The Triumph of Party Loyalty Over Sierra Leone’s National Interest

By Mohamed A. Jalloh

In his opinion piece entitled “The Significance of Debt Cancellation to the Socio – Economic Development of Sierra Leone,” John Mannah, who now tells us he has a Ph.D. in economics, claims to be an expert on Sierra Leone’s debt crisis. However, in the process of proceeding to “examine how we got into this crisis in the first place so as to give our leaders and citizens a road map into the complicated web of international finance, ” as he put it, Mr. Mannah, unfortunately, unwittingly demonstrates that he needs much more help in understanding international finance than do the people of Sierra Leone.
In particular, John Mannah proves that he lacks a sufficient familiarity with SL’s economy to warrant taking his characteristically copious but simplistic opinions seriously. Even more unfortunate, Mr. Mannah continues to deploy his unacknowledged, but plainly evident, deficiency in economics in aid of his quest to promote the interest of his chosen political party above the much more important interest of his own country. It is a familiar betrayal that I was obliged to document last year, in the interest of accuracy. Please see “The Betrayal of Sierra Leone by its Pseudo-Intellectuals.”
As before, let us duly proceed to examine the latest evidence of Mr. Mannah’s unfortunate tendency.
Although Mr. Mannah claimed to be an expert on how SL’s debt crisis came into being, sadly, he failed to accurately identify the most elementary fact about that debt, namely, where it came from, in his opinion piece cited above. Specifically, Mr. Mannah misrepresented the sources of SL’s foreign debt by claiming, by implication, that SL has never borrowed money from another country. Instead, according to Mr. Mannah, SL’s debt came solely from “foreign banks and multilateral organizations.” Similarly, Mr. Mannah, by implication, claimed falsely that the current SLPP government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and Vice President Solomon Berewa never borrowed money from any foreign source — be it a country, a bank, or any other entity. It was upon that transparent fiction that Mr. Mannah brazenly relied to falsely claim that the debt crisis in SL was created exclusively by the APC government.
In other words, Mr. Mannah would have us believe that the IMF and the World Bank — the SL government’s historical lenders of last resort who have largely kept the current SL government from sliding into bankruptcy — have never lent money to the current SLPP government of SL. As clueless as the APC governments have been, no one — before Mr. Mannah — has blamed them for the debts that have been actually incurred by the current SLPP administration during the major part of the nearly fifteen years since the APC last governed SL.
It is from such plumbless lack of knowledge that Mr. Mannah, nonetheless, brazenly set out, as he put it, to “examine how we got into this [debt] crisis in the first place so as to give our leaders and citizens a road map into the complicated web of international finance, with the aim of equipping them with the necessary tools in electing responsible, experienced and informed leaders in the parliamentary and presidential election in July 2007.”
Which raises a rather obvious question: Can Mr. Mannah provide anyone with an insight into SL’s debt crisis via his “road map into the complicated web of international finance,” when he has conclusively demonstrated, albeit unwittingly, that he does not even know where SL’s debt came from, or, much less, how it became a crisis? The equally obvious answer is that, clearly, he can not – and, predictably, he did not in his opinion piece.
Which leads to a final question: Why, then, would Mr. Mannah hold himself out to the unsuspecting S/Leonean public as an expert in the very subject – international finance — in which he has shown himself to be so lacking in knowledge?
The answer is found in a brief exploration of Mr. Mannah’s recent background. When we first encountered Mr. Mannah last year (at which time he told us that he was a Ph.D. student in economics), he was posing as an objective commentator on the performance of the current SLPP administration led by President Kabbah. It was a posture which, upon examination, failed to stand up to scrutiny, as I showed in my critique of his performance cited above. Now, Mr. Mannah has finally abandoned his untenable pretense at objectivity and openly identified himself as a political partisan — specifically, “Director of Communications, SLPP North America.”
And that fully explains why Mr. Mannah cravenly sees in the tenure of the SLPP government of President Kabbah and Vice President Berewa, a job well done. Yet, in reality, millions of S/Leoneans who have been the hapless victims of the duo’s overlapping incompetence over the past ten years of the SLPP administration have seen their lives needlessly degenerate into a morass of daily deprivations — no light, no potable water, no jobs, and no hope.
It would no doubt come as a cruel joke to those long suffering S/Leoneans that Mr. Mannah, at the end of his “road map into the complicated web of international finance, with the aim of equipping them with the necessary tools in electing responsible, experienced and informed leaders in the parliamentary and presidential election in July 2007,” callously declared that President Kabbah, the chief architect of their decade-long misery, should be rewarded “with a very reasonable retirement package to send him into retirement for the type of job he has done for Sierra Leone …”
Yet the cruelest joke of all was evident in what the undoubtedly patriotic Mr. Mannah recommends the people of SL do for Mr. Kabbah’s close partner in their searing impoverishment. S/Leoneans, urges Mr. Mannah in revealing his true motive for his multiple misrepresentations, should ” … equally promote Vice President Berewa to the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the excellent job he has done, and continues to do as vice president to president Kabbah. This is because he has the requisite training, temperament, know-how and skill, vision, credibility, integrity, accountability and probity, charisma, humility and discipline to keep us on the part of economic and fiscal reform and prosperity.” Not surprisingly, Mr. Mannah carefully omitted to set forth any evidence to support his unlikely claims of Mr. Berewa’s alleged excellent performance or his possession of any of the wishful attributes Mr. Mannah blissfully ascribed to him.
All of which would prompt the long victimized people of SL to ask a familiar question of their latest SLPP town crier. As those who are familiar with my above-cited rebuttal of Mr. Mannah’s unsubstantiated opinions would recall, it is the same question that I was obliged to repeatedly ask of the very same Mr. Mannah last year, namely: Does he really know the meanings of the words that he so carelessly uses to mock the daily suffering of millions of S/Leoneans under the current SLPP government headed by President Kabbah and Vice President Berewa?


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