All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ - Edmund Burke

June 26, 2009

S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 7 No 7

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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   Sierra Herald: October 30, 2005 Volume2 Number2


Until those in authority, the Kabbah government that is, realise that they are their own worst enemies, the outlook for the improvement of life for the ordinary Sierra Leonean will remain just what they had feared all along - a wicked, vicious and manipulated hallucination conjured by the kitchen cabinet that passes for the government in the mother country.

The other day, the President's speech writers, never seeing anything wrong in some key pronouncements of the Head of State gleefully presented him another clanger - that he should flail the international community for being too slow in releasing funds. As if it was the government's right to receive and receive only not wanting to be bothered by its own commitments - that such funds have to be properly accounted for in the books of the donor community. The countries who make up the so-called Western donor community have structures in place that make it a duty that they account to their citizens.

What passes for a government in the mother country sees such accountability as an affront to its dignity. And yet, it is this same government that would, at the slightest opportunity talk about democracy, good governance, accountability and the rights of citizens.

In November 2002, the Kabbah government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UK government, then represented by former International Development minister Clare Short that it would create an independent Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service, the SLBS. This was to ensure that the organisation sheds its old image as the mouthpiece of government and to become an independent corporation, run by professionals who would ensure that the nation gets real value for money.

As the months wore on, it became increasingly clear that the government was reluctant to give up its pet mouthpiece and had devised all and any excuse that would put on hold such an overhaul. Understandable, some might say, given the fact that the SLBS had become an organisation where any government operative would pick up a phone and instruct the Director-General and producers to make way for a programme that they were on their way to have recorded!!!!

The poor SLBS people, lives already made a misery by a system that rewards flattery, back-biting and gossip while shoving professionalism into the gutter had no option but to obey fearing that invoking the ire of government functionaries would deprive them of miserly "retirement benefits".

As the Sierra Herald has always insisted, making the SLBS a kind of corporation does not mean that it will now become anti-government. No, on the contrary, it will give credibility to what is broadcast and the government would have more time to get things done the way it should and hence ensure the free flow of information - credible information that is badly needed in a country still trying to get back on its feet.

Again, we would like to remind those who fear an autonomous SLBS to go back through the available records and they would see that long before now, those in the know had written papers supporting the idea that the organisation would be better off if it were made a kind of corporation that is free from government control and manipulation. Latter day saints like former Information minister George Banda Thomas would tell you that he knows that such records exist but why he failed to put such into practice could be easily reckoned given the kitchen cabinet's reluctance to let go of a channel that was used to manipulate the news that  presents the government in the way it would want to be seen/pictured.

The somehow wretched piece of news on the Presidential website informing all and sundry that the SLBS was being managed by some interim thing rings hollow and could only be seen as an attempt to deflect from the more serious issue of getting in place the machinery that would effectively make the SLBS an organ that is run with a core of professionals who would provide the necessary leadership, direction and respect.

The new SLBS must have at its core, not only these professionals, but also a board of management made up of people who know what broadcasting should be all about and what an independent broadcasting unit should be doing for its listeners.

Gone should be the days when SLBS radio and television would only come on for a couple of hours after weeks off the air because the President wanted to broadcast something!!!!!!

Gone should be the days when the Director-General of the SLBS, instead of overseeing and improving upon the output of the organisation, would spend the best part of the day at State House wanting to be seen as a part of the government machinery and band of the faithful!!!!!!

Gone should be the days when nepotism and general boot-licking sees the mediocre occupying top professional seats while those who are true programme makers get harassed and frustrated out of what had become an empire of the corrupt, the inept and the opportunists.


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The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002