By Amin Kef Sesay – 13th August 2019
The President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk) on the 13th August 2019, during the launch of the 4th Generation National Anti-Corruption Strategy held at the Miatta Conference Centre mentioned the important roles the media could play in the fight against corruption.
He first noted that the absence of corruption is fundamental to the promotion of good governance just as the Anti-Corruption Commission is to the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone.
According to him the ACC is just an institution and it cannot do it alone stressing how it needs help underscoring Political Will but said it should not be centered on the head of His Excellency the President alone. He highlighted the Executive will which he pointed out is the goodwill of the President and his/her Cabinet ministers.
Nasrallah also mentioned Parliamentary will which he said is the goodwill of the Honorable Members of Parliament, Judicial will as the goodwill of those who interpret the laws of the land.
He stated that there should be the Police will which is the goodwill of the Sierra Leone Police, who are constitutionally charged with the responsibility of providing security and maintaining law and order in society.
With regards to Civil Society Will, he said, it is the goodwill of you and me, a well-informed citizenry and civil society organizations.
Coming to the Media will the SLAJ President defined it the goodwill of the media.
“Corruption is the hydra monster that has eaten away our past, our present and is fast swallowing our future,” he said adding that in the fight against corruption there should be no sacred cows.
The President said we all know that the media’s role in social change and development cannot be overstated stressing how it is something that we all recognize as important.
“We appreciate the efforts made by the ACC to involve the public in the development of this 4th Generation National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2019-2023. I recall that a session was held with the media at the SLAJ Secretariat at Campbell St., Freetown, where journalists contributed their own perspectives in the fight against corruption, including corruption within the media,” he continued further making it known how it is important to highlight the need for continued public ownership of this strategy and support for the fight against corruption generally.
The SLAJ Prezo said there is a need to re-examine the relationship between the State and civil society. “By civil society I mean all of us that are not official state organs, and this include the media. We can all agree that one of the challenges we face in dealing with the scourge of corruption—which seems to have become a culture—is the lack of trust between the public (ordinary people) and the state. There is this ‘us’ versus ‘them’ way of seeing the relationship between the public and the state. We can trace this to the very many years of distrust and lack of confidence in the State’s ability to address the very basic needs of the ordinary people.
The ordinary civil servant or woman in the market (in their misery and suffering) are also witnesses to the sudden social mobility of high-ranking public officials and politicians. People in power or close to power have a good life—with access to good healthcare and private education for their children, while ordinary people struggle to make ends meet. This situation does not support public confidence and trust in the state and a by-product of this is a normalisation of corruption and apathy to the fight against corruption,” he pointed out.
He suggested that we must move on to make people feel that they have a stake and therefore take ownership of the fight against corruption and support the implementation of this strategy.
Highlighting key roles the media could play, he stated: to provide adequate and accurate reporting on anti-corruption efforts by the ACC and its partners as well as to help raise awareness about the new anti-corruption strategy and support efforts that are aimed at nurturing public ownership of the fight against corruption.
He said the Media should be able to help set the agenda and become a serious point of reference for the ACC and other institutions that are involved in the fight against corruption.
“We can only do this by carrying out independent investigative reporting, as well as in-depth analytical reporting on corruption-related issues. We want to continue to hold public institutions and officials accountable and push for better service delivery because inefficient public institutions and lack of basic services is probably one reason the ordinary person doesn’t feel they have a stake in the affairs of the State,” he informed but said as journalists they are constrained with resources and the capacity to take their rightful place in the fight against corruption.
He stated how they are open to working with the ACC, as they have always done stressing the need for renewed partnership between SLAJ and the ACC. The SLAJ President appealed for increased support to the media to enable them report better and do our job.
“As journalists, we are a part of society and we are part of the problem. We do not come from planet Mars. We equally want to be part of the solution and we would not relent in using our profession and the tools at our disposal to move this country forward,” he furthered.