ACC EMPOWERS HAMILTON COMMUNITY
As part of the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) community outreach campaign country wide, the Public Education and Outreach Department on Saturday 5th July 2014 had an interactive outreach engagement with residents of the Hamilton Village in Freetown. The meeting attracted over 100 residents at the Hamilton Community Centre.
The objective of the campaign was to enhance public awareness on the devastating effects of corruption towards community development, popularize the no bribe campaign and the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2014-18 as well as to solicit public support in the anti-corruption drive.
In his welcome address, the Chairman Morlai Conteh, Headman of Hamilton Village, expressed profound delight for such an engagement. He said residents of the village have heard of the Commission but they do not know about its functions. Mr. Conteh said such engagement is an opportunity for them to know exactly what constitutes corruption and how to report it to the Commission.
Speaking on the purpose of the meeting, Abubakarr Turay Communications Officer of the ACC, informed the gathering that the meeting was to educate the people about how corruption affects their welfare and wellbeing at community level and to empower them as whistleblowers. Mr. Turay said that the Commission values the contribution of the community in the fight against corruption. He said some people do not believe that the fight against corruption is a winnable one, but would like to assure them about the Commission’s determination to minimizing it if not eradicate it in its entirety. He said the community has a role to play in the fight if they want the Commission to succeed. He disclosed that it is their right to report corruption any where it occurs. Mr. Turay concluded by calling on them to pass on the information to their relatives and friends who did not attend the meeting so that they will also benefit from the outcome of the meeting.
Glennis Frazer, Head of Outreach Unit of the Commission, spoke on the importance and benefits of the new strategy. She said the fight against corruption is a national concern and that the community should stand against it. She disclosed that when government funds meant for community development are mismanaged it is the poor people that suffer most. Ms. Frazer disclosed that the NACS 2014-18 belongs to the people of Sierra Leone and they should embrace it with open hands. She explained that the strategy was formed upon the principles of neutrality, impartiality, independence of both the public and private sectors, as well as constructive engagement with civil society organizations. She briefly explained about the two past strategies: that of 2005 and 2008-2013. Ms. Frazer stressed that the past National Strategies focused mainly on prevention and constructive engagement with government Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Whilst the new 2014-18 strategy emphasizes on efficient and effective service delivery, through integrity, transparency, accountability, as well as the rule of law in order to ensure a society that is free from corruption. She said the reason for popularizing the strategy is that many people don’t know about it and its importance. She also spoke on the issues of bribery and how it affects good service delivery. She ended by admonishing the residents to refrain from it and cautioned service providers to avoid taking bribes so that there will be good service delivery at the village.
Emmanuel Hughes, Audio Visual Assistant of the Commission highlighted some of the corrupt practices at community level. He said corruption starts in the home. He said some parents do not teach their children good moral values and when they grow up they become corrupt. He spoke about integrity at community level especially in schools, community health centers and the police station. He disclosed that some parents are in the habit of paying bribes to teachers, nurses and to police for services that are essential and free of cost. He reminded them that schools are about to close down and some teachers will start demanding money from parents for end of year report cards. He cautioned them to desist from such act and if caught would be prosecuted.
Communications Officer John Tarawally, urged residents to report corruption to the Commission on the free hotlines: AFRICELL 077985985/ 077986986; and AIRTEL 161. He reassured the audience that the Commission is set to follow upon complaints while maintaining high confidentiality on the identity of persons making complaints. He cautioned them not to make malicious report as it is an offence under the AC Act 2008.