On New Year’s Day, the Leader of the “Third Force” political party, National Grand Alliance (NGC), Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (KKY), gave very salient pieces of advice to both the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the majority party in Parliament, the All Peoples Congress (APC).
In this Editorial cum Commentary, The Calabash has chosen some extracts of what KKY said to the nation on burning prevailing national issues and how he thinks they can be addressed:
The Fight Against Corruption and the Commissions of Inquiry
As true citizens, we should all support the war on corruption and the Commissions of Inquiry (CoI) and make sure they succeed. This requires us to examine our own values and our conscience. As Professor Lumumba recently stated some people want to fight corruption provided it is not against their tribesmen/women, or provided it does not disrupt their own personal access to the loot. Each of us has a role in the fight for the soul of our country. It is basically a fight about our beliefs in and consciousness about, values, morality and justice.
I wish to restate the NGC’s position enunciated on September 2018. To be credible, the Commissions of Inquiry must include all those involved in acts of corruption. They must include those who carried the greatest responsibility for financial management, procurement and decision making rather than just ministers. If this includes Permanent Secretaries, Statutory Vote Controllers, and Chairs of procurement committees, so be it.
To be transformative and curative, the inquiries must also be televised. They must be thorough and fair to allow the innocent to go free and the guilty to face the full penalty of the law. Hence the critical importance of ensuring that the best practices in credible rules of procedure and evidence will prevail.
To prevent abuse of human rights and freedoms, the tenure of the Commissions cannot be open-ended. They must be time bound and completed within six months to a year. We must also protect whistle blowers to ensure that the current Executives do not use the Commissions of Inquiry to go after those who will challenge their own future excesses. Remember, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Ultimately, the execution of the proposed Commission of Inquiry will give us an insight into whether the New Direction is a movement for change and progress. The government bears the greatest responsibility to ensure that the Commission is not a charade and that justice is delivered quickly, for justice delayed is justice denied.
I wish to reaffirm that in the National Grand Coalition (NGC) we believe that there can be no development without peace, and peace cannot be sustained without development. Both peace and development cannot be achieved in the absence of social cohesion, inclusive governance and respect for human rights. Therefore, the economy will not thrive if half of our society is or feels left out.
We call on the ‘New Direction’ government to right the mistakes of the past. We must see real efforts to lower tensions across the country, and genuine actions to reach out to those who feel left out. The latter will happen when we put Salon FOS.
The NGC will continue to advocate for a culture of “Salon Fos”. We stand by our electoral campaign platform to wage a war on corruption, kleptomania and tribalism.
Advice To APC
In the same vein, the opposition APC has to come to terms with the fact that they lost power and they must understand, and accept, their new responsibility to be a formidable constructive opposition that can provide checks and balances to prevent abuse of power. Democracy works best when there are checks and balances on executive authority. The APC must return to its center-left core values to speak for the poor and promote social inclusion. Many would recall that I regularly campaigned against the accumulation of absolute power at State house, and the penchant for institutions to resort to “orders from above”, or, “supreme executive authority”.
We however remain hopeful that in 2019 the government will be more prudent with spending, will invest in expanding the productive sectors, stimulate private sector investments and growth.
There is an urgent need for bringing inflation down and managing the exchange rate. While we understand the need for revenue mobilization, we want to draw the attention of government to the high cost of living due to several factors including higher taxation on private businesses and high import duties.