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Precious Minerals, Public Trust and Government’s Openness PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Baimba Sesay   
Thursday, 23 March 2017 22:21

By late 2001, the Anti Corruption Commission arrested then Sierra Leone's  transport and communications minister, together with his wife, “for involvement in illegal diamond mining” in Kenema district.  Large quantum of illicit diamonds had been found in their possession, according to a BBC report at the time.

With some diamonds said to have been smuggled out of the country by the minister, the incident happened at a time when the rebel war was raging and the key perpetrators- the RUF were also seriously involved in illicit mining and smuggling. The minister was later jailed in 2003 for two years for illegal possession of diamonds.

Amongst other factors, Sierra Leone’s civil war was fuelled mainly by diamond, specifically “conflict diamonds”- those diamonds that originated from territories controlled by rebel forces (UN definition).

Referencing the West Africa magazine, David J. Francis wrote, in ‘Diamonds and the civil war in Sierra Leone’ that “the sale of conflict diamonds by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group was estimated at $70 million by 1999.”

The return to multiparty democracy and particularly so, the election in 1996 of a democratic government initially never brought about the needed environment in terms of ensuring an accountable system of managing state resources like diamonds.  

In trying to prevent “conflict diamonds” from flowing through the valid diamond supply chain, the UN and other agencies introduced the Kimberley Process, allowing for rough diamonds to be “sealed in tamper-resistant containers and have a forgery resistant conflict free certificate with unique serial numbers each time they cross an international border…” (Conflict Diamonds and the Kimberley Process Fact Sheet)

 Sierra Leone is a member of the Kimberley Process.

By 2003, the UN resolution 1306 (2000), an embargo against the import of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone was lifted just when the Kimberley Process came into effect.

Just recently, (March 2017) a 706-carat diamond was unearthed in Kono district, a diamondiferous district, East of Sierra Leone.  The diamond is said to be the second largest ever discovered in the country, the largest being the 968.9-carat diamond found in 1972.

Such a precious mineral calls for openness if a government is to continue to build public trust and confidence. In my view, so far, the Koroma-led government has demonstrated the highest level of openness and has been accountable to its citizens.

Receiving the precious stone on 15th March, 2017, the country’s President “underscored the importance of selling such a diamond here (Sierra Leone)”, assuring, “the selling process would be transparent…” stated a release from State House.

The President has directed, that the diamond be sold “by international tender” to be conducted “in a transparent manner, subject to a reserved price,” says the National Minerals Agency.

Also, the government has assured the public that the stone will be “displayed for viewing at the Bank of Sierra Leone…” with the media to be invited, “and the outcome of the tender will be communicated to the general public.”

If this is not how to be transparent, then I wonder what else could be done by the President.

President Koroma is fully aware of the challenges the mines and mineral sector faces. The sector, he had said in 2010, “lacked proper regulatory regimes, leading to non-transparent transactions, decrease in investor confidence and failure to attract large scale investments…”-(State Opening of Parliament).

Over the years, the government has been working thoroughly towards developing the sector in order to boost up GDP and help in job creation.

The Mines and Mineral Act 2009 is instrumental in promoting both domestic and foreign investments through the introduction of “new and improved provisions for exploration, mine development and marketing of minerals and mineral secondary processing.”

The Act also ensures, management of the mineral sector “is transparent and accountable in accordance with international best practice.”

Unlike before, the country’s mineral ministry today encourages the development of open and transparent mechanisms for marketing mineral products.

These actions, as President Koroma once said “are bearing tangible dividends…” since there has been “an increase in Government revenue from new mining investment in exploration and development, and from current mining operations.”  

In conclusion, I am of the view, though government’s openness in dealing with the recent discovery is nothing new, it has further strengthened public trust and confidence. 

It has also gone further to fulfill the administration’s policy of openness and in promoting the mining establishment in line with international best practice based on the values of sustainable growth. I hold the view; this has been a commendable move by the government!

 

Editorial

2016 Global Peace Conference to be held in Freetown---as IPRA 50th Birthday confab ends in Istanbul

 

The 26th biennal conference of the Internatonal Peace Research Association (IPRA) is billed to take place in  Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2016, marking the second time Africa has hosted the conference since the founding of IPRA in 1964. This was announced following the re-election of  the two IPRA Secretaries-general, Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (pictured) and Dr Nesrin Kenar, who co-ordinated the 25th  IPRA conference in Turkey,  at the organisation’s administrative meeting on August 14 during the 25th  IPRA  conference in Istanbul  to serve a second term of two years.

Read more...

Business News

ACC CAPACITATES SIERRA LEONE COMMERCIAL BANK STAFF ON ANTI-BRIBERY AND ANTI-CORRUPTION ISSUES

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on the request of the Management of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) on Thursday 20th July, 2017 commenced anti- bribery and anti-corruption training with staff of the Bank.

The training which was held in the Bank's Conference Room 9th Floor, Christian Smith Building 29/31 Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown attracted over twenty members of the Executive Management.

Addressing colleagues, the Managing Director, SLCB, Idrissa Aloma Kamara disclosed that the Bank has integrated into the Bank's operations anti-corruption measures, such as the development of anti-corruption policy, anti-graft messages inscribed on Bank Statements and sensitization of staff on the dangers of corruption. With all these, the MD stated, it is the view of the Bank that the ACC which is the statutory body responsible for the campaign against corruption be brought in, to provide awareness training on anti-bribery issues for an efficient and effective banking system.

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Media News

44 Journalists in Beijing for China Development Studies and Media Exchange

The 4th session of the China Africa Press Center (CAPC) Program hosted by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) was officially launched on Wednesday 1st March 2017 in Beijing, China. This year’s event is running simultaneously with the China South Asia Center 2017 program. Both programs brought together forty-four journalists from Africa and South Asia.

The program you will give journalists the opportunity to cover major domestic and international events in China such as the upcoming Two Sessions, i.e, the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) and the 5th Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese

People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) (similar to Parliamentary sessions in many countries) in March, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May and the 9th BRICS Summit in Autumn this year.

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Commentary

REVIEWING THE JUNE 2017 ECOWAS SUMMIT

A PASSIONATE LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT:  44TH EDITION

REVIEWING THE JUNE 2017 ECOWAS SUMMIT
 Your Excellency Sir,
 It’s been six months since I subscribed to my usual publications of this piece. And this is primarily because I have been out of the country for the entire period, and as such would not normally objectively tender a subscription. I do apologize to my readers for this. So having being in Monrovia, Liberia for the recently concluded ECOWAS Summit, I would like to do some analysis on such a historic august body and gathering of this sub-Saharan/West African region.
 
In resume, among other crucial achievements, ECOWAS, through its military apparatus, ECOMOG, played very sacrificial and invaluable roles in bringing peace, security and democratic governance to both Sierra Leone and Liberia during their past civil wars, and most recently ensuring that the Gambian people’s democratic change of government from the notorious dictatorial twenty seven years regime of Yaya Jarmeh, to the current government of President Adama Barrow, through their tactical robust intervention, overseen by President Helen JohnsonSirleaf of Liberia and other ECOWAS Presidents/actors, was enforced. Furthermore, ECOWAS has also spearheaded the enactment of several socio-political, advocacy and economic treaties in the sub region.
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View Point

WHY SIERRA LEONEANS HATE PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT

Honestly speaking Sierra Leoneans are well known for their hospitality all over the world, especially in Africa. But ironically many of them hate each other. But they love foreigners. They have high respect for strangers. But unfortunately they do not have respect among themselves. You can attest this to what is happening in the social media. Where they are showing their pull him down (PhD) syndrome. By castigating their compatriots unnecessarily. Some of them just because of jealousy and envious evil spirit they possess. They prefer to promote foreigners than their own brothers and sisters both in and out of the country.

Day in day out they are insulting each other.They are using all sorts of vulgar languages against each other. And even their own highly respected president in the world, President Ernest Bai Koroma they are insulting him openly. Therefore, it is an open secret that many Sierra Leoneans are not well cultured.

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News - Press Release

ACC HEIGHTENS PNB CAMPAIGN IN COLLEGES

"Bribery and petty corruption undermines the Rule of Law, Effective service delivery and sustainable development," says the Regional Manager, ACC South, Samuel Marah on 28th June 2017 at the Njala University Kowama campus Bo, whilst addressing students and lecturers of the Department of Nursing on the need to curb petty corruption and bribery in the educational system in Sierra Leone.

Speaking on the effects of bribery and petty corruption, Samuel Marah noted that, the practice of bribery has overtly affected our justice system, enforcement of the rule of law and quality service delivery to the people of Sierra Leone which he said to tackle needs collective and collaborative effort.        

Mr. Marah said, the Pay No Bribe (PNB) campaign, which is the Commission's flagship project, is a data capturing tool, that shows trends of bribery in  five piloted   MDAs ( Health, Education, SLP , SALWACO and EDSA ) for informed decision making on the trends of bribery and to increase service delivery in the public sector institutions. He stressed  that, PNB reporting platform  is established by the ACC and its partners to empower citizens to anonymously report incidents of bribery and petty corruption by calling 515 free on all networks, visit the PNB website; www.pnb.gov.sl, or on the mobile application in Krio, Temne and Mende to make their complaints. Mr Marah implored his audience to join the campaign which he said is a national call to service.

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Society -Local News

HRCSL presents detention monitoring outcomes to stakeholders
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone(HRCSL) on Wednesday July 26th, 2017 at their headquarters at NEC Building  engaged relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies on the outcome of their monitoring of detention facilities and other social services.
 
The monitoring was carried out between January and April at the prisons, police cells, remand homes and probation facilities across the country.
 
The HRCSL Act No.9 of 2004 in section 7 (2)(f) requires the Commission to monitor and document human rights violations in Sierra Leone and section 9(1) gives the Commission powers to authorize persons whom they think are capable to act on their behalf, in order to access all government offices, facilities and places of detention including prisons, police cells, remand homes and probation facilities.
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Development

China-Aid Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project hand over Agriculture Materials to the Ministry of Agriculture

On  21st July ,2017 at a handing over ceremony held at Ogoo Farm in Freetown, China-Aid Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project Team handed agricultural materials to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS). 

The items include seed rice, maize, agro chemicals, fertilizer, pesticides and power tillers for farmers within the western area district. Dignitaries present included The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food security Prof. Monty Jones and his entourage ,  Mr Shen Xiaokai, the Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, the District agricultural officer, the Chinese technical team, National federation of farmers Sierra Leone representative and lot of farmers in the western Area.

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Politics

News from China, June 28th: Youth Affairs Minister addresses 2017 Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation in Capacity Development in Beijing, China
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Youth Affairs has said, the 2017 Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation in Capacity Development hosted by the Chinese government should help enhance the ties of friendship and foster the wheels of bilateral cooperation between the two nations and particularly strengthen cooperation in the field of human resource development.
 
Hon. Bai Mamoud Bangura spoke on Wednesday, 28th June, 2017, at the start of the week long Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation, which has brought together participants from various countries, including eight (8) from Sierra Leone.
 
According to minister Bangura, in line with the spirit of friendship and cooperation, the event could serve as an opportunity to jointly define new strategic directions in Sierra Leone’s ties with China and in opening up another episode of friendship and cooperation between the two.
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