Following the establishment of several social and security institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Office of National Security (ONS), National Revenue Authority (NRA), National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT), National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), Law Reform Commission, along with the launch of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) in 2005; Sierra Leone began witnessing a shimmering economic and social development: food security was launched, school feeding programme introduced, and several other programs initiated. The ACC was to ensure the realization of these programmes by the control and prevention of corruption in their implementation.
Interestingly though, what we now see and understand is the fact that the PRSP document has evolved over time; from PRSP I to PRSP II, and from the Agenda for Change to the Agenda for Prosperity (A4P), there seems to be an admirable consistency and continuity in three folds: in the establishment of economic and social institutions, in the conceptualization of development programmes, and in the implementation of the said activities. We now await the fourth part which is monitoring and evaluation. The job of the ACC is seen in the third and fourth parts. We will revert to this and create the link.
The A4P is a five-year plan that lays the foundation for a journey towards achieving a sustainable goal of a middle level country. It contains eight pillars and Pillar 7 speaks to governance and public sector reform, including anti-corruption. “We need to maintain our zero tolerance to corruption, and provide enabling environment for the private sector to thrive”, (A4P). This underscores the importance and priority placed on the fight against corruption and serves to establish link between the A4P and the battle against graft.
This symmetry does not just exist in the meanings of Pillar 7, but form part of the spirit and intention of the document in whole. All Eight Pillars relate to the fight against corruption in the sense that goals of the said Pillars can be achieved when corruption is prevented, checked and stamped out. That is to say implementation goes in line with instituting anti-corruption measures that strengthen administrative best practices. For example, Pillar 6 talks about social protection and Pillar 1 talks about diversified economic growth. The key objective of the former is social provisioning and the latter trade and investment – both depend on enhancing a corrupt-free environment for investors and mainstreaming anti-corruption measures to prevent pilfering of social benefits.
Given that we know that the A4P supports the fight against corruption, the battle against graft is guided by the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2014-18 (NACS), which contains expert views and opinions of Sierra Leoneans on the approach towards tackling graft. Where the A4P makes broad statements as political commitment for rolling out economic and social programmes for the good of all Sierra Leoneans, the NACS specifically tailors approaches for stemming corruption around these social activities. Corruption has the tendency to destroy efforts made and gains realized in the implementation of the said Pillars. It can occur in the form of bribery, misappropriation of public funds, deceiving the principal, abuse of position, abuse of office, among others.
Similarly, NACS provides a guide on how both public and private institutions can be protected against graft. This approach is referred to as the risk base due diligence, which seeks to identify corruption hot-spots in MDAs and proffer prevention and suppression measures. TRC Report Vol. 2 indicates that the instruments of proper governance include laws, institutions, due process, and human practices that lead to such desired ends as security, justice, enhanced livelihoods, and democratic participation. Whereas security, justice and social livelihood are expressly captured in the A4P, the NACS on the other hand maps out measures for tackling corruption and malfeasance for the enjoyment of the said rights and benefits.
When the ACC Commissioner, Ady Macauley Esq., took up office he said his effort, time, and thought will be focused towards complementing Government in actualizing the A4P. In essence he means he will heighten effort at tackling corruption in road rehabilitation and construction, eradicate petty bribery and extortion in the social safety net project, clean up the Agricultural sector, clean up procurement processes in the Health sector, and tackle malpractices in the educational sector. He also means institutions whose procurement constitute significant percentage of Government procurement budget will be under the microscope. They meet the requirement for high-level diligence inquiry exercise. Mr. Macauley also means he will pursue criminals in the investment and business sector and eliminate cuts and kickbacks in order to attract foreign direct investment.
Partnership and collaboration with public and private institutions described as Pillars of Integrity serve to accentuate the nexus between the A4P and fighting graft. MDAs are encouraged to mainstream anti-corruption measures into administrative procedures to close up opportunities for corruption. Noting that programmes in the Pillars of the A4P are rolled out by institutions, the Commission deems it proper to collaborate with the said MDAs, seeking them to institute service charters, setting up procurement units, separating the finance office from procurement and stores, undertaking monitoring and evaluation exercise of projects implemented, and introducing integrity pacts and pledges. Integrity Pact is an agreement between MDAs awarding contract and contractors, pledging to desist from any act amounting to bribery and corruption. Integrity pacts and pledges however put Sierra Leone ahead of several countries in the sub-region for instituting measures in line with transparency and accountability. Being that procurement is a fertile area for the occurrence of corruption, integrity pacts stand as one sure mechanism for tackling mis-procurement.