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?