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

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.