Juggling Responsibilities – Commissioner Kaifala, Harvard, ACC and the Quest for Transparency – Some Key Questions

by Sierraeye

Anti-Corruption Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala’s recently announced on his Twitter feed, “HARVARD UNIVERSITY has come Calling with a $100,000 bursary Package, and President Bio has graciously APPROVED for me to divide my time between Work as Commissioner and studies at Harvard Law School for next 9 months. . .I explained to my team how this was going to play out. . .”

While wishing him well, it is worth acknowledging his role as a public servant and the need for transparency in such matters. His decision raises intricate questions about how he intends to manage the dual responsibilities of ACC Commissioner and student effectively. The complexities inherent in striking this equilibrium call for a more comprehensive explanation, not only for his team but also for the broader public, to ensure that the integrity of both roles remains intact.

Some key questions that crossed our minds since we read his tweet –

1) Commissioner Kaifala must elucidate how he plans to effectively fulfil his duties given the significant time difference between the USA and Sierra Leone, typically 4-5 hours. The challenges inherent in bridging this geographical gap warrant thoughtful consideration.
2) Questions surrounding the execution of his core responsibility, which involves signing indictments, deserve attention. Will a contingency plan be in place to ensure the seamless operation of this process during his absence, considering that his deputy cannot sign indictments, or does he not plan to issue any indictments during his absence?
3) The financial aspect of his decision raises further issues. It would benefit the public to understand whether Commissioner Kaifala will retain his full salary while functioning part-time in his ACC role.
4) Will he receive full salary whilst receiving the $100,000 bursary he mentioned in his tweet? Will this amount to double compensation?
5) Beyond the logistical and financial aspects, it’s vital to ponder the broader implications of his extended stay abroad on the anti-corruption efforts within Sierra Leone. Even with his presence in the country, the fight against corruption has been waning. What will be the impact of his long absence from the country?
6) What steps will be taken to ensure that Commissioner Kaifala remains up-to-date with ongoing cases, developments, and policy changes within the ACC during his time at Harvard? How will he manage his engagement and decision-making remotely? For example, will he communicate with staff via a secured email address, or will he use gmail? What risk will this pose for data security?
7) Could Commissioner Kaifala outline the key objectives he aims to achieve during his 9-month study at Harvard Law School? How will he ensure that these goals complement and contribute to the ongoing work of the ACC?

The public deserves insight into how the ACC’s leadership plans to mitigate this impact. He must address these questions in the spirit of transparency and accountability. The public’s interest lies in understanding how he envisions effectively managing his roles as both a student and the Anti-Corruption Commissioner and how he plans to uphold the institution’s mission despite the challenges his extended stay abroad poses. The Commissioner’s in-country presence symbolizes the government’s dedication to eradicating corruption. His decision to study abroad for an extended period could unintentionally undermine this symbolism and cast doubt on the government’s overall stance on the issue.

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