There is no doubt that corruption is the “Public Enemy Number One” of the Sirleaf Administration. But by President Sirleaf’s own admission, it has so far been unreceptive to conventional anti-corruption measures – strengthening of legal paradigms, relative increase in salary. Both government and critics agree therefore that much improvement needs to be made in the areas of identifying and prosecuting perpetrators of corruption. Mr. James Sirleaf agrees; but he says baseless slander for political gain – in the name of fighting corruption – is not the way to go, and he is warning against it. The Analyst, reports.
Mr. James Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, says while he welcomes the productive criticism of the UP-led government, he will oppose legally, any attempt by unscrupulous individuals and political aspirants to drag the reputation of his family in the mud for their own political gains.
In this regards, he said, it would be honorable for those who were eager to spread rumors about corruption regarding the Sirleaf family to get their facts together for their own legal defense, or shut up if they have none.
“Lately, we keep hearing of many political aspirants resorting to character assassinations in their heavy handed plight to gain public appeal and political popularity.
“Please be cautioned by this message that I, in particular will take legal action against you in a prominent court of law at any attempts made to discredit my name and that of members of my family. Thus, I will legally challenge anyone who tries to tarnish my good character with false insinuations,” he said.
Mr. Sirleaf, a longtime banking entrepreneur across Africa and the Americas, sounded the warning in a statement titled, “Any False Character Accusations Will Be Challenged In Court Of Law”, which was released to the press yesterday.
He gave no indication regarding what prompted the warning during this run up to the October elections, when many members of the opposition will be relying on real or perceived failures of the government in order to gain support.
He however implied that politics was a game for mature citizens who had worked earnestly for the good of family and of country and subsequently embarked on national efforts to build upon that good for the uplifting of society.
Unfortunately amongst those who were jostling for forums to challenge the patriotism and honesty of others in public service, Mr. Sirleaf said, were those who have made no sacrifice for their own betterment, to say nothing about the good of society. He named no names.
He however said it was such people that were bent on using character assassination as a political tool, perhaps to make up for their deficiencies in both politics and personal achievements.
Whether by this statement the Liberian banker was implying that every comment about corruption in government was a character association or that so-called non-achievers should keep quiet about corruption in public service, Mr. Sirleaf did not say.
But he said it would be good for society were those in ‘glass houses’ refrained from throwing stones; or to use the biblical admonition, if they first took the planks from their own eyes before scoffing others for having specks in their eyes.
“First of all, some of these aspirants themselves have done nothing worthy in their lives like ‘WORKING HARD’ for rightly conceived gains. Many are guilty of the same monstrous sleaze deals which they now claim that they abhor (detest),” he said, promoting observers to wonder whether “sleaze deals” were admissible once they were mutual.
But whatever observers think, Mr. Sirleaf said one thing was clear; and that was that the reputation of the “first family” must be spared the current wave of unfounded claims of corruption.
“Let’s call a spade a spade!” he emphasized. “I want it to be very clear to all and especially to opposition politicians that are in the habit and bent on making unfounded statements on corruption matters as it relates to the first (1st) family of the Republic of Liberia and others.”
Without saying why he needed to, the Liberian banker said he has worked assiduously and successfully for 50 years “for my daily bread in private enterprise”.
“For many years I worked with Citibank/Citigroup in Monrovia, Nairobi, London, and around the World. I am currently still linked with the private sector serving as General Manager for Corporate and Institutional Banking at a local Liberian based institution,” he said.
He then vowed to use his entrepreneurial experience, his means, and the lessons of integrity he has learnt, to support his family and the second-term mission his mother.
“The rudimentary fundamentals of integrity, I find closely associated with ensuring that we live with a clean and transparent record, i.e. being incorruptible in all business and personal dealings in society. I find that continuing to live in such a fashion is quite irreproachable,” he said, in apparent clarification to those who believe that success and wealth are synonymous to corruption.
Analysts say while character assassination is a misdemeanor under Liberian law, an open threat against it – especially trained at “political aspirants” by a prominent member of the first family – may be misplaced if it is intended to intimidate the political opposition or intimidate possible whistleblowers.
Otherwise, they say, it is a health call to honest politicking, to making vain politics to bring up the rear, and to bringing the politics of the issues of national significance to the front burner.
How Mr. Sirleaf’s warning will be received however, they concede, will make all the difference between a free, fair, transparent, and popular outcome of the 2011 presidential election and vain bickering for its own sake.
Whatever course the incumbency, the political opposition, and the Liberian people will choose, they say, it will be the height of wisdom to avoid completely the copycats of unfolding events in neighboring Ivory Coast.