By: Sylvanus Blake – Assistant PRO-ACC
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has, on Monday 30th May, 2022, embarked on a week-long intensive public education and awareness raising campaign in the Southern Province, on the grievance redress (GRM) component of the Social Safety Net (SSN) project, implemented by the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), funded by the Government of Sierra Leone, World Bank and UNICEF.
The Team from the ACC, led by the Director of Public Education and External Outreach Department, Patrick Sandi, on Monday 30th and Tuesday 31st May, 2022, engaged beneficiaries in Baoma, Baoma Chiefdom, Bo District, and Gandorhun, Fakunyia Chiefdom, in Moyamba District respectively.
Advancing the purpose of the meetings in the two Districts, Samuel Kamara and Jonathan Bassie, ACC District Monitors, Bo and Moyamba respectively, encouraged beneficiaries and community stakeholders to be attentive. They stated that ACC was committed to maintaining the integrity of the GRM scheme in the project in order to ensure that the hallmarks of transparency, accountability and probity are felt in the implementation of the SSN project.
Director Patrick Sandi, in his submission provided update on ACC activities in the past four years, and emphasized that, over 45 Billion Leones cash, has been recovered and paid back to the State, through the highly successful non-conviction based asset recovery strategy. He furthered that over 95% conviction rate has been secured for all cases charged to court, noting also, the landmark strides made in the prevention of corruption in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the massive public sensitization exercises. These interventions Mr. Sandi underscored have led to the rebranding and repositioning of the ACC resulting in Sierra Leone being recognized today as a beacon and model in the fight against corruption in Africa and across the World.
Mr. Sandi also stated that the fight against corruption is for and in the interest of the people of Sierra Leone, stressing that ACC will relentlessly go after the corrupt irrespective of who is involved and where the corrupt practice took place and the amount involved. He told the beneficiaries that the unconditional cash transfer is for them and no one should extort money from them or intimidate them of having played a part in they becoming beneficiaries, and as a result should give them money in compensation or in return. He emboldened the beneficiaries and other stakeholders present to Resist, Reject and Report (RRR) all forms of corrupt activities and allegations to the ACC without fear and favor admonishing them however, not to make frivolous, vexatious or malicious reports as they are also punishable by law.
Sylvanus Blake, Assistant Public Relations Officer ACC, sensitized participants on the importance of the COVID-19 SSN project and the impacts it have created on the lives, livelihoods, welfare and well-being of the people. Mr. Blake stated that though corruption had affected almost every development project aimed at alleviating the sufferings of the people, the GRM model is one which has forged concrete partnerships between the ACC and the project implementers on the one hand and the ACC and the beneficiaries on the other, right through the planning, and implementation stages. This level of partnership, he emphasized has contributed significantly in the decline in the incidences of alleged corrupt practices in the project implementation phase and has accounted for the marked success of the SSN project.
Mr. Blake furthered that, the ACC which spearheads the GRM component will reassure beneficiaries and the general public that all concerns/complaints from beneficiaries channeled through the GRM platform will be addressed promptly. He admonished his listeners to stay clear of corruption at all times, report all allegations of corruption to the ACC, ending on the note that, unrighteousness and corruption has no profit and the risks and consequences associated with them are very high.
The Chiefdom Speaker of Fakunyia Chiefdom, Chief Kanga A. Lappia, in his welcome statement in Gandorhun Community center stated that the ACC is a friend of the chiefdom and as such, are always welcome in their community. “What the ACC is doing for us, ensuring that our rights and benefits are not squandered by rogues and wicked people is phenomenal. We have never seen it like this before. This SSN project is a huge monumental success. Our people get their monies without any hustle, hiccup or harassment”, Chief Lappia stated.
These meetings are essential, as they provide the platform for SSN beneficiaries, community members and stakeholders, to explain to ACC staff and other stakeholders their experiences, grievances and concerns about the SSN project implementation, thereby, the ACC, NaCSA, the World Bank, UNICEF and Rokel Commercial Bank will plan and strategize on future remedial interventions.
The ACC is principally responsible for the GRM component of the SSN project, funded by the Government of Sierra Leone, World Bank, and UNICEF. The GRM seeks to make available to the beneficiaries and the public a convenient, confidential and effective means to communicate grievances and concerns encountered in the implementation of the SSN unconditional cash transfer project otherwise known as “Hep Fet Po”.
An interactive questions and answers session, which clarified several concerns of the beneficiaries, climaxed the meetings.