Is Sierra Leone’s ruling APC an extraordinary party with destructive tendencies?

Andrew Murphy

24 September 2012

Is it totally inconceivable that a single political party can so destructively subject its people to so much inhumane conditions for so long? In Sierra Leone today, everyone wonders why the country is in such appalling condition.

Will the ruling APC ever learn good political ethics that would enable it deliver balanced and people-oriented governance? Addressing these questions requires a revisit of the post-independence political development of Sierra Leone.

It is 51 years now since Sierra Leone gained independence from British colonial rule in 1961. In its 51-year independence history, the APC party has ruled for 30 years, the SLPP party – 16 years, and the remaining 5 years have been disruptions from various military interventions.

In other words, the APC has governed Sierra Leone for a total period not less than 59% since independence; SLPP has governed only 31% of this golden era, while the military had dictated the outcomes of 10% of our sovereign history.

Essentially therefore, APC has been in power in Sierra Leone twice as long as the SLPP. Yet the country is in such a mess.

It is indisputable that the APC’s 30-year rule of post-independence Sierra Leone was by the popular will of the people. Quite on the contrary, the APC’s 30-year rule came on the backs of a brutal regime; torturing and killing opposition members.

APC’s founding father, Siaka P. Stevens, instituted politically-motivated killings as a strategic tool to maintain perpetual and despotic grip on power in Sierra Leone.

Among the 24-member delegates that negotiated our independence in Britain, only Stevens refused to append a signature onto that noble document, which declared the independence and sovereignty of Sierra Leone.

Despite this undemocratic tendency, Stevens not only ruled for the most part of our post-independence history, but also instituted ruthless brutality into the nation’s political ethics and psyche.

In his desperate quest for power, Stevens remained in opposition to mainstream politics in Sierra Leone. After years of outspoken deception, Stevens dubiously won a closely contested election in 1967. Doubts surrounding the Stevens’ APC victory instantly led to military coups and counter-coups, briefly ousting and re-instating him to power.

After eventually re-assuming power in 1968, Stevens rolled out what turned out to be the most destructive political strategy in independent Sierra Leone.

Stevens instituted terror, torturing and killing of political opponents; things that never happened to him when he was in the opposition. Stevens went on indiscriminate political vendetta; executing not only the military that briefly ousted him but also the very one that restored him to power.

That was Stevens’ footprint on the political landscape of Sierra Leone, and indeed sadly so across the African continent, until his chosen retirement.

It was also this cruel brutality that emboldened Stevens to impose his back-door son -Joseph S. Momoh, on the people of Sierra Leone to succeed him in power.

With the help of his uncle – Bambay Kamara, J. S. Momoh loyally upheld the vices of political intimidation and killing, instituted by his back-door father – Siaka P. Stevens, in an effort to consolidate Momoh’s grip on power against the popular will of the people.

The bitter sufferings of the people under successive APC oppression, torture and killings culminated into a violent rebel war that claimed some 50,000 innocent civilian lives in 10 years.

That spell of extreme political brutality was only broken by the NPRC (National Provisional Ruling Council) military junta, and then later reversed by an SLPP government under the stewardship of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.

To cast another dark spell on our history, the APC party not only deceptively exploited the frustrations of Charles F. Margai (PMDC party founder), but also fraudulently exploited the corrupt nature of Christiana A. Thorpe (the NEC Chief) in order to win the 2007 elections.

The current APC government, led by Ernest B. Koroma, has once again backslid on every principle of multi-party democracy in Sierra Leone.

We are once again witnessing political intimidations, political violence and judicially made-up convictions as well as one-sided legislations that favour only the APC party, government and supporters.

After subjecting the people to so much suffering during five solid years of misrule, Ernest Koroma is now again asking for another 5-year term.

Despite the plethora of mining companies in the country today, our national reserve has not only been depleted, but sunk into a stunning one-billion dollar national debt.

Servicing that debt alone will, in the long run, surpass any so-called developmental investment that the Koroma-led APC government has made.

President Koroma’s regionally and tribally divisive government and its mega-corruption scandals, and bad economic policies have swept the economy to a crushing near bankruptcy.

As if not enough, the government has now resorted to an apartheid form of  denying Sierra Leonean students in China and elsewhere that are sympathetic to the SLPP, from receiving Sierra Leone Government financial support.

This criminally minded APC government has blacklisted those otherwise diligent and hard-working students from accessing equality of opportunity.

The institution of such cruel apartheid policy into this rather peaceful country is despicable and totally unacceptable. In fact, in these five years of Koroma’s APC misrule, over 90% of all local, national and international scholarships that have been allocated by the government, has been awarded to Sierra Leoneans that are sympathetic to the APC party.

We must remind the government that the national cake is meant for not only Sierra Leoneans with APC connections, or of northern origin, but for Sierra Leoneans of all political, religious and social backgrounds.

It is really inconceivable that with this backdrop of social marginalisation and inequality, the Koroma-led APC government still hopes for a second term in office.

The recent UN development report, ranks Sierra Leone 143 out of 144 countries in the world. Is this a government that can pride itself of having performed well in office after five years in power?

The answer simply is no.  



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