Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 June 2021:
Mr. Speaker, I write in connection with the above subject and in my capacity as Chairman and Leader of the National Grand Coalition Party (NGC). The NGC’s representation in Parliament comprises four MPs headed by our Parliamentary Leader, the Hon. Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella.
The leadership of the NGC notes with grave concern a worrying trend of marginalization and undignified treatment of our Party’s Parliamentary Leader and, by extension, of our Party at the hands of the administration of the House of Parliament.
The most recent manifestation of such treatment is the decision to exclude the NGC Leader from the Supervisory Committee which monitors the activities of all Parliamentary committees.
This is in contravention of the provisions of Standing Order (70) sub-clause (13) (a) as follows: “A Supervisory Committee of all Committees consisting of all leaders, chaired by the Majority Leader of the House with Clerk of Parliament as Secretary, shall monitor the activities of all parliamentary committees to ensure the proper conduct of their mandate”.
It is difficult to fathom why one of the party leaders in Parliament, in this case the Hon. Dr. Yumkella, could be singled out for exclusion when the standing order so clearly indicates that he is as of right a member of that important committee.
My party is deeply worried that if basic rules such as this can be so easily flouted or ignored at the level of the Legislature, the stage is set for lawlessness in a society where disregard for rules and regulations would become the new normal.
We also note that our Parliamentary Leader sent you the attached letter requesting your assistance for his private member bill to be gazetted. This Bill would have opened up the political space giving women thirty percent of the seats in Parliament, allowing diaspora greater participation in governance and providing greater involvement of young professionals in Parliament.
It is almost a year now and he has not received a response, nor did the government printers publish the Bill. This particular issue is of greater concern because it implies unfortunately that Members who do not belong to the ruling party cannot present Bills to Parliament.
Furthermore, it is the tradition of Parliaments across the world for Party leaders in Parliament to take the floor at the end of debates, with ample time to react to the issues raised and present their parties’ position.
This tradition named “rounding up the debate” has been the convention in the Sierra Leone Parliament for decades. However, we have observed that since the third Session of this Fifth Parliament, you have refused to allow our leader to “round up the debate” but rather relegated him to compete for your attention along with other members.
This action thwarts the will of the people who, through the 2018 general elections, voted four political parties into Parliament.
The leaders of these parties, by the mandate of the people, are accorded rights and responsibilities, consistent with their selfless public service and the dignity of their honourable office.
Finally, to put this sad and unfortunate situation into context, you may be aware that there have been several attempts to frustrate the Hon. Dr. Yumkella by transferring him frequently around from one Committee to another, as if to prevent him from making any impact.
And in the recent allocation of vehicles to Party Leaders in Parliament, it was only the Hon. Dr. Yumkella who was not assigned an official vehicle. We have drawn our own conclusions about the reasons for these actions that are basically telling us the sad story of where our democracy currently stands.
However, on the precise issue of the exclusion of Hon. Dr. Yumkella from the Supervisory Committee, we believe that for as long as Hon. Dr. Yumkella continues to be the NGC Leader in Parliament, and in the spirit and letter of Standing Order 70 (13) (a), he is ipso facto member of the said committee.
I therefore have the honour to request that you intervene to effect his inclusion in the Supervisory Committee thereby restoring public faith in Parliament’s adherence to its own rules and regulations as inspired by the Constitution of Sierra Leone. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your kind attention and positive action.
Yours faithfully, Dennis Bright (PhD) Chairman and Leader, National Grand Coalition (NGC)