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.
I am neither A.P.C. nor S.L.P.P. I am a very nationalistic Sierra Leonean, whose patriotism is suffocating. Both major parties make me sick all the time.
However, if indeed S.L.P.P. has finally come to their senses to understand that the only real chance that they stand to defeat A.P.C. at the polls must be rooted in unity at all cost, it is good news for the country.
I do wonder whether they have not left it too late, given the fact that whilst they were bickering A.P.C. were busy tightening the bolts on their gains and sharpening their skills.
To say that it is now a monumental task for S.L.P.P. to quickly divert the attention of the population from A.P.C. to themselves is undiluted understatement. But nothing is impossible when organised and clear minds are at the helm.
The appointment of Victor Foh as Vice President was a very foxy and dexterous move on the part of A.P.C. to forestall southern claims that the A.P.C. is northern dominated. And here is a hunch that I am currently entertaining: knowing the craftiness of A.P.C. it will not surprise me if they field Victor Foh as as their flag bearer for the next presidential election.
With solid northern support for A.P.C, I cannot see S.LP.P. winning because their southern support will be fragmented because of the Mende man – Victor Foh.
Think about it S.L.P. P. and I wish you all the luck in the world. You may start by getting Bernadette Lahai and her cohorts in parliament to start making some noise.
Its either peace or extinction for the SLPP. The current fracas in the party has made the party not only one of the weakest political parties in the world, it has made the party one of the weakest organizations – period.
The so called candidates and their supporters are canibalising each other, when they should have joined forces long ago to bring the party back to power.
SLPP can only win as a national party. Even without this falsified and criminal census, it has always been apparent to me that the party needs nationwide support, and that each candidate must be seen as representing the interests of Sierra Leone, and not follow the diabolical path of ethnic triumphalism which the APC has chosen.
Can Sierra Leone afford another decade of ethnic division, poverty and a leader whose appetite for corruption can swallow the world? SLPP you are our only hope.
The party needs to put strategy and craft above regional sentiments. There is hope, but the window of opportunity is fast eroding.
Greetings from Musa Mondeh. I am very happy for your website. I am getting an understanding of Sierra Leone.
I will take the news to my colleagues and make sure everyone hears about it. I’m gonna read the Telegraph in assembly at Chapel hour. Thank you once more.
I feel vehemently grievous about Sierra Leone issues. In Sierra Leone today, children are suffering. To my philosophy, we need another political party. We need a new leadership that would bring change to the Country.
Have a nice day.
This is a great move, but I am very much skeptical about what this will result to. Why do we have to wait until the provisional census result is released before we act?
Why didn’t we challenge the recruitment process of senior staff of Statistics SL for the 2015 Census? Majority of staff hired at managerial and supervisory levels are from the north.
We are watching drama unfolding and the president is the actor, protagonist and antagonist, with no one to oppose or correct him. I am happy that the SLPP has picked sense out of what is happening and are ready to reconcile.
But please remember to elect someone who is popular, admired and loved by all as presidential candidate, otherwise anyone who is not popular and loved by the grassroots will make SLPP wait for another ten years in opposition.
Mark and keep this warning. I will remind you when you fail to act, and elect the one who is not popular.
The APC Government is back with its 99 tactics and are not ashamed to hold on to power for another twenty years. You the top brass of the SLPP, should take a look at the regional development disparities existing between the south, north and east of Sierra Leone.
All developmental roads are in the north. Within eight years, President Koroma has tarred 17 streets in Makeni, and established 2 universities, etc.
Mr Sam Momoh, we first need a competent leader in the SLPP, with solid international brand and backing. After which, the next job for all of us – including you, is to popularise the candidate in every household in Sierra Leone. The latter is the easier job.