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Parliament quizzes IMC nominees

NOVEMBER  4, 2014 By: By Jariatu Bangura

Members of the Appointment and Public Service Committee yesterday vetted nominees for chairman and commissioners of the Independent Media Commission (IMC), as well as Board Chairman of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority.

The IMC nominees include, Mrs. Williette Princess James as proposed chairperson of the IMC; Patricia Ganda, Alhaji Dauda Musa Bangura, Francis Sowa, and James S.E. Williams as commissioners; while Moses Sesay is the proposed Chairman of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority Board, with Fatmata S. Mustapha as board member of the Electricity, Generation and Transmission Company.

While responding to questions from committee members, Ms. James said even though the job of regulating the media in Sierra Leone is a huge challenge, she is prepared both mentally and physical to deliver results because she has the capacity.

She noted that her nomination was not based on ballot as compared to the 2013 Sierra Leone Association of Journalists elections, when she lost the presidency to current president Kelvin Lewis.

“My position as chair of the commission will not be fought with sticks and stones but to simply implement the laws of the [IMC] Act. It is not a physical battle and I have what it takes to handle recalcitrant journalists as I have been working with most of them. I have had a change management and we will be working as a team and not individually,” she said.

Madam James described her relationship with members of SLAJ and that of the Women in the Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL) as very good, but however promised to be herself if given the chance to head the IMC.

Three of the IMC nominees have been questioned by SLAJ after names of three of its nominees were inexplicably removed and replaced by the government. SLAJ president Kevin Lewis had written a letter to the president requesting for a meeting with him.

The IMC Act stipulates that names of nominees should be sent to Parliament upon the “advice” of SLAJ. This has been the case since 2000 when the Act was enacted. However, the government has controversially dropped the names of three members vetted and endorsed by SLAJ, arguing that the president has constitutional immunity to go against the advice of SLAJ.