One of the biggest things suffocating governance in Sierra Leone is conflict of interest. Such is how pervasive it is that most don’t see it as an issue. The normal abnormality! Such is how wrong and retrograde it is that it eats into state resources where such resources should be spent for state advancement.
Such is how bad it is that it makes officials spend more time working for party at a time they should be working for the State.
In office, President Ernest Bai Koroma and his APC party refused to listen to heads who told them that it was wrong for Minkailu Mansaray to be a cabinet minister when he was Deputy Leader of his party, Musa Tarawallie to be Organising Secretary when he was a cabinet minister, Alpha Kanu as Publicity Secretary of the party when he was in cabinet, etc.
If you went to their offices you would see them much busier with party activities than with State matters.
Unfortunately, nothing has changed on that front under the Government of Julius Maada Bio. Among others, the SLPP party National Chairman and Leader, Prince Harding lobbied for and got the coveted post of Chairman of the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) and the party Secretary General, Umaru Napoleon Koroma is head of the National Privatisation Commission.
Where do you draw the line?
How does anyone expect these gentlemen to dedicate time and energy to either the state or their party in equal measure or as they should?! They are either preoccupied with party matters when it is the State that pays them, or they pay attention to the State at the expense of their party which should be an institution and where they are pivotal.
One can understand the arguments some may put up – namely that they don’t get paid by their party in their executive capacities. That may well be so. And this is exactly why they should resign those party positions and get others to do the job there while they get paid in their public jobs.
But it should serve as an opportunity for our political parties to be made into institutions rather than the tribal groupings that they are. They should be run by paid executive members and staff. That way they can dedicate their time and energy to running their party and allow statecraft to be carried out by those who are not distracted by the running of their party.
Imagine the SLPP Chairman or Secretary General was invited to a party function in Koinadugu or Pujehun, wouldn’t they use their official state vehicle, get per diem for themselves and their driver, wear and tear the vehicle, among others? That is a conflict of interest which is an anti-corruption offence.
It is time for the SLPP to stop doing the wrong things all in the name of “the APC did so before us”. That is why they were voted out. Sierra Leoneans deserve better than thins namby-pamby politics.