From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Politics
‘We must reinstate District Officers in Sierra Leone’ says Amb. Dauda Kamara
By Dauda Koroma
Nov 5, 2010, 11:59

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Rural Development, Ambassador Dauda Kamara has told journalists that government was determined to re-introduce District Officers as the hub of government activities in the provinces.

Addressing the Fourth Estate at the usual weekly government press briefing at the Ministry of Information, 8th floor Youyi Building in Freetown, Ambassador Dauda Kamara said on June 24, 2010 he made a public announcement that cabinet had agreed on the reinstatement, and that they have already consulted with other stakeholders including the Civil Society Organisation on the need for such a decision. He said the rationale behind reintroducing DOs is that it enhances central government presence in all areas of the country.

"Reinstated DOs will be above party politics, and therefore will inspire public trust." He said ‘DOs will be appointed by the Public Service Commission as civil servants working for the interest of the state.’

Taking cognizance of statutory breach, the minister noted that ‘reintroducing DOs to the province as agents and representatives of central government represents a direct contradiction of the principle enshrined in the Local Government Act 2004, for which reason government is bound to go to Members of Parliament for approval.’

Some of the problems that will be alleviated by bringing back the DOs system include the preventing of many of what arose in recent paramount chieftaincy elections, the minister noted, adding that Dos are needed once again to resolve disputes between local councils and chiefdom people over the setting aside of land for public amenities and also the settling of land disputes.

The APC minister further argued that the whole point of decentralization was to make local governance and service delivery democratically accountable and responsive to local needs.

"Reintroducing DOS will revive rule by executive fiat in the countryside. In the past when a DO made a ruling on certain issues, that ruling became law. And the Sierra Leone judiciary has long been reluctant to overturn executive rulings made in the name of native laws and customs," said Ambassador Kamara.

On opposition party concerns that APC’s intention to reinstate the D.O. system is to enhance their power over chiefs whose subjects form the majority of voters for opposition parties and ensure that they deliver votes to the governing party in 2012, the local government minister said such was not the case for which the APC government is riving the DO system. "We will ensure that decision making by DOs is transparent and accountable," he ended.



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