Kenema voices anger against Parliament
February 12, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Some residents of the eastern city of Kenema have questioned the decision of Parliament to withhold the budget of the Kenema City Council (KCC), noting that the controversial decision will undermine development in the Ebola ravaged city.
Mayor of Kenema, Joseph Samba Keifala, sent tongues wagging across the country last December when he alleged that the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Appropriation failed to endorse his council’s budget because KCC officials had refused to pay a bribe.
The Committee members denied the allegations, insisting that KCC officials failed to present all their supporting documents as Parliament went on to summon the Mayor, Chief Administrator, and Finance Officer to explain to lawmakers who asked for what.
The Mayor and his team restated their claim to Parliament, while the latter decided to refer the matter to the country’s anti-graft agency for an investigation.
Kenema residents are annoyed that since then the Anti-Corruption Commission has not issued any statement as to the investigation, neither have their councilors nor Members of Parliament spoken to them about the matter.
“We should not suffer because of an allegation made against some set of MPs. The Mayor can take responsibility for his statement but I think it is unjust for our MPs to have taken such a holistic decision to withhold our council budget,” Hassan Bangura, a resident of Burma 1, an outskirt of Kenema, lamented.
Another Kenema resident, Mariatu Turay of Kissy Town, said local councils are charged with the responsibility of developing their communities and that while they have been paying taxes, the council needs more revenue to embark on development projects.
She said lawmakers should seek the interest of their constituents, the reason they should have given consideration to the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the city to approve the KCC budget, and settle whatever scores they have with the Mayor.
“We elected these MPs and they should work for us. The allegation by Mayor Keifala is not unique in our democratic arrangement. The ACC is now investigating, so we are calling on our brothers and sisters representing Kenema to come to our rescue,” Madam Turay urged.
Secretary of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party Parliamentary Caucus for Kenema district, Hon. Francis Kaisamba, told Concord Times they have not agreed on a strategy on how to intervene in the matter, almost two months after the furor.
“We will be having a meeting with other MPs from Kenema district and I will definitely bring this issue to their attention now that it has been raised by our people,” Hon. Kaisamba said.
Meanwhile, KCC Chief Administrator, Daniel Saa Momoh, said since their budget was withheld by Parliament they have been using home source revenue to clean the city.
He said while the ACC investigates their claim against certain lawmakers, effort should be made to provide requisite services for residents of Kenema.