The Chief Electoral Commissioner of the Electoral Commision for Sierra Leone (ECSL), Mohammed Konneh has made a statement addressing issues affecting the timely payment of all Polling staff via an online audio broadcast.
Since June, payments to over 8,000 election workers remain pending. In a previous statement, the commission attributed the delay to organizational challenges. However, in August, the ECSL unveiled a verification system for these workers, assuring that after this procedure, they would receive a unique “password” on their phones to claim their dues from any Sierra Leone commercial bank.
Although the Commission announced on Monday, September 18 that the verification process is now complete, several polling staff are yet to be paid.
In his widely-shared audio message, Konneh began by expressing gratitude towards all Ward Coordinators for their dedication and commitment. He commended their significant role in ensuring the June 23 Elections were both peaceful and transparent. He highlighted that since collaborating with the coordinators, multiple successful payments have been made for tasks ranging from voter registration to card issuance without any issues.
Konneh clarified, “For the payment of the Polling Staff, the responsibility lies with the UNDP—a multilateral fund. Originally, we planned for online mobile payments. However, the UNDP stipulated verification prerequisites before executing these payments, leading to the implementation of the mobile verification system. Over the past fortnight, they’ve managed to verify over 8,000 individuals, leaving around 1,000 unverified.”
He acknowledged the slower-than-expected pace of the process, which prompted the decision to send staff to the field to expedite verification. Over a recent weekend, teams met with Ward Coordinators, urging them to relay this information to the polling staff for their participation in the verification.
However, Konneh voiced his dissatisfaction with some Ward Coordinators, accusing them of intentionally obstructing the process. He emphasized that while their initial contract duration has been extended by a month—with consideration for another extension—some appear to be undermining their efforts. He warned polling staff that this might be their final opportunity for payment processing.
Furthermore, Konneh indicated that they’ve pinpointed those causing disruptions. He stated, “Based on their audio messages and identities, we’re well aware of the culprits.” He stressed that the Commission won’t hesitate to let the law take its course if necessary.