SIERRA LEONE: PARLIAMENT IS TOYING WITH CORRUPTION SAID HON. BUNDUBy Mahmud Tim Kargbo
Centre, for Research Documentation Policy Studies and Development of Law
4 Lamina Sankoh Street
28th January 2017
How would it look like when the majority leader of our Parliament Hon. Ibrahim Bundu openly said Parliament is toying with corruption? What happen when our country Parliament failed to implement the laws it drafted to ensure good governance? What happen when Parliamentarians are collecting salaries as representatives of the people, but in reality they aren’t? Well, some would say it’s justifiable to say Parliament is in disproof of fallacy in combating corruption especially when it failed in effecting the recommendations of the Auditor General Report in chasing the unexplained wealth amassed by those in our social positions of trust under this current APC led government.
From a business angle, business people normally use a device named FMEA, or Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, to appraise and lessen the impact of risk. An easy translation of FMEA demand that we shine ideas in all of the future downfall manners, comprising the predilections and seriousness of each mode, with a sense to counteract prevailing failed measures to ensure success. This is no different in holding our Parliament responsible for the high level of corruption under this current government which is responsible for the current deplorable standard of living of the majority of our people. The aim is to avert or mitigate potential failures on the part of our Parliament towards the electorates. In my issue with our Parliament, so many things are going wrong there. The insight in effecting an FMEA by our Parliamentarians before the schedule time for those in social positions of trust to face the House for approval after nominated by the President is that it helps us avoid the “oops” syndrome later on. The House will predict possible rogues and plan ahead for the nominees. The House will deal with the “yeah, buts” before we even tolerate them in our social positions of trust. This gives the House more confidence in upholding the rules of the land and help it prepare to form the access of resistance against all odds thereby ensuring that people of integrity occupy our social positions of trust.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for our Parliament in Sierra Leone today which continuously fail to understand that they have a key role in addressing the concerns of the people and the State. But how would they, when you have a Parliament whose Speaker expects his Members of Parliament to squall a Presidential nominee (Mr. Johansen) at his office because he’s said to be a philanthropist. Or where the Majority leader of Parliament swept under the carpet the issue of financially inflated international trips by government officials, and was later seen dancing in the streets of New York with other government officials wasting taxpayers money with “Send Am go Dong” (throw it down) music. The Sierra Leone Parliament, as the central bureau that controls other democratic offices, they are suppose to be seen personifying in concrete form the determination of the people to the government, and portage all their hopes that democracy will be honestly answering to their wants and help tackle the most urgent concerns that confront them in their daily lives. As an elected body that represents society in all its variety, the Sierra Leone Parliament should have been seen to honour it obligation for conciliating the disagreeing concerns and expectations of different groups and communities through the democratic means of dialogue and compromise. As the key legislative organ, the Sierra Leone Parliament have the task of adapting society’s laws to its rapidly changing needs and circumstances. As the body charged with the oversight of government, they are responsible for ensuring that the current government are fully accountable to the people of Sierra Leone.
From various indications, democracy is said to be both a standard of perfection and a set of institutions and practices. As a standard of perfection, it manifest two very simple and straight forward doctrine: that participants of any set of organisation within the democratic arms should have the resolved impact and command over its rules and regulations, via their involvement in discussions about the common interest; second, that in doing so they should treat each other, and be treated, as equals. These principles are applicable from the smallest group up to the largest state with an intention to address the social service deliveries of the ordinary people who are in majority and are often weak; how efficiently this can be realise in practice in a country like ours, is the touchstone of how democratic our Parliament can claim to be. In modern days democracy, these democratic standards are only realised through a compound set of institutions and practices, which have matured over time and continue to do so in democratic dispensations that really represents the interests of their people. These involve: a security frame work of national rights; organisation’s of delegate and accountable government; an active citizen body or civil society; and a number of mediating institutions between government and citizens, between which political parties and the media are the most important. Although the Sierra Leone Parliament belong most obviously to the second, governmental, set of institutions, it also have a key role to play in relation to the others. This is what makes a Parliament the central institution of a democracy.
A second, but key measure of democracy consists in the organisation’s of delegate and answerable government, which together determine the laws and policies for society and secure respect for the rule of law. Within the traditional split of authorities between the executive, legislature and judiciary, the Sierra Leone Parliament as the freely elected body holds a central place in any democratic institution in Sierra Leone. It is the institution through which the will of the people is expressed, and through which popular self government is realised in practice. As representatives of the people, the Sierra Leone Parliament is suppose to represent us in dealings with the other branches of government, and with various international and sub-national bodies. How well a Parliament that’s always there to approve all Presidential nominees without doing any background research on them to fulfil this mediating role in ensuring that people of integrity occupy our social positions of trust, and how representative of the people they are in all their diversity with their deliberate act of avoiding to press for the full implementation of the Auditor General Report, the embezzled Ebola fund, or in questioning the legality of the Anti Corruption Commission in exonerating the Minister of Transport and Aviation from Procurement Rules Violation, but fired the former Mayor of Freetown for violating similar rules is a NO GO AREA of consideration for our current democratic Parliament. Another is how effectively they carry out their distinctive functions within the separation of powers taking in to cognisance the current deplorable economic conditions even when we are mining all our minerals, collecting taxes,selling land to nationals and foreign investors, cash from marine sector, exporting timber and other sources of government revenue.
In terms of the below mentioned functions, the current Sierra Leone Parliament effective contribution to democracy lies in carrying out these functions effectively, and they would have succeeded not only in the sense of the efficient organisation of running the State like a business, but of doing so in a way that serves the needs of all sections of society. And taking the functions below in to full consideration, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu is perfectly right that our current set of Parliamentarians aren’t trying corruption seriously:
* law making
* approval of taxation and expenditure, generally in the context of the national budget
* oversight of executive actions, policy and personnel and indicting defaulters of the law.
* ratification of treaties and monitoring of treaty bodies
* debating issues of national and international moment
* hearing and redressing grievances
* approving constitutional change