The Ministry of Political and Public Affairs (MPPA) like the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security etc, is one of many important Ministries established by the government of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Like many government established Ministries, the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs is one such Ministry that the government of Sierra Leone established in 2002 under the government of late *President Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabba formally named as the *Ministry of Presidential and Parliamentary Affairs*. Serving as a vehicle or auxiliary through which ideas,visions or policies of government can be achieved in some specific but not limited means as enshrined in its mandate. The origin of its establishment and the rationale/relevance for its creation, is perhaps the very reason for which its critics must see it as relevant like any other Ministry.
Firstly, let me take you through the Service Charter of the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs. The Ministry of Political and Public Affairs like every government establishments, has it defined Mandate, Vision, Mission, Policy Objectives all put together as a masterpiece *Service Charter* which serve as the lens through which the Ministry sees and interpret its activities;
*THE SERVICE CHARTER OF M.P.P.A*
*a) MISSION STATEMENT:* To develop policies and programmes geared towards promoting democracy and good governance in Sierra Leone through public and stakeholder participation in governance activities.
*b) VISION:* An advanced and well structured socio-political and democratic culture that will serve as the engine for sustainable peace and socio-economic development in Sierra Leone.
*c) POLICY OBJECTIVES:*
• *To serve as liaison between the executive and Parliament;*
• *To monitor progress of the Executive’s legislative programmes in Parliament,*
• *To maintain contacts with the public, traditional rulers, political; parties, interest and pressure groups in society;*
• *To identify issues of national concern as and when necessary and encourage public debates on such issues;*
• *To monitor public opinion on political programmes of government;*
• *To propagate the political programmes of government;*
• *To liaise between government and public;*
• *To channel public complaints, appeals and representations to the office of the President*.
By now, I know someone with a critical mind maybe nodding his or her head in surprise and trying to figure out the nexus between my about to finish premise and would be conclusion. Now relax and continue your read as I try to give you more insight of this very useful but little recognize Ministry.
In short, one can say that;
*”The Ministry of Political and Public Affairs is a peoples Ministry and the conduit through which the Government and the citizens of the country communicate to each other with the view of addressing public concerns that affect the general peace and development of the country.”*
As a developing nation carrying huge social societal burdens like poor social service delivery, poverty, psychosocial trauma, illiteracy etc, one may definitely see the need for the existence of the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs with such a rich mandate for social transformation. As consciously captured in the Ministries’ Vision, that it *”…will serve as the engine for sustainable peace and socioe-conomic development in Sierra Leone.”* The Ministry of Political and Public Affairs is thus supposed to be seen as one of the ‘grade A Ministries’ of the government (if I am permitted to put it so). Reasons be, because one major challenge common to developing nations with histories of both political and socioeconomic challenges like ours, is that of ‘social fixation’. By providing a bridge in a socially broken nation like ours, the need for a governmental channel that can provide the public an opportunity of braking that usual ‘beaurocratic’ chain that most times serve as a major challenge for most citizens by making it difficult for them to access government related services.
If you only you are still not convinced about the relevance of this Ministry, then let me further take you through other unique roles of this dynamic Ministry. Are you also aware that the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs is mandated to perform the following roles;
√ To channel public complaints, appeals and representations to the President *’through its ‘complaints desk officers’?*.
√ And that the Ministry also help *”To propagate the political programmes of government”?*
And this is done through the Ministry’s most available flagship program known as the *” MPPA Hour”* which usually comes up on *SLBC on Wednesdays 01pm-02pm* as a television and radio program.
Having gone through the Ministry’s Service Delivery Charter, I can see clearly that the formation of this Ministry by the previous SLPP regime of late President Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabba did no mistake of establishing such a vital branch of the Executive arm of governance. Especially, with specific referenced paid to the volatile nature of our post conflict state, leaving us with a social scare of disenchantment cutting across every sector and that of the minds of the citizens. Throwing insight further, perhaps one can better understand the need for the creation and continuous existence of this Ministry as it has successfully survived all the political regimes since its establishment. Upon taking a close read of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Report (TRC), and its recommendations therein.
However, this Ministry unlike other Ministries, is one of the most under resource Ministries. With a very little government budgetary allocation and also very little private sector or donor interest in terms of partnership. Though some of it critics often a time present the case of it ‘Political’ nomenclature and roles as the reason for its down cry. I however, will like to deliberately refuse to subscribe to that thought. What one may probably argue out to be a mitigating factor of the Ministry’s work can however be a situation in which, the government of the day may tend to use the resources of the Ministry unprofessionally to get undue advantage over opposition party (s). This situation, I believe will only exist if the activities of the Ministry are driven in a direction contrary to professional ethnics.
Going forward, for the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs to be able to serve efficiently in all of its mandated policy objectives, the government and donors partners must see the need to capacitate the Ministry through by providing sufficient fund, and also helping in capacitating the Ministry’s manpower and working tools. As the major activities of the Ministry falls in the purview of awareness raising campaigns, the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs would therefore perform well in realizing its policy objectives if provided the necessary funding and other means of capacity building.
As the nations’ ‘direction’ drives towards a new path under the governments New Direction policy, the vehicle (s) that must deliver these goods, must not leave its social engine behind (MPPA). As consciously captured in the Ministries’ Vision, that the Ministry; *”…will serve as the engine for sustainable peace and socioe-conomic development in Sierra Leone.”* The Ministry of Political and Public Affairs is thus supposed to be seen as one of the most ‘grade A Ministries’ of the government (if I am permitted to put it so). Reason be, because one major challenge common to developing nations with histories of both political and socioeconomic challenges like ours, is that of *’social fixation’*.
Serving as an ‘engine’ of government through which *”…sustainable peace and economic development…”* can be achieved when the Ministry is empowered enough to serve as the ‘liaison officer’ between the Executive and Parliament, will enable the government to efficiently deliver its social service goods, and also for the people to be able to access the benefits of these goods. By also serving as a ‘liaison’ between the Executive arm and the Legislature, the Ministry will be chanced to know and understand the happenings within the Legislature house of Parliament. This process will therefore enable the Ministry to serve as one of the government establishments that can further relate Parliamentary decisions/proceedings to the public, thus enhancing a sufficient public awareness on events happening in the honourable house of Parliament.
Under the ‘New Direction’, the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs is confident of a dawn of a new age in its image and service delivery to the citizens like never before.
NOTE: The Ministry of Political and Public Affairs like every other Ministries, is operated by the Administrative and Professional wings with the Minister, Deputy Minister serving as the political heads and the Permanent Secretary and Director serving as heads of the administrative and professional wings respectively. The Ministry also play supervisory roles over the following agencies APRM, ODA and NCD.
The Ministry like every other government Ministries, is operated by the Administrative and Professional wings with the Minister, Deputy Minister serving as the political heads and the Permanent Secretary and Director serving as heads of the administrative and professional wings respectively.
© *Moses Kamara*
*Political and Public Affairs Officer*
*(Ministry of Political and Public Affairs)*