Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 April 2016
For the past four years, if not longer, the main opposition party in Sierra Leone – the Sierra Leone People’s party (SLPP) has been tearing itself apart, as various factions within the party fight to take over its leadership.
This internecine war has led to costly and length court battles, prompting questions about the party’s ability to defeat the ruling APC at the polls in 2018, and their preparedness and seriousness to govern the country.
But as the bitter struggle for power moved from the party headquarters in Freetown to the court house, all sides have realised that, whilst preoccupied with destroying each other, president Koroma and his ruling party are busy carving up the country in advance of the 2018 elections.
In the greater scheme of things, when faced with the big picture as to what matters most to an opposition political party, petty constitutional squabbles about who makes the cup of tea and who drinks from which cup, pales into insignificance.
An opposition party must look and sound like a government in waiting. And if it cannot do just that, then its relevance to the people of Sierra Leone, 80% of whom are living in abject poverty – with no water and electricity, must be questioned.
Recent squabbles about who is a member of the party and who is not – and how long they have been a member before having the temerity to want to lead the party, is nothing but a village mentality that should have no place in a modern political institution.
Attempt by party bosses to bar members that are living and working abroad from contesting leadership elections, whilst accepting their hard earned cash, which keeps the party afloat, is nothing short of self-destructiveness.
The need for the country’s Party Political Registration Commission (PPRC) to step in as an arbitrator, to help resolve dispute about constitutional changes aimed at creating an apartheid system within the party, could easily and sensibly have been avoided, had the party bosses and their warring factions focused on what mattered most.
So, where is the SLPP heading now?
The last few days, since president Koroma launched his census strategy for carving up the country into politically convenient slices, in preparation for a massive third term electoral victory for the ruling party in 2018, SLPP bosses and almost all of their warring factions have woken up to realise what matters most: Winning the 2018 elections.
There are signs the frostiness that had engulfed the opposition SLPP, is now beginning to thaw quite rapidly.
The 2015 provisional census report has presented an opportunity for the SLPP to mobilise and organise itself around a single national issue, that threatens not only their chances of winning the elections in 2018, but the prioritisation of regional development needs, and the allocation of budget and resources across the country.
For the first time in years, there is one agenda facing the opposition SLPP, and it is not about personalities and who should be elected as presidential candidate to contest the elections in 2018.
That agenda is about fighting for the heart and soul of Sierra Leone; keeping the country together as one country, rather than carving it up into political and tribal enclaves, using bogus census figures, that can only sow the seeds of discontent and injustice for the next civil war in Sierra Leone.
This agenda has brought together party bosses, stakeholders and the warring factions at the party headquarters in Freetown, where they are planning national strategies, and how best to present a unified and coordinated voice as a strong opposition and credible government in waiting.
A position paper was presented yesterday to stakeholders attending the meeting for ownership, by Dr. Bundu. The National Chairman and party leader – chief Kapen led the discussions.
According to the acting SLPP national secretary general – Alie Badara Kamara; “Very meaningful contributions were made by various stakeholders, including Dr. Kadie Sesay, Dr. Alie Kabbah, Engineer Francis Lahai, and Professor Bob Kandeh. The position paper was unanimously endorsed by all stakeholders.
“In follow up to the position paper, three Committees were formed. They include: the technical, the media and the political committee.
“The technical committee headed by Professor Bob Kandeh, is to collaborate with Statistics S/L, in order to make sure that they give us accurate figures and distribution of the country’s population.
“A media committee headed by the national secretary general – Alie Badara Kamara, will engage the media across the country to propagate the party’s position.
“The political committee headed by Dr. Alex Prince Harding, is to mediate with both diplomatic corps and government, so as to ensure that the census figures reflect the actual strength & distribution of the country’s population.
“The committees will meet again today, Thursday, 7th April, to discuss terms of reference and kick start their operations.”
The rank and file members of the SLPP – both at home and abroad do have strong feelings and views about the direction of travel for the party. Party bosses must listen to these and take them on board, rather than be ignored. Peace must be consolidated – bottom-up.
In another development, the SLPP UK&Ireland Branch, will be nominating officers for election to the executive committee at their meeting this coming Sunday, 10th April 2016, at 4.00pm, in London.