Corrupt and inefficient practices as the status quo in public and private spheres are the real impediments to growth and development of the country, Ambassador Debora Malac has observed.
She insisted that for Liberia to develop, “things will have to change. “And people will have to be made uncomfortable.”
Speaking recently at the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) President’s Lecture Series in Monrovia, Ambassador Malac said, “People have to be shaken out of their current habits and they need to take collective responsibility for moving the country forward together as Liberians.”
Ambassador Malac indicated that it is a necessity for things to change, though change is not always comfortable.
“It [change] creates resistance because it usually [shakes] things up and moves people out of their comfort zones and this must happen if Liberia is to be developed,” she asserted.
She also indicated that Liberians need to change their mind about the judicial process of the country, especially as it relates to corruption cases. Those indicted should not be found guilty through the court of public opinion, but rather through due process in a court of competent jurisdiction.
“Those indicted are not guilty until proven guilty by the court,” she stressed.
Ambassador Malac suggested that Liberia can reach its potential, development and economic wise, when there is a robust, more functional decentralization exercise spearheaded by the central government.
Locals across the country, she suggested, should now begin to take charge of their own development activities while the central government plays supervisory roles. “Liberians need to consult and agree upon what development should look like for them,” Ambassador Malac said.
Though not suggesting another round of nationwide consultations like the Vision 2030, the Constitution Review exercise and the National Oil Company consultation exercise, Ambassador Malac said Liberians from all walks of life need to establish a consensus on what development should look like and decide on those things that they need to prioritize.
“I’m saying communities need to get involved in making decisions on the ground about things that directly affect them,” she explained.
She added: “Local communities, not the central government, should direct their own development projects, while Monrovia will provide the overall coordination and ensure the provision of resources to meet out those plans.”
The ambassador explained that counties, cities, towns and villages need to take care of their own development agenda rather than waiting for Monrovia to step in and do it for them. Government is constrained and will always be constrained and will not do all.
“But if the village decides that it will sit and wait for Monrovia to bring development to their door steps, they may be waiting for a very, very long time,” she warned.
She stated that the government has a role to play and it is a very important one. The central government needs to create the enabling environment for development to take place. The government should guide development partners and the stability needs to start and sustain the economic and inclusive development.
The AMEU President’s Lecture Series is an initiative of the new President of the university, Dr. Joseph T. Isaac. The series, usually addressed by stakeholders invited by the president, discusses a wide range of national issues.