BY: DAVID YUSUF KABIA, PUBLIC RELATIONS ASSISTANT
It could be recalled in our nation’s history since independence (1961) that corruption was among the many things Sierra Leone was notoriously known for, which ties in with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report of 2002, which identified endemic corruption as the major catalyst that sparked up the decade long civil conflict which left hundreds of thousands dead and thousands amputated and made homeless. The prevalence of corruption within the public space was so alarming that Sahr John Kpundeh in his book “Limiting Administrative Corruption in Sierra Leone” (2004) sadly noted: “The pervasive nature of corruption in almost every kind of activity, and the reluctance of the nation’s leaders to systematically fight this wide-spread malaise, allowed questionable practices to continue and eventually become an institutionalized way of life for Sierra Leoneans. Consequently, the culture of corruption enabled the governing class to attain economic domination, and the whole bureaucratic structure was converted into an instrument of self-endorsement by prominent civil servants”. This endemic corruption grossly affected every facet of society especially the healthcare and educational systems.
In 2018, when Francis Ben Kaifala was appointed as Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 was amended by Act No.3 of 2019 which provided robust measures to winning the fight, such as, establishing a Special Division in the High Court of Sierra Leone specifically to hear ACC matters. Besides matters being expedited, the Commission was able to recover over 35 Billion Leones from convicted corrupt persons, recovered government property, secured over 90% conviction on prosecuted matters, exposed high level corruption within the educational system and other quarters. This saw the Commission being highly recognized and rated by International Anti-Corruption watchdog institutions such as Transparency International.
Sierra Leone has made tremendous progress on the Transparency International Corruption Control rankings for three years now moving from 117 in 2020 to 115 out of 180 countries surveyed in the 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (TI-CPI). In 2020, Sierra Leone scored 33 and in 2021 increased its score to 34 which continues to be above the Sub Saharan average and the highest Sierra Leone has ever scored since the inception of the CPI rankings. This three years consistent exemplary performance by Sierra Leone on corruption control shows that it now leads sixty four (64) countries in the global campaign against corruption, including thirty two (32) African countries like Kenya, Guinea, Liberia, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Zambia, Mozambique and Egypt.
The Report which was published on the 25th January 2022 further continues to uphold the data-driven evidence of Sierra Leone’s remarkable performance in contemporary anti-corruption assessments against opinionated distractive views. This is vivid proof of the extent of the hard work been put by the entire Commission to redeem Sierra Leone from the shackles of corruption that have enslaved it for years causing abominable destruction to lives and property. It is as well a testament of the commitment of the People’s Commissioner-Francis Ben Kaifala as promised, upon his assumption of office on June 27th 2018 when he particularly emphasized that he was going to launder the image of Sierra Leone from the once one of the most corrupt countries in the world to a beaming beacon of exemplary prowess in the fight against corruption.
Sierra Leone is further highly rated by other renowned international anti-corruption institutions like the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which recently published data showing a score of 83% made by Sierra Leone in 2021 from a failing 49% in 2017.
While this consistent exemplary performance is worth celebrating, the Commission remains firm to ensuring zero tolerance to corruption within the public space in order to allow all and sundry benefit from the resources of the State, be it the Free Medical Healthcare, Free Quality Education or other State services.
This recent Report by Transparency International can only be a booster for Sierra Leone and the ACC in this winnable fight.