Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
14 December 2012
From all indications, that exactly sums up the main opposition SLPP that appears not to have recovered from the lukewarm political stunt of former President Kabbah, when he unleashed an exploding political weapon of mass destruction, after the emergence of his then deputy, as flag bearer.
Its circus of horrors since that perverted nature of a mind, based on cold-blooded contempt for the normal acceptable rules of political warfare, not only ensured that the SLPP lost the 2007 elections, which appears to have far-reaching consequences than imagined.
In fact, it threatens the very survival of that party and in the absence of any other viable opposition group – a virile democratic setting in Sierra Leone.
Looking at events of the past five years, it has become imperative that in carrying out a post-mortem, the SLPP, not only need to feed from the department of home truth, it needs to appreciate that the collective defiance to confront its demon and face the fact of what divides rather than unite its members, borders on delusion.
The complexity of that unflattering and grisly action of Kabbah, which has so polarised the party, is partly responsible for its poor showing in this year’s poll among other facts, such as the boomerang of insincerity, tactical intrigues and the coalition of diametrically opposed bedfellows under a modicum of unity.
These underlying currents blinded rational reasoning in the overall context of the party’s ultimate goal.
Guided by the cold calculation of strategic interests, than by principles, the party, short of influential elders that could stand stoically upright in defence of the entrenched ideology of the party, was caught in the vehemence of surrounding, past and present controversies.
Attempts to patch the leak and re-arrange the deck chairs on its Titanic, in a bid to sate the mob’s appetite of the many hungry mouths in its fold, ended with anomie and mutiny and threw it into disarray; making it difficult to rise from its deep slumber to become a cohesive and credible alternative to the ruling party.
The result was a lame duck candidate left to fend for himself; except for a few well-schooled fundamentalists who decided to stand up to the political tempest from all directions.
Watching the party’s attitude towards its own candidate reminded me of a scenario, where a man goes to meet the burglar who broke into his house and is forced to watch television on the plasma screen that was nicked from him.
Even when the election appeared evenly balanced, the SLPP stuck its nose in the bag; in a perverted nature of a mind based on self-destruction, evil machinations and the idea of power. Forgetting that in Sierra Leone, the rules changed a long time ago.
Actually, there are no rules any more in our complex political landscape where the only decorations are the ones on the graves of our founding fathers, whose foresight to give this country true emancipation and self-awareness.
We have paid back with thoughtless, sentimental and utterly frivolous and unprecedented tribalism, self-centeredness and unproductive socio-economic and political development. The SLPP is clearly a symbol of this.
Even though it appeared the collective dream of the party was laid out on a well-made bed of order, its cynical and frivolous spirit soon ensured that its intended sweet dream quickly turned into nightmares, because of a deeply flawed internal histrionics.
Apart from sliding into an arrogance, based upon the perfidious belief of its past success and a warped reliance on the affection of a people that it let down so badly in the latter stage of its post-war reign, the party made the fig leaf a fashion trend.
This brings me to the party’s immediate reaction to the outcome of the November polls.
I mean, even with truth on your side, it can still be extremely hard to make others believe you.
At a time when the credibility of all politicians and their parties in Sierra Leone is at an all-time low and people see the groups as being as bad as each other, did the SLPP really expect the pulverised masses to pay any attention to post-election cries of foul, greed, parochialism, nepotism, political and democratic criminality in our politics?
Perhaps there was a place for that when genuine debate, discussion and even argument was permitted, but is there anyone left , other than those living in the parallel universe of professional politics, that believes our democracy and the polity to be a semblance of what it should really be?
Right now, the principles of democracy feels embattled because of the political chaos and the festering sense of resentment stirred by the reversion to old political partiality and prejudices; as well as the economic blizzard and the seemingly high level of kleptocracy in our society.
Yes, the main integrity of the electoral process, personnel and incumbent regime might appear tainted and stomach churning to the SLPP and other observers, but it was the party’s blunders, division, lack of cohesion and inability to galvanise to re-invent itself since losing in 2007, which led to its failure to achieve its planned seismic shift.
An African proverb says when the rhythm of the drums changes, the dancers must also change their steps.
It is pointless, having accepted to be part of the 15-seconds race-for-life, for the SLPP to now wear the expression of a man asked by his girlfriend to hold her handbag, especially when there is clearly a sense of resignation and weary acceptance among its core supporters.
This of course, is a symptom of national mollycoddling and the knowledge of ethnic security, which has skewed our sense of patriotism and fairness.
It is this same symptom of our ‘whatever’ culture, which has left us, collectively as a society, unable to confront the truth, especially where our leaders are concerned; or where dollar/Leone signs dangle before us, like a fat apple ready to be plucked.
That is why, whether coerced or not, the recent visit to President Koroma, of the SLPP flag-bearer was a welcome relief.
Had he insisted on going down the party’s initial route of having nothing to do with the winning party, the action would have had all the charms of a public loo and be counter-productive in the present realities.
Sincerely speaking, it would have had as much impact as the sound of a trumpet in a hurricane.
Really, there is nothing dirty about politics. It is the actors’ decision not to sometime elevate it to a gentleman’s game, governed by ethics and fair play, that has turned it into a serious embarrassment to the wit of discernible observers.
The SLPP’s hierarchy and leadership, therefore need to realise and think beyond what could be perceived as narrow and myopic horizons. To be on the front foot, you really have to be predatory and the SLPP failed to do that, when it mattered most. Simple.
Anyway, for a nation in a state of constant flux, our politics has become a curiously stagnant practice, where in a little while everything changes and the next minute, everything is the same again.
That is why until today, we are still holding out for a hero to fill the void in our existence.
The election is over. The SLPP cannot say it is unaware that in our political system, choice has become a myth. So, opening itself to being accused of “throwing its toys out of the pram”, will therefore produce no significant allies; given that the party, like a eunuch, compromised on its treasured policies and accepted the manoeuvring of the government in the run up to the election.
It had the opportunity then, to raise its widespread concerns about the prospect of electoral annihilation, even when it was obvious that the set-up of the system was loaded in so many ways, against the free will of the people. It only did so half-heartedly.
Even launching a legal challenge may be another journey to nowhere. For obvious reasons, the courts are not likely to accede to any vigorously argued grounds of appeal, out of moral cowardice and the fact that no beneficiary will arm-wrestle his benefactor in the name of truth, justice and equity; especially in a setting, that is a betrayal of democratic principles.
As for the National Electoral Commission, forget it.
Definitely, the most that is going to happen is a repeat of 2007, with a few seats annulled to pacify the aggrieved party. All indications are that whatever deed may have transpired is done.
If it still feels upset, the SLPP can box from its corner without turning the fight into a street brawl.
However, it should realise that Sierra Leoneans are fed up with the current incapacitating social and political environment, whose origin can largely be traced to the conduct of the members of the party itself.
For one, since losing the 2007 election, the party has failed to build a virile platform, not only to challenge the government of the day, in the mode of a well-articulated shadow government, but it also forgot to ensure a widespread orientation of the people on what good governance is all about.
In its preparation for future political processes such as the 2012 elections, it forgot that no nation could make progress or become prosperous, as long as it lacks a politically suave and intellectual society.
Meanwhile, we should as well not forget the fact that the absurdities in our democratic dispensation is traceable also to the SLPP, which though, regards itself as the party of the people, is culpable for everything that has happened to our society since independence.
Remember it was Albert Margai’s failure, which led to the emergence of Khaki men and Siaka Stevens in our body politic, from where the subsequent foundation of the disaster of today originates.
Therefore, as a matter of enduring and realistic principle, the SLPP must stop blinking and stammering in the glare of what it sees as a historic façade.
Hooting about the moral hazard of our political system, (after the Lord Mayor’s show), looks like a rude graffiti on the wall. It is not a lasting memorial to its posterity.
Already, the corruption of our democracy, which saw both major parties throwing everything on the wall in a bid to see what would stick, indicates a worrying, nasty and polarised ideological showdown that will profoundly shape the long-term future of Sierra Leone.
The bond of national solidarity has frayed almost to breaking point and our Sierra Leone is more fragmented and selfish than ever before.
We are now more cynical and our sense of common good has been completely eroded by what is left of the anaemic values of our society.
Consequently, we have become nothing but a nation of unprepared people without abiding standards or revolutionary features.
What you have now, are a people who need to have a clear, viable and safe alternative to the status quo; otherwise, any call for change will simply remain another melodrama to them.
Going forward, one lesson the SLPP needs to appreciate is that it is its inability to boss the political sphere and national discourse in the dusk, which has made it become a victim, now that darkness has fallen.
It is the one that allowed the devil to perch on its nose, prowl the precincts of its face and disorganise its household.
THE SLPP (and indeed any serious opposition) should go and put its house in order, because if it keeps doing what it is doing, it will keep getting what it is getting.
It needs introspect and a conscious contribution to the strengthening of the imperative for national reinvention; not reinforce the predator’s paradise that exists at the moment.
The SLPP must rise above pettiness and demonstrate its willingness to enhance democracy; by not only displaying diplomacy but also ensuring that it defends the overhaul of the democratic tenets.
It needs to demonstrate from now on, an enormous capacity and endeavour to champion vigorously, significant visible benefits for the people in national growth drivers, such as political and economic freedom and the adherence to those tenets that are the livewire of democracy.
Truth, the constant manipulation of the electoral process is the root of the disaster we have found ourselves today
It is the vehicle, which has been continually used by political magicians to conjure out some rabbits of monocracy from under the hat of democracy. The SLPP cannot dissociate itself from the sad state of our democracy.
Both the APC and the SLPP need to be dance partners if Sierra Leone is to move forward.
The SLPP should prove to the people and help change their mindset that power is not the ultimate. And whether it is in control or not, the essential thing is in serving the people.
Principles are easily discarded when politicians’ indulgences cannot ensure the achievement of their goal. That should not be the signal emanating from the SLPP or any future opposition.
The interest of the country has to come first. It is the cause that must endure above anything else.