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


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 1

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

Contact us
World Cup with the BBC
UK Serious Fraud Office
World Association for Human Rights - USA
National Union of Journalists (UK)
BBC African Service
Daily Trust of Nigeria
UN Great Lakes
Writer Adichie
Southwark Council
S.L. Web
All Africa.com
Africa Week
Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International
Trial Watch
International Criminal Court
One World
Royal African Society
University of
East London
Nigeria Anti Corruption Commission



(Published in April 2004)

Readers will recall that the Sierra Herald expressed doubt about the sincerity of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and his government when it was announced that the SLBS was to be de-linked from the government. In other words, the organisation was to be freed from the controlling and repressive clutches of the government so as to have an organisation serving all sectors and all interests within and without the borders of Sierra Leone affecting Sierra Leone and friends of the country.Information minister Prof. Septimus Kaikai - trying to weave around the truth?

The Sierra Herald was proved right again as the government woefully failed to live up to its promises. One of the goals that should have been achieved by end 2003 was this:

Free and independent media introduced

• Independent Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation created by end 2003.

Of course, it is no secret that this goal was not met and in its usual feet-dragging mode, the government has devised every channel and excuse to deter progress in such a crucial area of communication. Take a look at what the President stated in one of his hot air renditions:

57. "Plans are afoot as a result of a media support project funded by United Kingdom/Department for International Development (DFID) to strengthen the print media and to expand radio and television, and telecommunications facilities nation wide. Meanwhile my government is actively considering proposals for the establishment of SLBS as an autonomous corporation. The establishment of SLBS as a corporation will enable it to operate on commercial lines with full discretion as to its news content and programming, with unfettered access to the citizenry."

That was President Kabbah speaking on Friday May 22, 1998 at the State Opening of the Second Session of the First Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone and it would be recalled that after this promise was confirmed in another such ceremony, the Sierra Herald expressed grave doubts about the sincerity of a government with an attitude laced with the control factor.

A report published sometime in the 60s/70s had long ago concluded that "in how not to run a broadcasting system, the SLBS, (then Radio Sierra Leone) is a very good example" or words to that effect and indeed every effort to remove government control had been met with vigorous opposition from various governments who see the SLBS as a mouthpiece of the government in power and that losing control would create - you got it - "disaffection against the government."

The Sierra Herald also pointed out, after Information and Broadcasting minister Prof Septimus Kakai announced that the SLBS would soon be made a corporation, that it was all the usual sounds aimed to please the donor community, but in reality was not on the cards of a government that believes in hoodwinking any who dared to question its activities.

The Kabbah government has now promised that by March 2005, the SLBS would become a full-fledged corporation, a fact confirmed by the Independent Media Commission. But why this delay when the SLBS and the Ministry of Information possess all the documentation that sets out moves to make that body a corporation?

Prof Septimus Kaikai told the Sierra Herald that the SLBS was among 24 organisations that have been put on a list to be discussed and finalised by a new body called the Privatisation Unit or whatever and that the SLBS would have to wait until its merits are considered. Got the drift? Left alone, the SLBS would never become a corporation.

But why should the SLBS come under the scrutiny of the Privatisation process?

Again, this is all a part of the strategy to delay the entire process as there is no need for the SLBS to fall under that category given the history of the organisation and past attempts to wrest it from government control. All the necessary resources are there and this organisation should not be bundled under the so-called Privatisation Scheme which is headed by another lackey of the government, another dinosaur in state affairs, one A. R. Turay who is said to have been a one-time Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone.

Of course this system of recycling dinosaurs in Sierra Leone is meant to effect the government's unannounced, but clearly visible strategy of nepotism and cronyism.

Why the resistance? Simple. All governments/administrations/groups ruling Sierra Leone are just too scared of losing what is seen as the voice of government. Politicians of various shades simply love manipulating the staff of the organisation, putting in place "yes men/women" and real lackeys who are in place to spy on "dissidents" and others who do not necessarily like the policies of the ruling government.

It is the evil within the present and other systems that has for long blocked attempts at making the SLBS a viable corporation and examples in other African countries can easily show that a broadcasting set up of the nature of the SLBS with an independent status could be a force for development and good.

It would increase the credibility of broadcasts and show that an efficiently-managed SLBS corporation in the likes of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, GBC, or the British Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, though partly funded from the tax payers money, need not be a poodle of the government in power.

An independent SLBS should not be something to be scared of if the Tejan Kabbah government is committed to democracy, human rights, the rule of law, accountability and transparency.

Those who have passed through the portals of the SLBS know only too well the goings-on, as it is with many a government set-up where those who can stoop the lowest, lick the dirtiest of political boots get rewarded and put in controlling/supervisory positions they themselves know they could not effectively carry out, relying instead on junior officers to do the work for them.

There have been heads of units and sections in the SLBS who cannot edit tapes, cannot produce programmes and cannot speak the official language, English in any worthy manner, relying instead on others to write letters or fill out forms that have to do with the fate of junior officers. Should you know anyone who had had a stint at the SLBS, kindly ask whoever it is just why at some time, although the broadcasting set-up was not functioning, the Director-General was to be seen making daily pilgrimages to State House, leaving the administration of the organisation to others.

The political atmosphere then, encouraged the head of the SLBS to be in cahoots with the government of the day.!!!! Any deviation and the offender would be lucky to be seen around after getting a summary dismissal for "gross insubordination"

There was the case of one member of staff of the SLBS who was heard airing his grievances against a politician of the ruling party along the corridors of the SLBS. A member of a programme discussion panel who was there to highlight the glorious achievements of the APC, a lady politician now enjoying the benefits of democracy and good governance in the United Kingdom, was quick to get on to her colleague in the "Live for Ever" APC. The next thing this member of staff knew was him being bundled into a car to face the politician for his remarks.

That was the SLBS and the Director-General would never lift a finger in the defence of anyone thought to have displeased the friends and associates of the party.

How to go about making the SLBS a corporation? Easy.

Pay off all the present staff and let them enjoy their miserable pensions. Advertise key posts to attract qualified personnel within and without the country who would form the core of an interim management team. Present management and other members who qualify should also be encouraged to apply as among the present lot, there could be a few who know their onions. The selection would have to be done by Human Resources personnel from outside the government. The Commonwealth would be quite willing to help in this direction.

Indeed the Independent Media Commission, the IMC, after confirming its disappointment at the slow pace of reform of the SLBS, was in agreement stating that an interim administration is soon to be set up that would prepare the way for full independence scheduled for March 2005 instead of the previous benchmark of end 2003. The IMC is advised to seek the help of outside bodies rather than relying on a number of deadwood within its ranks, who although well-meaning just could not grasp the fine points needed for a successful exercise of that nature.

Recall that in 1996, when the Maada Bio NPRC was doing its best to delay the promised elections, the SLBS was gracious enough to organise and broadcast debates to which all the political parties were invited - the first in the history of post-colonial Sierra Leone. Some of the political parties could not believe their luck and gratefully took up the opportunity. Some in the mould of the oppressors refused to participate, preferring instead to "grumble" about things in alley ways and bye-ways. Among those who made use of this opportunity was the Sierra Leone People's Party, SLPP, nominally headed by one lawyer Ahmad Tejan Kabbah sans Dr, sans Alhaji, sans His Excellency and sans Fountain of Honour.

And do you know what happened after the SLPP won those elections in 1996?

Elements, evil and vindictive elements within the new government showed their true colours. The man in charge who had effected participation of all political parties and who dared the military in giving a voice to the various political parties was hounded, almost out of office on various pretences. He was suspended from duty, his passport seized by the Tejan Kabbah government and every effort made at humiliating the man.

And then something happened. The beasts kicked the Tejan Kabbah government out in May 1997 and the first man to be contacted for the post of Director-General of the SLBS under the AFRC, was the same man who had been harassed, humiliated, thrown to the wolves and almost quartered and drawn by the government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

The man refused to serve and instead fled the country with his family.

Imagine what could have happened had such a man taken up that duty to spite the SLPP government.

Imagine if the man's links had been used and he had justified the 1997 coup.

Imagine, if you will, where His Excellency President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah would have been now.

The Sierra Herald was to learn afterwards that the hounding of the man was a deliberate ploy hatched by certain elements within the party bent on settling scores. One of them was to confirm later, that contrary to what was being bandied about, that the man could have been involved with "somebody's somebody", the truth of the matter was that key elements in the APC who had now become the heart of the SLPP did not like and truly detested the ridicule the SLBS under the man poured on the then ousted APC and its various leaders!!!!!

Such is Sierra Leone, such is the crony-encrusted government of His Excellency the President, Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

Give the people what you promised Mr President and make the SLBS autonomous!!!!

"The establishment of SLBS as a corporation will enable it to operate on commercial lines with full discretion as to its news content and programming, with unfettered access to the citizenry."



Yearning for the mother country?

The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002