Saturday, 21 February 2015

In search of missing Ebola funds

About 25bn le are reportedly unaccounted for from Sierra Leone's Ebola fund.

This was the findings from an independent auditors report which seemingly limited its investigation to a 5mth period. Some may see the findings as a damming reflection of the all too common tale of 'political corruption across Africa', but, I've given it some thought, and in truth, I don't.. entirely. Perhaps, this report . and its findings , will actually be a blessing in disguise.

Firstly, to be clear, the report focuses on money which has been raised internally, and is not money recieved from International donors, or government grant aid IMF etc.
For more information [click]

"The report by Sierra Leone’s auditor general looked at 84 billion leones (£12m) the government set aside for fighting the virus from the start of the outbreak last May until October 2014. The money came primarily from institutions and individuals donating from mostly within Sierra Leone, and from tax revenue.It did not include money donated by the UN, international government aid or assistance from NGOs".

However, that does not necessarily mean that all of that money can be accounted for either. International aid could have been siphoned off elsewhere also.

On a positive note, I think it's a good thing that the report was compiled, and that the country is attempting to be transparent. I think it's a good thing that those suspected are being investigated.
a bad day for them for sure, but potentially, a good day for the country and the people.... potentially.

What we don't need, is a witch hunt.
It's possible that some individuals, if found guilty of mishandling government funds may have been completely innocent of such practice in the past, equally, its possible that others, if found guilty are 'old hands'... corruption specialists who perhaps , so accustomed to this practice, became over confident got cocky, and got sloppy.
for example.. who on earth pays public funds into a private bank account?
I'm no accountant, but that will raise even my eyebrows.

The association of African politician = corruption really needs to change.
It's damaging internally and internationally.
...besides.. they are not all corrupt
and corruption isn't an issue for Africa alone. It's worldwide.

Sierra Leone does need a make over, better PR, and once Ebola is truly under control, much work is required to create that paradigm shift in the hearts and minds of the many when considering the country, its people, its leadership, and its potential.

I will say this.
The Ebola crisis caught everybody unawares. What was experienced, was an 'unplanned for' crisis. It's possible that the crisis could have been tackled with less money, if the change required was also cultural. But there was no time to play guessing games.
However, there is no doubt in my mind that investment in the countries health services and infrastructure is needed, and that was the case long before Ebola came calling.

So why do people steal from those who need it most?

People steal for numerous reasons.
In incidents of corruption, I feel those guilty should be made to pay the money back , but the focus should not necessarily be one of punishment. What would be more useful, would be to find out why..

because 'everyone else does it'?
wages are too low?
Fear ?
Loss of hope?
lack of faith? ( that things will ever change in thier rmidst and a belief that the dog eat dog culture is firmly entrenched)

It's essential to establish the causes, and revise that culture of selfishness that does appear to be in the driving seat.

Perhaps it wouldn't matter so much if the country wasn't ranked among the poorest in the world. Perhaps it wouldn't matter so much if the majority of the countries citizens were well catered for , and felt positive about thier access to opportunities. But it does matter.

It matters even more because there are more PHds seated around the cabinet of Sierra Leone than right here in Westminister.
These are very intelligent people.

On my way to work yesterday I thought of the *old Caribbean saying of crabs in a barrel. ( a Caribbean saying in that it's mentioned alot)

A crab in a barrel with clamber over all the other crabs to escape.
The crab will claw his way to the top.
Unlike an ant.

Ants in a barrel will usually form an orderly line, and work together to get out. No panic. They are family.

Perhaps, we need to be more like ants.. and less like crabs

Remember this though. Internationally, people steal from Sierra Leone all the time. it may be contractual, it may be legal, but is it moral?. perhaps we need to name those names, and perhaps that needs to change also.

*Google Images *

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