Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2007 The Political Year: Which Way Forward?

2007 marks the political year that will determine the next president of Sierra Leone. Apparently, there are three main political parties in the Country, which are moving the length and breath of the country marketing their political ideologies to the electorate.To most political analysts, the day of preparations is quite different from the day of the elections and therefore the foundation for any political success depends largely on the preparations. It is very important for one to delve into the preparations of these major political parties and see their potentials for political gains. The opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) party is facing an internal court wrangling with regards constitutional issues and the matter is yet to be concluded. This scenario has created a serious set-back for the party as most of the aggrieved complainants are very popular with their people. Despite all the grievances in the party, the past local government elections in the capital city, Freetown clearly indicated that the All Peoples Congress (APC) party has a better chance in the capital city compared to any other political party. In fact, investigations carried out by this writer in the northern  strict headquarter of Makeni clearly indicates that, the opposition APC party stands a better chance in the north notwithstanding the fact that politics is unpredictable. In the eastern part of Sierra Leone, especially Kono district, the negative activities of Koidu Holdings, the exploration process of SLDC, Milestone Mining Company, to name a but few, have given some gains to the APC party over the SLPP. Actually, a single political party cannot claim dominance in Kono District entirely as compared to other districts in the country. Unlike the opposition All People Congress (APC) party, the internal wrangling within the ruling Sierra Leone People Party (SLPP) started after the Makeni convention sometime last year. That particular convention brought a serious split in the SLPP which gave birth to the newly formed Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) party spearheaded by Mr. Charles Francis Margai. Most political pundits are with the notion that the formation of the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change has made it difficult for the ruling SLPP party to claim domination of the southern and eastern provinces of Sierra Leone as it used to be. Certainly, Sierra Leoneans are with the conviction that the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections would bring about the necessary changes in this country, as they are quite aware of the fact that, the past elections in this country for legislative seats were on the basis of proposition representation. In fact, there are parliamentarians in this country who do not seek the interest of their people whilst others have vehemently failed to deliver the necessary goods to develop their people. Virtually, the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections would be purely based on constituency basis, and those who have failed to do something progressive in their various constituencies would find it very difficult to make a head-way. The year 2006 has been described by most people as the best in this country as so many political developments have taken place. They made mention of the formation of the political parties Registration Commission which would be responsible to regulate the political activities in this country. The establishment of the decentralization secretariat which is also playing a pivotal role towards the Democratization of this country and the clarion call for political tolerance amongst political parties through the help of the National Electoral Commission which recently won a debate in parliament on the boundary delimitation process. Despite all these, the electorates of this country are with the fixed conviction that, the year 2006 has not brought the necessary changes as anticipated due to the appalling standards of living which have be fallen this nation. Most of the electorates are claiming that, the country is seriously facing with economic stagnation backed by the high rates of unemployment, low productivity, corruption in high places of work which are completely shrouded with the abysmal darkness in and around the city centres. However, the idealists school of thought are arguing that, the ruling SLPP government has done extremely well to improve the rule of law, good governance, human rights and the reconstruction of the connaught hospital, Kissy mental home which was completely destroyed during the civil conflict. The idealists school of thought also made mention of the infrastructural developments that are now taking place in some parts of the country, the creation of National Social Security Scheme (NASSIT) which would improve on the social status of workers country wide after retirement age or during the course of work when a sudden death occurr, the National Revenue Authority which is solely responsible to raise income for the government through the imposition of taxes to name but few. Despite all these, critics strongly believe that, most of these institutions are the handy work of the World Bank and IMF; a means to remote-control the government which is highly depended on donor funds and loans. Others are with the conviction that, all these developmental projects are connected with the pre-requisite of the poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) which is mandatory to the government. In fact, most of these critics are not very much convince with the way and manner the presidential flag bearer of the ruling SLPP party is down-playing the politics of this country. They observed that, the honourable Vice President and Presidential aspirant of the ruling SLPP, Mr. Solomon Berewa is using all sorts of political tricks to get rid of his political opponents. These critics pointed out that, the CKC week in Bo was a complete political set-up intended to incarcerate the interim leader of the People Movement of Democratic Change (PMDC) party. They also made mention of the body guard of Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma who mid this year was allegedly arrested by Vice President Berewas body guards with a pistol and he was subsequently dragged to police where further charges were made against him. Apparently, the imposition of paramount chiefs in the various chiefdoms without the consent of the people in those particular chiefdoms has been viewed by so many political analysist as a political manipulation, as the Sandor chieftaincy elections and the Biriwa Limba chieftaincy elections were questionable to a very large extent. Therefore, it is very much necessary for the electorates of this country to look for those who have delivered and are still improving their localities with developmental programmes. For the interim leader of the PMDC party, Mr. Charles Margai, political monopoly would not be necessary at now as there are so many competent young and dynamic PMDC members who should also contest for the leadership of the party. Monopoly does not have any room in a Democratic society where there is a wide range of choice for the electorates. Conclusively, the upcoming 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections would bring about the necessary changes in this country as the (PR) system would be something of the past, there by allowing the people of this country to elect their own representatives in parliament instead of selection by the political parties as it used to be. And the electorates of this country should not allow politicians to buy their votes as it used to be in the past. All they need to do is for them to be very much circumspect in casting their votes. Allowing a politician to abuse you and refuse you later would be very disastrous for the political development of this country. Sierra Leoneans should think about development, twenty four hours electricity supply, high rats of employment and other developmental projects that would improve on the standards of living and wherein poverty, HIV/AIDS, Malaria and frustration would be something of the past.

Source: A New Political Year is Near: Which Way Forward?