The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has on Tuesday 14th February 2023 held an inception meeting for system and process review for the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) at the Association’s Headquarters at Campbell Street, Freetown.
President of the Association, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, thanked the ACC for answering their call to look into SLAJ’s administrative, management, and financial systems and processes since the association is now receiving annual subvention for the media from the Government of Sierra Leone, and funds from donors to implement projects.
“As the public elections of June 2023 fast approach, SLAJ is set to receive funding from international donors and the diplomatic community to implement a number of activities to promote professional and ethical reporting during the elections, as well as programs to strengthen democratic governance, accountability, and citizens’ participation. Therefore, it is necessary to have the right structures, systems and procedures in place to ensure effective implementation, transparency and accountability,” said Nasralla.
He stated that SLAJ as the umbrella body for the media in Sierra Leone should uphold high standards, and be an example in the area of transparency and accountability at all times. He expressed hope that the ACC will provide the necessary support in that regard.
Director of Prevention Department ACC, Rashid Turay, said the department has a mandate to review systems and structures of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) but commended SLAJ for taking the brave step to invite the ACC to help out even though SLAJ is not a government agency.
“We know you are not part of government, so we commend you for taking this bold step to open yourself up to scrutiny, review and guidance. This is very rare,” said Turay.
He explained that during the review process they will keep an eye open for issues of corruption and they will flag it up if they discover any; this, he said, will help in improving not only the systems and processes but also the integrity and profile of the Association.
Head of Monitoring and Compliance ACC, Ibrahim Sorie Kamara-Kay, reiterated the point that the review will ensure it looks at the Association’s systems including strengths and weaknesses.
However, if there are no system in place, he said the ACC will help formulate systems and policies working with the Executive of SLAJ.
“The scope will be for three years from 2020 to 2022. We shall examine your books and how you utilise money collected for or on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone. We want to see how best you have carried on with your mandate, how you have enforced your code, how you have promoted freedom of expression, how you collaborate with the Independent Media Commission, if you have procured based on the Procurement Act, etc., etc.,” said Kamara-Kay.
Furthermore, Kamara-Kay said that they will look at the Association’s assets and how permanent staff have had their NASSIT paid and weather SLAJ is capacitating journalists, among other things.
The review will also target SLAJ regional offices in the North (Makeni), South (Bo) and East (Kenema).
The SLAJ President assured the ACC team that the Executive will welcome their findings and recommendations on best practice going forward.
After the review exercise, SLAJ and the ACC are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance cooperation in the fight against graft in public office as well as in the media.
The team from ACC was headed by the Director of Prevention Rashid B Turay, and included the Deputy Director of Prevention Samuel M. Marrah; Head of Monitoring and Compliance Ibrahim Sorie Kamara-Kay; and Prevention Officers Leoni Vibbi and Cecilia Williams; whilst the SLAJ team included the President, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla; the Secretary General, Alhaji Manika Kamara; Financial Secretary, Mohamed Konneh; and Accountant Freetown Nominees Limited, Christiana Sandy.