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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Zainab Hawa Bangura, Madam Minister, You are So Despicable!
By Concerned Civil Servants [An Op-Ed]
Sep 24, 2010, 15:15
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Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, Madam Zainab Hawa Bangura is the most despicable of H.E. President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s ministers. She enjoys receiving accolades for work done by others, especially by other ministries. And with no shame on her face, she will gloat over the outcome of other people’s hard work as if they were her achievements; not even giving credit to members of her staff. Just listen to her recent BBC documentary she sought out to promote herself in. Almost every other sentence in her documented “achievements” was ‘I have done this’ and ‘I have done that’. She even included ‘I have cleaned the stinking toilets of Sierra Leone!’


In order to hide her inefficiency and lack of knowledge in Government matters especially matters having to do with diplomacy, she presents herself as a victim of useless civil servants and slow Government Machinery. However, a closer look will reveal this is not so.


What is happening is that she does not hesitate to badmouth other civil servants and public officials including even her own colleague Cabinet Ministers. She also will not hesitate to shift blame in front of the President. Quite recently, she tried to have His Excellency send some senior Ministry of Health heads rolling because according to her tatty-tales at State House, the Ministry is not doing much to push President Koroma’s Agenda For Change, especially those that have to do with the Health MDGs.


The said incident had to do with some medical doctors expected from Cuba whose upkeep will be the financial responsibility of the South African Government. The Foreign Minister has, in her typical back-biting style, been withholding information from the Ministry of Health and its officials and when things came to a head and the expected South-South health cooperation is on the brink of a possible collapse, she gives the impression to the President that she has been constantly asking the Health Ministry to take its responsibilities serious but with little response.


As far as the President’s Initiative for the Free Health Care is concerned, the acquisition of extra medical hands to operationalise the Free Health Care is vital to the success rating of our President. So naturally, we could not blame the President when he got excitedly vexed and reflected this anger towards many of us in a meeting at State House. The President was visibly angry and expressed it in no small way towards us.

 

However, what the bad-mouthing (kongosah) Minister had not told the President is that she is not a good team player and that she always looks for accolades and commendations at the expense of all around her whom she enjoys watching them suffer a bad name.

 

Also, Zainab Bangura acts like a Colossus in her Ministry without the corresponding tall or long legs to bestride her ministry’s several Directorates and Embassies across the globe. What respectable Foreign Minister will tell the BBC that the President had summoned her to State House for discussions because “My Ambassadors are misbehaving all over the world”? The reality was that only two or three Ambassadors were indicted and not all Ambassadors all over the world. However, this is a woman who feels good when she is putting others down so if she tells the BBC that “all over the world”, Sierra Leone’s Ambassadors are misbehaving, she feels good.


What respectable Foreign Minister will ask the BBC to broadcast as she shouts and demeans top Directors of her Ministry over the international airwaves denigrating them as virtually useless to her. “You call yourself Director of African Affairs?” she sarcastically mocked our colleague senior civil servant as she mocked him and made him appear stupid to the world over the BBC.


Mr. President, your Foreign Minister is too egoistic and self seeking to be of help to you. She thinks little of you or your desire to have a competent cohesive team which is why she quarrels, sometimes very bitterly, with her members of staff and undermines their authorities. She undresses them in public and most of them are now in awe of her as she seems to be able to get away with all kinds of nonsense.


Due to the past relationship you shared with her in the insurance world, she is now said to be an untouchable whom you will never remove from that sacred Diplomatic Office despite all her diplomatic gaffes because she is a sacred cow to you.

 

Mr. President, call your Foreign Office and Diplomatic Mission staff and speak to us quietly; giving these your hardworking and obedient civil servants, your fullest assurance that what is being discussed will remain between you and us and you will have wonders being revealed to you. There are allegations that your Foreign Minister has even surreptitiously retrieved documents from the files of Sierra Leonean civil servants at international conferences so that they cannot deliver well! When she does deliver papers written for her by others, she gets all the praise and the cheers and makes no acknowledgement of others like a true team player.


We are civil servants with many years of experience both in the Foreign and Diplomatic service and in the country’s public service and we can tell the country today that with all of Madam Zainab Bangura’s eighteen months of professed ‘international exposure’ at the U.N. Mission in Liberia, she still has not honed in her people skills or developed the mindset to efficiently and effectively manage the very good officials she has at the Foreign Missions as well as those in her Gloucester Street office.


Madam Minister Zainab Bangura is the proverbial bully and until she treats her staff at home and abroad as human beings who require to be respected, the earlier the President gets rid of her, the better for the country’s image. The country’s image is already literarily in the toilets as our Foreign Minister proudly boasts of dancing like a street beggar in front of strangers to beg for money to buy her air tickets. To crown it all, she says the toilets at the Foreign Ministry are “stinking”. Fellow citizens, it is not just the toilets that have an unpleasant effect on civil and public servants. There is an unpleasant odour pervading the previously benign and cooperative atmosphere within which Sierra Leonean diplomats and civil servants used to coexist.

 

This same malodorous atmosphere has taken over what should have been a great moment for dedicated staff of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the country’s HIV/AIDS workers. It is this same attitude of the Foreign Minister which has caused serious disaffection at the Ministry of Health right now. Zainab Bangura has run off with the President to the United States of America to receive an Award relating to the MDGs on some progress the country has made over the years in the health sector, without first holding discussions with the senior people at the Ministry whom would have guided her as to what to say to the world about our efforts at the Ministry. This would have reflected a true image of what happens with the country’s fight against HIV/AIDS.

 

Zainab Bangura holds up MDG Award as if she had even discussed the MDG Award with Health civil servants she loves to denigrate./PHOTO CREDIT:cocorioko.net

 

Zainab Bangura grants an interview on Health Successes in Sierra Leone which she knows virtually NOTHING about./PHOTO CREDIT:cocorioko.net


A letter from the Commonwealth Secretary-General inviting all the Ministers of Health in the Commonwealth to a High Level Review Summit to address some aspects of the Millennium Development Goals before a UN summit, was only forwarded from the Foreign Ministry to the Ministry of Health after Madam Minister was already attending the event on behalf of the Ministry of Health! We understand and respect the President’s desire to limit the travelling of Cabinet Ministers might have caused the Health Minister not to attend and the Foreign Minister to attend the Commonwealth Meeting but what was she planning to say about Health issues without first speaking to civil servants working at the Ministry of Health or Public officials assigned to the Ministry of Health? Is this the kind of inter-ministerial collaboration needed if government should succeed?


Whatever she will have said at this meeting is not informed by Health Ministry officials’ appropriate medical or health information input but she will be saying it and exposing our country once again to a missed opportunity of presenting the true picture of our situation, simply because she wanted to be the one to shine whilst she tells the BBC that all other Government civil servants are made of poor human resource quality. Madam Minister, you are despicable, to say the least!


EDITOR’S NOTE: The above Opinion was submitted for publication as a Joint Effort by Senior Civil Servants of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation and the Ministry of Health & Sanitation of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
RELATED REPORT:
Sierra Leone's Uncouth Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura Gets Reaction from Civil Servants

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