Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 September 2020:
In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared 15 September as the International Day of Democracy, with the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy, hence last Tuesday, 15 September 2020, an Afrobarometer report which discusses what Sierra Leoneans think about their parliamentarians was published.
The latest Afrobarometer 2020 report comes on the heels of another study published two weeks ago by the Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law in Sierra Leone (CARL) which found that the country’s parliament is the second most corrupt institution after the police force.
According to the Afrobarometer 2020 report, most Sierra Leoneans say their members of Parliament (MPs) are ineffective, rarely visit or help their constituents, and are untrustworthy.
Things cannot get any worse for the image of Sierra Leone’s parliamentarians. Meanwhile the head of the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) – Francis Ben Kaifala, said last week that his investigations into corruption in parliament is now at an advanced stage, as confidence in the ACC itself begins to wane.
The Afrobarometer 2020 report also found that the Office of the Presidency (State House) is the third most corrupt public institution in the country, after the police and parliament.
Survey respondents’ negative assessments add up to a scathing indictment of the performance of parliamentarians.
While citizens want MPs to listen to their constituents, represent their needs, and deliver jobs and development to their communities, a majority of survey respondents say their MPs are ineffective at these tasks, as well as at making laws for the good of the country.
Although demand for accountable governance has increased in Sierra Leone, very few citizens believe MPs are effective in holding the president and government accountable.
The study also found that MPs are among the least trusted officials and are widely perceived as corrupt.
The most recent elections saw a high turnover in Parliament, as eight out of 10 parliamentarians elected in 2012 lost their seats in 2018.
Key findings of the Study
- Seven in 10 Sierra Leoneans (71%) say it is more important to have a government that is accountable to its citizens than to have a government that “gets things done” (Figure 1).
- Demand for accountable governance has increased by 28 percentage points since 2012 (43%).
- The two most important responsibilities of MP’s, according to Sierra Leoneans, are to listen to constituents and represent their needs (52%) and to deliver jobs or development (26%) (Figure 2).
- Very few respondents cite making laws for the good of the country (9%) and monitoring the president and government (4%) as the most important responsibilities of MPs.
- Large majorities think MPs are “not very effective” or “not at all effective” at delivering jobs or development to their constituency (79%) and listening to their constituents and representing their needs in Parliament (75%) (Figure 3).
- About half say they are doing a poor job of holding the president and government accountable (48%) and making laws for the good of the country (49%).
- While almost eight in 10 (78%) want MPs to visit their constituencies at least once a year, only half as many (40%) say MPs do so. Similarly, six in 10 citizens (60%) expect MPs to provide financial assistance for individuals in their communities, but only 13% say MPs “sometimes” or “often” give out resources to help community members.
- MPs are among the least trusted public officials. Only one-third (33%) of Sierra Leoneans say they trust MPs “a lot” or “somewhat,” while 64% say they trust them “just a little” or “not at all”. Eight in 10 citizens (81%) say “all,” “most,” or “some” MPs are corrupt, second only to the police among key officials.
READ THE FULL REPORT HERE:
Who will you like to get stuck with in a lift? A Sierra Leonean member of Parliament or a well known pick pocket from the streets of Freetown? I rather have the pick pocket. At least I will not let my guard down. I will come out of that lift with the knowledge my possessions or wallet is intact. Not so With the Sierra Leonean MP, it is a whole different kettle of fish. They are shifty and unpredictable. You can’t pigeonhole them because you really don’t know what they stand for. Unless of course stealing from the state. That is a given. We as a nation have learned to live with their corrupt ways. We are programmed to trust them. Blinded by TRIBE and Region.
In reality we should not trust them to organise a bus trip. “THEY WILL STEAL THE ESUSU MONEY FOR THEIR OWN USE.” These MPs come to us every five years asking for our votes. We never judge them. We don’t know what they stand for. We don’t know how high their moral compass is, or where they stand when it comes to addressing the greatest issues affecting our country – TRIBALISM AND UNCHECKED CORRUPTION. We ignore all those issues and vote for them anyway. Crossing our fingers hopping that they will make good representation of our concerns in parliament. In reality they never do. They are in it for the money. And when they fall below the standards of what is expected of them, we cry foul.
The fault lies with us the voters. We are voting these people in, not for their qualifications to hold public office, but because he or she comes from this tribe and that party. Unless and until we open our eyes and vote for people that have our country’s development at heart, we will always be stuck in the doldrums of party political division and tribalism. May God bless Sierra Leone.