| Sierra Herald: October 30,
2005 Volume2 Number2
SIMPLE THINGS MADE EXCEEDINGLY DIFFICULT - THE
SELF-INFLICTED WOES OF THE GOVERNMENT
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
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
TIME FOR A NEW SLBS. TIME FOR
NEW CADRE OF PROFESSIONALS DEDICATED TO THE IDEALS OF WHAT THE SLBS
SHOULD BE ALL ABOUT. INDEPENDENT OF GOVERNMENT CONTROL AND INFLUENCE.