The Mayor, his Deputy and their CEO: unravelling the KMC imbroglio
The Mayor’s interview & the CEO’s response seem to have made things clearer:-
Firstly, both agree that the CEO’s actionsexposed the KMC to a potential 12 million dalasi loss (of which the Mayor says some 7.7 million have been saved and the rest should be easily recouped, even if from the CEO and the Finance Officer personally).
Secondly, the Mayor says the CEO’s actions were fraudulent and illegal (involving forgeries of staff signatures and KMC documentation and “gross over-valuation” of purchased property). In ordinary circumstances these are serious charges which would guarantee imprisonment if proven in a court of law. But nothing is “ordinary” in The Gambia! What’s more, the CEO seems to justify her actions as being “visionary” and for the “benefit” of those defrauded! The Gambia being such a forgiving country, the CEO would in all likelihood walk away Scot-free – inspite of the fact that the Mayor has reported the matter to the Police Fraud Squad.
Thirdly, regarding the resignation of the Deputy Mayor, the Mayor is adamant that zero funds whatsoever was paid to Ecotec – the company from which the Deputy Mayor is said to have solicited a one million dalasi bribe. The Mayor’s view is that no funds of the KMC were at risk – because he, the Mayor, personally cancelled a cheque made payable to Ecotec while the Mayor was out of the country. It seems that the Deputy Mayor’s multiple bereavements would justify the Mayor’s action in allowing the Deputy Mayor to resign on “compassionate grounds”.
The Mayor’s strong stance against corruption is refreshing and admirable in the context of The Gambia (where an Anti-Corruption Commission and a Proceeds of Crime Act are badly needed but unlikely to be established – under PoCA one has to account for that 10 million dalasi home if one’s salary is only 15,000 dalasis a month).
The Mayor, as a champion fighter against corruption, must welcome “leaks” to the media by whistleblowers. Journalists and the media are his partners in the fight against corruption and the Mayor should have called this press conference a month ago and alerted the media … and suspended the officials in June when he first saw the “illegal transactions”.
In general, the Mayor’s actions are commendable and must be applauded. It must also be accepted that the Mayor too is human and he must have a great sense of sadness and disappointment in being let down by his most senior colleagues at KMC. Of course, the sadness is shared by everyone because this whole episode lays bare the rampant corruption that leads to children not having desks to sit on in classrooms, women in child-birth dying of neglect because hospitals lack vital equipment and medicines, and SOS Children’s Home being exposed to the poison from the Bakoteh Rubbish Dump … in other words, corruption destroys lives.