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Hajj Special 2022 Newsletter

Sierra Leone Embassy Saudi Arabia Newsletter 2022

Today, we present to you our second edition of the Newsletter of the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Saudi Arabia.

This edition gives you a comprehensive reportage on the just concluded (1443/2022) Hajj. We provide you with an insight into what the Hajj is about and we also distinguish between Hajj and Umrah for our readers to get an in-depth understanding of these highly important forms of Islamic worship.

This edition also features the recent visit of Sierra Leone’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Alpha Osman Timbo to Saudi Arabia and the signing of the Labour and General Workers Agreement between the two countries as well as the follow-up visit of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) delegation to Sierra Leone for the implementation of key projects, among others.

We remain committed to reaching out to our international public and also informing citizens back home of our activities.

Do have a good read!!! Thank you.

Abubakarr Bah
Information Attaché
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.



SLL Audio News
SLL Audio News

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

Informed observers and commentators on the Sierra Leonean socio-economic and political terrain, indigenous and foreign, all agree on one fact regarding the swift collapse of the national economy after late President Ahmad Tejan Kabba left– Sierra Leone’s economic depression is policy-induced! It certainly is not by accident that a country of few million dynamic and hardworking people, that had successfully begun to diversify itself from a uni-product economy to one hinged on diverse sources suddenly awakes to find its fortunes violently depleted and reversed, with the supervisors of the national economy each passing day churning more regulations geared towards causing more harm and creating more confusion domestically and causing disinterest from genuine foreign investors.

In their quest for legitimacy, democratic regimes in Sierra Leone, after the late Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, find themselves having to balance two values that can be in some tension: fair and non-politically partisan public service delivery and, subject to the law, the responsiveness of public servants to the policies of the past Koroma and current Bio executives.

Neutrality in the sense of political non-partisanship in public administration is, of course, a precondition for ensuring that, regardless of their political orientation, citizens are treated fairly and in an equitable manner. Operationally, it is delivered by emphasising professionalism, merit and competence amongst public servants. These values are important to the level of justice and continuity in public administration – arguably a significant determinant of how much trust citizens place in their system of government. At the same time, public servants must be accountable to the government for the effective delivery of its programme, and responsiveness of the administration to the government of the day within the law and the constitution is key to the effective implementation of our government policies. As stated in the Principles of Civil Service Code In Sierra Leone:

(e) “Impartiality”

(i) “Justice, fairness, equity and impartiality are the prime values of the Civil Service. Therefore, in carrying out public business, Civil Servants shall not display partiality as a result of personal or family ties or of gender, religion, region or ethnic background. They shall treat all people fairly, in making appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards, promotions and other benefits and shall make choices based solely on merits”.

The Civil Service Act depicts how Sierra Leone developed institutional arrangements that balance these two concerns to avoid the extremes of a self-serving public service immune to political leadership or an over-politicised public service hostage to patronage and serving partisan, regional, tribal rather than national interests. With this in mind, I investigate past, and current secrete and open appointments to mainstream public service managerial positions by the Koroma and Bio governments. Other than for some occasional comparisons, my investigation does not consider the appointment of political advisors outside of the usual public service hierarchy.

The tensions between the values of neutrality and responsiveness are not at all evident in the past and current recruitment and appointment actions of the APC and SLPP governments. Political responsiveness can be enhanced by selecting staff on the basis of both merit and commitment to a particular policy programme. The question is whether those staff would just as willingly assist in the implementation of the policy priorities of a new government and the next, especially when they aren’t going through the “Regrading Committee” of the Civil Service.

My investigations unearth that, for the past and current APC and SLPP governments, political involvement in administration is essential for the proper functioning of a democracy. According to my sources, their incoming political administration would find itself unable to change policy direction without this. However, we are again experiencing a government that is deliberately ignoring the reality that public services need protection against being misused for partisan purposes, they need technical capacity which survives changes of government, and they need protection against being used to impair the capacity of future governments to govern. This was clearly stated in our Civil Service Act under Recruitment and Appointment;

Rule 2.1:

In principle, unless the commission directs otherwise, all vacancies shall be fully advertised by appropriate notice within the Civil Service or through the Gazette, the press, other media, employment exchanges, or other appropriate means for the information of the general public. There must be a reasonable period of time, with a minimum period of one month, between the date of advertisement and the deadline for applications to be received.

Rule 2.5(d) selection procedures must be reliable and guard against bias, and equality of opportunity must apply throughout the recruitment process.

Put starkly, when there are multiple principles, the single political principle with some responsibility for the sector portfolio (Ministers, Permanent Secretaries etc.) faces a distinctive incentive for politicisation as it gives them a stronger handle on an otherwise unresponsive bureaucracy. This conclusion argues against the assumption that underpins much public management literature, which warns about the negative effects of political involvement and often suggests that purely administrative determination of staffing decisions is the preferred state and that any steps down the path of political involvement are intrinsically damaging to governance. This was what late President Tejan Kabba believed and succeeded in building Sierra Leone despite the fact that he inherited one of the World’s most brutal wars.

Those not familiar with the geopolitics of one of Africa’s richest nations in terms of natural resources and the erstwhile projected fastest-growing economy will wonder how any Government will be willing to deliberately ruin a national economy, cause great harm to the citizenry, heighten the prospect of potential internal chaos, and ultimately destroy economic prospects and potentials. Well, welcome to the oddity of the Sierra Leonean nation under the “New Direction government” this time around.

When at his assumption of office, the present Sierra Leonean ruler, Julius Maada Bio, a former Head of State who had in his erstwhile stint in office over 20 years ago contributed in driving the economy into depression, embarked upon a global frolic of major capital cities of the world telling whosoever cared to listen that he is now presiding over the ‘most corrupt people in the world’, and with the damaging effects of such self-deprecation just beginning to manifest the regime rolled out conflicting fiscal pronouncements, particularly in the area of accessing foreign exchange, amounting to policy somersaults which has the potential to scare off multinational companies from Sierra Leone (including Airlines, Extractive and service-sector conglomerates); and eventually capping the dire situation by deliberate acts of maligning the Judiciary and Legislative arms of government creating an impression before all and sundry that Sierra Leone was and still is a banana republic where powers resided and emanated from one single individual; the hand writing on the wall was clearly discernible to all who were discerning – Sierra Leone was being systematically and serially depleted with cynical ulterior motives.

Finally, those who doubted reality are now able to have a glimpse at the wider picture via the recent kite flown by those who are profiting tremendously from the deprecation of Sierra Leone: having succeeded in pauperising the Sierra Leonean State, depreciating the value of the country and its national assets, reeking in enormous profits from a fraudulent foreign exchange regime, suggestions are now being arrogantly floated that the remaining real natural resources of the Sierra Leonean State should be auctioned off for peanuts to supposedly “reinvigorate the economy with the redenomination of the national currency”.


Sierra Leone’s prime national assets, the Gold, Bauxite, Rutile, Iron Ore, Diamond etc. operations, are now being particularly targeted by these hawks (World Bank/International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank, Britain, European Union, United States, China etc.). Also in their sights are other critical national infrastructures such as Water projects and Roads.

If these vultures are so smart and so rich, why don’t they build industries in Sierra Leone to add value to the mentioned raw materials and other critical infrastructure and compete with advanced countries to add genuine value to our economy?

Knowing how the fraudulent system works in Sierra Leone, an avalanche of ten-a-dime ‘experts’ (local and foreign) will be assembled to support the floated idea, and more punitive fiscal and socio-economic policies will be rolled out to squeeze the populace into believing that anything that brings in whatever amount of foreign currency into the system is good, and pronto, the economy and social service protection of the suffering masses, and other major critical infrastructure would be auctioned for peanuts to spurious portfolio-companies registered in some offshore tax havens by the unscrupulous who will suddenly turn up in “Forbes list of the richest” as Frank Timis did in the very corrupt African Minerals, and SL Mining rogue deals, whilst the poverty caused locally will unleash more domestic abject poverty for the majority.

As these vultures gather, is there anything a Government populated by vultures and or their stooges can do to forestall an impending disaster? Nothing! The people have to decide what they want of themselves by themselves. The people with these assets have every right to resist brigandage in the name of governance or government policies.

Restructuring and renegotiation of the Sierra Leonean contraption will minimise these vile practices.


SLL Audio News
SLL Audio News

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

The national financial crisis, which began in 2016 which the current SLPP regime promised to fix when they were in opposition, and whose repercussions will continue to echo in Sierra Leone for years to come, has triggered myriad criticisms of our capitalist system: it is too ‘speculative’; it rewards ‘rent-seekers’ over true ‘wealth creators’; and it has permitted the rampant growth of finance for the selected few at the expense of the suffering majority, allowing speculative exchanges of financial assets to be compensated more than investments that lead to new physical assets and job creation.

Debates about unsustainable growth have become louder, with concerns about the rate of growth the regime inherited and its direction. Recipes for serious reforms of this ‘dysfunctional’ system include making the financial sector more focused on long-run investments; changing the governance structures of corporations, so they are less focussed on their share prices and quarterly returns; taxing quick speculative trades more heavily; legally blocking financial leakages and curbing the excesses of the wage bill.

I have argued that such critiques are important but will remain powerless – in their ability to bring about real reform of our economic system – until they become firmly grounded in a discussion about the processes by which economic value is created. It is not enough to argue for less value extraction and more value creation. First, ‘value’, a term that once lay at the heart of economic thinking, must be revived and better understood.

In Sierra Leone, value has gone from being a category at the core of the economic theory, tied to the dynamics of production (the division of labour, changing costs of production), to a subjective category tied to the ‘preferences’ of economic agents. Many ills, such as stagnant real wages, are interpreted in terms of the ‘choices’ that particular agents in the system make; for example, unemployment is seen as related to workers’ choice between working and leisure. And entrepreneurship – the praised motor of capitalism – is seen as a result of individualised choices rather than the productive system surrounding entrepreneurs – or, to put it another way, the fruit of a collective effort. At the same time, the price has become the indicator of value: as long as a good is bought and sold in the market, it must have value. So rather than a theory of value determining price, it is the theory of price that determines value.

Along with this fundamental shift in the idea of value, a different narrative has taken hold. Focused on wealth creators, risk-taking and entrepreneurship, this narrative now seeped into political and public discourse. It is now so rampant that even ‘nationalists’ critiquing the system sometimes unintentionally espouse it. When the APC lost the 2018 election, certain leaders of the party secretly claimed they had lost because they had not embraced the “wealth creators”. And who did they think the wealth creators were? Businesses and the entrepreneurs leading them. Feeding the idea that value is created in the private sector and redistributed by the public sector. But how can a party that has the words “All People’s Congress” in its title not see workers and the state as equally vital parts of the wealth creation process?

Such assumptions about the generation of wealth have become entrenched and have gone unchallenged. As a result, those who claim to be wealth creators have monopolised the attention of past and current governments with the now well-worn mantra of; give us less tax, less regulation, less state and more market. By losing our ability to recognise the difference between value creation and value extraction, past and current governments have made it easier for some to call themselves value creators and, in the process, extract value. Understanding how the stories about value creation are around us everywhere – even though the category itself is not – is essential for the future viability of our economy.

To offer real change, we must go beyond fixing isolated problems and develop a framework that allows us to shape a new type of economy that will work for the common good. The change has to be profound. It is not enough to redefine GDP to encompass quality-of-life indicators, including measures of happiness, the imputed value of unpaid ‘caring’ labour and free information, education and communication via the Internet. It is also not enough to tax wealth. While such measures are important in themselves, they do not address the greatest challenge: defining and measuring the collective contribution to wealth creation so that value extraction is less able to pass for value creation. As we have seen, the idea that price determines the value and that markets are best at determining prices has all sorts of nefarious consequences.

This narrative emboldens value extractors in finance and other sectors of our economy. Here, the crucial questions – which kinds of activities add value to the economy and which simply extract value for the sellers – are never asked. In the current way of thinking, financial trading, rapacious lending, and funding property price bubbles are all value-added by definition because price determines value: if there is a deal to be done, then there is value. By the same token, if a pharmacy can sell a drug at a hundred or a thousand times more than it costs to produce, there is no problem: the market has determined the value. The same goes for Ministers, other political appointments and professionals who earn 100 times more than the average worker. The market has decided the value of their services – there is nothing more to be said. Our economists must be aware that some markets are not fair.

Price-equals-value thinking encourages rogues in the investment world to put financial markets and shareholders first and to offer as little as possible to other stakeholders. This ignores the reality of value creation – as a collective process. In truth, everything concerning an investor business – is intimately interwoven with decisions made by our elected governments, investments made by schools, universities, public agencies and even movements by not-for-profit institutions. Corporate heads in Sierra Leone are not telling the whole truth when they say that shareholders are the only real risk takers and hence deserve the lion’s share of the gains from doing business.

This market story confuses policymakers. By and large, policymakers of all stripes want to help their communities and their country, and they think the way to do so is to put more trust in market mechanisms. Step back and let the market magic work; this has become the slogan of our governments in Sierra Leone. The crucial thing is to be seen to be business-friendly. As a result, Sierra Leone politicians and all too many government employees are like putty in the hands of those who claim to be value creators. Regulators end up being lobbied by businesses and induced to endorse policies that make incumbents even richer. Examples include ways in which our governments have been persuaded by the World Bank and other rogue neocolonial institutions to reduce capital gains tax, even though there is no reason to do so if the aim is to promote long-term investments rather than short-term ones.

And lobbyists, with their innovation stories, have pushed through with rogue policies, which reduce tax on the profits generated – even though the policy’s main impact has been merely to reduce government revenue rather than increasing the types of investments that led to strengthening the economy. All of these serve only to subtract value from the economy and make for a less attractive future for almost everyone. Not having a clear view of the collective value creation process, the public sector is thus ‘captured’ – entranced by stories about wealth creation which have led to regressive tax policies that increase inequality.

The confusion between profits and rents appears in how we measure growth: GDP. Indeed, it is here that the production boundary comes back to haunt us; if anything that fetches price values, then the way our national accounting is done won’t be able to distinguish value creation from value extraction, and thus policies aimed at the former might simply lead to the latter. This is not only true for the environment where picking up the mess of disasters will definitely decrease GDP (due to various services paid for) while a cleaner environment won’t necessarily (indeed, if it leads to no disaster, it could increase GDP), but also as we saw to the world of finance in our contraption where the distinction between financial services that feed industry’s need for long-term credit versus those financial services that simply feed other parts of the financial sector are not distinguished.

Only with a clear debate about value can rent-extracting activities in every sector, including the public one, be better identified and deprived of political and ideological strength.

When Exploitative Politics and Economics Determine Fuel Price

Sierra Leone Live Podcast
Sierra Leone Live Podcast
When Exploitative Politics and Economics Determine Fuel Price

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

Economics and very exploitative politics have always been at war – silent, sometimes violent. Like water and fuel, they don’t mix well.‎ In developing countries like Sierra Leone, politics tends to enjoy the upper hand, often rubbishing the best of economic sense. These impasses are impregnable walls to stop an economic argument or interest advancement.
But there seems to be no clear winner in the current fuel situation. In June 2022, there was a strong economic reason to increase the pump price of petrol, and politics could not stop it despite the possible reasoning that a new administration was inflicting hardship on the same people that voted it into power. The gaping hole in the political wall was the massive goodwill or huge credit balance the government enjoyed during its honeymoon.

On June 29, it raised the pump price of fuel from 18,000 Leones per litre to 22,000 Leones per litre without any serious protest. There was market satisfaction, which underlined the irrelevance of the fuel tax cut – a government financial aid to enable Sierra Leoneans to buy fuel at affordable prices.

Also, long queues at fuel stations disappeared in the comfort of availability. Economics won, whereas, during the previous administration, politics won after nationwide song and dance, sometimes volatile protests, dubbed “Occupy Sierra Leone.”

The market fundamentals have since changed, giving economics a stronger voice for a price review, pushed forcefully by profit-driven oil marketers‎. But the political scenario has also changed, and not even the most advanced explosives seem capable of making holes in the strong wall it has built.

The bottom line of all current possible scenarios is the welfare of the people, which even weakens the present economic argument for current fuel price increases under the government of President Bio. Would a government visit on its people another round of hardship soon after an economic recession because market fundamentals have changed dramatically?

Both the Petroleum Regulatory Board and the Sierra Leone Oil Importers admit fundamental changes in the market. Sources from the Ministry of Trade and Industry explained that the 22,000 Leones and 18,000 Leones per litre prices were fixed when crude oil prices were $122.71 and $111.93 per barrel.

Expectedly, citing different reasons, some of the oil importers stopped the importation of the product ostensibly to protect their bottom line, leaving the entire burden of supplying the nation’s fuel to All Petroleum Product (A.P.P.). In some instances, fuel dealers were punished by the fuel importers’ monopoly cartel for buying their fuel products from All Petroleum Product. This shows that private fuel importers in Sierra Leone loyalty are to their shareholders; patriotism is never a key consideration.

A spokesperson of the Sierra Leone Petroleum Regulatory Board has said, “Since the price of crude is directly proportional to the refined product, we could not import petrol and sell at the initial 10,000 Leones per litre anymore. The truth is the current pump price of fuel in Sierra Leone fails to match the current drop in the price of crude oil in the international market.

So, the burden of importing 100 per cent is on the importers. And government claimed they continue to assist fuel importers through hard international currencies and tax cuts to make the product available and affordable. Now, you can imagine a situation where importers came together to use their finances to buy certain government rogues in their favour to exploit the suffering majority by sustaining the pump fuel price at a high cost and keep the already suffering majority in abject poverty. This pattern continues to make the lives of the suffering majority under the government of President Bio more vulnerable, and it is likely to get worse coupled with the fact that in the months we called the ember months from October to December, the consumption of petrol is highest in the country.

The increase in the landing cost of petrol per litre in 2018 to the current increase per litre is a strong economic reason that may necessitate only one scenario – a genuine review of the product’s price. But the scenario doesn’t end there. Despite the availability of the glaring numbers for all to see, the announcement of a price increase was likely to generate protests because any irrational increase in the pump price of fuel is tantamount to playing politics with the survival of the people and making the Bio-led government look very bad in the eyes of the public. This is so because fuel is a political weapon that has the tendency to impact all essential commodities.

So the demand to keep the fuel pump price at its current price, which is at odds with international best practice because the price of .crude oil has fallen significantly, is like a case one makes passionately only to get the response of ‘we have heard,’ without any immediate action. “This isn’t the time to encourage chaos,” a top government source said last week. Reports over the months have indeed shown that the Presidency may be reluctant to add to the economic burden of Sierra Leoneans. And if the oil marketers have not been explicitly told, they may have sensed that. But how can they properly understand the message of the President when some rogue people the President charged with the responsibility to protect the interest of the general good are partnering with the importers to exploit the people and create unnecessary tension for the President and his government?

Going Forward

With the apparent reluctance of the government to reduce the pump price to reduce the suffering in the lives of the already suffering majority and increase market satisfaction and stability, some experts suggest that efforts should be made in the immediate short term to genuinely liberalise the market and to specifically encourage investors that want to engage in oil refinery business in the country. They do not wish to repeat the tax cut regime that plundered the nation. Right-minded nationals agreed that the refineries should be built and made functional and relevant for a medium to a long-term solution. They argue that while legacy issues may justify the public doubt over yet another attempt by our government to build and revamp refineries, the current Ministry of Trade and Industry leadership deserves some credibility and trust to get the job done with its fresh and sustainable approach to investor and funding sources, as well as local participation.

That will also require the support of other key players, who sometimes contradict themselves over fuel issues. For example, while the Parliament of Sierra Leone has long recommended the rebuilding and reactivation of refineries as a solution to fuel scarcity and a reduction in the pump price of fuel in the country for the general good, the Ministry of Trade and Industry is too slow to work with investors in the Petroleum Product to realise this goal. Right-minded nationals believe that only local refining will make fuel affordable and easily accessible to all Sierra Leoneans, adding that every other measure to end the recurring problem of fuel scarcity will always be temporary.

They have the support of industry experts who warn that conflicting signals discourage foreign and even local investors.
Making refineries work again is indeed one of the measures identified by certain government officials and experts for a lasting solution.

Sober Solutions For Sierra Leone Constitutionalism

Map of Sierra Leone
SLL Audio News
SLL Audio News
Sober Solutions For Sierra Leone Constitutionalism

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

If there is one thing most Sierra Leoneans can agree on about the political and social developments of the last decade and a half, it is that our communal project feels threatened. It is not just that the Sierra Leone People’s Party and the All People’s Congress disagree about policies, legislation, or even elections. We now fight over reality and find it harder to maintain friendships with those from across our various divides. We are more likely to believe it is no longer profitable for Southerners and Northerners and for the various tribes and the secular parts of our society to live together under one coherent political union.

And yet, there are still reasons to be hopeful if one thinks of Sierra Leone as a series of difficult disputes settled, over the course of years and through a diverse array of means. For instance, we do not need to look back to the Civil War to find examples of partisan and tribal divides colouring the day-to-day relationships in Sierra Leoneans’ life. For example, the popular actions during the eleven years of civil war show fierce partisanship, political pessimism, and commercialisation of sensationalising political disputes.

In this spirit, late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah offered thoughtful leadership for our consideration. The question Sierra Leonean Citizenship and Constitutionalism in Principle and Practice seeks to answer is whether we can still live together coherently in spite of our differences after the presidency of late Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. The collective answer of these pieces is that we can, but that it will not be a smooth road. Years of experience offer us this tentative hope in two ways. First, by providing thoughtful examinations of specific historical cases where past Sierra Leoneans navigated fundamental challenges, and secondly, by mining the design of Sierra Leonean constitutionalism for tools, we can wield to help us get through the political challenges of our day.

Among the specific issues late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah efficiently dealt with during his government, a few are particularly salient today. Perhaps the best place to look for tips on getting through today’s tests is to examine how Sierra Leoneans of the past handled similarly intense disputes. For instance, looking across Sierra Leone’s history, we see that working for incremental political improvement is the norm, rather than the exception, among the great reformers. Looking at the lives of the most influential Sierra Leoneans (such as Dr Mohamed Sorie Forna, Hindolo Tyre, John Bangura, Mana Kpaka, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, Lightfoot Boston etc.), we also see that combining honesty about injustices with a generosity that holds out hope for future change.

Likewise instructive is the reexamination of Publius’s conceptions of the Sierra Leone system. The value here is both in looking at what the sharpest early Sierra Leonean minds correctly foresaw and seeing where their predictions have gone astray. As much as anything, this essay invites humility which is vital to a functioning democracy. If specific politicians in the current dispensation could be so wrong about how political parties would influence their country, or, maybe most importantly, about the eventual power dynamics in the relationship between Parliament and the presidency and how to save our country from neocolonial financial rogues, then we ought to accept that some of our politicians and academics, with the deepest convictions, cannot tell us with certainty how a novel policy proposal is going to shape our society for generations to come. One question this leaves us with in the practical sphere is what we can do about the areas where our system has not succeeded in moderating conflict. Sierra Leoneans, on both the Sierra Leone People’s Party and the All People’s Congress, would do well to think hard about this because patching the holes of a civil political discourse could grow harder as strife wears on our collective sense of confidence in our political institutions.

Among the writers that examine the way Sierra Leone currently does broad civic education is Dr David Moinina Sengeh, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education. He’s looking at how Sierra Leoneans have worked, and can work anew, to “[craft] the cords that bind” Sierra Leoneans to one another in civic life. My concern is what we can do to better nurture the breadth and depth of civic loyalty within the hearts of Sierra Leoneans today. My examination of our unique history leads me to conclude that it is not enough to remind Sierra Leoneans that we live in the same land; rather, we need a new robust approach to civic education that inculcates in us a love for our specific political and historical gifts.

Why would Sierra Leoneans buy this perspective in a time of shrill partisanship? Precisely because of the tenor of our discord, the value of a robust, imperfect, common good that can be appealing. We need not all like each other, but if we truly work to live together, knowing that doing so is not only materially beneficial but historically impressive, we should have a better chance at regaining a nomos, even though it will not be exactly the one anyone Sierra Leonean most desires. While this essay is creatively hopeful, it will not be an easy task to reignite a broad commitment to our system, above and beyond the partisan level. It may not be the case that a national approach to civic education can work as well as it did before, but that still leaves us with the question of what actually to do, even in part, to reset the foundation of citizen investment in the idea of Sierra Leone and a commitment to its practical workings.

Late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah provides another worthy historical examination for today’s citizens. He revisited his progressive administrative skills to find APC members of that time defending the strong party system—that was a political environment where a small number of political parties powerfully channelled almost all important political decision-making—as an important tool for channelling democracy toward a common good. This essay is a timely response to the many Sierra Leoneans who now casually lament that our system has only two parties, that the parties do not seem different enough, that they are both home to zealots, or even that we have parties at all. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah recovered the argument that without strong parties, we will have no mechanism for channelling our passions, competing interests, and political energy.

Put another way, if we do not have strong parties that have a chance to harness and organise our diverse “factions,” then what hope do we have for a functioning political life in the long term? Or we can think about it this way: The two big parties are not going anywhere, at least not any time soon. We may not like them. In fact, most of us do not like either of them right now. But we do not have a real chance, legally or politically, of replacing them anytime soon. They have enshrined their power into state election laws, all three branches of the government, and voters’ political imaginations. It might not be easy to make them representative of broad swaths of Sierra Leone or to have them check and moderate each other, but we had better try. Wishing the parties away for today’s Sierra Leone is like wishing a family history of a specific health threat away. The only response is to know and combat the threat rather than to hope it disappears. Of course, accepting that the parties we have are better than most likely alternatives does not do anything to solve the issues the current system presents. We should think carefully and in search of specific practical reforms toward the end of improving the things that do cure the party system we have today.

Taken together, SLPP and APC, along with the impressive collection of thinkers who continue to contribute to our contraption, provide their readers with an innovative, historically grounded, and good faith look at Sierra Leone today and how we might work toward a better Sierra Leone tomorrow. This is not a manual for those who want quick fixes and is not Pollyanna’s treatise of Sierra Leonean exceptionalism. And this is where its virtue lies. It takes a sober look at where we have come to and resolves to use our history, the creativity built into our unique system, and a commitment to civic hopefulness as tools to do the real work of citizenship: to strive to see the good in one’s fellow Sierra Leonean and to apply one’s gifts toward making the whole community a place with a stronger common good. While this anthology presents a worthy look at some of the major things that trouble Sierra Leone’s democracy today, it is short on specific, realistic policy proposals that could lead to widespread improvement. The question of what to do next, then, is largely left up to the reader, but it is the most important conundrum facing those who want to rejuvenate Sierra Leonean political life.


Citizens and the bad politicians
SLL Audio News
SLL Audio News

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

A few days back, an audio in which Pastor Francis A. M. Mambu blamed bad leadership for Sierra Leone’s socio-economic problems went viral on social media. According to him, most politicians in Sierra Leone are too desperate to amass wealth illegally at the expense of the suffering majority. Months back, prior to his audio, there was another audio in which a man called for a Jerry Rawlings-type mass burial of the country’s political elite, which in his opinion, would help combat corruption and unlock the country’s potential. Both views echo the inner and hidden sentiments many people living in Sierra Leone have about the majority of their politicians. The reasons for these are not hard to find. Most politicians in Sierra Leone have done little to improve the welfare of their people, who are very poor, while they, and their cronies, live in opulence.

The rot goes all the way through the political chain to elected and appointed public officers – starting with political parties. Party financiers and godfathers dictate who holds what public office without regard for competence and internal democracy. They ultimately dictate how state affairs and funds are managed with barely a distinction between public and private funds. So, elections don’t seem to help, mainly as the politicians are the same. Despite Sierra Leone political parties espousing different ideologies and launching welfare manifestos, nothing really changes when governments change.

Corruption is prevalent throughout the contraption. Tied to this is the fact that anti-corruption efforts fail because of a lack of honest and accountable politicians who cannot lead but can only rule. We have co-opted democratic systems, such as regular elections, or the current SLPP simply make up the rules as they go along to stay in power. Behind it all lies an insatiable appetite for money and the realisation that power can deliver untold wealth. These scenarios are also seriously playing out across; the contraption(and the people) are sacrificed to greed.
To make matters worse, those brave enough to stand up and be counted are driven out literally or figuratively.

Leadership Vacuum

Sierra Leone is home to many despots and sit-in presidents who either abuse their power or allow abuses to be perpetrated. The contraption is run like family property, and political dynasties are created. Checks and balances are weak, dissent is crashed, and alternative views are discarded, culminating in low accountability, further deteriorating leadership and reinforcing corruption.

One would expect multiparty democracy and its associated principles to produce visionary and effective leaders, but this is rarely the case in Sierra Leone. While elections are held, and rulers are changed at the ballot or Western Power Manipulated Regime Change, things usually remain the same. Often, policies and corrupt practices criticised by “Paopa” political rulers while in opposition now suddenly become right and justifiable when they are in power. In essence, there are new faces in government, but the status quo does not change or is even worse than before. The big question is, why?

Money and Politics

Sierra Leone politics is synonymous with wealth, whether acquired legally or otherwise. Hence, the scramble for power can be intense and sometimes dangerous. The expectation of quick riches increases internal competition for party candidature, often requiring deal-making and buying votes. And failure to align with the party establishment can prevent members from ascending the party hierarchy. Party members are socialised in the same way, mainly to do whatever is necessary to win power by fair or foul means, and those who dare to think or behave differently are sidelined, sabotaged or expelled.

Corruption and Political Party Financing

At the core of Sierra Leone’s corruption and leadership is opaque party financing. Mostly, parties rely on private funding from individuals and organisations. But regulations on financial disclosure are either non-existent or ineffective, which allows wealthy individuals or godfathers known as “bras and Mummies” to wield significant influence, mainly for their benefit but to the detriment of the contraption. Even leaders perceived to be strong-willed can find it hard to withstand the pressures. These examples attest to how State House rulers can be controlled from behind the scenes by vested interests and crooked godfathers. In some cases, our Presidents are incapable of addressing the excesses of their sponsors, leading to anarchy and recklessness.

Being Different is Political Suicide

There is a popular idiom: “do not bite the hands that feed you”. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that this is true for Sierra Leone Presidents. There is a high chance that rulers who act against the interests of their party establishment, financiers and godfathers, even for the benefit of the state, will not last long. The same applies to their policies.

So what’s the way forward?

Sierra Leone must regulate political party financing and strengthen state institutions such as National Electoral Commission to enforce compliance. Until then, most Presidents on the contraption will continue to be prone to capture and control by powerful and parochial godfathers. And the looting of public funds won’t stop.

Presidential Praise Singers? Leadership Is Not Rocket Science!

Presidential Praise Singers
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SLL Audio News
Presidential Praise Singers? Leadership Is Not Rocket Science!

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

A carnival of absurdity or misplacement of priorities Minus deliberately ignoring the facts (Auditors General Reports, Transparency International, United Nations Human Development Index, World Hunger Index etc.) to protect the interests of the selected few Equals Austerity.

To fix the economy: Government must declare National Debt; kick against IMF COVID-19 pandemic loans conditionalities, sincerely cut down government waste expenses; implement the Auditor General’s Recommendations in all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies to recover monies from unexplained wealth from rogue public officials; Go for Recovery to save the Banks and restore International Partners confidence to sustain SLPP in governance.

Self-praises by government officials in the middle of an economic crisis; are you marking your exam papers on your own, or are you manifesting your normal insensitive acts to the plights of the suffering majority?

Today consultants and thought leaders in Sierra Leone race to find the holy grail of leadership. Research studies into Sierra Leone leadership from independence till date inform us of amazing new insights into the mysteries of leadership in Sierra Leone, but are leadership all that mysterious? Is there really some magic bullet that, once discovered, will openly turn mere mortals in Sierra Leone into towering giants of leadership? The answer is a resounding NO. We know all there is to know about leadership and what it takes to be a great leader. The issue is not in gaining new Presidential praise singers’ data that titillates the mind but in deliberately avoiding checks and balances in the presidential praising singing projects that wreck our economy and inflict the current untold suffering in the lives of the majority, but the key is to practice and apply what we know to be true from the heart.

What does this list of leadership competencies tell us about leadership? There are multiple ways to view these results from a Sierra Leone perspective. An extremely valuable inquiry is to ask, “what are the common areas of leadership that repeat in every study of effective leaders around the globe?” These are the core skills we need to focus on and strengthen in these worsening economic challenges, not a Presidential praise singing diary that failed to change the lives of the majority.

Effective leaders perform three essential tasks. They may be called different things by different authors, but the tasks are the same and show up in just about every leadership study. How the task is performed will vary depending on the leader’s style, the situation, and the people involved, but the tasks remain universal for all leaders.

Direction First, leaders point direction. A leader moves to an end purpose, and people who follow move with him or her. Without movement and change, leaders do not need leadership, for that is what leaders create. Leaders point the direction, and to gain followers, that direction must appeal to others (thus, it must be morally and ethically acceptable to them). This is becoming more of an issue in our country as two very different value systems emerge and collide. What is morally and ethically acceptable is now defined in the eyes of the beholder and less a universally agreed upon standard. As a result, we observe colleagues and elders who are unwilling to listen to others who espouse ethical standards or beliefs different from theirs. We watch our politicians spending State resources unwisely because they personally support causes, for religious or personal reasons, that are at odds with the consensus of the economy and their followers and who, therefore, demand the leader step down. This dichotomy of values will become more and more of an issue in the future. As society and followers fracture on what is ethically and morally acceptable, fewer and fewer leaders will have national appeal. Why is this important? Because there are many, who would make outstanding leaders who will never lead because people will not follow them. These people may become visionaries or prophets but not leaders because leaders cannot exist without followers. The important issue is that setting direction and its related ethical and moral underpinnings is essential to leadership.

Question To Ponder: A key question for aspiring leaders is, “does the leader shape the values and beliefs of the group or does the group shape the values and beliefs of the person, so he or she is accepted as a leader to them?” This is a moral dilemma President faces in Sierra Leone: does the leader say what the group wants to hear in order to curry favour and into a leadership position, or does the leader say what he or she believes in seeing if anyone follows?”

Growth: Not only do leaders lead the way, but they also grow things. In fact, they grow three things: themselves, their people and the government. When a leader grows himself and his selected few people within his government at the expense of the majority, he’s not a leader.
Note: Growth begins with an item mentioned in the direction “bucket”: the leader provides goals and objectives with loose guidelines and direction. This is the foundation out of which growth occurs. The leader seldom decrees the method, the “how”. The leader allows the majority of the people to grow through the struggle with how to achieve something. This is one of the problems with leadership today – all growth and development are structured and accomplished through leadership development programmes, project management training programmes, etc. and ad infinitum. Whatever happened to growth that allows the follower to struggle, experiment, learn by trial and error and ultimately grow by spending long hours talking to a leader? The leader builds a culture of growth by providing goals and objectives and by clearly communicating expectations (what success looks like). Then he or she gets out of the way while followers figure out the “how”. This is the soil out of which follower engagement, commitment and ownership spring. Growth is as common to all leaders as is setting pointing direction.

People & Culture: Finally, as the leader grows people and teaches behaviours consistent with that direction and values, he or she builds a culture: this is the way we behave. Culture is about people, and their behaviour and the leader cares about how followers act. It is not specific techniques that a leader teaches or even decisions he or she makes that make a difference over the long run; instead, it is the leader’s impact on the follower’s life. This is accomplished by building a culture that demonstrates how to practice consistently what the leader and followers honour, value, and belief in. This is where family begins, and family means relationships. The final common trait of the leader is that he or she impacts people over time, allowing the values taught to be lived out through others.

It’s Not A Mystery: Leadership is not rocket science. Three simple tasks are unbelievably difficult to live out consistently across multiple situations and with multiple unique followers. Sunni Giles writes, “While some (of the competencies) may not surprise you, they’re all difficult to master, partly because improving them requires acting against our nature.” I agree these simple tasks are difficult to master, but I do not think it is because they are against one’s nature. If they are, perhaps that person should never have been in leadership in the first place. Consistency is hard when one is tired, exhausted and even discouraged because he continues to fumble with progress by embezzling State funds and lying on oath. But consistency comes more easily when one practices what he or she believes to be true. That is the foundation of authenticity that naturally occurs when the leader’s high ethical and moral values are lived out through all the other leadership activities.

And after all, isn’t authenticity what followers are really seeking?


SLL Audio News
SLL Audio News

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

So it’s ding ding! Seconds out! And we begin the final round of that international slugfest, the International Monetary Fund COVID-19 pandemic loans negotiations. Out of their corners came President Bio, his Finance Minister and Financial Secretary shrugging their shoulders and beating their chests – and I just hope you aren’t one of those trusting souls who still thinks it could really go either way. The fix is in. The whole thing is about as pre-ordained as a bout between Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy; and in this case, I am afraid, the inevitable outcome is again another victory for the International Monetary Fund, with Sierra Leone lying flat on the canvas with 12 stars circling symbolically over our semi-conscious head.

I suppose there may be some aspects of the Chequers proposals that they pretend not to like. They may puff about “cherry picking” the dangerous Chinese loans and even genuine private investors to Sierra Leone that are not singing in the same hymn sheet with their rogue loans. There may be some confected groaning and twanging of leotards when it comes to the discussion on the International Monetary Fund rebuilding the economy they help battered in the previous regime(s) with their well exploitative conditions. But the reality is that in this negotiation the IMF has so far taken every important trick. The Sierra Leone government has agreed to hand over millions of taxpayers’ money and natural resources for two-thirds of diddly squat from the International Monetary Fund.

In adopting the Chequers’ proposals, we have gone into battle with the white flag fluttering over our leading tank. If we continue on this basis we will throw away most of the advantages of Sierra Leone. By agreeing to a “common rulebook” with the International Monetary Fund – over which we have no control – we are making it impossible for Sierra Leone to be more competitive, to innovate, to deviate, to initiate, and we are ruling out major free trade deals that will help us rebuild our economy and address our social challenges, this time under the “New Direction” government of President Bio.

If we go ahead with the Chequers’ proposals, we are forswearing the project of global Sierra Leone – so splendidly articulated by the President in his UN General Assembly speech of 23rd September 2018 – and abandoning the notion of Sierra Leone as a proud independent economic actor. We will remain in the International Monetary Fund taxi; but this time locked in the boot, with absolutely no say on the destination. We won’t have taken back control – we will have lost control. We will serve as a terrible warning to any other African or developing country thinking of changing its relationship with the exploitative neo-colonial financial institutions: that even Sierra Leone, one of the richest countries in terms of mineral resources, with a new government that promised a “New Direction”, was unable to break free of the gravitational pull of the International Monetary Fund and forced to sue for humiliating terms.

Of course, I hope that the President will still change course – and rediscover the elan
and dynamism of his UN General Assembly speech and scores of international and national interviews. With less than one year until the end of his presidential term, there is still ample time to save Sierra Leone. If we are to do so, we must go back to the issue of the role played by International Monetary Fund in destroying our economy in the past regime(s), which has been so ingeniously manipulated – both by the World Bank and IMF and parts of the Sierra Leone Government – so as to keep Sierra Leone effectively in the hands of the very exploitative neo-colonial financial institutions to get very easy access to our country’s natural resources and fixed assets.

Instead of really tackling the problem of the economy we have allowed it to be occluded by myths. It is a myth – pure nonsense – to state that there is “ economic value in getting the International Monetary Fund COVID-19 Pandemic Loans or the presence of IMF in Sierra Leone is to promote democracy”. So, such a thought must be changed. Of course, the current government can rearrange its present actions and make them better for the general good compared to the past government. These are two separate governments, and on either side, you will find plenty of differences.

It is a myth to say that you could create an effective “economy” – by renewing your exploitative partnership with the International Monetary Fund on the pittance they continue to give your government as loans after deducting the usual 10% from the loan.

And above all, it is a total myth to say that by dancing to the International Monetary Fund music government will improve social service protection for the majority or rebuild its international image in human rights violations.

The tragedy is that as soon as the government accepted the exploitative COVID-19 pandemic loans, the International Monetary Fund began working on their very exploitative methods to sustain their looting in Sierra Leone – our Government get lost in an eternal dither and couldn’t make up its minds, for month after month, to satisfy the International Monetary Fund, they failed to seize the opportunity of re-evaluating the very exploitative COVID-19 pandemic loans and add value to them for the good of the nation.

It is now clear that some in the current Government never wanted solutions. They wanted to use the said loans to attract the International Monetary Fund back to Sierra Leone and they enjoy doing so even if it takes stopping a genuine contract from patriotic nationals.

Politics, Governance And The People: A Dysphoria Of Leadership In Sierra Leone

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Politics, Governance And The People: A Dysphoria Of Leadership In Sierra Leone

By Elhaj Malik Shabbaz

I am writing again from my Leicester Peak residence, where I have watched unfolding events of the uncertainty that has befallen this great nation. Whether we are to gather at the Vatican in Rome or Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, I don’t see the problem of this country having a solution as many would have anticipated it to be by change of governments. Not the political landscape, the governance or the people do have the clout to bring the much-needed change we have all been craving in Sierra Leone’s darling. But where do all the problems that have left this nation languid in the scathing hands of bullies seem to have emanated from? As I have decided to touch back my pen from my last letter to the speaker of Parliament today on this expository essay, I have decided to lilt my writings for the best interest of my readers to grasp the concept in it.

POLITICS: THE political landscape of Sierra Leone has been fuming with tribal bigotry and rhetorics of the regional divide, a new trend to lure in support from the political base. But, what has this type of politics in our political space made Sierra Leone looks like in the recent past? The “politricking” of our politicians wanting us to believe that we are a country divided by tribal and regional rhetorics has been one of the most deceitful and churlish attitudes in recent days in Sierra Leone. Whether we have learnt from the findings of the TRC or forgotten too quickly what happened 20 years back, what seemed to be lackluster in all of this is that we only have a tribal divide in politics and not in our daily lives as citizens of this country.

They (Politicians) have succeeded in dividing our body politics to be seen as a north-south quest for power. They have been infiltrating the minds of our gullible people in exotic villages to believe that when the seat at State House is occupied by a son from the south, they are better off as citizens than when it is occupied by a northerner. The same applied to those in the north vis-a-vis. Could this actually be said to mean our country is divided along tribal and regional rhetorics, or accept the fact that politics has been used to divide our political space? These lies our politicians have been parading with are what we, as well-meaning Sierra Leoneans, must disgorge in its entirety.

GOVERNANCE: OUR governance system in Sierra Leone is divided into three arms pursuant to our national constitution. Among the three arms of government, the executive arm has been the B-all and End-all since independence. The legislative and the judiciary have been overshadowed by the executive arm of government. It is evident today in Sierra Leone that the executive arm of government has been remotely controlling the two other arms of government. The rampant use of the words veto power or orders from above, as if these words are trove in our grundnorm, is what has made our governance system scrubby in the eyes of its citizens. Our governance system has been shabbily run by cartels of criminals who have been regrouping themselves with transfer tickets from green to red and from red to green, vis-a-vis.

On many platforms I have been participating, people will proudly say we have had a change of peaceful governance since the end of the war. That is true, but they have not told you this: we have only had a rotational change of the same people we thought had failed us in the last governance and not a change of governance system. If this rotational spree of those who were green that change to red or red changing to green is what we call a change of peaceful governance, I beg you to hire a psychosocial service. Maybe, you will join me in understanding the dynamics of those things that are hidden from many of us who have become mouthpieces for failed regimes. It is such a rotational spree we have had since, and we are yet to understand this dynamic played on our intelligence as responsible citizens of this crippling nation. If you have ever asked yourself why our governance system is not working or why it is that those of us who are poor continue to become poorer, this piece already answers your question simpliciter. Whether it is APC or SLPP in power, the fact remains that we continue to hear almost the same names of people rotating.

THE PEOPLE: SIERRA LEONEANS, till this day I am writing this piece, have always felt convinced they are the most civilized nation, if not across the world, but in Africa as a whole. This forged thinking of being too civilized people is what has today become our own detriment as we continue to perish. Seeing the trend in which we as people have made out politicians’ kingpins in our societies, one would wonder whether we are a cursed nation or the lost tribes of Israel. If not for any reason, the people are to be fully blamed for the continued suffering this small land is faced with. This very civilized nation is where the ordinary suffering citizen is ready to kill his brother for the politician who made him jobless.

This very civilized nation is where government responsibilities become opportunities. This very civilization nation is where the suffering citizen is celebrating a corrupt government at the expense of his own suffering. If there could be any reason for what led us to be the poorest of the world amidst the plethora of riches, the people of this crying nation must be blamed. I have not seen people’s power being used as an active force to correct our wrongs as a nation. I have seen since childhood how the people have been aiding and abetting those things that have left us in abject poverty. Prioritizing self over the country, today, what was supposed to be euphoria in our body politics and leadership has now turned to be dysphoria of leadership.


Youth Development
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SLL Audio News

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

I am not sure whether or not you have been in the same kinds of meetings as me. Meetings within the international development world with major multi-lateral funders, government funders or small community-based funders where the conversation goes a little something like this:

“We know our common mission is to eliminate poverty, hunger and exploitation. We see that issues like education (a youth-centred piece) and the explosive power of the youth Bulge in the Middle East and Africa are major issues. So with that in mind, we have a cute little programme that sounded great at the last major philanthropic conference to throw at it!”

This conversation always turns me upside down on two levels: First, I get so excited that the most prominent funders in the world, government or in a community are actually touching the powerful reality that the greatest engine for true change in either international or local communities is our youth. Real and lasting change occurs through the development of lasting changes in human behaviour. The classic story told in one of my summits of a Sierra Leonean politician giving a youth a dollar to feed his family, only to see him spend it on a Mercury lottery ticket on the way home illustrates this well. The youth do not just need money or jobs. The youth need Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. They yearn for a friend or community around them to help them take steps out of one level of seeing these needs met and into another. And then to just keep on going and growing.

Young people’s behaviours are less established and their nature is to grow and learn. Any of us who have helped a 14 years old addict and a 40 years old addict simultaneously know this truth better than anyone. Developing behaviour change in young people is a million times faster than it is in older adults. Youth also tend to establish norms (youth culture) around the “cool” things they are embracing that can/almost always generate grassroots movement-like dynamics. It is because of this that I get excited when a funder is taking notice of youth. If other people in social positions of trust in Sierra Leone are smart they would focus their efforts on the work that late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah did assuming that they are concerned about effective youth development, that is!

Second, my heart then plummets when I realise how little wisdom exists in the world of our people in social positions of trust in Sierra Leone about what really works in reaching and developing youth. So many simply want to hand money to youth which we all know works with no one, young or old. Others want to simply “empower” youth in a way that is about bringing them together to talk and opine. Talking without action like the majority of our current people in our social positions of trust often do is a drug of the age who have given up on true impact and would not admit their failure. Drawing fresh blood to be equally ineffective is stupidity on a level almost to be equated with evil. I believe the above-mentioned president, was deadly suited to find ways to join together to begin making the case that youth development can and will change Sierra Leone if we begin to work meaningfully together to do so. Are you ready for this?

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