In a bid to inform and educate communities on issues of corruption, the Public Education and Outreach unit of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Regional Office in Kono district, on 13th March 2020, conducted a sensitization meeting with the people of Kamayandor in Mafindor Chiefdom.
As explained by Public Education Officer, Edward Nathaniel Blake, the engagement was part of the Commission’s education strategy to sensitize the public on corruption-related issues with the object of gaining their full support in the campaign against the menace. Mr. Blake identified the meeting as friendly and as the Commission’s partnership efforts to work with local communities across Sierra Leone. Educating local communities on corruption, he said, would build strong collective resistance and rejection to corruption as a serious hurdle to national development.
The keynote of the meeting was delivered by Regional Manager, Hawanatu O. Kamara. She informed the stakeholders and other members of the community that corruption badly affects everyone, and everyone should therefore feel obliged and patriotic to join in the fight against it. Making reference to the gory eleven-year civil conflict in the country, Mrs Kamara said corruption was identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as one of the main triggers for that protracted conflict. This, she explained, indicates that unbridled corruption can touch off serious unrest in a country and by extension, cripple all development commitments and efforts.
Mrs. Kamara noted that corruption and corrupt practices are not peculiar to the mainstream of the public service and urban communities. ‘They are also found in rural communities and traditional authorities should exercise effective leadership to ensure that corruption is stemmed in their communities in everyone’s interest,’ she added.
She assured the people of Kamayandor community that the fight against corruption is winnable, if solid national efforts are sustainably exerted against the grim offence. She therefore made a clarion call to all and sundry to kick corruption out of their community and the country at large, pointing out that the Commission ‘punishes corruption with serious penalties, and it is a dangerous venture to undertake even for the most daring.’
Giving a snapshot of recent successes of the Commission, the ACC Regional Manager emphasized ‘our commitment as a nation to curb corruption in our governance system will help foster public service delivery right across communities, and instill confidence in foreign investors that Sierra Leone is conducive to establishing and running business.’
ACC Social Safety Net monitor in the district, Hinga George, also made significant contribution to educating the locals of Kamayandor community on corruption. Mr. George said that at the heart of fighting corruption are three Rs which mean: Resist, Reject, and Report any act of corruption. He said the inhabitants of Kamayandor could report corruption to the Commission using the toll-free 515 line on either Orange or Africel.
A further segment of the anti-corruption message to the community was made by Public Education Officer, Aiah P. M. Sourie who, for the most part, spoke in Kono for easier communication. He implored everyone in the meeting to consider the fight against corruption as a fight for nation and humanity. He said Kamayandor should take ownership and leadership in ensuring all projects, for example, implemented in the locality are kept clean of corruption. He also informed public service providers operating within the community to observe acceptable practices in discharging their duties.
While making the vote of thanks, Chiefdom speaker, Tamba Pimbi, described the engagement as ‘a huge opportunity’ to know about corruption and the Commission. He also described it as a call to take individual as well as communal responsibility to ward off corruption in Sierra Leone, starting with their own backyard of Kamayandor. He revealed that his community had suffered from either abandoned projects or badly completed ones, and sadly did not know the appropriate person or institution to file a report with. ‘We now know where and how to report corruption,’ he concluded.
Participants in the meeting asked questions or made comments on the work of the ACC and general corruption issues, bringing the event to a close.