President Ernest Bai Koroma has finally released the long awaited cabinet reshuffle list. Prior to the reshuffle, it was widely anticipated that the new cabinet will not only be of a national character but will comprise of a team capable of turning Sierra Leone around for the better. It is however, sad to note that the expectations of the citizens were thwarted on Saturday 4th December 2010 when the cabinet reshuffle, full of confusion and northern ministers, was announced.
In this piece, I will attempt to analyze certain significant aspects of the new cabinet list as signed by President Ernest Bai Koroma and read on national radio by Information and Communication Minister, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo.
In the evening hours of Friday 3rd December 2010, at precisely 9:15pm, a presidential source confided in me that President Koroma will reshuffle his cabinet on Saturday 4th December 2010 at 2am. At first, I found it difficult to believe that a normal cabinet reshuffle will take place at midnight; a time when people are expected to be fast asleep. No other person was able to corroborate what my presidential source told me. True to my source, the cabinet reshuffle was announced that night. Whilst some went to sleep on Friday night as cabinet ministers and woke up on Saturday morning as ordinary citizen, others went to sleep on the same Friday night as ordinary citizens and woke up as cabinet ministers. Reports have it that certain people are still to recover from the shock of being sacked or demoted, whilst others are celebrating their elevations and new appointments.
Abdul Serry Kamal
Until the announcement on Saturday, Abdul Serry Kamal was Attorney General and Minister of Justice. He was among the first batch of ministers when the APC assumed power in 2007, and remained the Attorney General and Minister of Justice until he was sacked (Nolle Prosequi) from cabinet on Saturday 4th December 2010. Though he was at the forefront of challenging the presidential bid of Ernest Koroma prior to the 2007 elections, Serry Kamal was widely believed to be an untouchable in the APC cabinet. Therefore, the decision of the President to kick him out came as a surprise, just as the earlier decision to appoint him in the first place. Whether or not the decision of the President has anything to do with malice or lack of performance of the sacked minister remains a mystery and it is still being widely debated. Also, it is being widely anticipated that the removal of Serry Kamal is a recipe for bad blood and split in the APC.
Like Serry Kamal, David Carew was also sacked as Minister of Trade and Industry. He was Minister of Finance and Economic Development and the first cabinet reshuffle saw him being transferred to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. His sack came as no surprise to many as a result of the several instances in which his name was being mentioned in dubious deals (though none of those allegations were investigated and proved correct). David Carew is actually politically unpopular and his removal from cabinet will have little or no political effect on the APC.
Mohamed D. Koroma
In the new cabinet list, the name of Mohamed Daudis Koroma appeared as Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation and at the same time Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. The urgent need for a clarification of those positions cannot be overemphasized. Firstly, the general populace would like to know whether the two positions are separate. Secondly, the new position of Mohamed D. Koroma seems to clash with that of the substantive minister. In other words, it seems now like the Health and Sanitation Ministry has two substantive Ministers, Zainab Bangura and Mohamed D. Koroma. Whilst announcing the new list, Information and Communication Minister, I.B Kargbo, emphasized that the new appointment of Mohamed Koroma was an elevation, thus creating the impression that Mohamed D. Koroma is now a full minister. However, several people hold the view that the new position of Mohamed D. Koroma has no significance but was merely an attempt to cover up the actual show of ungratefulness being displayed against the dynamic, no nonsense and youthful government functionary. Mohamed D. Koroma, in his capacity as a deputy minister in a ministry which has been without a substantive minister for the past one year, maintained progress and capability to man that all important Ministry. Mohamed D. Koroma deserves better at a time like this and if the President feels otherwise, it would have been better to either transfer him to another ministry or totally sack him, rather than making a mockery of his achievements in that Ministry. Borbor Sawyer has been appointed to join him as Deputy Minister; a situation that negatively portrays Mohamed D. Koroma as being incapable to man that position alone. What an elevation?
Alpha Kanu & Zainab Bangura
Alpha Kanu was Minister of Political Affairs, Mines and Mineral Resources, whilst Zainab Hawa Bangura was Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Both of them, considered to be close confidants of President Koroma, have been demoted, in my view. Zainab Bangura is now the new Minister of Health and Sanitation, and Alpha Kanu now becomes the Minister of Political and Public Affairs. Though the Ministry of Health and Sanitation is considered a very significant ministry, the fact remains that the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry is far more superior to that of Health and Sanitation. There are reports that the shock of her demotion landed her at the Choithram Hospital where she received treatment for hypertension. The demotion of Zainab Bangura cannot be unconnected with her extra-ministerial activities in foreign countries, especially the Arab states, several people believe. It was the very Zainab Bangura who confessed to newsmen that she dances and sings for Arab prime ministers and other international state functionaries whenever she wants gifts and money from them. Her removal from cabinet is long overdue and this demotion is surely not enough punishment for a minister who dances and sings for gifts and money.
Removing Alpha Kanu from the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources can only be best described as a demotion and the decision cannot be unconnected with his activities in that ministry. Alpha Kanu was gradually becoming the Public Relations Officer of the mining companies in Sierra Leone when the fact remains that he was supposed to be advocating for the welfare of the poor citizens. Sure he has learnt his lessons.
The name Mr. Emmanuel Gaima was in the list as the new Deputy Minister of Youth Employment and Sports. It has now been learnt that the actual name was not Emmanuel Gaima but Daniel Gaima. What a presidential blunder. How can President Koroma append his signature to such a document? This is surely one of the biggest embarrassments a president can subject himself to and the least talked about that development the better.
Two members from the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), J.B Dauda and Hon. Borbor Sawyer were appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation respectively. J.B Dauda served the SLPP led government in various capacities including being a cabinet minister, whilst Borbor Sawyer is presently representing the SLPP in parliament as a Member of Parliament. Both presidential appointees from the opposition have been suspended from the SLPP following their acceptance to serve as ministers in the APC government. I support the move of the opposition as it sends the signal that the party is serious and disciplined. No matter how you look at it, the reality is that one cannot serve two masters. This is because you will either become deceitful to the two masters or become disloyal to one. If what the APC was trying to achieve was to include easterners in their cabinet, they had the choice of several other qualified people from the east who are not SLPP members. The SLPP must continue to exist as the vibrant opposition it is and any move that suggests otherwise is unacceptable.
Promotions and Demotions
Whilst some were demoted in the new list others were promoted, and I will attempt to list them in the ensuing. Those who are considered to have faced demotions include Saadata Sesay, Dennis Sandy, Dauda Sulaiman Kamara, and Joseph Koroma. Saadata Sesay was Deputy Minister of Information and Communication but she is now Deputy High Commissioner to the Gambia. Dennis Sandy was Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment. He has now been appointed as Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs. Now Minister of Local Government and Rural Development is Dauda Sulaiman Kamara. He was Minister of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Rural Development.
The new appointments which are considered as promotions include the following. Minkailu Mansaray, who was Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security, is now Minister of Mineral Resources. Soccoh Kabia, who used to be the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affair, has been appointed as Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister. Richard Konteh has been elevated from Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development to the position of Minister of Trade and Industry.
Shekito and I.B Kargbo
Sheka Tarawallie, sacked Presidential Press Secretary, has been appointed as Deputy Minister of Information and Communication. What is being widely debated is whether or not Sheka Tarawallie fondly called Shekito can cordially work with his immediate boss, I.B Kargbo. Both of them have a passion of flying out of the country on frequent intervals and it is an open secret that Minister Kargbo is almost always out of the country representing the ministry whilst his deputy stays behind. Will Shekito tolerate that? That is just one of several instances.
Kemoh Sesay has been appointed as Special Adviser to President Koroma and his appointment has been widely acclaimed by his supporters. Kemoh was the Minister of Transport and Aviation when an unauthorized plan landed in Sierra Leone with a consignment of cocaine. President Koroma then relieved Kemoh of his duty as minister in order to grant the police and judiciary unfettered investigation. Though the trial ended and Kemoh Sesay not found wanton, he was never reappointed as minister as was expected.
This is my humble view.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.