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Should Sierra Leone's sport minister resign or be sacked?

  • Paul Kamara, Sierra Leone sport minister

By Isaac Massaquoi It is up to President Ernest Bai Koroma to ask Paul Kamara to resign or sack him for his part in that social media disgrace that has shamed this country. But I believe Kamara should remain in office because, the real intention of those who recorded and released that exchange is to embarrass Jebor Sherrington into resigning his job as Technical Director at the Sierra Leone Football Association. That's the target. In fact, Paul Kamara is only part of the collateral damage resulting from the latest twist in the dangerous power grab being attempted at SLFA headquarters by three people. The angle from which I am coming at this debate is certainly not the most popular one from the reaction I have monitored so far in the media. It is easy to join the bandwagon and call for the resignation or sacking of both Sherrington and Kamara. Maybe they should resign, because the exchange between them which is now all over social media is as unfortunate as it totally avoidable. But please allow me to step back a bit and present the reasons why I believe that leaving all his other transgression aside, Kamara would remain in office if we took out all emotions in reaching a conclusion on this matter. Let's put the conversation in context: I understand that it took place sometime in October 2014 just after Sherrington and others had returned from Cameroon as part of an SLFA delegation that was sent to that country by the SLFA, as a deliberate challenge to an earlier one dispatched by minister Paul Kamara which included two coaches and a team manager. Kamara had decided that upon their return he would ban all those in the renegade SLFA delegation from the national stadium. We can argue about the correctness of his decision to ban people from a public space like that without a court order or whether he had any business fielding a technical team without the consent of the SLFA some other time. Then as now, there was a lot of tension around football in Sierra Leone. In fact, since the day Isha Johansen was controversially elected to lead the SLFA, there has been no peace. How many times has president Koroma personally intervened to restore even a modicum of sanity in the local game? By the I haven't spoke to Paul Kamara or Jebor Sherrington on this issue. In fact, I haven't seen or spoken to any of them since the national stadium was locked down because of Ebola. But I have listened to the audio material in question over and over again. I conclude without any shadow of doubt that this was a clear case of entrapment. The call was initiated from Sherrington's end. I refuse to say by Sherrington because I have this feeling that he used a sophisticated phone belonging to one of those who I also believe was one of at least three people who could be clearly heard giggling away in the background as the exchange grew heated. And as an experienced police officer, unless he needed to establish a criminal case against the minister by means of the recording, Sherrington had no reason recording that conversation and then leaking it nearly ten months later only to embarrass himself and his family in this way. There were other hands at work at that time. They are still at work. As far as I am concerned Kamara acted in self-defence as any of us would do if we came under such volleys of expletives as released by Sherrington in the beginning. Let's face it, which of us would allow ourselves to be punched so hard without fighting back as best we could? It's just natural that no matter how much we avoid such loud and aggressive behaviour, at some point in our lives we would have cause to demonstrate that we were also capable of holding our own when it came to such matters. Sherrington's approach was totally disrespectful. I could sense that he was ready to charge like a bull would do at the sight of a red rag from the moment Kamara picked up the call. I am very surprised that Kamara didn't have Sherrington's number stored in his phone after working so closely with him all these years. That goes support my conspiracy theory, you can call it that, that Sherrington's call came from a phone belonging to one of those hoping to benefit from the veteran coach being sacked from his job as Technical Director. In the first few seconds of the conversation, Kamara is heard trying to identify the person at the  end of the line. Once he realised he was on to Sherrington, he then sought to explain why he issued the banning order. It was at that point that Sherrington released the first volley. Unless people have a different versions of the material, this is what transpired. I have just listened to it for the umpteenth time. Those who know Sherrington would easily say that with age and experience, he is a quiet man who goes about his job professionally. He definitely had no reason to record that conversation knowing the damage it would to his reputation if it landed in the hands of his enemies in the world of football as has now happened. The quality of that recording, about ten months after it was done, suggests to me that it was recorded on a very sophisticated phone and carefully preserved in broadcast quality for this day. Sherrington is not the sort of guy who would do that. From the minister's end, this was a private conversation between the two of them. I am quite sure, Kamara was speaking on his private phone, possibly after office hours. While I believe that the people expect very high moral standards from public officials like him, I have to say that all of us engage in private conversations on the phone and on different social media platforms on all sorts of topics daily. I cannot even begin to imagine for one minute the social dislocation that would take place if those we talk to all the time, decide to record all those conversations and then release them to the public via social media? I have looked at this issue purely based on the audio clip the was sent to me by at least four people who are on many social media forums in this country. And I do not believe Kamara is blameless because he had a lot of time to simply walk away from such a wild attack if not for any other reason but the fact that he is minister of government. I don't know if Kamara would learn any lessons from this because he does not seem to know who is actually manipulating things against him from Kingtom. If he needs any clues then here goes: the same person who organised and financed the Swaray Must Go Campaign is also driving this one. It was by that campaign that the former SLFA Secretary General was thrown out of office. Kamara may have traveled quite a distance now away from the Johansen camp but his role in bringing the controversially-elected Isha Johansen to office will go down in history as a serious error of judgement that may even define his tenure in that ministry. He arrived there with a puritanical zeal to clean up football in particular because he had concluded many years ago that the SLFA was incurably corrupt and that he was ordained to do something about it starting his messianic mission on the pages of his newspaper. Even today, Kamara doesn't trust most of the people around the game because he believes they betrayed him when he took on the administration of Justice Tolla Thompsom. The truth however,  is that Justice Thompson's administration is the best ever in that SLFA. If Kamara survives this politically, I would be very surprised if he ever discussed official matters on his private mobile phone any time soon. (C) Politico 26/06/15