Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 February 2016
In just two years from now, presidential and general elections will be held in Sierra Leone; and the country’s main opposition SLPP party has a mammoth task ahead to put its house in order, if it is to mount a serious challenge to the incumbent APC party.
Since losing the 2012 elections by a huge margin, SLPP has adopted a self-destructive modus operandi, reminiscent of the fractious strife and bitter struggle for power that engulfed the party in 2005 – just two years before the 2007 elections.
And the two year period leading to the 2012 elections were no different either. The unsavory political machinations which characterised the party’s election of its 2012 presidential candidate are still being felt today.
With history now repeating itself, and the party’s executives struggling to maintain order and discipline among themselves, it is difficult to see how the party could go on to convince the electorate that it is a credible opposition, capable of running the country.
The party is short of cash and needs to raise at least $5 million to prepare for the 2018 general and presidential elections.
Today the party’s national executives are facing another serious backlash, after its former secretary general – Jacob J Saffa made this bombshell in a letter written to the country’s Party Political Registration Commission: “Unfortunately, we do not have such database that can be used as voter register.”
Although the Supreme Court battles which threatened to push the party over the edge are now over, the party remains deeply divided and straddled with a paralysed national executive council that appears to have lost its authority – morally, if not constitutionally.
The Supreme Court order imposed on the party, clearly sets out a roadmap and direction of travel for the party to begin to put its house in order.
But with a national executive council (NEC) now appearing rudderless, after its decision to suspend the current national secretary general – Mr. Sullaiman Banja Tejan -Sie (Photo), and the continuing in-fighting, it is very difficult to see how this could be achieved without a clean sweep of the NEC.
The party chairman – Chief Somano Kapen, whom many regard as an affable gentleman, is equally being criticised for his lack of organisational and leadership skills, and is finding it difficult to pull the party back from the brink.
His critics believe that he has become a part of the problem, rather than a catalyst for change and transformation of the party, especially suspected of supporting one of the aspiring candidates for the party’s 2018 presidential race – Julius Maada Bio.
His credibility, neutrality and authority as a leader, are now in serious jeopardy, thus threatening to destabilise the SLPP even further.
As the party contemplates the task ahead for holding its regional, district, local area, and national executive officers elections, it must adhere strictly to the terms of the Supreme Court order. (Photo: Chairman kapen).
The country’s Party Political Registration Commission (PPRC) has published a notice in the national gazette, calling on the party to publish a full list of its membership before those internal party elections are held this year.
The gazetted notice clause 2(7), reads:“Before a zonal / sectional /constituency /district / regional / elections takes place, the list of voters / delegates shall be published and circulated to all aspirants concerned for a period of not less than five (5) days prior to the date fixed for such election. Every aspirant in such elections has a right of access to the voters / delegates list without let or hindrance.”
But the former secretary general of the party – Jacob Jussu Saffa has written to the PPRC, strongly objecting to this requirement, revealing that: “The requirement for voter register to be published for zonal/sectional election presupposes we have a database of SLPP members in all zones and sections. Unfortunately, we do not have such database that can be used as voter register.” This is his letter to the PPRC:
February 17, 2016
Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC)
Dear Mr. Tholla Thompson,
Government Notice No. 16, Vol.CXLVII. No. 5–Rules and Regulations for the Conduct of Executive Elections of the SLPP- Objection and Proposal
In response to your invitation to the public for objection to the aforesaid Rules and Regulations by February 17, 2016, I would like to submit my objection to Clause 2 (7) “Before a zonal / sectional / constituency / district / regional / elections takes place, the list of voters / delegates shall be published and circulated to all aspirants concerned for a period of not less than five (5) days prior to the date fixed for such election. Every aspirant in such elections has a right of access to the voters / delegates list without let or hindrance”.
As you would know, eligible voters at zonal/sectional level are all fully paid valid card holders of the Party. The requirement for voter register to be published for zonal/sectional election presupposes we have a database of SLPP members in all zones and sections.
Unfortunately, we do not have such database that can be used as voter register at that level. It is therefore not practical for the list to be published or even compiled for every zone/section in the country.
In the past, the practice for voting at zonal or sectional level has been that all persons over 18 years resident in the zone/section show up at the polling station to vote on submission of valid membership card on the date announced for elections and as prescribed by the Rules and Regulations.
On a general note, we usually do not know all aspirants for all elections before the date of the elections. Aspirants are nominated in the voting hall when the positions are declared vacant and nominations opened.
Therefore mandating executives to make available the list to aspirant 5 days before conduct of elections can be a recipe for chaos. Anybody wishing to derail the process can show up as aspirant on the date of voting and object to the conduct of the election on the basis that s/he has not been granted access to the voter register.
I therefore propose that as requirement, the voter register can be displayed in party offices or other public places as agreed or made available for reproduction on request by an aspirant. Accordingly therefore, all provisions mandating the list to be made available to aspirants who may not be known before the elections be expunged.
I specifically propose that we exempt the zone and section from the provision in Clause 3 (7) and rephrase it to read as follows “Before constituency/district/regional/elections take place, the list of delegates shall be published in district party office or agreed public place for a period of not less than five (5) days prior to the date fixed for such election or made available for reproduction on request by aspirant of the elections. Every aspirant in such elections has a right of access to the delegates list without hindrance”.
An additional provision be included (if not implied) to read as follows “At zonal/sectional level, all eligible voters as defined by the provisions in Clause 3(2) of this Rules and Regulations wishing to vote can show up to vote on voting day and at a time and place agreed by the responsible executive in accordance with the provisions herein.
Jacob Jusu Saffa
Ex-National Secretary General of SLPP (2004-2011)
Copy: The National Chairman and Leader, SLPP
All other NEC members, SLPP
Condemnation of Saffa’s letter to the PPRC has been swift. This is a reply from the chairman of the Kandeh Yumkella Campaign team in the UK – Dr. Columba Blango (Photo):
“On the 17th of February 2016, JJ Saffa gave every Paopa cult member a bloody nose with his infamous revelation that SLPP does not have a database. Him being a former Secretary General of SLPP, this was indeed an authentic revelation by JJ Saffa. That was a doomsday revelation.
“Prior to and quite in contrast with JJ Saffa’s doomsday revelation, another SLPP political giant, former Southern regional Chairman, Joseph Maada Kpulun, revealed in July 2015 at Dr Kandeh Yumkella’s (KKY) London Town Hall Meeting that SLPP had no database of its membership.
“Even though Chairman Kpulun’s statement was not pursued and investigated with the veracity of seriousness it deserved, it however was never forgotten.
“The issue of Dr Kandeh Yumkella’s registration as a member of SLPP was, for a long time, a contentious debate and for the Paopa cult group, a matter of life and death because to them, that was their best card to disqualify KKY.
“The only reason they would want to see KKY out is because they believe that is the only sure way Maada Bio can be flag bearer. It was at this point that the Paopa NEC declared KKY was not a member of SLPP, because his name is not on the party membership database.
“That is the background and now I come to the substantive issue generated by JJ Saffa’s erroneous objection and proposal to PPRC, which in effect are encoded by the principle of double effect, hence questioning both the character of the objector (JJ Saffa) and the current state of the party.
“To me, the objector was just making an effort to defend the indefensible and a ridiculous effort to maintain the status quo by way of trying his best to baffle PPRC with a rubbish petition and dazzle them with recommendations that could allow them to carry out their corrupt and fraudulent plans.
“JJ Saffa admits that there is no membership/voter database and also goes on to recommend that PPRC allows them to publish the current bogus and illegal voters list they (Paopa cult) have fraudulently generated.
“What a load of rubbish. Worst still, JJ Saffa goes on to justify why there is no database, inadvertently trying hard to convince PPRC that indeed SLPP has never had a database. What a damn cleaver thing to do.
“The petitioner is a very bright and well rooted long time party stalwart who had not only done two terms as the party’s National Secretary General, but continues to be a very active party operative. He is therefore expected to know and understand the intricate web structure of the party and to be very aware that his petition and recommendations would be accepted as authentic.
“This raises the question, as to whether he was confused or in the right state of mind when preparing his submission.
“The implication of JJ Saffa’s petition and recommendation is that the SLPP National Executive lied about KKY’s registration. They lied that KKY was not a member of the party because his name was not on the party membership database.
“Now that two prominent, well established, long term party stalwarts (JJ Saffa and Joseph Maada Kpulun) have confirmed that the party has no database, could it then not be a criminal offence for party officials to have announced to the nation that after thorough investigation, they were convinced, confident and satisfied that KKY was not a registered member of SLPP?
“That was not only a lie but also a deception. I believe it was also a deliberate act of negligence on the part of party officials to deliberately and maliciously mislead and misinformed party members and the nation. It also appears to be a deliberate and reckless attempt to demean a perfect gentleman, an international statesman and a potential president.
“Thinking about it all, the behaviour of certain SLPP executive officers, leaders and members within the party is a glaring indication of intolerance, desperation, bad governance and indiscipline. It seems the party has lost its core values and dignity, rendering it unattractive and unelectable, even to the gentle and most tolerant.
“All of these tell us that the party now desperately needs a fresh start, a fresh start to allow for political regeneration, social engineering and institutional reform. These can only happen with good leadership, which is why many of us support Dr. Kandeh Yumkella.
“We believe KKY has the capacity, skills and ability to reform the party, hence transforming it to a progressive, attractive and electable party that the electorate can trust.”
Will the SLPP be reformed before the 2018 presidential and general elections?
Thank you Mama Tenneh. I wholeheartedly agree with your views. The Grass Roots matters most but respected and disregarded big time. Some of us are advocates of our roots.
Even de Tokpoi sef respect in root. Na in dae make ide survive. But can we learn sense from all these beautiful comments? I wonder. Thank you nya jay Tenneh.
The problems SLPP is facing are not big issues, if only we as a party have a clear vision. A clear vision in the sense that it must have clear criteria for those wanting to attain any position in the party. The people that SLPP rely on are breaking the rules, yet the party compromises with them.
The political party I belong to in Australia, you cannot forge a membership card. If you do that you are out.
Talk less of attaining a flagbearship. By forging membership, you have declared to the people that you are a corrupt person.
Secondly the elders are not saying the truth. Things are going wrong and nobody wants to talk about it. Instead they are aiding queue jumpers to bye pass the leadership election process.
These are the things that are killing our party; bad heart and bad mouthing one another; Lack of love and honesty; Ungratefulness and putting Jaycees first, leaving the grassroots that revived SLPP and the democracy everyone is enjoying today; Loss of integrity and identity; APC payroll strategy that is corrupting front line politics in our SLPP party.
Is this Prince Johnson who attended the St. Martins Primary School under Rev. Fr. Casey in Mattru Jong, Bonthe District? If yes, then I am so glad to read some of your postings online. Please keep it up. For you are doing a good work.
I last saw you in Freetown 2002 when we had a meeting on mineral mining in West Africa.
Prince the background information on all those I mentioned by name in my piece came as a result of what they all stand for in this struggle. It is wrong for people in our party to just continue to deceive and camouflage the decent people of this country only to turn round to show us their right colours.
Prince, likewise me, I really also care less as to who is supporting who or who was once SLPP or PMDC. What I care for is the manner in which such changes took place in a deceitful manner.
The Blango issue is and had always been a concern to some of us who knew him from school days. So if anyone saw me talking about his own situation with trepidation I have very good reason for my concern.
So also with JJ Saffa coming up only now with his concern expressed to PPRC on such important administrative lapses for which he too stands culpable; I don’t see why he should take or expect to take credit for only confirming such lapses.
JJ Saffa deserves no credit, in fact he should be condemned for also contributing to such lapses if at all such lapses do exists.
I wholeheartedly agreed with you on many issues you came up with. But like you said, let us wait for the response from NEC and PPRC.
Mohamed I thought you were doing a fine job asking the right questions about the validity and correctness of JJ Saffa’s claim in his capacity as former secretary general of SLPP that the party does not have a register or database – call it what you will.
Quite honestly we are not interested in the personal decisions of anyone to change their political support including Blango. It is his right to change loyalties as much as he wants just as long as he does not impinge upon the rights of others.
I care less about whether Blango or any other member of the party left the SLPP along with thousands of other supporters to join the PMDC, and have either returned or seeking to make a return.
The fact they have returned or returning to support any of the aspiring presidential candidates is positive, and we must be tolerant enough to accommodate everyone in the SLPP which is fast becoming a broad church.
What I want to know is, can the SLPP executives officially tell the PPRC and us the party members, that there is a valid and verifiable membership register or database here at the party office in Freetown.
If the national executive council officers cannot unequivocally confirm this, then they must resign immediately.
The PPRC must demand to see this database. And if it cannot be produced, then the party executives including Kapen, must be held in contempt by the Supreme Court. So let us wait and see the response of the NEC and PPRC.
I get the feeling that we the party members are being taken for a ride by chairman Kapen and his executive officers. Thank you JJ Saffa for exposing this scandalous and appalling administrative lapse by the NEC.
They must be held accountable.
FAO Mrs Matta Kanagbow. Over to you. We need robust clarification on the matter of Database of Party Membership. We want to know who is or supposed to be the custodian of the SLPP Data base.
Is it you or the former Secretary General Mr. J J Saffa and former Southern Regional Chair Mr. Joseph Maada Kpulun whose names are quoted by (the so called desperately looking for attention and recognition in the political atmosphere of Sierra Leone KKY Chairman) in the above article as they having once confirmed that the party had or maintained no data base of its membership?
I know and can understand quite clearly why in many cases some people make sweeping statements that later come back to hunt them. This is just one of those.
It is quite indisputable that JJ Saffa was once the party Secretary General. If he can now make such a disgraceful statement then I wonder how much competent he was then as secretary General.
As a proud Secretary General of this party over a term and yet could not ensure its membership of the party was well documented, then am afraid he was an unsuccessful Sec Gen in his time. He should be ashamed of himself and accept that he failed those who voted him in.
But coming back to the KKY Chairman Dr. Blango, the man I first knew him as SLPP in 1993. Understandably looking for political office back here in Sierra Leone he later officially quit the party and joined Ngor Charles Margai’s PMDC in 2005/6 right through the 2007 general elections.
Realizing chances for his high hope ambitions were fading in front of his eyes with nothing to write home about for deserting the SLPP for PMDC, he went back to London to set trap for another prey. Hence in 2012 when Maada was in London at the invitation by his numerous supporters for a fund raising event in his favour, coupled with the supporters’ determination to celebrating his birthday with him in the UK, Dr. Blango found a catch.
This time was to rally over the UK and Ireland Branch party members to have him re-register (It could be for the second or third time). This went through. It was on the night of either the fund raising dance or the birthday party that Dr. Blango declared openly in that hall for Maada as his own candidate as he displays his new membership card in the air for all to see – replica of the same way in which his current boss KKY did when he was handed his membership card for the first time recently.
Think about these two guys and the unstable and unreliable manner of KKY Chairman – Food for thought.
Now talking about KKY’s membership by his Chairman Dr. Blango and the innuendo around this so called membership card. In the first place I am sure Dr. Blango is aware of his boss’s radio interview some time last year when he (KKY) categorically told the world that he had never voted in any election in this country and never ever registered for any political party in Sierra Leone PERIOD.
Unless Dr. Blango would want the world to believe him now or never that he is/was not aware of that broadcast referred. If he say so and is true, I certainly would pardon him for defending the indefensible situation, otherwise I will be forced to say he too is a liar and a disgrace to this party. That he must not be taken seriously in any case.
Finally, I really wonder what is more criminal in nature ‘TO LIE’ and to ‘ignorantly fail to keep record of names’? Lawyers may advise accordingly.
Question: Is Jacob Jusu Saffa a current Executive Official of SLPP? If yes, who is he in the party? And if no, then why is he interfering into the official affairs of the party as an Ex-National Secretary General? This is gross nonsense.
I ask that he comes back to his senses peacefully, and retracts the letter he wrote to Mr. Tholla Thompson on Rules and Regulations for the Conduct of Executive Elections of the SLPP with an apology. Let him exercise some restraint and be patient.
By the way, no man owns Sierra Leone. She belongs to all Sierra Leoneans. Thank you very much.