October 22, 2018
By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Institute for Governance Reforms (IGR) has stated in a new report that institutions in Sierra Leone fail to develop and function effectively because citizens, and by extension, political parties are divided along ethno-regional lines.
The report, ‘Beyond Business as Usual: Looking inward to change our story,’ suggested ways the new president could fundamentally shift away from institutionalised practices, systems and norms that are binding constraints to good governance in the country.
According to the report, holding previous governments accountable for graft and corruption are perceived as witch hunt by the opposition, while many citizens believe that a new government simply brings opportunities for a new set of actors, often from groups affiliated with the winning political party to ‘chop’ – financially benefit from holding the reins of power.
“The result is a system where divided citizens have been unable to effectively demand accountability for services, parliamentary oversight is weak, and justice provision and other essential services remain poor. Successive regimes have often been too timid to challenge entrenched beliefs, practices, and behaviours, out of fear of eroding their support base,” the report states.
The IGR report also indicates that past regimes preferred to rely on externally sourced development assistance to promote change, rather than looking inward to change the story.
The report also argues that while international support in the form of aid and expertise was helpful, lasting solutions to Sierra Leone’s enduring challenges have to come from a hard and honest look within, as well as the courage to challenge the entrenched norms and ways of thinking that have contributed to holding the country back.