New Democrat (Monrovia)

Liberia: Ellen Struggles With Corruption

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has admitted that her government is still struggling to control corruption despite affirmation that necessary mechanisms have been put in place to deal with this vice.

"We continue to struggle with corruption," she told the Board of Executive Directors at the First Replenishment Meeting for ADF-13 recently at the temporary headquarters of the African Development Bank in Tunis, Tunisia.

Corruption has become a daunting challenge for this government despite the reinforcement and mobilization of mechanisms like the anti-graft agency, LACC, the ministry of justice and judicial system to intensify the fight against it, stunning President Sirleaf to often admit that what is now left is enforcing punishment for corruption.

Persistent corruption has permeated all sectors of the Liberian society, undermining full utilization of proceeds from its vast mineral wealth to accelerate national development.

Opposition politicians and cadets of the ruling Unity Party are unanimous in critiques of the President for not still doing enough to discourage corruption.

The Chair of the LACC, Cllr. Frances Johnson-Allison once accused the President of having no political will go fight corruption.

But President Sirleaf reiterated in Tunis: "We continue to struggle with corruption. I have to say that to you because it's been so embedded over too long a period of deprivation that we have had to look at it in a total context of detection and prevention."

To prevent corruption, she said, "You've got to give people a decent wage to reduce their vulnerabilities; the installation of systems to make sure that, through automation, you can minimize the chances of personal discretion and abuse; to build the laws that protect people, like the Freedom of Information Act, our Public Financial Management Act, and new procurement laws."

On prevention, she said her government has done "very well" but acknowledged that it will take a judiciary with integrity to assist in the area of punishing perpetrators of corruption.

"The punishment side is where you have to have a judicial system that has the integrity and the capacity; and we continue to struggle with that. All of those are in place. And then the capacity, with bloated civil servants who really do not have the capacity to understand the laws, which makes it difficult," she said.

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