Sierra Leone elections 2018 – Time to promise bridges where there are no rivers

Author: Abdulai Mansaray: 21 March 2018:

Sierra Leone’s 2018 presidential election has gone to a run-off taking place next Tuesday, 27th March.  No single party was able to win the 55% majority needed. But again, like all elections around the world, fraud, malpractice, violations and allegations always become the currency with which results are traded. Sierra Leone is no exception, but still not an excuse.

The courts in Kenya recently intervened in the elections outcome. This was a first; especially in Africa. Interestingly, most protests against election results come from the opposition. The notion is that  incumbent ruling parties have the luxury and ability to manipulate results and election processes.

Depending on who you talk to, our main political parties in Sierra Leone have been engaged in a jamboree of accusations. There are no surprises there.

What is surprising this time is that even the NEC stands accused of fraud and favouritism.

It is one thing to doubt the integrity of a political party, but it is an entirely different issue, when the body conducting the process is put into disrepute.

Our Electoral Commission should be the ultimate reservoir of credibility for our electoral process.

For our democracy to be certified as credible, we do need an electoral process that would reflect such that befits democracy as a political concept. The NEC is the organisation that is charged with ensuring that such practices are beyond reproach.

If our voting practices are exposed to fraud, vote rigging, and ballot tampering, then our last hope of redemption should reside in the organisations that are mandated to ensure that our democracy remains credible.

This means that organs like the National Electoral Commission (NEC) should be God’s Political Deputy on earth. But what hope have we got, if the very organ of our political process is brought into disrepute?

Since the end of Act 1 Scene 1 of our election, the NEC has come under increasing scrutiny for how the election has been conducted. There have been series of accusations involving NEC officials collaborating in fraudulent behaviour. Some have even questioned the mathematical acumen of NEC; questioning its idea of PERCENTAGES.

There are a lot of people who feel that the NEC has been complicit in some of the accusations that are emerging. We have seen how social media have been central in promoting these accusations. The veracity of these accusations is up for grabs.

What is worrying about all of this is the implications of such allegations. When the central and main organisation that is charged with ensuring that our democratic rights and responsibilities are observed, is a subject of credibility tests, what hope have we got?

At this stage, it is worth noting that I do not subscribe to any of such accusations, especially when most of what is being read is Whatsapp friendly. The truth is out there.

Well now that Act 2 Scene 2 is upon us, the political horse trading is now on overdrive. This means that “coalition” will be the new party exchange currency.

As ironies go, we have a lot of parties with names ringing as coalitions. We have Coalition 4 Change (C4C), National Grand Coalition (NGC), and many others, though not in name. Although these parties are christened as “coalitions”, in the strictest form of the word, are they coalitions? If they are coalitions, who and what are they coalescing with and against respectively?

There is no doubt that there is a coalition of ideologies or some sort, but if there were actual coalitions, would we be in this position today?

When little Gambia embarked on a political coalition for change, we all saw what the parties did, and the rest is history.

We must admit that we have a coalition of parties only in name. Even though the terms were peddled in our political conversations, here was nothing to even suggest a minimum of two parties coming together in a coalition.

What we have, are amoeba like parties that engaged in binary fissions. Replicating their politically genetic material through mitotic division is in no way a coalition. If Sierra Leoneans ever wanted to see what coalitions look like, get your front seat and keep your feet up. Let us sit back, sip our drinks and see how the little parties are gulped up by the big guys.

In our world that is populated by political amoebas, their cytoplasms are ready to flow round their preys and engulf them into a “proper coalition”.

The currency for the many horse trading that is going on is anyone’s guess. The promise of a ministerial post here, an ambassadorial position there, a 2nd VP here, are some of the sweeteners many thinks will tilt the scales of loyalties in this political stock exchange.

If people had such political acumen to bring others into their fold, why were these not used in the first place? Why did we fail to get such coalitions in the first place? Is it because of ego, greed or a vacuum of goodwill?

It will be difficult to envy any promise of those sweeteners if offered. So, while some may use whatever is in their power to get the support of their adversaries, others have resorted to the basest of human instincts to do so; and it is UGLY.

There is every reason to conclude that despite the perceived tribally induced voting pattern across the country, there is no doubt that a large percentage of the electorate voted on matters of principle, policies and visible results or the lack of them.

You cannot dismiss the impact of the televised debate in helping voters form their opinions and choices. With some of our incompetent politicians having nothing to offer, they have embarked on the cesspit route of campaigning. They are now preaching tribalism and hate.

Sadly, and as s a result of this, those who voted with their consciences are now adopting the “Going Back to My Roots” stance for the run off. Those that are preaching the gospel of hate and tribalism are literally blackmailing their fellow Sierra Leoneans. Truth is one of the first casualties of this run-off election.

There was a time when you were tempted to conclude that we are slowly being emancipated from mental slavery. Little did we know that we have leaders who are ready to get down to the basest of human instincts to wallow in political power.

If any politician is so sure of what they have done for the people, or so sure of what they will do for the people when they get into power, why do we need to preach the tribe thing?

As Sierra Leoneans, we should all rise above such base instincts. While some have resorted to visiting their primitive instincts, there are other politicians who have realised that you can’t shake hands with clenched fists. The political horse trading has started.

We have heard of presumed foes visiting family members. Others have just remembered that they were brothers. Some even recall now that they attended the same madrassas, and others are telling us that they used to share stands 21 and 18 at the national stadium to support East End Lions. Phew. The things we do for politics eh?

But that is what you call politicking. Ordinary folks should remember that our politicians are ever ready to appeal to our tribal instincts just to get our votes. These are the same politicians who would take each other to court. They will accuse one another of embezzling public funds. They will make every accusation and any accusation against their opponents under the sun.

They will even tell you that they are enemies. But when it comes to the need to speak with one voice, when they need the support of the other, when they know that their survival will depend on the support of their once declared foes, those same leaders are ready to eat humble pie, lick their wounds and “lay belleh” to get what they want.

This is not a mater of principles. As for these politicians, it’s Machiavellian, and the end justifies the means. Who would expect Victor Foe to refer to Sam Sumana as his brother today? He replaced him when he was sacked.

There are stories that Ernest Koroma visited Kandeh Yumkella’s sick mother last week. But after the elections, there is the small matter to sort out in court – to find out if Kandeh Yumkella was citizen enough to contest the elections in the first place. There are lot of purists who see nothing wrong with that. I am tempted to agree with them. Politics is a matter of expediency.

If anything, politics has no room for morals, although it is an expectation. If these guys are ready to be at each other’s throat at one point, but ready to shake hands over the left over of their political scars, WHO ARE YOU TO ATTACK YOUR FELLOW HUSTLER FOR TWO CENTS?

When a political party tells you that we are “ONE PEOPLE, ONE COUNTRY”, why do you fight your fellow Sierra Leonean for that party? When another party tells you that we are “ALL PEPOPLE’S CONGRESS”, why do you hate your fellow Sierra Leonean?

This is exactly what the leaders have been telling you. They will wind you up, incite you to believe that the next man in the other party is your enemy. But when it comes down to it, they will shake hands with unclenched fists.

Some of us may have been fooled for some time, but we should not allow ourselves to be fooled all the time. They can pretend to be servants to be masters.

Don’t allow these politicians to turn you against your brother or sister. Our politicians are all friends. After the elections, Maada Bio and Samura Kamara will still be friends. KKY and Maada Bio will still exchange Christmas cards. After the elections, Sam Sumana will still say hi to Diana, and Ernest Koroma will still be welcome to visit KKY.

As rumours abound, there are several parties rallying around the SLPP and APC parties for the run-off. Some are now pitching their tents for the “bam bai”. You wonder why they didn’t t come up with these “coalitions” all along.

As a nation, we are ONE PEOPLE, ONE COUNTRY. As a nation, we are ALL PEOPLE’S CONGRESS. SO WHY ARE YOU FIGHTING?

Just go cast your vote and leave the rest to Nfa Ali.

4 Comments

  1. I really like your analysis. It is good for us as Sierra Leoneans to be seeing facts and truths about our politicians. This is one Sierra Leone, One People. We are one. This is time for us all as one to struck and hold on the rod of oneness, development and love for each other. One Sierra Leone One People.

  2. The National Electoral Commission [NEC], we must not forget, is manned by people, who even though may be well educated, suffer from the syndrome which has plagued the country for nearly six decades, with no cure in sight short of a revolution of some sort – preferably a bloodless one.

    The syndrome is called lack of professionalism,the main transport of which is what is almost innate bias, which conveniently discards the highest level of education,rendering the worst infected functionally illiterate.

    According to Dr Yomkella [KKY], NEC had the nerve to declare in some constituencies a zero vote for the National Grand Coalition [NGC] in a BBC Focus On Africa interview,virtually scuffing at the idea that not even the parliamentary candidate voted for himself/herself.This is so funny as not to deserve any laughter.

    The obscene feature of tribal politics in Sierra Leone gained roots with the passing of Sir Milton Margai in 1964,a man who more than anyone since intensely recognised the tribal diversity of his country ,and ready to do everything to weakened its negative effects.

    In this endeavour, he ensured that a Temne and a Northerner [Kandeh Bureh] always acted on his behalf whenever he was out of the country. It was also in this spirit which caused Sir Milton to implore the then all-encompassing SLPP to let John Karefa-smart take over as Prime Minister should he pass on. As a medical doctor Sir Milton knew that he may not beat his illness.

    These were the days of total professionalism as SLPP was exactly that – Sierra Leone Peoples Party, a party that was Mende,Temene,Limba,Fulla,Kurankor,Loko,Kono,etc,all in one. Its fragmentation brought us one of its members – Siaka Stevens who, in my opinion, led us into the abyss of grief which has befallen us. Had the Almighty spared us Sir Milton for another half a decade, our nation would have become another Singapore decades ago.

    Although the result of the presidential election has left us in the NGC severely disappointed, we should take solace in the knowledge that our candidate,KKY, is now a full-fledged member of parliament where he will fulfill our desire to continue the fight to transform our dear country for the better.

    With the wind of parliamentary privilege behind him, KKY will expose some people so fast and thoroughly that they would wish that they were not born.The face of Sierra Leone politics will never be the same again,thus giving local media a field day because they can quote KKY.

    A coalition has the characteristic of different forms, depending on the context at hand, I agree with the author. Little Gambia carried its own unique features of the coalition which removed Jammeh from office. Let us cope with what we have been presented with without violence.

    I don’t think much weight should be given to the presidential debate, considering the level of illiteracy in the country, since it was conducted in English; whatever sway it carried was minimal. Emotions are still the dominant factor in the nation’s politics – very sad.

    The killing of our once very effective educational system started with Siaka Stevens who believed that an educated population was a threat to his hold on power.”Den faint late”[they were too slow in the head to my activities] was one of the final statements Siaka Stevens made before handing power over to Momoh, which the latter did not see as a poisoned gift until Tom Nyuma [may Allah/God grant him perpetual peace] and others kicked him out of office and into the arms of Lansana Konte in Conakry.

    KKY has started a movement and I hope he does not retreat; those of us who believe in him and his message will stick with him and become registered members of NGC. We are not looking for an appointment but for a stable prosperous Sierra Leone where the national cake is shared among all, and where the Chinese are not bent in taking over our country, laying the foundation for a future liberation war, fought by our children and grandchildren. All foreigners are welcome to stay but not to take over our country. How many Africans own land or are allowed to buy land in China?

    I hope KKY will help push through a bill in parliament which clearly states that if your father was not born in Sierra Leone you cannot own or lease land there. You may rent it.

  3. As usual your political analysis has always been balanced. In my opinion the major problem in this election is that this is the first time in the history of Sierra Leone, that the APC as an incumbent has lost an election in the first round, and now they are trying their level best to throw every “mud” on the wall to see which one will stick.

    This time around the presidential debate based on the issues that was discussed especially food, clean drinking water and free education will eventually determine the outcome of the runoff. We have to give credit to the average Sierra Leonean now, with the help of the AYV television and newspapers like the Sierra Leone Telegraph, who are giving all Sierra Leoneans the platform to express their views and people are paying attention.

    Tribal and religious violence will never take place in Sierra Leone, because our forefathers had already laid the foundation for us to continue building on. I hope the media will stop talking about tribalism or regionalism and focus on the bread and butter issues.

  4. I quite believe that nothing like what had happened in Kenya will befall Sierra Leone. Sierra Leoneans have learnt a lot to be driven into any political mess. We are valued in all the cases. Since getting democracy, nobody is in to say otherwise. If people really understand what a political party, is they will say nothing.

    Politicians they know have said nothing about the development of the country except one party the SLPP. I do hope, they will keep it up and not push the country to a sewage as seen in some parts of Freetown.

    The new mayor in Freetown must keep his or her words to the electorate to see that Freetown is clean and start building low cost housing for the poor. There are other things that must be tackled before. Clean water supply, health and the agriculture. PLEASE BROTHERS AND SISTERS DO NOT FORGET “ONE COUNTRY ONE PEOPLE”.

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