Liberia Council of Churches Urges Pres. Weah to Uphold Nat’l Code of Conduct; Wants Govt. Officials Removed from CDC Campaign Team
MONROVIA – The Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), through its President, Bishop Kortu K. Brown, has condemned the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of President George Manneh Weah, for flagrantly violating the National Code of Conduct Act through the inclusion of appointed government officials on the campaign team of the governing party.
In May 2014, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf signed into law the Code of Conduct Act following the House of Representatives concurrence with the Liberian Senate in March 2014.
Members of the 53rd National Legislature at the time passed the document, which was submitted by the Executive in 2009, in keeping with Article 90 (c) of the 1986 Liberian Constitution.
Article 90 (c) of the Constitution provides that “The Legislature shall prescribe a Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees stipulating the acts which constitute conflict of interest or are against public policy, and the penalties for violation thereof.”
The National Code of Conduct Act, which suffers series of setbacks prior to its passage, sets out standards of behavior, and conduct required of Public Officials and Employees of Government.
It also guides, regulates and ensures compliance with the norms and behaviors required of all Public Officials and Employees of Government for the sake of impartiality, objectivity, transparency, integrity, efficiency and effectiveness in the performance of their duties and mandates.
It can be recalled that on October 21, the governing CDC, headed by its Chairman Mulbah Morlu, named scores of appointed government officials to its campaign committee for the ensuing December 8, senatorial elections across the country.
The party named: Professor Wilson Tarpeh (Director of the Executive Protection Agency and former Minister of Commerce and Industry) as National Chairman, Williametta Piso Saydee-Tarr (Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection) for Media and Communication, Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee for Operations, and Deputy Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs Dr. Samora P. Z. Wolokolie for Policy and Strategy.
Others are National Port Authority (NPA) Managing Director Bill Tweahway as County Coordinator, Liberia’s Comptroller General Mr. Janga A. Kowo as Head/Campaign Secretariat, Education Minister Prof. D. Ansu Sonii Chairman for Region 1 (Montserrado & Margibi), Special Aid to the President Mr. Sekou Kalasco Damaro Secretary, Chief of Protocol of the Republic of Liberia Madam Nora Finda Bundoo Chairman Region 2 (River Gee & Maryland), the Director of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority Mr. Moses Y. Kollie as Chairman Region 3 (Grand Gedeh, Nimba & Lofa), among others.
But speaking in an interview with FrontPage Africa at his residence in Brewerville on Monday, October 26, Bishop Brown pointed out that the ruling party’s action undermines the tenets of good governance, including the upholding of the rule of law in Liberia.
He maintained that it does not augur well for Liberia and its people to see the CDC which consistently spoke in favor of the upholding of the Code of Conduct during its opposition days, to change gear at a time that the party now has the authority to do so.
He termed as “unacceptable” the open and fearless violation of the document by the CDC by naming public officials in top positions at revenue generating entities on its campaign committee.
“The LCC believes that CDC is wrong to appoint government officials on the campaign committee of the ruling party. It is a violation of Section 5.1 of the National Code of Conduct. They are in error with that kind of action which undermines the rule of law and the tenets of good governance. We supposed to be upholding and celebrating the rule of law at this time”.
“I know when the CDC was in opposition-one of their concerns was the upholding of the Code of Conduct; now that they are in the driver’s seat they are able to help strengthen and uphold the rule of law. But the CDC is openly violating the Code of Conduct without any remorse”.
Statutory functions downplayed
Bishop Brown pointed out that the appointment of these top officials on the campaign team of the CDC makes it difficult for them to carry out their assigned tasks and responsibilities in an effective and efficient manner.
He observed that tax payers’ monies would be wasted if these public officials boycott their statutory functions and engage into campaign activities for the ruling party.
He noted that the works or functions of these public officials appointed on the campaign committee of the CDC will be hindered if they leave their respective offices for the sake of canvassing for the governing party’s candidates in the ensuing senatorial elections.
“If you ask the Minister of Finance, the Director of the NPA, EPA Director and the other people to leave their statutory functions to go and start to run campaign for the party-How will they do the work of the state? In that wisdom, framers of the Code of Conduct suggested that people who are in appointed positions in government should not be involved into active politics or getting involved into electioneering activities. If these people go to campaign, their works will be undermined and slow”.
Shortage of people?
Bishop Brown further questioned the rationale behind the inclusion of appointed government officials on the campaign committee of the CDC, while representatives, senators and other partisans of the party are sidelined from being included on the team.
He noted that the officials of government appointed on the CDC campaign team have more work to do for Liberia and as such, they should concentrate on their statutory mandates, instead of engaging into seasonal campaign activities to please their political institution over the state.
“CDC cannot tell us that they do not have people. You have representatives serving, these same people can serve on the committee; you also have members from the counties that can serve. There are enough people in this country; and CDC has a lot of people who are able to man their campaign than designated people who already have national responsibilities in government”.
Bishop Brown added that the latest move by the leadership of the party is intended to shy away these appointed officials away from their national duties and responsibilities.
Wrong yesterday, wrong today
He recalled that the council was vocal during the regime of ex-Liberian leader Sirleaf, and as such, religious leaders will not sit supinely and witness the gross violation of the Code of Conduct without any objection.
“If the CDC is bent on this kind of action we refer to as flagrant violation of the constitution; they are making the document of no effect. If it was wrong yesterday when Unity Party was in power, it is wrong today”.
“Because it happened before, does not make it right; it was criticized by this same CDC. This country has to be seen to be strengthening the tenets of good governance. It doesn’t make sense that we continue to undermine ourselves in the area of the rule of law”.
Appeal to Weah
Meanwhile, Bishop Brown is calling on President George Manneh Weah, who is the political leader of the CDC, to ensure the withdrawal of the names of those he appointed to serve in government from the campaign activities of his party.
According to him, Liberia and its citizens are engulfed with numerous challenges and as such, the Liberian Chief Executive and his officials must put keen focus on the betterment of the lives of citizens in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“My appeal to President Weah is that, he should pull out the appointed people in his government from the campaign committee of the CDC and encourage them to focus. We are already faced with this pandemic which is having turmoil on our economy, and there is a need for our government officials to work to see how best they can alleviate the sufferings on the people. There is a lot of hunger and poverty that are surging”.
Focus on your works
“Livelihoods are threatened and the officials of government who were appointed to the cabinet level are supposed to be rendering the basic services that will help keep this country running. These people should focus on their works because; these are hard and difficult times”.
He noted that Liberia “needs the best in terms of leadership to be able to overcome economic, political and social challenges”, and therefore, President Weah should ensure that the ruling party uphold the rule of law and democratic tenets.
Bishop Brown stressed that the activities of the CDC must be separated from the government to ensure that ruling party officials focus on the forward match of their political institution, while those in government spearhead the running of the state for the betterment of its citizens.
“The CDC should withdraw the names of people like Wilson Tarpeh, Samuel Tweah, Bill Tweahway and those people who are appointed by the President and have statutory functions to be able to ensure that our country functions”.