SLPP’s leadership woes – a point of view

Bashiru Vandi

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 January 2016

SLPP Peace talks - 8 Nov 2015 2

It’s amusing to read the differing explanations put forward, regarding the current electoral predicaments and palpable ineptitude of the SLPP.

Indeed, one is constantly entertained by the valiant efforts of factional camps within the SLPP, implicitly or overtly pointing the accusing finger at each other for the ignoble and systemic demise of the party.

SLPP is one of the oldest political parties in Africa. It is intellectually, strategically and productively supposed to be head and shoulders above the rest in Sierra Leone’s politics.

So what is amiss? What has gone wrong? What are the real reasons behind the recent ascendancy of the APC and obvious descendancy of the SLPP?

As a true Sierra Leonean patriot who does not subscribe to the ‘ideology’ of any political party in Sierra Leone, I believe citizens like me are better placed to honestly hit the nail on the head – politically speaking.

Maada Bio and President KoromaBut before analysing these reasons, it’s vital to quickly debunk all the habitual factors paraded as causes by rival SLPP factions: internal fractiousness, paopaism, Maada Bio’s alleged endorsement of the APC leadership.

People forget that opposition political parties are habitually fractious and querulous, simply because they are not in power. Remember the APC’s troubles in opposition?

Cast your mind on the internal squabbles of both the UK’s Tory and Labour parties in opposition. So SLPP’s internal upheavals are simply norms of the game.

Equally, paopaism cannot be blamed for the party’s national ineptitude because Maada Bio is not the one in charge of the SLPP. If the man is allowed to wield disproportional power, he will obviously do so and SLPP leadership should be squarely blamed for it.

So I would rather focus on the real social, economic and political factors responsible for SLPP’S demise.

Freetown street traders2Socially – a miscalculation

SLPP’s strategists seem to counterproductively miscalculate or underestimate the formidable dexterity of the APC at communicating with voters.

It is for instance, easier for an illiterate village-dwelling peasant to easily grasp the APC’s ” de Pa dae woke” mantra, than for such voter to ponder the loftiness of SLPP’s “we established NASSIT”.

So although the latter is a much more formidable achievement, the APC would easily win the race of attracting the voter’s attention.

Economically – identical elitism

In government, both political parties have woefully failed to discard the imagery of economic elitism.

Poverty in saloneThis means that both have entrenched the perception of inherent and systemic corruption, that unfairly and unscrupulously enriches those in the establishment, at the crippling expense of the masses.

Voters are not stupid – even the most illiterate are conscious of this.

Consequently, the SLPP cannot realistically exploit corruption scandals under APC, without reminding voters of Emerson’s anti-SLPP “Two fut arata” song.

When one considers APC’s superior ability to talk the layman’s language, it’s not rocket science to deduce why the SLPP struggles to dislodge APC electorally.

Politically – ideological bankruptcy

An intellectual assessment of our political parties, and indeed most African political parties, will uncover the dearth of distinct ideological values and principles.

When one thinks of the Democrats and Republicans in the USA, Tories and Labour in the UK, the Apartheid National Party of South Africa, one instantly acquaints all of them with a distinct political conviction: socialism, capitalism, fascism or racism.

But if one cast aside the ideological theories put forward on their respective websites, one is easily bemused by the total lack of political direction of both our political parties.

corruption3Both claim to be ” democratic and development oriented” but the prevalent imprint on people’s minds about the two major parties is a plethora of corruption scandals, autocracy, failed promises and chronic dependence on foreign aid.

In conclusion therefore, it’s obvious that the SLPP has tragically transformed itself into a replica of the ruling APC. But it is weak at talking to the largely illiterate electorate.

One can therefore logically deduce that, irrespective of who leads SLPP – paopa or no paopa, SLPP disunity or not – the ruling APC will continue to dominate politics in Sierra Leone, until the official opposition effectively tackle these three major problems, and adopt the language of the common man.

Most ominously, the longer these problems remain, the quicker will Sierra Leone acquire the most unenviable title of being the first multi-party nation in post-colonial Africa, that by default, democratically votes for a one party state

8 Comments

  1. Maria, please always try to understand my line of argument. I am neither A.P.C. nor S.L.P.P. I cannot stomach both of them. I describe them as I see them, in the same way as you should be able to do.

    A commentator should always remain aloof, only then can he do his job convincingly and objectively.

    I am prepared to praise Earnest Koroma if he does something good. The same thing goes for S.L.P.P. I am a Sierra Leone first before I am anything else.

    I consider belonging to either major party is equal to putting on a straitjacket and asking for myopic symptoms.

    My inclination to support Charles Margai’s P.M.D.C., is grounded on the fact that whenever there is a national issue, he is the only one who asks pertinent questions.

    At the height of the Ebola missing funds, only Charles Margai had the nerve (in Sierra Leone) to want to know where the money went that was given to parliamentarians to help their respective constituencies.

    Where were S.L.P.P. and other opposition figures – eating “cassada brade” somewhere ?

  2. Mr. Sorie,

    You surprise me when at the end of your comment you call on Sierra Leoneans to switch to the P.M.D.C. Following your arguments, I would have expected you to be the chief recruiting agent for the A.P.C as you seem to be full of praise for their street corner value approach to politics and governance.

    Do you for one instance reflect on the fact that it is a thinking pattern like yours that has destroyed Sierra Leone?

    Like the A.P.C that you admire, you have no respect for institutions hence your subtle swipe at NASSIT.

  3. I love the news I usually read in this medium, because it is very educative and it gives more information about what is happening in my country.

  4. Lansana , [please call me Santhkie], I would like you to reread the article. It stays right in the middle. To the author , the two major parties are O’giri and Kainda. They both mercilessly stink.

    But here is the difference : A.P.C. run to the stream or shower constantly and use the most expensive perfume before getting near people, to avoid being repulsive.

    S.L.P.P., on the other hand, set fire around the stream and fail to pay the water bill. They cannot get close to people.

    In a fight for the people’s mind, in the scenario just given, who do you think will win Lansana ?

    When campaigning, A.P.C. say Kekeh Kallon or O’kass. S.L.P.P. say Mr Kallon or Mr Kamara. Within our African culture whose approach carries more force ?

    De pa dae woke, we established NASSIT. Who does pa Sorie quickly understand ?

    When one catches criticisms from all sides, it means that one is maintaining strict neutrality. That’s how it has been FOR me. Many thanks Lansana.

    In the article, the author wrote for me. He hammers both A.P.C. and S.L.P.P.

    We should all switch over to Charles Margai’s P.M.D.C.

  5. Mr. Santhkie Sorie,

    What argument are you really advancing? The original article is on the leadership woes in the SLPP, which is poorly argued by the writer as his focus seems to rather be on the political successes of the APC.

    Yet what the writer fails to argue is that these successes are driven mainly by electoral dishonesty, fraud and the lack of integrity in the political process on the part of the APC. Is this not the truth?

    Do you expect the SLPP to be like the APC? No, these two parties are not the same as you wrongly suggest. They are totally different. While one (the SLPP) is committed to democracy and the rule of law, the other (the APC) is committed to political deceit, violence and electoral fraud – vices that you seem to admire very much.

    Do you still believe that the writer’s “piece is unbiased, well argued and untainted within the chosen context.”

  6. I totally agree with the writer. I believe the piece is unbiased, well argued and untainted within the chosen context.

    We all know that both major political parties [ S.L.P.P. and A.P.C.] are virtually the same. However, A.P.C. are faster in the head politically and more skillful.

    S.L.P.P. are daydreamers. Worst still, they have turned Maada Bio to Snowball in George Orwell’s classic – Animal Farm, blaming him for all the ills of the party.

    The writer never implied that A.P.C. were clean, only that they were good political fighters. I have always maintained that A.P.C will hit you below the belt, and as you go down in pain, they will hit you some more to finish you off sooner.

    It was A.P.C. who introduced the politics of Violence in Sierra Leone under Siaka Stevens and gave credence to whole scale corruption. They have never been clean, but they fight to win. S.L.P.P. fights to lose.

  7. Sam I totally agree with you. The writer’s argument and analysis are weak and simplistic.
    He failed to factor in and acknowledge the massive electoral fraud and abuse of state owned media by APC to win elections.
    He also failed to mention APC’s politically motivated violence and intimidation during elections.
    One should read his opinion with great caution.

  8. Like many other writers on the subject of political dynamics in Sierra Leone, this writers mentions nothing about APC dishonesty and lack of integrity at the polls as a major factor in its electoral successes.

    How can the APC not look invincible in the face of two stolen presidential terms?

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