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Sierra Leone’s President Pledge’s to Weed Out Graft

In Sierra Leone, President Ernest Bai Koroma says he will do everything in his power to weed out what he described as endemic corruption in the country’s public institutions. A recently leaked government confidential report suggested that rampant corruption in public institutions is eating up donor funds earmarked for the development of the country’s devastated infrastructure after 11 years of civil war.

President Koroma also urged all Sierra Leoneans to help in his drive to fight graft. Ahmed Ramadan Dumbuya is a former Sierra Leon foreign minister. From the capital Freetown, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that most people are aware of the distractive nature of what he called pervasive and endemic corruption.

“We really didn’t need leaked information to know that. Every Sierra Leonean knew that there was a problem of corruption and diversion of resources that are meant to deliver services to the people, and that corruption is pervasive. Pervasive in the sense that it is widespread and endemic in the sense that it cuts across various sectors of the community, and that is what the president was talking about fighting. And many, many leaders in the past had committed themselves to fighting the problem,” Dumbuya noted.

He said although the pledge to fight corruption is no news to many Sierra Leoneans, President Koroma’s assurance to fight corruption is refreshing.

“As he himself has said, it’s a recommitment, it’s a renewal, it’s a fresh beginning and therefore people should be prepared to see tangible results,” he said.

Dumbuya said the country has enough structures to help fight graft, but a push such as the president’s would empower the institutions to be more proactive.

“The structures are in place, and what we need is the presidents own commitment and his determination to fulfill the commitment that he has made, and once he stands by that commitment, I think things will work. We have had an anti-corruption commission for sometime, we have got all kids of structures involving the people themselves who are supposed to receive services, and who constitute oversight and monitoring organs. But just as the president has said, it’s an attitude people believe that it’s okay. Something that you can do, nothing will come out of it and it won’t harm anybody, and that’s what got to change,” pointed out Dumbuya.

He reiterated a paradigm shift in all Sierra Leoneans to support the president in his commitment to weed out graft.

“They have to. They have seen the devastating effect of corruption. It’s really ridiculous that people are referring to donor funds that are being eaten because the very donors some of the people who implement on their behalf are the biggest corrupt elements within the whole structure,” he said.

Dumbuya also chided people he described, as donor connivers whose aim he said is to corrupt others to the detriment of the country.

“They themselves consume a large percentage of the funds that come and connive with unpatriotic Sierra Leoneans to do the people in. so really it’s not really a question of donor funds, but it is also a question of resources of the state that are supposed to be mobilized and put at the disposal of the state to meet the needs of the people. So when we say endemic we are not just talking about Sierra Leoneans, we are talking about aid co-coordinators. People who implement aid who come from other countries, who are supposed to help us here, who simply set up shops with whoever, whatever people around here and eat up the funds and then they turn round and say may be Sierra Leoneans are corrupt,” said Dumbuya.