''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol XII No 3

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Monday 10th October 2016 - A week after the rat's government was forced to publicly admit that the economy was in shambles, it is all business as usual as the peoples' money gets dished out to his cronies and family members in the criminal empire over which he presides.The Auditor General - her reports are routinely ignored by the rat and his cohort.

Last Monday's announcement that the government would be cutting its wasteful spending could only have been triggered by international financial institutions reading the riot act to all the thieves parading as servants of the people. Why did he wait until after his bloated delegation of praise singers and party activists taken on the great jamboree to the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 71) have been compensated for their disgraceful performance? There was the so-called Majority Leader of the ruling APC, the RASSin Bundu man and the street dancer who the rat calls his Information minister as well as his Tourism minister Sidi Yayah Tunis gyrating, twisting and contorting their bodies in rhythm as they tried to please their master the rat about just how loyal they were to him. One fuming Sierra Leonean Sheikh observed - "What a spectacle to behold!! The Majority Leader of Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu, a towering six-foot mass of unbridled flummery, gyrating a protruded stomach assuring his Master that he is ever ready to “sɛn am go dɔŋ (fling it to the bottom).” Well, he succeeded only in flinging our Parliament to the bottom. It was even more pitiful when Mohamed Bangura, the thickest square peg in our national ministerial round holes, was struggling to control the front line of vassals dancing to the tune of the Master, a symbolic struggle to hold on to his ministerial position."

Now people can understand why the probe into the mismanagement of the Ebola fund was resisted by this same RASSin Bundu who had no business impeding the work of the Anti Corruption Commission - an action for which he should have been prosecuted as outlined under laws found on the pages of the Anti Corruption Act.

That the country's economy should have come to this comes as no surprise to many who had noted the complete disregard for the law and financial regulations and despite the reports of the Auditor General on the reckless and lawless spending that was the trait of the rat's administration. He had convinced himself, aided by the Judiciary that he was above the law and that all his actions cannot be questioned and therefore must be legal. With the judiciary compromised don't be surprised to hear the rat telling his subordinates that as President, he was above the law, even above the Constitution that he had taken an oath to defend and protect. The illegal sacking of the peoples' elected Vice President to be replaced by a well known state crook, Victor Foh bears testimony to this and having got the Supreme Court to tow his line, it was a freefall as the massive looting of all things within and without reach reached heights of frenzy and sheer anarchy.

And there was the smoke and mirrors rat telling the UN that - "My Government remains committed to good governance, and will continue to build upon our post-conflict peacebuilding and democratic gains by further strengthening our democratic institutions; by strengthening access to justice. This is why we have taken steps to improve on the conditions of service in our justice sector, to attract and deploy more qualified personnel to the bench and as state counsels in every region and every district throughout Sierra Leone. We established the Legal Aid Board to ensure that indignant persons have legal representation; that there is no one in our correctional centers without an indictment; that cases are speedily heard and that justice is fairly served."

The Sierra Leone Telegraph is one outlet that is not surprised at the economic freefall - "For a government that two weeks ago, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on sending the president and his rather bloated entourage to attend the UN Summit in America, when few in Sierra Leone can afford malaria medicines, questions must be asked about the sincerity of these swingeing spending cuts. These massive austerity cuts will no doubt hurt the weakest in society most, while those in privileged positions – in and out of government, will continue to live a life of luxury, through corruption and graft. Many in Sierra Leone would also say that last night’s announcement has come too late to rescue an economy that has been teetering on the edge of collapse, since the global economic crash of 2008. The government has been too slow and seemingly incompetent to act. Huge damage has been done to the fabric of the economy, because of the lack of investments – if not to the psyche of the majority of Sierra Leoneans, who now see bribery as the only means of getting things done in the country; and embezzlement of public funds, as another legitimate personal income stream. Two weeks ago, the government announced a 15% rise in electricity charges. Income tax has seen an increase also, with the price of petrol set to go up in the near distant future, as the government removes its subsidy. The fact is that the Sierra Leone Telegraph has been warning that, very high and unscheduled, non-programme government spending is haemorrhaging the economy, pushing up an already unacceptably high government borrowing and unemployment."

A rights group Change puts the finger on some disturbing facts that shows just how reckless and lawless the rat and his cabal have been in the management of the economy. They simply don't care what happens to the country and the poor who form the majority of the population. "The root causes of Sierra Leone’s 10-years civil war revolve around bad governance and the unabated mineral exploitation and smuggling of blood diamonds. "The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) concluded that "the central cause of the war was corruption. Political elites plundered the nation’s assets and mineral riches. No government accountability. Sierra Leoneans, particularly the youths, lost all sense of hope in the future. This provided ripe breeding grounds for opportunists who unleashed a wave of violence and mayhem. Thousands of innocent citizens including women and children were brutally murdered, mutilated, raped and displaced” (TRC, vol. 2: p. 27, arts. 13-17). The TRC also found that "many of the causes of the conflict have still not been addressed…[and] are potential causes of another conflict, if they remain unaddressed” (TRC, vol. 2: p. 29 art. 37).

President Ernest Bai Koroma’s government has made the average Sierra Leonean so poor and angry that, the only thoughts are to become ruthless towards this failed government. President Koroma has been criticised repeatedly for stifling opposition, muzzling the media, suppressing dissent, and trying to seek a third term as president - returning the country to the dark old days of the 1970s and 1980s and the All Peoples Congress (APC) one party rule. President Koroma has failed to account for almost a third of the money allocated to fight Ebola. This may have slowed the emergency response to the Ebola outbreak and led to unnecessary loss of lives. President Koroma has wasted donor funding to conduct a discredited 2015 census. Citizens have spoken out about their concern that the census did not reflects the true population of the country, and that the results were ‘doctored’ in order to increase the population (votes) in the northern region, deemed the stronghold of the ruling APC party. Citizens and civil society organisations are sidelined from any discussions about aid investment and mining activities. Sierra Leone is still heavily dependent on foreign aid. Hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid have been given to the government. Yet, Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 181 out of 188 countries in the UN Human Development Index.
Sierra Leone's Auditor General - an uphill task as her reports get ignored.

We are petitioning the government and the international community. We are demanding the following five actions:

�1. The president must set-up a commission of inquiry into the dodgy dealings and tax avoidance by mining companies. Unpaid taxes must be recovered and companies named in the Panama papers penalised.

�2. The president must support parliament to immediately enact laws that would require companies to publicly report (a) their basic financial data, including their annual accounts, (b) their remittances to government and (c) their community development spending. Companies should provide training and employ/empower Sierra Leoneans to own and manage the mines.

�3. The president must immediately allow a review of mining contracts including Koidu Holdings Ltd/Octea and Sierra Rutile mining agreements, and provide support to the many hundreds of people who have been made poorer, and are currently losing farmland as Sierra Rutile expands its mining operations across hundreds of acres of land. Sierra Rutile is headed by John Bonoh Sesay, reportedly a family member (cousin) of President Koroma.

�4. The president and his top government officials must publish their bank/financial statements and shares held in private companies, and to disclose their properties including houses in Sierra Leone and abroad.

�5. The president must account for the hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid including the stolen Ebola and census money and allow an independent audit into the questionable 2015 census. We cannot accept that the humanitarian aid financed by western taxpayers is not reaching to the people for whom it was originally intended.

You only have to take a look at the areas where the government stated it would be making cuts to realise that these are the areas where money is being leaked to the gutters of filth and corruption that he and his acolytes drink deep from.

· No new procurement of Government vehicles until further notice; · No purchase of new office furniture and fittings; · 50% cut in monthly office imprests; · 70% of all payments to suppliers/contractors that have foreign components to be effected in Leones; · No purchase of office equipment (computers, printers and photocopiers); · Restrict all overseas travels and rationalize delegation sizes; · Eliminate double payments of pensions and salaries across the board. The above measures have been extended to March, 2017. · Minimize discretionary duty waivers and rationalize statutory duty waivers.

Believe this and you can believe anything.

Recall this in one of the Auditor General's report - 6.  Duplication of payment in respect of United Nations general assembly meetings             
The following were observed: That MOFED paid twice for accommodation and other incidental allowances in respect of the United Nations General Assembly Meetings in New York-once to the Office of the Secretary to the President and again to the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission to the United Nations. During the Financial year 2008, the Office of the Secretary to the President received US$57,161 for the 63rd UN General Assembly Meeting; for the same period an amount of US$43,800 was also remitted to the Mission for the same purpose. In the 2009 Financial Year, the MOFED paid US$46,691.00 in respect of the 64th UN  General Assembly Meeting and remitted US$36,596 to the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission for the same purpose. During the 2010 Financial Year, the Office of the Secretary to the President received US$54,267 to cover accommodation, incidental and imprest in respect of the 65th UN General Assembly meeting and for the same period an amount of US$49,915 was remitted to the Mission. Of utmost concern to the auditor was the unavailability of the relevant supporting documents and schedules to cover those payments. We therefore recommended that the Financial Secretary should explain, with substantial evidence, why duplicate payments were made in respect of the UN General Assembly Meetings; in the absence of which the amounts involved should be refunded by the officers concerned."

No refunds were made and State House once more demonstrated that it is above the law.

Be assured, if we know the rogues well that all these measures are just mere announcements, a smokescreen to please the international community and payments for those fake and overblown contracts would still be made. His friends, family members and associates would still be making overseas visits at the expense of the people. Now what do they mean by double payments of salaries and pensions? Does this mean that it had been government policy to double pay these items of expenditure all the while? The discretionary waiver on duty is the most interesting if not sad. It means that the business partners of the rat and others get a free ride, paying no duty for goods imported and so making a huge profit with taxes not paid.

All that the rat and his cabal needed to do was to treat with seriousness the reports of the Auditor General who has, year after year, highlighted areas of government expenditure that needed financial disciplinary measures.

Crime and criminality will continue to flourish in Sierra Leone until the two arms of governance - the Judiciary and Parliament hold the Executive (President and Ministers) to account. Anything short of that will see the reports of the Auditor General treated with contempt and a compromised Judiciary and Parliament aiding and abetting economic crimes against the people.

Kindly recall the Sierra Herald pages as the world observed Anti Corruption Day on 9th December 2015 - "Today December 9, 2015 is being observed globally as a day to renew and invigorate the ongoing battle against what has been described as a corrosive and criminal activity that undermines the rule of law and the integrity of the state. In his message on this day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminds the world - "Corruption has disastrous impacts on development when funds that should be devoted to schools, health clinics and other vital public services are instead diverted into the hands of criminals or dishonest officials. Corruption exacerbates violence and insecurity. It can lead to dissatisfaction with public institutions, disillusion with government in general, and spirals of anger and unrest. The United Nations Convention against Corruption provides a comprehensive platform for governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and individual citizens. Through prevention, criminalization, international cooperation and assets recovery, the Convention advances global progress toward ending corruption. On International Anti-Corruption Day, I call for united efforts to deliver a clear message around the world that firmly rejects corruption and embraces instead the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance. This will benefit communities and countries, helping to usher in a better future for all."

The UN notes the need for countries to tackle this criminal boa that is squeezing the life out of the poor. "Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects all countries. Corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. Corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of bribes. Economic development is stunted because foreign direct investment is discouraged and small businesses within the country often find it impossible to overcome the "start-up costs" required because of corruption."

Let's leave you with this bit from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report - "The Commission finds that the central cause of the war was endemic greed, corruption and nepotism that deprived the nation of its dignity and reduced most people to a state of poverty. Successive political elites plundered the nation's assets, including its mineral riches, at the expense of the national good. Government accountability was non-existent. Institutions meant to uphold human rights, such as the courts and civil society, were thoroughly co-opted by the executive."

Driven out of power after more than 24 years (1968-1992) of state looting and a breakdown of the rule of law, it would appear that the APC government still smarting under the fact that they were kicked out of office by the self-same people they recruited into the army, are now hell-bent, not only in perpetuating itself in power by all means possible but also looting state coffers on an unprecedented free for all criminal enterprise headed by the smoke and mirrors rat at State House.


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