efforts of all stakeholders in all parts of the country; to do thorough diagnosis of the issues that are embedded in corruption so that anti-corruption crusaders will follow a smooth path in their war against ‘chronic graft’ (my coinage, to borrow from One Drop).The ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the South are now conscietized and energized to promote a culture of transparency and accountability in the business of service delivery to the public. The staff in the region have had a couple of sensitization meetings with these MDAs and there is cogent promise that they the operatives that are occupying these institutions would cooperate with the ACC in implementing best practices and policies emanating from either government or ACC.
There is sustained partnership with the electronic and print media in the Southern region. Programmes designed for radio discussions are tailored to suit the ACC communication strategy. It is very easy for ACC discussants to know, judging from the excitement of callers during radio programmes that ask questions on some of the burning issues outside of the ACC mandate. The discussants often use professional judgement to bring the contributors back to the topic of discussion and encourage them to stick by it.However, specific callers like Sylvanus Boima of Bo, has consistently made discussions on radio very lively-bringing out very thorny issues like fuel crisis, some schools notorious of perpetrating corrupt practices, how ACC can improve on its proactive approach to catch corrupt persons to mention a few. This relationship is also extended to the civil society. During the commissioner’s tour of the region in July, civil society representatives were enjoined to be very supportive to the work of the ACC in the South, not only as whistle blowers but also to be prepared to take anti-corruption messages to the nook and cranny of the region. With thunderous applause they were overwhelmed with the words of assurance and comfort they received from the ACC czar, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara. The tremendous work the civil society monitors have done in the ongoing revised national anti-corruption strategy monitoring of the MDAs presents a testimony of the willingness of civil society to lend support to the work of the ACC in the region. The level of awareness about the negative effects of corruption is spreading like wild fire in all the four districts in the South-Bo, Moyamba, Bonthe and Pujehun. The strategic placement of District Coordinating Officers to represent the commission in each of those districts has added professional value to the work of the commission. Apart from representing the commission in meetings, the coordinators are also serving as conduits to channel not only complaints but also coordinating all ACC’s activities in those districts. However, at that level they cannot be investigators but could receive any information to be passed on to the regional office or headquarters that may trigger an immediate investigation. The ACC can now boast of its presence and visibility in all parts of the country which undoubtedly brings confidence to the people of Sierra Leone.
With a core of dedicated staff at the Bo office there is steady progress in the fight against corruption in the Southern region. Although there are challenges which mostly have to do with the psyche of the average Sierra Leonean as it relates to their inertia to adapt to best practices, in actual fact the implementation of the ACC mandate enshrined in the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act, has been the exclusive goal of the Southern regional office in the recent past. With support and cooperation from all and sundry there is light at the end of the channel.
Mohamed Dumbuya, Regional Manager, ACC South.
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