News / Africa

    Sierra Leone President Vows Anti-Graft Crusade Will ‘Spare No One’

    President Ernest Bai Koroma won re-election in late 2012 with a pledge to fight endemic government corruption.
    President Ernest Bai Koroma won re-election in late 2012 with a pledge to fight endemic government corruption.
    Peter Clottey
    President Ernest Bai Koroma will spare no one in the government’s quest to weed out endemic corruption in government, says his chief of staff, Richard Konteh.

    Konteh rejected criticism from the president’s political opponents that the administration’s declaration to fight corruption is a publicity stunt.

    He also described recent plans to strengthen the Anti-Corruption Commission and work with civil society groups to monitor public agencies in the government’s anti-corruption campaign.

    “We believe that it is only when we can sufficiently fight graft that we can indeed set the country in the right direction [and] to be able to achieve prosperity that our president wants … over the next five years,” says Konteh. “We as a government are committed and will continue with this fight and we hope that our partners will also join and support us in this fight.”

    He says the administration has planned a conference in the first week of December to underscore the government’s serious commitment to rooting out corruption.

    President Koroma's chief of staff talks about graft
    President Koroma's chief of staff talks about grafti
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    “We do acknowledge it continues to be a problem, but we are determined to fight it,” said Konteh. He described the December conference as one step in an effort to create greater public awareness. “We are intensifying the efforts to try and capture people who involved in corrupt practices and to bring them to book.”

    Transparency International reports that Sierra Leone has the highest incidence of bribery in sub-Saharan Africa. The report said 84 percent of those polled in Sierra Leone admitted to paying a bribe.  Konteh said the administration is embarrassed by the report, but is implementing measures to combat graft.

    “We are very concerned about that type of [corruption] rating, but we take note of the fact that it is more an issue of perception,” said Konteh. “Government is ensuring that it cleans house, that serious government officials found guilty of corruption are indicted, [and] where they are found guilty, they lose their jobs.”

    Jobs for youth and free speech

    President Koroma’s government faces a high unemployment rate especially among youth as the country gradually recovers from 10 years of civil war.

    Some observers say the high score on the corruption index could undermine efforts to attract investors needed to create employment opportunities for youth.

    Konteh says the government has created the enabling business environment to attract investors.

    “Our doing-business credentials have been among the best in West Africa,” said Konteh. “We have succeeded over the past six years to increase our direct investment portfolio from less than $500 million to over a billion dollars. On a daily basis, we receive expressions of interest, some unsolicited, from various investors wanting to come and invest.

    We have ensured, says Konteh, that we make the environment conducive for investors.
    He also denied criticisms that the government has been using state institutions including the judiciary to clamp down on dissent and to intimidate and harass journalists. Konteh said the administration will not undermine the country’s constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech.

    “President Koroma’s administration never arrested a single journalist. No one was incarcerated,” said Konteh.

    “What is worthy to note is that it is not the government that took journalists to court. They were taken to court by private citizens that felt aggrieved by the nature and manner in which these journalists used words against the president that were a bit derogatory.”

    You May Like

    Pentagon: Afghan Hospital Bombing Not a War Crime

    US Central Command's Joseph Votel says probe found tragedy was result of 'extraordinarily intense situation' that included multiple equipment failures

    US Minorities Link Guns with Other Social Ills

    New study finds reduction in gun violence could help lower America’s incarceration rate – the world’s highest - and improve relationships between police, citizens in minority communities

    US Millennials Beat Baby Boomers as Largest Living Generation

    America's young people are about to take over and here's what we can expect from them

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
    March 18, 2014 3:34 AM
    Those who strongly believe that corruption could be totally eliminated from any where in Africa in five years time, they live in a world of fantasy!
    To combat graft, Africa needs to adopt draconian, stringent rules governing state financial transparency and accountability. The culture of impunity among people in power should also be put down by law.

    by: Abass from: Alexandria Virginia
    March 17, 2014 11:57 PM
    The country need to great new jobs for the young ones come out of college. .
    In Response

    by: josephous conteh from: Newark, N J. U.S.A
    March 22, 2014 1:16 PM
    Abass the word "great" is CREAT JOBs

    by: Tom martyn from: New York
    March 17, 2014 7:54 PM
    Richard Conteh the world is watching this is not 1970

    by: Sylvia Palmer from: United States
    March 17, 2014 3:45 PM
    The administration should start by cleaning it's own because the corruption start from them none of their so called minister are clean they are all corrupt

    by: John from: UK
    March 17, 2014 3:18 PM
    "They were taken to court by private citizens that felt aggrieved by the nature and manner in which these journalists used words against the president "

    Lol, is Konteh a comedian or does he just enjoy insulting people's intelligence. No hope as long as people like that pull the strings.

    Poor Sierra Leone, the mindset will never change.:(

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkey Islamists

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora