Investigating the SLPP’s Fight Against Corruption and Quest for Accountability in Sierra Leone
By the Sierra Leone Live Team.
As Sierra Leone approaches its June 24, 2023 elections, Sierra Leone Live takes a critical look at the Sierra Leone People’s Party’s (SLPP) 2018 Manifesto and investigates whether the party has achieved its goals, particularly in fighting corruption and improving accountability. In this analysis, we delve into Part IV of the manifesto, which deals with improving governance by fighting corruption and enhancing accountability.
Corruption has long plagued Sierra Leone, posing a significant challenge to national progress, development, stability, and security. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) identified corruption as one of the main causes of the civil war. Despite the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in 2000 by the SLPP government and its empowerment with independent prosecutorial powers in 2008, and further amendment in 2019, national development remains perennially constrained by corruption at various levels of administration.
The manifesto highlights the absence of political will in addressing corruption, exemplified by Parliament’s failure to scrutinize public accounts audits submitted by the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL). As a result, a culture of impunity for corrupt practices has been entrenched. The ACC has been stymied in acting on audit reports tabled before Parliament, for fear of incurring its displeasure.
The SLPP’s manifesto acknowledges the pervasiveness of corruption in Sierra Leone, including bribery, embezzlement, mismanagement, procurement irregularities, and conferring unlawful or wrongful advantages. These corrupt practices manifest in various forms, such as inflation of government contracts in return for kickbacks, bid rigging, collusive tenders for public contracts, examination malpractices, corporate fraud, falsification of accounts and certificates, stealing of public funds, and perversion of justice.
According to the manifesto, Sierra Leone faces several challenges in combating corruption. These include limited integrated approaches in public funds and services management, lack of progress in the structure of incentives, methods of evaluation, recruitment procedures, and human resource management. Corruption remains rife despite amendments to the anti-corruption law. Government ministers who were found guilty of corruption charges and fined have returned to active public service, often perceived as “sacred cows” of the President and his party.
The SLPP’s “New Direction” strategy aims to treat corruption not only as a governance issue but as a national security threat. It outlines several measures to combat corruption, such as reviewing the ACC Act, strengthening the ACC’s investigative and prosecutorial mandate, developing value systems, implementing a robust merit and reward system, categorizing corruption based on its economic costs, ensuring the full implementation of ASSL’s annual audit recommendations, committing to the Access to Information Act, and enhancing inter-agency cooperation.
Sierra Leone Live is currently investigating the SLPP’s Fight Against Corruption and whether the SLPP has been successful in implementing these measures and if they have had a significant impact on reducing corruption and improving accountability in the country. This investigation will examine the actions taken by the SLPP government since 2018, assess the effectiveness of these actions, and determine if the SLPP has achieved its goals as outlined in its manifesto.
As part of this investigation, Sierra Leone Live will consult with various stakeholders, including civil society organizations, development partners, and government officials, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the progress made in the fight against corruption and the improvement of accountability. This unbiased report will provide the public with an in-depth analysis of the SLPP’s performance on this critical issue and help inform voters as they prepare for the June 24, 2023 elections.