Bernard A. Kargbo-Public Education Officer, ACC
Over the years, prevention has become key in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone, as mandated in Section 7 (1) (a) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019. As the old saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”.
Although the National Anti-Corruption Strategy sits within the Anti-Corruption Commission, it is not the ACC’s Strategic Plan, but rather a national plan involving each and every Sierra Leonean from every facet of society.
Furthermore, this Strategy seeks not to indict people but to support them to adopt its enforcement and implementation.
The UNCAC spawned this proposal of a national anti-corruption strategy in 2003, which was confirmed by the Sierra Leone Parliament in 2004. It requires Governments to develop a national anti-corruption policy, with MDAs bearing the responsibility for compliance through formed Integrity Management Committees (IMCs).
This technique can be used to construct a set of shared responsibilities across sectors, foster collaboration within and between sectors, and re-ignite interest in the goal of decreasing corruption and building a more ethical society.
The strategy aims to intervene in the public, religious, and private sectors at the legal, policy, technological, and institutional levels and the ACC’s institutional policies is helping MDAs to look within themselves as guide.
At the policy level, the goal is to create a system that promotes better alignment of private and public interests, while at the institutional level, the strategy aims to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and synergy of institutions, laws, and measures aimed at preventing and combating corruption.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to combating corruption. Enforcement, prevention, and education are the three pillars of NACS implementation method to curtail corruption, because any successful campaign against corruption must begin with practical enforcement operations against important targets; Heads of MDAs, Internal Auditors, Accountants etc. Enforcement is at the heart of this Strategy.
The purpose of enforcement is to show the public the Government's commitment to fighting corruption at all costs, as well as the effectiveness of anti-corruption institutions such as the ACC, Audit Service, Judiciary, Police, and Financial Intelligence Unit.
Successful enforcement aids in the identification of areas for review and can remove any human impediment to the dialogue.
The success tales serve as a foundation for public education and serve to dissuade other dishonest authorities. Furthermore, prevention and education are critical, with an initial focus on (1) strengthening the capacities of dedicated anti-corruption and public accountability bodies; (2) mainstreaming anti-corruption and governance principles into the work of MDAs and the private sector; and (3) strengthening accountability, integrity, and transparency at the central and local government levels, as well as CSOs and the private sector.
The Strategy outlines clear objectives for changing the logic of corruption and anti-corruption in Sierra Leone, using a seven-pillar approach of enforcement, prevention, public engagement, sustainable partnership, and ethical re-orientation in the public, religious, civil society, and private sectors, all of which will be carried out by Integrity Management Committees (IMCs). Many MDAs had already established IMCs by the end of 2018, which is an important aspect of the Strategy's success.
The NACS belongs to everyone in Sierra Leone and advocates for a change in how we handle the country's business in order to reduce corruption and provide the foundations for good governance.
Corruption is a systemic issue and a malady that has infected every facet of political, social, and economic life, indicating a chronic failure of governance. Only by reducing corruption to the bare minimum will we be able to achieve long-term progress. Though there have been intermittent efforts to combat the threat, they had lacked the required level of 'Political Will,' and future efforts, like the present accountability campaign, must be enforcement-based and prioritize visible action.
This National Anti-Corruption Strategy focuses on long-term corruption control, with a broader vision and a targeted strategy to achieve that vision, which includes awareness, prevention, monitoring, and combating corruption in all forms, and is designed and implemented by a coalition of government, civil society, and the private sector actors.
NACS is a plan that serves as a working document for all MDAs. It clearly shows how monitoring is done; quarterly, but the Secretariat can also do monthly monitoring based on request from the MDAs for clarification. By continuously monitoring the process, MDAs will be obliged to accept the recommendations and work towards the success in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone.
Therefore, this document is a product of a massive consultation with the public, before it became a working document. It contents are not what the ACC dictates, but what the people of Sierra Leone want to see in the fight against corruption.
The Public Education and External Outreach Department is also doing a great job in popularizing this strategy. Because of this drive, MDAs now have working IMCs who help to maintain a corrupt free working environment. These are some of the interventions that the Anti-Corruption Commission is putting in place to soften the prevalence of corruption in Sierra Leone that the public do not normally realize but are a great tool in the crusade against this menace.
Public Relations Unit, ACC