Abdulai Gbla: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 November 2019:
On Tuesday 26th November 2019, Sierra Leone’s parliament was brought to a grinding halt after it was known that majority of MPs had not taken their seats in the well to commence the business of that day.
It was past 10:00 am and the Speaker of Parliament, Honourable Abass Bundu had taken his seat as always – since the Bo Declaration was signed recently amongst various political parties in parliament.
The issue of lateness of MPs in the Sierra Leone Parliament was first flagged up on Tuesday’s sitting by the MP representing Constituency 46 in Koinadugu District, Honourable Daniel Koroma.
This had also been raised by the Speaker, Hon. Bundu during a sitting recently. It could be recalled that the Speaker himself had described the practice of MPs’ ostensibly incessant lateness as “perennial”.
The concern of Hon. Koroma was that despite discussions on the matter of the not-too-cool habit of MPs attending sittings late had been addressed during the previous siting, the situation was yet to improve for the better. “It seems as if no change is taking place in respect of discipline of members of this noble House,” he noted.
Hon. Koroma furthered that MPs needed to lead by example. “Being an MP does not make us super humans, so as humans; representatives of the people we are not above discipline, otherwise this parliament is getting down, down and down,” he asserted.
The Acting Leader of Government Business, Honourable Matthew Sahr Nyuma noted that MPs were representing the people and toed the line of Hon. Koroma that they should lead by example as Honourable Members. “We need the Ethics Committee to start working by taking disciplinary action against MPs. It is very necessary because there is so much indiscipline amongst MPs,” he stated.
Hon. Nyuma confessed that even though the Speaker of Parliament had tried by sounding countless warning shots for MPs to carry themselves honourably, they had failed to live up to expectation. He cited section (97) of the Sierra Leone 1991 Constitution which talks about the behavior of MPs within and out of parliament.
“After all, Honourable Members, it is not about the title you are carrying, but it is what you do,” the Acting Leader of Government, Hon. Nyuma reiterated.
The Deputy Chief Whip of the SLPP, Honourable Alusine Kanneh noted that even though they as whips had the mandate to instil discipline among MPs, it had not been easy for them (the whips) as their colleague MPs normally treat them with levity.
“Sometimes you go to the canteen, you meet members there, you go to the lounge you tell them to come to the well, and it becomes a problem,” he complained.
The Acting Leader of the main opposition APC said that the developments in the Sierra Leone Parliament were becoming embarrassing. “In this very shabby kind of attendance, the whole world is watching us perform legislative functions far below expectation,” he maintained.
He furthered that the spirit with which MPs started activities in the Fifth Parliament just after the 2018 elections, was one that was dwindling gradually. Hon. Kargbo noted that something is needed to be done to reverse the current state of affairs in the parliament; and one of such was for the Speaker of Parliament to convene a meeting for the leadership of political parties to discuss these thorny issues.
The Leader of the C4C party in parliament, Honourable Saa Emerson Lamina was next in the queue to talk on the issues. He noted that it was no secret that lateness amongst MPs was not only becoming perennial since the second session of parliament began, but also repetitive.
He however had a different view from that of Hon. Kargbo – that, only leaders of political parties should be summoned to a meeting.
According to Hon. Lamina, all MPs must be called soon to a meeting to holistically discuss the nail-biting issues in the country’s only law making House. He called on the leadership of parliament to work on issues in the spirit of the Bo Declaration, which MPs recently signed in a frantic bid to moderate issues of growing concerns in the House of parliament – among and between MPs from various political divide.
You can watch last Tuesday’s debate here: