Source: New Democrat Monrovia
UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, in his various reports on prevailing security and economic conditions in Liberia, has been issuing the same warnings and making the basically the same observations: progress is undeniable, but not all that glitters is gold.
In his latest report to the Security Council, there are key phrases that are instructive and should capture the attention of policy makers.
Amongst the standing observations is the phrase ‘increased perceptions of impunity,’ bitter acrimonies over audit results that tend to bury their value, the lack of internal controls within the financial management system, and the accompanying dangers. He observed:
“Anti-corruption efforts gained increased momentum, even as the General Audit Commission’s high-profile ministerial audits, covering the Ministries of Education, Finance, Health, Lands, Mines and Energy and Public Works, generated heated media debate and accusations that the Commission was pursuing a political agenda. While the lack of basic internal controls was a common audit finding, the substance of the audits was overshadowed by the political and acrimonious public debate about the Commission’s credibility, resulting in limited implementation of the recommendations in the audits and increased perceptions of impunity. Sharp public disputes between the Commission and audited entities could undermine the Government’s anti-corruption drive.”
The Secretary General’s observation reflects the general mindset in the society, which is the tendency to read motives in all things while ignoring the issues. The audits were shelved on the stage of multiplying motives so that the real issues that the Secretary General has noticed–lack of internal controls–could go untouched on the continuum of graft. He further observed:
“The overall security situation in the country is generally stable, but fragile. Ethnic and communal tensions, disputes over access to land and resources, and a lack of confidence in the criminal justice system continued to affect security. Serious criminal activity, including rape and armed robbery, remained prevalent. Of particular concern is that over 70 per cent of reported rapes during the period involved victims under the age of 16. 11. Relatively minor disputes continued to rapidly escalate into major destabilizing incidents, as exemplified by widespread violence in Lofa County in February between the predominantly Christian Lorma and Muslim Mandingo communities that was triggered by allegations of a ritual killing, aggravating existing ethnic tensions. The two groups, armed with cutlasses, shotguns and other weapons, attacked each other, and places of worship and other property. Four people were killed, 18 were injured, and numerous churches, mosques and homes were destroyed or burnt. During the chaos, 58 prisoners escaped from the prison, 39 of whom remain at large. The intervention of UNMIL military and police, together with the Emergency Response Unit of the Liberia National Police, was required to restore order.”
The growing lack of confidence in the criminal justice system, despite progress in gradually jumping out of the orbit of arbitrariness and lawlessness inherited, is a real problem. Corruption at most levels of the system is an impediment to further progress and stability.