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BETWEEN PARLIAMENT AND KENEMA MAYOR
~~Mayor Joseph Samba Kelfala of the Kenema City Council is expected to appear before the honourable House of Parliament today to substantiate his reported accusation of the members of the Parliamentary Finance Committee demanding Le20 million from his council following the lawmakers refusal to approve the council’s 2015 budget. But the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Hon. Hassan Sheriff, is reported to have dismissed the Mayor’s claim and described his action as an attempt to smear the hard won image of members of the Finance Committee.
We at The Spectator support the invitation of Mayor Joseph Samba Kelfala to Parliament to defend his accusation of members of the Finance Committee asking for favour before the approval of his council’s 2015 budget. This could give the opportunity to Sierra Leoneans to know whether or not the Mayor would have the temerity to repeat what he has told the media. The accusation could be very damning given the paramount role of the Parliamentary Finance Committee in approving or disapproving budgets for public institutions, but such allegation should be properly probed to know whether our honourable committee members are honestly working in the interest of the country or for themselves.
This is the first time in recent years for a public official to have openly and boldly accused lawmakers of asking for favour before its council’s 2015 budget would be approved. The Mayor made his accusation with such fearlessness and frankness that you would want to believe him, especially when he quoted the Deputy Chief Administrator of the Kenema City Council, who appeared before the committee to defend the budget on behalf of the council, as saying that the committee members demanded Le20 million from the council before the budget would be approved.
The Mayor also alleged that even the President of the Local Council Association Ahmed Munirr Fofana was unsuccessful in getting committee members to drop the said amount, though the President is reported to have said that the issue was not to his knowledge and refused to comment further. But it is left with Mayor Joseph Samba Kelfala to prove the President right or wrong by producing any evidence to show that he had knowledge of the issue.
Another damning allegation he made was that other councils were also requested by members of the Finance Committee to pay the same amount before the budgets for 2015 would be approved.
We may not predict the outcome of the Mayor’s appearance in Parliament today, but the issue is so sensitive and delicate that we expect the august body to handle it with great care lest the issue degenerate along partisan line. The honourable Parliament would go all out to defend its reputation but we believe the lawmakers should be very honest about probing the issue in public interest.
This particular issue is a litmus test for our Parliamentarians to prove their sincerity and honesty to the public in dealing with an accusation coming from a reputable public official who had served in the public sector unblemished despite all the trappings of his office.