A consortium of civil society organizations, led by the Executive Director of Sierra Leone Civil Rights Coalition, Alphonso Manley, has condemned Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs, Sylvia O. Blyden, for “persistently intimidating, humiliating and embarrassing” some senior officials and professionals in the ministry.
Manley was addressing journalists and civil society activists yesterday at a town hall meeting held at the National Stadium, where he disclosed that the minister recently made a report at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) against the Permanent Secretary, Chief Social Services Officer, and the head and deputy of Information and Communications Technology Department, accusing them of “criminal conspiracy to siphon donor funds.”
Manley maintained that it was not the mandate and responsibility of the minister to hire and fire any official in her ministry, adding that such authority was the exclusive purview of the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO).
“Dr. Sylvia Blyden does not have the right to tender such document to the Sierra Leone Police. There is a mechanism within the HRMO to address grievances and any other issues,” he said.
The Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Civil Right Coalition continued that the minister made a hasty decision to report to the police instead of referring the matter to President Ernest Bai Koroma and wait for the latter’s response.
Also, Moses Sao Lamina, from Accountability Now –Sierra Leone, voiced a strong protest against the action of the minister, whose behaviour he noted had the tendency to create serious chaos in the ministry.
Less than six months in the ministry, Blyden has clashed with senior ministry officials at least on two occasions, and is quick to run to the police to investigate, a move ostensibly to have officials arrested and detained.
She is no stranger to controversy and fallouts, famously engaging in a public spat with her colleagues at State House while serving as Special Executive Assistant to the President, and with top officials of the ruling All Peoples Congress.
Her action has been condemned as a witch-hunt against perceived opposition sympathisers, with a potential to further destabilise a ministry that has seen more than its fair share of shenanigans, following an infamous spat between the former minister and his deputy, who were both sacked by the president.