On Wednesday, 2 February we published the contents of a letter of complaint sent to Transparency International (TI) and copied to us by a writer who, though revealing their identity to us, expressly asked for anonymity. It concerned the operations of TI's Chapter in Sierra Leone, the Campaign for Good Governance, which is headed by Mrs Zainab Bangura. The matter that was raised in it was one which we considered to be of supreme public interest because it impacted directly on the issue of transparency and accountability in relation to the organisations and individuals that claim to represent the interest of us - the ordinary citizens of Sierra Leone.

We are pleased that as a result of our intervention, a response has been forthcoming from the CGG.  We are especially grateful to Mrs Bangura for forwarding to Focus a copy of her report to TI, the CGG's parent body. It only goes to prove that we all can, individually in our own little ways, do a lot to enhance and secure our democracy by simply asking questions whenever we are in doubt, and however awkward or provocative they might appear to others. It can sometimes work great wonders! 

Out of courtesy, a copy of  Mrs Bangura's letter was forwarded by us to our original complainant whom we have also invited to comment if they so wish. Focus' own considered response will follow over the weekend, but for now please read on....

23/02/00
Subject: Re: Transparency International - Campaign for Good Governance 
         Complaint 
   Date: 14th February, 2000.
   From: Mrs Zainab Bangura <cgg@sierratel.sl>
     To: Gladwell Otieno gotieno@transparency.org
     CC: freeman@transparencyintl.demon.co.uk, 
<ambrose.ganda@virgin.net>,  <Mschloss@transparency.de>, 
<gdell@transparency.org>
Dear Gladwell,

Thank you very much for bringing to our notice the above letter written to you regarding our organisation. I returned to Freetown on the 8th February, 2000 from a meeting from Paris - France. 

I do not recall any individual who came to the office to request financial statements as the anonymous writer claimed to have done. Therefore I will not react to the anonymous letter as well as the unfounded accusation made by the Editor because I feel it is politically motivated. 
However, for the benefit of Transparency International and in the spirit of transparency I will give you an overview of our financial and general activities.

We are a non-governmental organisation whose mission statement is, “To facilitate and encourage the full and genuine participation of all Sierra Leoneans in the Political, Social and Economic processes of Development in Sierra Leone”.

Campaign for Good Governance was established on the 1st July, 1996 with support from the International Crisis Group (ICG) with only myself and a Secretary. ICG only provided support for institutional support and a Technical Assistant to help us prepare proposals. Our first proposal was to the British Government for five workshops. They  provided us with the resources to organise the five workshops. Before the conclusion of these workshops the coup of May 25,1997 took place.

Before the implementation of these workshops, the British Council in Sierra Leone was awarded the contract by the British Government to administer the grant. All original receipts were sent to British Council for all workshops before accessing resources for the next workshop. The coup of May 25, 1997 brought an abrupt end to our operation and we lost most of our documents etc. We finally succeeded in reopening the office in Conakry and operated for only three months. The United States Embassy in Sierra Leone and the British Government provided resources for the organisation to be used as a focal point for civil society against the Junta. All disbursement were done by the United States Embassy in Conakry - Guinea and the British High Commission in exile in Conakry - Guinea where all original receipts and statements of accounts were submitted. 

The office was again relocated to Freetown and started operating in June, 1998 after the British Department for International Development wrote a letter dated 2nd June, 1998 authorising the British Council to start disbursement for the balance of £4,776 and agreed on the 2nd July, 1998 to provide additional of £60,000 for an interim period of three months whilst we prepare a year’s project for consideration. We were not able to disburse the entire grant because of the deteriorating security situation which led to the invasion of Freetown on the January, 1999.

With the temporal closure of the British Council we were not able to access the grant until May, 1999 when DFID finally authorised the British High Commission to disburse the resources to us. This was done until August, 1999.

Meanwhile, CGG was able to develop a project for a one year effective 1st September, 1999. By then we still had £22,271 undisbursed resources which we agreed with the DFID to add to our new grant. Within the period we were supervised by the British High Commission all 
original receipts were submitted to them including monthly financial statements and account before new amounts were provided to us.

In our project for 1999/2000 DFID approved approximately US $300,000 excluding a vehicle and a computer. We also included an Accountant and an Accounting Assistance as well as costing for Auditing fees. We have held discussion with KPMG - Peatmarwick who have 
agreed to act as our Auditors and will be providing us with an Accounting Software for which they have asked us to pay US$5,000 and to put together all our available documents together so that we could have a three years audited account.

Since then our two Accounting Staff have been working round the clock to put the pieces together. Following that meeting we wrote a letter to Standard Chartered Bank on the 20th January, 2000 to provide us with bank statements for 12th June, 1998 - July, 1998, 18th August 1998  11th September, 1998, 29th October, 1998 - 28th November, 1998 and for a second new account statements for 4th January, 1999 - 25th February, 1999, and 28th May, 1999 - 13th July, 1999. This was to help us in cases where we lost bank statements and used cheque books after the January 6th, 1999 invasion of Freetown. Standard Bank has asked that we pay for this request for we are ready to do.

In addition to the British Government support we were also funded by the National Endowment for Democracy in the United States. They approved a grant of US $21,750 in 1996. We never got to access the grant before the coup of May 25, 1997. We tried to access it in Conakry - Guinea, but failed. The period was extended and the grant renewed when we returned from exile in 1998 to end in May 1999. 

With the invasion of Freetown on the 6th January, 1999 the period was again extended to December, 1999. Unfortunately, due to our inability to access the rest of the country we asked for an extension to February, 2000, which we hope will be the last.

Meanwhile during the course of this period we maintained a separate account for their funds, send financial reports as well as narrative reports.

Within these period small grants were provided to us by the United States Embassy, World Vision and Dutch Interchurch Aid. For the United States Embassy and the World Vision all original receipts are forwarded as well as financial statements. For Dutch Interchurch Aid, the 
Programme Officer was sent from the Netherlands to do an assessment mission. They were so impressed with out financial statements and receipts compilation that they increased their grant by 100% to US $16,000 effective November, 1999.

Our organisation has never operated for a full year without one crisis or another. Therefore we have never been able to utilise all resources allocated to us. We had to be extending the grants period all the time, but always presenting financial statements and original receipts to
donors for resources utilised. This has prevented us from producing a consolidated annual account report. This year is the first time we have prepared a one year full programme with full staff for which all our donors have committed to provide grants. We have worked for the past three years with the same donors and continue to work with the same grant given to us. In some cases we are trying to finish the allocated grant since 1996 like with National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which expires on the 29 February, 2000 or close the grant and forward unutilised resources to a new set of activities like we did in the case of DFID’s grant.

For 1999/2000, we will be provided with nearly US$600,000 from donors, who have been funding us since 1996. This is an illustration of how satisfied they are with our work. We have moved from 2 employees to almost 30 countrywide. We are the first and only organisation that provide legal advice and representation, Human Rights Monitors nationwide effective 1st February, 2000, provide support to victims of domestic and sexual violence, micro credit to women across the country etc. 

Since we started the year’s programme, we have made sure we video and audio tape all our programmes, prepare reports for each activity and have snap shot which are kept in the office for everybody to access especially donors and interested parties. All these are to ensure
sufficient evidence is kept of our activities on record for the future benefit of ourselves and our donors.

We will be organising 65 conferences and seminars all over the country for the year 2000, 13 of these seminars will be on corruption. We built the organisation from nothing to an institution which has become a household name in Sierra Leone. We had a dream which we have worked hard to make a reality. 

We stood and fought for democracy in Sierra Leone because we believed in the ideals and principles of democracy, not because of our loyalty to the elected government. They were the embodiment of democracy and became the biggest beneficiary of our struggle. 

We were against the Lome Agreement not because we did not want peace, but because we realised when we looked at the draft agreement, it was going to be an impossible agreement to implement. Something that everybody including the international community has come to realise.

Despite our opposition to the peace agreement, we have being doing everything we can to support it and make sure it works including establishing dialogue and encouraging the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) and their leaders to disarm and demobilise and become part of the Sierra Leonean family. I have being nominated by the civil society to represent them in the commission headed by RUF leader Foday Sankoh. An offer I have turned down because of my busy schedule.

At the same time, we have been able to develop a partnership with government on the issues which we work on i.e. military, police, corruption, local government and decentralisation and electoral system.

We hope that this information will be helpful and if we can be of further assistance, please contact us at your convenience. 

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
 
 

Zainab Hawa Bangura (Mrs)
Coordinator