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Remarks by H.E. the President
Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
on the occasion of the presentation
of the annual report of the Anti-Corruption Commission
Freetown, 26 July 2002


Thank you for giving effect to my initiative of having an institution to help fight corruption, and a means of establishing a level of probity among Sierra Leoneans, in both the public and private sectors. I must say it is not the easiest thing to be a pioneer -- a role that you have been playing in the fight against corruption. For this you deserve my personal thanks and the gratitude of the nation.

Sierra Leone is perceived as a corrupt country. Reference is often made to corruption in Sierra Leone as chronic corruption, and endemic corruption. Of course, corruption as a human and societal ill exists everywhere. However, the level of this phenomenon in Sierra Leone is unacceptable for several reasons:

(a) It helps to compound the disparity in the distribution of wealth and social opportunities among the people;

(b) It fuels discontent among the people. As we have learned, there is some correlation between corruption and security. We are told that one of the main causes of the war is the prevalence of corruption among public officers, and that this caused the estrangement of those who took up arms in this country.

(c) Corruption prevents the growth of the economy of the nation, and the efficient performance of the public service.

(d) Corruption is a moral issue and a social ill since it promotes the inequitable distribution of the nation's wealth among the population. Thus the need for intensive efforts to identify the areas of public life in which corruption is most prevalent, and to prepare effective strategies that will bring dishonest activities to the attention of the Courts, and also to disrupt and deter criminal behaviour among public officers. This is the mission of the ACC I envisaged when I initiated the enactment of the Anti-Corruption Act 2000.

(e) There is clear correlation between corruption and the flow of donor assistance and the provision of resources for development.

Emphasis should continue to be placed on the preventive role of the ACC. The Community Relations and Prevention Departments of the ACC should continue to intensify their sensitization activities on the ills and evils of corruption.

I am glad that the ACC has started taking action through the review and reorganization of the management systems of some Government Ministries and Departments, with a view to reducing chances of corruption, and of putting in place more efficient and better management systems. The lack of these systems tends to weaken public confidence in the Government. It is this public confidence that Government wishes to restore.

The ACC is encouraged to continue to forge an effective and efficient national strategy to fight corruption, and to adopt appropriate tactics to implement such strategy. With this the ACC will attract the cooperation of the people and other stakeholders whose cooperation is indispensable for the successful operation of the ACC.

The ACC is assured of the Government's continued support and cooperation, while encouraging the ACC to continue to jealously guard its independence and freedom of action. In my inaugural address to Parliament this month, I articulated this view of the ACC and expressed the hope that it will succeed in its mission.

On the question of the independence of the ACC and the absence of Government interference in the day-to-day operation of the ACC, there is clear evidence of this in the Report itself. Because of Government's adherence to the principle of non-interference in the operations of the ACC, it has not been aware of the constraints expressed by the ACC in the effective discharge of its functions, constraints such as the need for additional funding, and the provision of additional staff. These matters are being brought to the notice of the Government for the first time on the occasion of the presentation of this Report. Since this Government established the ACC as an organ to assist in the attainment of good governance, it is determined that the ACC succeeds in its operation. Therefore, an earlier notification to Government of any constraints that hinder its work should have been brought to the attention of Government. This would have enabled Government to take remedial measures itself or through its development partners, especially DFID.

However, Government has relied wholly on the competence and managerial skills of those it had no hesitation in appointing to head this important national institution. We did not wish to give credence to the wrong perception that Government has any hand in its day-to-day operations by even enquiring about any problems the ACC may be encountering.