Sierra Leone's President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. (Photo: Rabih Moghrabi / AFP-Getty Images)
Grand Strategy for a Corrupt Sierra Leone
Kenday S. Kamara
July 11, 2007
Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad are at odds in a taxing debate about the breadth and depth of their country's leaders' strategies against corruption. The 2006 press release by Britain's international development secretary, Hilary Benn, is one of many press releases and statements from the international community ever since "the I.M.F.'s [International Monetary Fund's] series of 'quantitative performance criteria and benchmarks for the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (P.R.G.F.) [were set in place] for the continued maintenance of macroeconomic stability in Sierra Leone." The international community has periodically analyzed the Sierra Leone government's efforts to tackle corruption and the low salary structure in the country. In July 2006, the press release "on taking a stand against corruption" put forward a characteristic outline of the approach. The development secretary "called for the government and people of Sierra Leone to take greater action against corruption as he backed a governance and accountability pact during a visit to the country. The pact, supported by international partners and the government of Sierra Leone, will monitor progress on 10 critical reforms to address problems including money laundering, bribery, public theft, and election abuse which perpetuate poverty in the country" (www.wider.unu.edu).
Even though the development secretary was thoughtful of the threats to political survival reducing corruption may cause for even the most committed leaders, his foremost concern was "the urgency of improving governance and accountability, and also of citizens taking a stand against corruption," not the political survivability of high-level government actors. He lamented the fact that "corruption is both a symptom and a cause of poor governance." He maintained that the ultimate "success of an institution like the A.C.C. [Anti-Corruption Commission] will depend on the broader support it receives from the government and the real political will to root out corruption. Only the people and government of Sierra Leone can provide this" (news.bbc.co.uk), he further contended.
Both petty corruption and grand corruption have become systemic in Sierra Leone. When corruption is systemic, "any anticorruption reform becomes risky for decision makers because it creates the possibility that it will undermine their political position. Even a highly committed leader may face opposition from entrenched interests in government. In the worst cases, anticorruption reforms undermine the personal security of leaders, if they provoke a violent reaction from beneficiaries of corruption." Such manifestations in the Sierra Leonean society whose government actors' political commitment to fight corruption has been questionable is as daunting as it is treasonable. Hilary Benn's call on Sierra Leoneans for a broad national consensus against corruption would therefore prove effective when "the public, often bearing the brunt of corruption, must expose wrong doing and leaders must listen. And wrongdoers must be brought to the courts, supported by a strong police force and legal system" (www.wider.unu.edu) and prosecuted for treason.
This action call against corruption is more relevant today than ever. Many surveys have confirmed that the "country's public sector is riddled with corruption. Two-thirds of users of public services, from telephones to banks to schools or hospitals, reported having to pay bribes to use the service. Forty-two percent of public officials have admitted to mismanaging their institutions, including misappropriating budgets, usually by drawing on international aid earmarked for [national reconstruction]" (www.odiousdebts.org). A perilous mismatch has opened up between the Sierra Leone government's national responsibility and its political inclination to fight corruption. As made clear by the A.C.C.'s inability to aggressively pursue culpable government actors and the office of the president and vice president's covert actions to protect party heavyweights from prosecution for crimes of corruption, the country's national program against corruption has no teeth. Without redress, the political pillars of a strong national consensus against corruption will continue to crumble, making the country chronically vulnerable to the perils of a conflicting and incomprehensible program against corruption.
Solomon Berewa, Ernest Koroma, and Charles Margai—any one of these presidential candidates who understands the resolve and dignity of working out the right balance between Sierra Leone's anticorruption purposes and its political instruments, is in a position to win twofold. The visionary candidate would likely draw solid national support; as in the 2004 municipal elections with A.P.C.'s (All Peoples Congress') Winstanley Johnson declared mayor of Freetown after running a campaign against "the poor state of the council's finances with staff remaining unpaid for months on end" (www.sierraleonedebate.com); in the 2007 elections, anticorruption ideas, unemployment, electricity, roads, health, water, food, and shelter are set to be decisive issues. The elected candidate would also drum up international support by considering a compelling strategy that is politically viable, thereby pacifying a nation that looks forward to its politicians to provide strong leadership.
Putting together a compelling strategy will require "the commitment of political leaders to reform—that is, their willingness to implement and sustain reforms" (www1.worldbank.org). Simultaneously, it will be critical to toughen the nation's anticorruption policy by garnering public support for a new direction of national action. Forcefulness is the conduit to addressing corruption. It is far better for the political leaders to seriously consider a clearer grand strategy that enjoys national consensus rather than being nervous that anticorruption reforms undermine their personal security as that would be as catastrophic as it would be unpatriotic.
For Sierra Leoneans who lived through the idyllically stable era of Prime Minister Milton Margai, "who was neither corrupt nor did he make a lavish display of his power or status" (www.sierra-leone.org), the current conditions of corruption at the highest level is a damning aberration. Without a doubt, President Tejan Kabbah has been a grossly negligent president, for the most part due to his failure to "distance himself from corrupt officials or put them on trial" and him not serious about implementing measures necessary "in ridding the country of the corruption scourge" (www.odiousdebts.org).
Following the sudden death in office of the conservative but tolerant Milton Margai in 1964, came the "glamour and increased pomp and pageantry of the office of the prime minister" under Albert Margai, who led a government that was "racked by accusations of corruption in high places and of disregard for the interests of significant sectors of the population" (www.sierra-leone.org). In 1967, noncommissioned members of the military were worried that the new independent nation was in the throes of a civil war following the Brigadier Lansana and the Colonel Juxon-Smith coups. The Lansana coup was seen as a calculated attempt by a Mende-dominated military to sustain the nepotistic and ethnically based era of the flamboyant Albert Margai who was reluctant to concede defeat to Siaka Stevens whose A.P.C. party clearly won the 1967 elections. The counter coup by Col. Andrew Terrence Juxon-Smith two weeks after the Lansana coup also did not last long. The noncommissioned members thus favored staging another coup against the colonels who then coordinated the return of the exiled Siaka Stevens to power in 1968.
Siaka Stevens turned out to be an extraordinarily controversial leader. With some analysts remembering him as "the Huey Long of African politics: an avuncular figure, whose folksy pork-barrel deals kept everyone happy, [Stevens] was the architect of the plunge into lawlessness, kleptomania, and social immorality that have undermined the Sierra Leonean political system" (www.worldviewmagazine.com). Stevens had a "tough-guy" approach to politics. He pursued his enemies and conquered them. He squared scores with the "paramount chiefs he felt had been involved in Brigadier Lansana's short-lived coup." On economic matters, Stevens' leadership made easy a methodical "decline in per capita G.D.P. growth from 2.5 percent in 1960-70 to -0.5 percent." The people also accepted kleptocracy as a way of self-enrichment. "State-sponsored corruption manifested by public theft; illicit payments and bribes, and manipulation of access to diamond and other natural resources defined an era" (www.gdnet.org) that compromised the development and growth of the nation.
This national acceptance of widespread corruption saw the popularization of "the self-seeking ethos 'oosie dem tie cow nar dae ee go eat,' meaning a cow grazes wherever it is tethered. [This shift in the attitudinal composure of the people] retreated into a culture of fear, silence, and complicity, culminating in one party rule from 1978." Corruption became a life of choice for Sierra Leoneans. The Stevens-led A.P.C. was able to make Sierra Leoneans believe the party ideology of kleptocracy due to the party's monopoly on power, but the party's slogan of "A.P.C. Lives Forever" soon proved politically unsustainable. Starting with the extremely complacent President Joseph Saidu Momoh, Stevens' handpicked successor's declaration of failing the nation and his abandonment of state security, "with little resistance, disillusioned war front soldiers storming Freetown ostensibly to protest their neglect ended up overthrowing the A.P.C. government" (www.gdnet.org). It was clear that Momoh's self-destructive ethos and survival strategy justified the military's motivation to usurp the high-level responsibility of ruling the nation.
After the A.P.C.'s demise and the end of the N.P.R.C.'s (National Provisional Ruling Council's) yippee-ka-yay four-year orgasm with state power in 1996, the Kabbah-led S.L.P.P. (Sierra Leone Peoples Party) approach to politics wobbled clumsily between barren alternatives. President Kabbah's shoddy adventure with state power quickly chipped away the country's expectations for development. The S.L.P.P.-led administration was bedeviled with self-destructive machinations, which largely account for "the coup of 1997, the rebel re-invasion of Freetown in January 1999, and the government's generally weak war machine" (www.gdnet.org).
On security, the international community had embraced a path to an end in violence, preferring a stay of execution of the 24 members of the armed forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone who were "convicted before a court martial in Freetown for treason and failure to suppress a mutiny." But the S.L.P.P.-led administration, virtually blinded by implacable rancor, would have none of it. As the Human Rights Committee's special rapporteur for new communications reported, "They were deeply disturbed by the information that Abdul Karim Sesay [and 23 others] were executed by firing squad outside Freetown on Oct. 19, 1998" (www.law.wits.ac.za). Most Sierra Leoneans shunned the brutal and public execution of the 24 soldiers, including a female nurse in the military, Maj. Kula Samba, by "Nigerian soldiers of fortune" in 1998, instead favoring the illusive safety of national reconciliation advocated by the Human Rights Committee.
President Kabbah again tried "devious diplomacy," pretending to reconcile with his enemies through what he called a "government of national unity" by working with the rebel chief Foday Sankoh as second vice president of the republic and the A.F.R.C. (Armed Forces Revolutionary Council) boss Johnny Paul Koroma as an honorable member of parliament. But his strategy, though clever, still elicited the indignation of the state's party members who viewed his strategy as little more than capitulation to the interests of the R.U.F. (Revolutionary United Front) and A.F.R.C. ring leaders who had caused much collective suffering for the people of Sierra Leone. Apparently, President Kabbah had steered Sierra Leone toward a new kind of "reconciliation."
However, with the official end of the war in 2002 as a backdrop, Kabbah had flipped flopped to reach an agreement with the United Nations to establish the Special Court of Sierra Leone. The new direction mandated a commitment to both truth and reconciliation: "power to prosecute persons who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violation of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law—committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since Nov. 30, 1996, including those leaders who, in committing such crimes, have threatened the establishment of and implementation of the peace process in Sierra Leone." This move, although disapproved of by the predominantly Southern members within his party because he had disowned their southern deputy minister of defense Samuel Hinga Norman whom Kabbah believed "exceeded his mandate in the struggle to restore his government" and was one of those who together with Foday Sankoh, Sam Bokarie, and Johnny Paul Koroma, bore the greatest responsibility for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, brought some closure to most Sierra Leoneans.
Remarkably, one of Kabbah's greatest feats was satisfying his indignant state party and many Sierra Leoneans to use the pretext of the Libyan-trained rebel leader's inability to control his rag tag army of rebel forces to arrest the rebel chief. "After 22 months in custody, facing charges at the international tribunal set up to try war crimes in Sierra Leone, [the demented Foday Sankoh] ended up as a shadow of his former self." The rebel leader "died [in July 2003] in a Freetown hospital while in the custody of the special U.N. war crimes court for Sierra Leone" (news.bbc.co.uk). Again, like the demented rebel chief who died while in the custody of the Special Court, the dishonored defense deputy minister, Samuel Hinga Norman, who stood as the first accused in the Civil Defense Forces (C.D.F.) case, died in February 2007 in a hospital in Dakar, Senegal.
On economics, Kabbah has the challenge of rekindling growth and reducing poverty. He has the support of the international community, which became committed to helping to address the problem of corruption in Sierra Leone. The commitment of the international community led by Britain, the former colonial master, instilled expectation, encouraging all Sierra Leoneans to unite around a common enemy—corruption. Moreover, the strategic adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on Oct. 31, 2003, demonstrated a sense of strong international consensus behind the struggle against corruption. Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, upon adoption of the U.N. convention, recognized the compelling truth that "corruption hurts the poor disproportionately—by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a government's ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice, and discouraging foreign investment and aid" (www.canadafreepress.com).
Re-establishing government authority and rebuilding key institutions like the army, the police, education, health, and the minerals sectors was the outcome not just of strategic need but also of the shifts in the nation's expectations for the best to come out of the Kabbah presidency. But Kabbah's declaration of corruption as "a national security issue"—a declaration that was intended to underscore the gravity of the problem of corruption—was not good enough. Even his signing of the Anti-Corruption Act in February 2000, which established the Anti-Corruption Commission was not good enough either. President Kabbah knew that corruption was common in every sector of the economy—the allocation of scarce or donated resources to the wrong activities and persons, corruption in taxation, and bribing customs officials. Kabbah also acknowledged that it is the primary responsibility of government to create the conditions for ensuring the economic and social well being of its people. He even acknowledges that corruption is for African states as important a threat for survival as is terrorism for some of the largest world powers today. But he chose to be soft on corruption waiting for democracy to take its course. Kabbah believes that "in a democracy, authority rests on the pillar of popular support, good governance, and the rule of law" (www.statehouse-sl.org). He did not believe that authority is derived from force, where decisions can be imposed without the consent of the people, and he could, or should only do no more than follow the exact words of the constitution and carry out the laws of parliament. Kabbah was therefore a weak and negligent president who failed to do much to assert his leadership as a means to the end of winning the fight against corruption.
A Nation Neglected
It is common knowledge that the feebleness of the state in combating corruption did not start with Tejan Kabbah. Political discipline dropped sharply following the death of Prime Minister Milton Margai, reaching a post-independence low when Albert Margai stepped into his brother's shoes as prime minister. Repeated cases of corruption exposed in the government of Siaka Stevens that also followed only marked the scooping out of anticorruption legislations that did not have the force of law. The Kabbah administration then continued with the trends of the Stevens era, ensuring today's systemic corruption is every bit as wide as the corruption pervasiveness that haunted the flamboyant Margai and Stevens administrations. Parliamentarians are also aware of the gravity of the problem. On the most basic questions of Sierra Leone's grand strategy—severely punishing corruption—representatives of state power and parliamentary power could not balance the ends and the means.
When members of parliament met at the Kimbima Hotel in Aberdeen, Sept. 48, 2006, for a capacity building course on anticorruption, there were echoes of piling pressure on Kabbah's government to submit to parliament the African Union (A.U.) Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and Related Offences for ratification. Three years after the A.U. convention was formally adopted by African heads of state in Maputo, Mozambique, in July 2003, the Kabbah administration had still not submitted it to parliament for ratification. With parliamentarians in partnership with civil society organizations opting for the ratification of the A.U. convention and the Kabbah administration choosing to be negligent on such a critical issue as combating corruption and ensuring that curative and penal actions are taken in established cases, the national consensus between power and parliamentary collaboration—the formula that created the Anti-Corruption Commission—has come undone.
Indisputably, the Sierra Leone parliament is still home to a few dedicated anticorruption crusaders, such as Bernadette Lahai (S.L.P.P. member of parliament for Kenema district) and Dauda Sulaiman Kamara (A.P.C. member of parliament for Kambia district). But they are isolated by the leaders with power. And some parliamentarians, especially those who wish to hold on to their seats in parliament, are keen to make evident their resolve on matters of combating corruption. But the parliamentary crusaders are being ignored by the increasingly powerful state machine. The philosophical overlap between state power and parliament is thus inconsequential, and the areas of shared aims are external at best. Most state leaders and parliamentarians still believe that they have national responsibilities, but there is little solidarity on how to balance means and ends. And on the pivotal issue of state power versus parliamentary power, the two power brokers are moving in opposite directions—with the escalating schism evident among the public and the politically privileged.
In the British Department for International Development (DfID) sponsored February 2005 Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (C.P.A.) Workshop to Strengthen Legislatures in Commonwealth Africa held in Freetown, all parliamentarians who attended the workshop maintained, among other key points, that "members should continually examine existing anticorruption legislation to determine if it is still relevant" (www.cpahq.org). A similar thought was echoed by the world organization of national parliaments, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (I.P.U.) maintaining that with national "parliaments empowered to establish the legal framework for the organization and management of public affairs and society, they should promote the inclusion in their national constitutions of the major principles of the probity of political figures, institutions and public servants and transparency in public administration" (www.ipu.org). This made clear that the interest in combating corruption is not just a national concern but has become a Commonwealth concern.
Nonetheless, a recent assessment recorded by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (T.R.C.) lamented that "Sierra Leone remains in the grip of pervasive corruption, which, if not arrested, will sap the country of its life force and lay the ground for further conflict." As for action the government is taking to combat corruption, other experts have grieved over the reality that "Sierra Leone is making little progress in tackling corruption and is squandering foreign aid, leaving its most vulnerable citizens as destitute as they were before its civil war ended five years ago." Similarly, former West Africa director for the International Crisis Group think-tank Mike McGovern commented that "things are as bad, if not worse, than they were when the war started in 1991. And Tony Blair's government bears a lot of responsibility for facilitating this state of affairs, precisely because they did not hold the government to account" (www.alertnet.org).
Fueled by these bleak assessments, a major development crisis has engulfed Sierra Leone. According to one widely used index (Index of Economic Freedom), "Sierra Leone ranks 126th out of 158 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2005" (www.transparency.org). The country today is more economically destitute and pitiful than at any time in the last 45 years. After Kabbah won the controversial 1996 elections and gained a majority in Parliament at the same time, many Sierra Leoneans anticipated that as having lived abroad for many years working for the United Nations he was going to use his international experience to foster development. Instead, cold-blooded corruption under his watch further ruined the nation. Kabbah, despite his initial pledge on his assumption of office to reverse the downward trend of a failing state, failed to assertively act as much as necessary to restore hope in a population that had been so demoralized and rendered desperate in decades of methodical plunder by government actors.
The sources of Kabbah's cold-blooded negligence might equally so be because of Sierra Leoneans self-destructive behavior patterns which he said made it hard for him to govern. Nonetheless, as he leaves the office of the president for good, Kabbah claimed to be content that he has played his part "in the progress and development of his country and has made a difference in his own humble way" (www.thepatrioticvanguard.com). There are speculations that Kabbah will retire to his new home in Conakry, Guinea, where he has built for himself a luxurious mansion, leaving Sierra Leone's economy more vulnerable than ever before. The problems created by Kabbah's negligence have proved too costly for Sierra Leoneans. Meanwhile, Sierra Leone's still unregulated corruption is causing more suffering and continues to decimate the population of the country as "several staggering indicators" are showing that Sierra Leone has "one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world, two of the worst symptoms of the country's ailing health system" (www.mg.co.za). Likewise, at a recent launching ceremony of his organization at the Miatta Conference Hall, Youyi Building, the country director of ActionAid Sierra Leone, Tennyson Williams, has gone on record to confirm that "hunger is killing 16,000 children daily" (allafrica.com), again a testament of the country's pitiful state.
Visibly, the political conditions that once encouraged nationalism have weakened over 40 years of gross mismanagement of state power. The power brokers—state power and parliamentary power—do not seem to agree about what the nature of the country's anticorruption strategies should be as well as about issues such as roads construction, housing, and electricity. Reformers are in ever-shorter supply. Weak parliamentary oversight powers, a negligent executive power, and the set mentality of a corrupt population have all contributed to sustaining the status quo. A generational presence is taking its toll, too. Almost 75 percent of cabinet ministers in the Kabbah administration are recycled ministers who served in the Stevens and Momoh administrations. The "old generation" is slow to retire from political life, maintaining the status quo of a corrupt-minded service.
Restoring Common Sense Leadership
In the years immediately after the death of the great statesman Milton Margai, strong unpatriotic actions by the ambitious Albert Margai and the cunning Siaka Stevens produced erratic and perilous shifts in Sierra Leone's development obligations and ultimately led to ruining a nation of vast natural abundance. A similar dynamic has unfolded during the presidency of Kabbah. The negligent conduct of the Kabbah administration has proven politically and economically damaging. Eyeing the 2007 elections, the A.P.C. and P.M.D.C. (Peoples Movement for Democratic Change) are readying ambitious plans to breathe new life into state institutions. But they, too, will find their preferred grand strategy politically and economically unsustainable. The S.L.P.P., now led by Kabbah's surrogate, the determined Solomon Berewa, has little patience for free and fair elections—and will do whatever it takes to retain state power in S.L.P.P. hands. Especially taking clues from the April 2007 elections confirmed by Nigeria's leading election monitoring outfit, Transition Monitoring Group, and the United States-based monitoring group, the International Republican Institute (I.R.I.) as apparently flawed elections in Nigeria that benefited Umaru Yar'Adua (Obasanjo's surrogate), with an S.L.P.P. landslide victory in Sierra Leone, it could be argued that sustained corruption and negligence of state power could once again obstruct the dawn of a new nation, perhaps even provoking another civil conflict.
The Sierra Leonean electorate already seems to be heading in that direction. According to a recent independent research poll, 87 percent of Sierra Leoneans interviewed thought that Sierra Leone needs a new direction. If the incumbent party continues to pursue a grand strategy that goes beyond its political means, rebellious sentiment among Sierra Leoneans is sure to spew out again. Sierra Leoneans need to pursue a new grand strategy that is politically sensible. In today's politics of mediocrity, with state power being so appallingly misdirected and parliamentarians too weak to compel ethical and administrative codes of conduct, restoring common sense means bringing Sierra Leone anticorruption strategies back in line with political means. Finding a new national balance that guarantees responsible state and parliamentary leadership against Sierra Leone's systemic corruption requires an effort that is as compelling and direct as it is persistent.
First, a common sense strategy would entail the office of the president sharing more burdens with the house of parliamentarians. Developed countries have regularly closed the gap between state power and its obligations by devolving strategic responsibilities to congressional or parliamentary actors. The United States Congress and the British Parliament, for instance, do have certain mechanisms in place for balancing power. They uphold a principle of government under which "the separate branches are empowered to prevent actions by other branches and are induced to share power" (www.britannica.com). But the parliament in Sierra Leone finds it hard to engage with strategic priority-setting exercises, and the parliament is often too weak and lacks a formidable establishment to play a role in legislating applicable anticorruption policies. Parliament has always been the subservient arm of the executive. This has to change. Parliament has to be a versatile policy forum for debate and a framework that brings all parliamentarians and its partners into dialogue on the challenges of corruption. It has to be an important check on executive power. It should use its power and good offices to demand greater transparency in state power and the conduct of cabinet ministers of the various departments.
Parliament ought to build on pragmatic partnerships with civil society groups such as professional associations; the Chamber of Commerce and its member business entities; local nongovernmental organizations including national religious organizations; international agencies such as Transparency International, the USAID, the DfiD, the O.E.C.D. (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), and the Global Integrity Project; labor unions; housing associations; and the media, to coordinate an earnest fight against corruption. Parliament should be better prepared to engage in meaningful consultations with these local and international stakeholders as part of the legislative process to "ensure the existence of legislation with dissuasive sanctions which effectively and actively combat the offence of bribery of public officials" (www.adb.org).
Second, the Anti-Corruption Commission must rebuild its hard power capable of engaging crimes of corruption in A.C.C.'s terms. To do so, the commission must have the funds necessary to pursue crimes of corruption and the appointment of the commissioner and deputy commissioner of the commission should be run in an open fashion to the public. In September 2000, the Sierra Leonean veteran journalist Philip Neville suggested to Worldpress.org that "the only way that the A.C.C. can be viable, can be productive, is if it is staffed with independent people. We need expatriates leading that commission" (www.worldpress.org), he said. Parliament should consider this alternative of outsourcing the task of transforming the A.C.C. into a body with independence and international clout to foreign expatriates. Should the A.C.C. be run by foreign experts, its work will attract great international clout, and become monetarily appealing, full of autonomy, and well supervised. The experts will be in an unbiased position to maintain the best recruits and produce investigating officers dedicated to the tasks of ensuring that embezzlement and bribery offences are quickly investigated and prosecuted.
Third, another common sense strategy is taking effective measures to coordinate public awareness activities including national press club luncheons, student union debates, seminars, inter-departmental round-tables, face-to-face meetings with senior members of the state, civil servants and non-government aid groups to discuss corruption and to examine the relevance of existing anti-corruption legislation aimed at creating an anticorruption culture. Also, measures that provide for "a meaningful public right of access to information" on corruption matters should be put in place so that the general public, particularly the media, will have access to such information.
The final component of this grand strategy should be relevant use of traditional belief systems. The extent to which traditional belief systems in Africa help to stem corruption has never been entirely researched. However, the African management expert Mzamo Mangaliso's analysis of the centrality of the isangoma, or traditional healer in employee's well-being maintenance in South Africa disclosed salient facts. Some companies in South Africa are reported to have taken full advantage of the power of the isangoma as the following real-life case illustrates. "Faced with large-scale pilfering, one company tried everything—including peer monitors, fingerprinting, and police investigations—to stop it. After all efforts to stop the pilfering had failed, the C.E.O. finally called in an isangoma. The isangoma told the employees that the person who had stolen the goods would die from a spell cast on all employees if he/she did not confess within 24 hours. Within eight hours, an employee confessed. In this case, foreign-evolved management tactics, such as peer control, police investigations, and fingerprinting, did not work." Though management and the workers came from entirely different worldviews, the successful strategy engaged employees in their own worldview.
Far from being superstitious, if Sierra Leoneans believe in the existence of meso-cosmic spirits, it would be strategic to retain the services of traditional healers. By the A.C.C. retaining the services of traditional healers and all public servants including cabinet ministers told they would die from a spell if they steal public funds or accept bribes would result in easing corruption in public service that would be beneficial for the government and the people of Sierra Leone.
Taking the Bold Step
"Forty non-governmental and civil society organizations (N.G.O.'s/C.S.O.'s) from around the continent (including women's, grassroots, and labor organizations, churches, research institutions, and policy advocacy groups) [that met in Addis Ababa May 23-24, 2007, once claimed that] 'good governance is a process by which governments and people together identify shared values, needs and challenges, set priorities and develop programs to address those needs and challenges and jointly manage the implementation of those programs and the available resources, through a transparent and accountable process with shared responsibility for outcomes that are responsive, gender-sensitive and broad-based'" (www.un.org). They may have over worded their claim, but they articulated an enduring truth: good governance requires collaborative effort. Balancing the ends that justify the means would help rekindle the conviction of the Sierra Leonean public in promoting good governance. But implementing strict anticorruption policies will require hardening the A.C.C. and building an unwavering consensus behind it. The relative success demonstrated by "Botswana's Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (D.C.E.C.), [the equivalent of Sierra Leone's A.C.C.,] have attracted the attention of researchers and encouraged the view that, subject to certain conditions, the A.C.C. remains a viable vehicle for driving forward anti-corruption strategies in Africa" (www.u4.no).
The next president will have to take advantage of the distinct areas in which his executive branch and parliament can find solidarity and goodwill. The A.P.C., P.M.D.C., and S.L.P.P. members of parliament must work together on arming the A.C.C. for national development. Many parliamentarians, corporate executives, think-tank gurus, and academic social commentators, might support outsourcing A.C.C. functions to foreign expatriates if the president is willing to explain the need for foreign expatriates in the A.C.C. as necessary to maintain the unquestionable independence and fairness of the body. Having an understanding of the benefits of an independently and strictly administered A.C.C. would reconcile any differences that might play in the debate. So will more efforts to make the A.C.C. independent and more assertive—executive and parliamentary support for outsourcing A.C.C. functions, making the A.C.C. financially solvent, initiating public awareness campaigns, and making use of traditional belief systems. The next president should be qualified and tough to lead these efforts that constitute a grand strategy for a corrupt Sierra Leone that not only meets the country's anticorruption needs but also restores common sense leadership in Sierra Leone.
Kenday S. Kamara is a native of Sierra Leone, where he attended Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, 1982-1986. He is currently an educator in the Prince George's County education system in Maryland, an organizational development consultant for MedCall Staffing and Management Consultants, Inc., and a Ph.D. scholar-practitioner in applied management and decision sciences at Walden University specializing in leadership and organizational change.