NACS: AN IMPORTANT TOOL TO GOOD GOVERNNANCE
By John Tarawally
The fight against corruption is a challenge in any form, because corruption takes many faces and occur in different forms and shapes across all sectors of a country. Article 5 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) recognizes effective coordinated anti-corruption strategy. The article is looking from a public policy perspective specifically at the channel and driving forces, how reforms were selected, prioritized and implemented, and finally, what role development partners would play in the overall process.
The National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS)2014-18 is an essential instrument set up by the government of Sierra Leone to ensure an effective service delivery towards the welfare and wellbeing of all Sierra Leoneans. The NACS looks at various aspects of integrity system in the public sector which encompasses facets of accountability, transparency and the rule of law. Two other strategies had earlier been implemented by the Anti-Corruption Commission: 2005 and 2008-13. The first strategy adopted two approaches; prevention and enforcement, the second looked at national integrity system by incorporating constructive engagement and strengthening of institutional capacity building within the public sector. The 2014-18 strategy focused mainly on the principles of institutional autonomy in order to function without undue external control; enhancing coalition building with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the implementation of the measures of corruption. It is however an essential part of transformation process rather than a single tool for fighting graft.
When one looks at these strategies one sees a clear picture of good governance. The tenets of good governance entail quality education, good health and sanitation facilities, the rule of law, political cohesion, human rights etc. These goals can only be achieved where there is transparency and accountability in both public and private sectors. If these measures are put in place according to the Strategy there will be an effective and efficient public service which in turn will yield dividend towards development.
The strategy has two objectives: short and longtime framework. The general goal of the NACS is to contribute to open-mined discussion and consistent reduction of corruption, strengthen integrity system and build public trust in government institutions and promote zero tolerance on corruption. Therefore, everybody has the moral obligation to playing an active role in fighting corruption.
Arguably, people cast blames on the prevalence of corruption on poverty, whilst others are of different perspectives that the prevalence of poverty is as a result of corruption. The NACS 2014-18 therefore, has incorporated strategies to align intervention in controlling corruption, with the view of tackling poverty and improving the living standard of the ordinary Sierra Leonean. However, this status cannot be achieved without collective responsibility and equal commitment in the fight against corruption.
The NACS has several and unique characteristics. It is participatory, consensus oriented effective and efficient and follows the rule of law. It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society. Looking at previous strategies one will notice that they did not examine the internal environment of not only the Commission but also all entities that form the national integrity system which include the Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, Ombudsman, Police, media, civil society organizations to name but a few. It is of my opinion that with this integrity system in place there will be accountability and transparency in the public sector which in turn will enhance good service delivery and improve good governance which are critical to the wellbeing and welfare of the all Sierra Leoneans.