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Thursday, June 20, 2024

EXECUTIVE MANSION’S SILENCE ON DEAL WITH BUSINESSMAN ROBERT GUMEDE UNDER FIRE

Date:

MONROVIA — In a controversial move that has left many Liberians concerned, the Unity Party (UP)-led government has announced a business deal with a South African businessman, Robert Gumede, notorious for corruption. This announcement of 285 earth-moving equipment procured for infrastructure purposes, made by Minister of State Without Portfolio Madam Mamaka Bility on Friday, May 24, at the just-concluded three-day Cabinet Retreat held at the EJS Ministerial Complex in Monrovia, has been met with widespread skepticism and demands for transparency, as the Executive Mansion has remained silent on the specifics of the transaction and the source of funding.

The nature of the transaction—whether it is a loan, grant, donation, or direct purchase—remains undisclosed. Each of these options carries significant implications for governance and the rule of law in Liberia. If the transaction is a loan, it must be ratified by the Legislature according to the Liberian Constitution. If it is a direct purchase, utilizing the budget approved by the Legislature, then the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) law and Public Financial Management (PFM) law must be followed. The PPCC law and Revenue Law indicate that transactions above $1 million must go through public tender and require Legislative approval.

The Executive Mansion’s silence on the matter is troubling for many. Transparency and accountability are essential in a democracy, and the public has the right to know the specifics of any significant transaction involving their government, especially when it involves a figure with a known history of corruption. The lack of information raises concerns about the integrity of the deal and undermines public trust in the government.

The announcement has stirred a wave of criticism from various sectors, including civil society organizations, opposition parties, and the general public. Critics argue that the government’s failure to provide details about the transaction indicates deeper issues of governance and transparency within the current administration. They question why the government would engage with a businessman known for corrupt practices and why the details of the transaction are being kept from public scrutiny.

Several lawmakers have called for an immediate investigation into the deal. They argue that the government must disclose the nature of the transaction, the source of funding, and the terms and conditions involved. Without this information, they contend, it is impossible to assess the legality and appropriateness of the deal.

If the transaction involves public funds, it is imperative that all legal procedures are followed. The PPCC law requires that any government contract exceeding $1 million must be subjected to a competitive bidding process. This process ensures that the government receives the best value for money and that the transaction is conducted in a fair and transparent manner. Additionally, the PFM law mandates stringent financial management practices to ensure that public funds are used efficiently and effectively.

The government’s apparent disregard for these legal requirements raises serious concerns about its commitment to good governance and the rule of law. It also sets a dangerous precedent for future transactions, potentially opening the door to further corruption and mismanagement of public resources.

The silence from the Executive Mansion is particularly concerning given Liberia’s historical context of corruption. The country has struggled with corruption for decades, and successive governments have pledged to tackle the issue. However, the lack of transparency in this latest transaction suggests that little progress has been made.

To restore public trust and demonstrate its commitment to transparency, the government must immediately release all relevant information about the transaction. This includes the identity of the South African businessman, the nature of the transaction, the source of funding, and the terms and conditions involved. Additionally, the government must ensure that all legal procedures are followed and that the transaction is subject to public scrutiny.

The lack of transparency surrounding the UP-led government’s controversial deal with a corrupt South African businessman is a serious cause for concern. The Executive Mansion’s silence on the matter only serves to heighten suspicions and undermine public trust. To uphold the principles of good governance and the rule of law, the government must provide full disclosure and ensure that all legal requirements are met. The Liberian people deserve nothing less.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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