SIERRA LEONE: Successive Governments of Political Plunder

First_Name:  Joseph, Seidu
Last_Name:  Sherman
Address:  3500, 14th Street, NW
City:  Washington
State:  DC
Zip_Code:  20010
Comments:  SIERRA LEONE: Successive Governments of Political Plunder

Since Sierra Leone made a quite transition to independence in 1961,
political plunder has become the order of the day by past and present
governments.  Politicians view Sierra Leone as a gold mine and they are
struck by the spectacle of inequality that exists in the country.  They
deplore the deprivations, which are the lot of so many of our brothers
and sisters, deprivations, which appear to be sadder when contrasted with
the wealth and resources of the country.

Plunder and Instability: According to Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850),
self-preservation and self development are common aspirations among all
people.  And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his or her
faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of their labor, social
progress will be endless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.  On the contrary,
politicians in Sierra Leone have another tendency that is common among
people.  They continuously live and prosper at the expense of others.
This is no rash accusation.  The annals of history bear witness to the
truth of it: civil war, mass migration, intellectual brain drain,
dishonesty in commerce and monopolies.

Men in their nature often rebel against the injustices of which they
are victims.  Consequently, when plunder is organized by law for the
benefit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to
take advantage of the situation either by peaceful or violent means.
When these plunderers ascend to power instead of rooting out the
injustices found in society, they make these injustices general and they
establish a system of reprisals against other classes.  They do not abolish
legal plunder; instead they emulate their evil predecessors by
participating in this legal plunder, even though it against their own interest.

How to Identify Plunder In Sierra Leone:  Absent vigilance, careful
monitoring, and real accountability for promises, stated goals are soon
displaced by constituency preference.  In this environment, the
politician with the greatest charisma, empathy, and duplicity has the advantage.
Being the “Great Communicator” or saying “I feel your pain” trumps
having ideas and sound ethics.  Politicians who believe their own lies and
tell them well become stars– until they are found out.  On the other
hand, see if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and
gives it to other whom it does not belong, and if the legal system
benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen
himself cannot do without committing a crime.  The present-day delusion in
Sierra Leone is to enrich a few at the expense of everyone else.

Conclusion: The bone of contention is that while the international
community is committed to provide aid for the rehabilitation of
poverty-stricken citizens and development of war-ravaged Sierra Leone, plunderers
would like these projects to come under their direct control.  This is
the predictable consequence of government going beyond its basic
functions of protecting life and liberty and becoming a redistribution
machine.  It is no surprise that the benefits go to the powerful such as
self-styled foreign investors who manipulates unscrupulous politicians to
the detriment of citizens.  When government becomes an engine of
plunder, an election of national office becomes struggles over control.  Who
handles the steering wheels, turn signals, and gas pedals?  Who gets to
captain the ship trolling for money?  Politicians find the winning
strategy to be lying about policies and prospective beneficiaries.

About The Author:

Joseph S. Sherman was an  erstwhile Broadcast Journalist with ELCM
Community Radio, now Radio Veritas, Monrovia, Liberia, and General Editor
of the defunct FOOTPRINT Newspaper, Freetown, Sierra Leone.  At Present
he is a Director of a Multi-Cultural Adult Education Center in
Washington, DC.

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