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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora