Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 January 2016:
Sierra Leone is vastly rich in natural resources, and its government is woefully incapable of exploiting this wealth creating potential, for the good of its population of six million.
Corruption, poor governance, and inept leadership are responsible for the abject poverty that the people of Sierra Leone are facing today.
But the communist tendency of those governing the ruling APC party, is a serious concern for those in the country that are committed to building a vibrant liberal democracy and a prosperous nation, based on honest personal enterprise, and an open and free market economy – not controlled by the Koroma family and their patrons.
Recent visit of senior members of the Chinese Communist Party to Sierra Leone raise serious questions about the true purpose of their meeting with president Koroma at State House, and with senior members of the ruling Communist APC party.
The fifteen high powered delegation from the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China was led by no less an individual, than the vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – Mr. Wang Jairui.
So, why did they choose to visit Sierra Leone at a time, when the country is engaged in a hot debate about a campaign by ruling party extremists to extend the term limit of president Koroma in office, effectively returning the country to a one party communist dictatorship?
What did the Chinese discuss at State House with their comrades – senior ruling APC party members and president Koroma?
What advice did they give to president Koroma about his third term agenda?
Will the Chinese government honour the promise they made to president Koroma in 2013, to invest more than $10 billion in Sierra Leone in tourism, agriculture, electricity, fishing, and the construction of a new airport outside the capital Freetown?
Did the Chinese Communist Party promise to increase their supply of arms and ammunition to the country, and step up training of Sierra Leone security personnel, especially the presidential guard, in anticipation of any political instability that may ensue pre or post 2017/2018 elections?
Whatever the Chinese Communist Party discussed with their comrades at State House on the 19th and 20th January 2016, we may never know.
But one thing is clear. According to State House sources, news delivered by the Chinese Communist Party to their comrades in Freetown, made for uncomfortable listening by State House.
The much talked about construction of a new airport by the Chinese may not now go ahead as planned.
Sources say that the feasibility study conducted by the Chinese themselves, now shows that the project estimated to cost over $400 million is not sustainable.
The existing international airport at Lungi (Photo) may well be redeveloped by the Chinese at a fraction of the cost of a new airport, if an agreement can be reached with the Koroma government about the role of China in managing the airport.
According to the Chinese, there are far more important priorities that require urgent investments, such as healthcare, electricity, and access to clean water, instead of constructing a $400 million airport that is likely to yield very little added economic value for the country.
The rehabilitation of Sierra Leone’s economy which has seen a 25% drop in export revenue in the last two years because of the Ebola outbreak, is seen by the Chinese as a priority.
Further investments in developing Sierra Leone’s iron ore production, which the Chinese now controls, has been shelved by the Chinese, as global and China’s demand for iron ore remains weak.
The Chinese are believed to be considering taking over the struggling sugar cane ethanol production company – Addax, along with other ailing foreign companies in Sierra Leone, if they can get them at knockdown bargain prices.
But money is getting tighter for the Chinese, as the economy takes a free fall dive.
Economic growth in China is dropping fast, despite the huge slump in global oil prices.
And China’s industrial production has slowed down too, as the government refocus its economic growth strategy, currently driven by overseas demand for Chinese goods to domestic demand led growth.
Global prices for raw materials such as steel and iron ore have slumped in the last two years, and the uncertainty continues, as the Chinese economy slows down.
Billions of dollars of investments promised to the Koroma government by the Chinese in 2013, will not now materialise.
This makes for unpleasant reading for the Koroma government in Freetown, as expectations from the Chinese Communist Party’s visit to Sierra Leone are dashed.
According to State House Communication Unit in Freetown, the aim of the visit was to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries and their respective parliamentary institutions.
But the question that must be asked is, why would Sierra Leone – a small, poor African country that is trying to develop its liberal parliamentary democracy, based on pluralism and a free market economy, invest in enhancing bilateral political relations with the Chinese Communist party and their monolithic one party parliament?
Are president Koroma and his ruling APC being encouraged by the Chinese Communist Party to return Sierra Leone to a one party state by stealth?
A cursory look at the list of senior APC comrades who hosted their Chinese visitors at State House, makes for interesting reading: Vice president Victor Bockarie Foh, who is also ironically ‘serving’ as Sierra Leone’s ambassador to China; the speaker of Sierra Leone Houses of Parliament – Sheku BB Dumbuya; the secretary general of the ruling APC – Osman Foday Yansanneh; the deputy chairman and leader of the APC – Minkailu Mansaray; APC chairman for the western area – Allieu Pat-Sowe; and the APC national campaign coordinator for the 2012 elections – Leonard Balogun Koroma, who has made several visits to China in the last five years. This group is known as the APC gang of FIVE – Koroma’s most trusted and loyal comrades.
These APC politicians are unashamedly communist, and relish the nostalgia and possibility of returning Sierra Leone to the despotic and oppressive one party APC dominated parliament – a hybrid of the Chinese parliament, that ruled Sierra Leone for almost thirty years. (Photo above: Vice president Foh and the Chinese Premier in Beijing).
According to State House report in Freetown, “discussions with the Chinese were focused on relations between the two ruling parties, their respective legislative institutions, ways and experiences of governing the state, government affairs as well as issues of common interest.”
These are very worrying times indeed for many Sierra Leoneans that are committed to and are working very hard to maintain Sierra Leone’s liberal multi-party democracy.
And as the outspoken opposition political leader – Alie Kabba languish on bail, awaiting court trial for a charge his supporters say is politically motivated, there are concerns civil liberty and human rights in Sierra Leone are seriously being eroded.
Is the Chinese Communist Party interested in helping to strengthen Sierra Leone’s Westernised liberal, multi-party democracy?
Are they interested in seeing president Koroma trade authoritarianism for respect for civil liberty and human rights?
Korthor santhkie I was right in believing you will have simple explanation of what you said. Thank you for clarifying as I did not want to misunderstand your comment.
I wholeheartedly agree with you sir. If we disagree on any issue we must not resort to abusing each other.
As for your comment about SLPP parliamentarians, I will go even further to say that many are there as APC surrogates. They are on the payroll of EBK that’s why they are mute if not impotent.
You ask me what is communism. Where can I begin. In my humble opinion, communism is the practice of state governance controlled by one political party, where the means of production and wealth creation are all in the hands of the one party that runs the state. Also decisions about how wealth is distributed is made by the single party that’s in control.
In communism the overriding interest is the collective rather than the individual. Even decisions about how many children a family should have is made by the single party in power. It is a dictatorship that sits on the aspirations and dreams of the individual.
You may disagree with me korthor santhkie, but this is my view. Whats yours sir?
By the way, thanks for the exchange and thanks to salone telegraph for the opportunity to debate issues about our country.
Sheikhi, you utterly misunderstood me. I have read the author of the article many times, and not only can he write, but does so with civility, which I admire, even when I have disagreed with him.
It is some of us who respond that tend to use street English because we are lost for universally acceptable words. These are the people who are quick to make a fist because they have lost the argument.
Recently, Mr Thomas disagreed with me on something I said about Yumkellah, but his words were well chosen and refined – quite admirable. In a way, we agreed to disagree. That’s how it should be. If we have a few like him in Parliament, on both sides, we will be thrilled to lively debates.
At the moment, the people [S.L.P.P.] who are supposed to be opposing Ernest Koroma quite simply go to Parliament to sleep. What’s your response to this Mr Bignose ?
It is us, ordinary people, that are doing their job for them, while they get paid. This is what I meant when I said “let us stick to our guns” in speaking out. An infantryman never drops his gun until he is killed because that’s the only protection he has in the hit of battle. Do you see my point Sheikhi?
By using the word “rude”, I meant that we should be polite to each other even when we disagree intensely. When you get angry, you lose the argument, since emotions become the controlling force. Take a look at how Mr Thomas writes Sheikhi.
I must tell you Mr Bignose that I am not A.P.C. or S.L.P.P. I am a Sierra Leonean who likes following the truth, wherever that may lead. The two major parties are one and the same. Have you paid any attention to Charles Margai’s P.M.D.C. to kick the two big guns into the political wilderness?
Lastly Sheikhi, please explain to me, in lay terms, what communism means with examples.
If a country is being run by one party, and that party is called a communist party, and speaks like a communist, then it is 100% communist.
China cannot afford to be like North Korea, because the people will rebel as they did in the 1980s. They also need the West to do business with. But to say that they are capitalist is way off the mark.
I am APC and must say that Sierra Leone must stay well clear from communism and one party politics. The opposition in Sierra Leone is weak at the moment because of all the in-fighting. But sooner or later they will learn the errors of their ways and focus their attention once again on being an opposition party for the good of the country’s liberal democracy.
As long as we don’t allow the Chinese to control our politics and economy, I am hopeful of a better future for the people of Sierra Leone.
Hello sir, it’s so sad to see history repeat itself in such a short period of time…one party attempting to rule forever. I guess memories are short. Please don’t blame the Chinese for what’s going on in Sierra Leone, it’s greed that’s the driving force behind what we are all witnessing.
It’s a sad day to see a man who received the power by peace and now doesn’t want to leave in peace. Why? What is all this about? If he did well for all Sierra Leoneans, people would be begging him to stay. However, I totally agree, hopefully there is a better future for the people of Sierra Leone. They deserve a better future.
“Once the communist party decides on what areas of the economy attention is needed, enterpreneaurs are given a free hand to invest in all their dimensions and make millions. There are now billionaires in China, something that was anathema in the days of Chairman Mao. One could land in prison for decades for just displaying capitalist tendencies.”
Wooooo!! Easy on. Only senior members of the Chinese Communist Party and their cronies control over 99% of the investment opportunities in China, and they are the billionaires. The vast majority of Chinese are languishing in poverty.
Korthor Santhkie do ya help me out here. What do you mean by: “We can stick to our guns without being abusive or rude.”
Do you mean to say that this article is insulting to China or to EBK’s dictatorial communist thieving cabal, or both? Please explain yourself if you may, so that I can make some comments.
I do hope you are not suggesting that this article is offensive. We had enough of our colonial masters and do not wish to trade one for another, especially one that is brutalising its own people and deny their freedoms in China.
Communist dictatorship is bad for the human soul and spirit – fullstop. Not because we in salone are at the bottom of the pile of every human development index means that we must keep being dragged by those whose one and only goal in Africa is to take over our resources and control how and what we think and feel.
The Chinese’s record on human right is appalling; their record on caring for and managing the environment while pursuing their economic dream is sickening; their record on dumping their people in appalling working conditions in sweat shops for peanuts – often for weeks without seeing daylight or their families is well documented; their record on the abuse of universal freedoms is shameful; their condescending attitude towards Africans in their own land is a disgrace.
Only yesterday we read in some salone newspaper of the appalling conditions some women are working in salone without pay by their Chinese boss.
We can have the Chinese simply invest their capital in salone if that is what they want to benefit their own people, and we can have the jobs. But they must take their hands off our politics. Stay out of our politics, we are not North Korea please.
We have enough problems of our own in salone, even with our imperfect democracy, let alone being encouraged to go communist.
We do not want to become communist thank you. We like our freedoms and we will continue to fight any government in this country that is trying to curtail our freedoms, civil liberty and human rights.
I do not envy China’s rapid rise to economic success which is today unraveling and proving to be rather ephemeral. How long will it last? No country can sustain economic growth, wealth creation and prosperity if the engines of wealth creation are not in the hands of the people. Stop controlling the minds and creativity of your people Mr China.
Santhkie, who told you that western capitalism has no element of state control. Of course it does and thank God for that. But western capitalism does not sit on and control the natural human instinct to pursue their individual dreams.
China should thank western investors and big companies who went across to China especially in the 1980s and 1990s in search of cheap labour and set up factories there. This is what gave China the dominance it has today, not the free capitalist will and innovation of its people and government.
I will stop here for now and wait for your explanation of your statement suggesting that the article is offensive to China or the dictatorial communist APC government.
There is only one country in the world now that may call itself pure communist, and that is North Korea. Even there, one should expect a dose of capitalism to subtly be at play to boost the human spirit. What was then the Soviet Union – the centre piece of communism – did engage in some of capitalism.
Can anybody truly call China a communist country anymore ? The only thing that may still be communist about China is that it has a centrally planned economy, and the communist party does not take kindly to public criticism. Behind the scenes members do criticise each other, especially when it is time for the leadership baton to change hands.
On the whole however, China is as much a capitalist nation now as Western liberal economies. Once the communist party decides on what areas of the economy attention is needed, enterpreneaurs are given a free hand to invest in all their dimensions and make millions. There are now billionaires in China, something that was anathema in the days of Chairman Mao. One could land in prison for decades for just displaying capitalist tendencies.
The current Chinese position as having the second largest economy in the world , behind the United States, started with the emergence of Den Sio Pin in the 1980s as the leader of the country. He knew his people’s enterprising potential, and decided to release it. And so started China’s economic miracle with all its ramifications.
I am a Sierra Leonean first and last before I am anything else. I want the occupier of State House to make friends for the country whenever and wherever he can find them. There was a time in my beloved country when if the devil had appeared and asked me to give him a chance to prove religious leaders of all persuasion wrong by leading Sierra Leone into prosperity within a year, the probability of giving in to him would have been very high. My strong feeling started with Siaka Stevens and has abated just a little.
President Koroma is a very weak leader overall, but he has managed to attract some investment into the country. His infrastructural program is second to none since independence. On corruption, I give him a C minus, on crime and punishment , I give him a D, on control over his ministers and others, I give him a D minus and on making any effort to communicate directly with his people all the time, I give him an F.
Sierra Leone will never go communist. For a start, we are too religious , but most importantly, we have seen the monstrous effects of a one-party state under Siaka Stevens to ever want to toy with it again. Bernadette Lahai and her cohorts are not helping us, but let us somehow carry on without them. We can stick to our guns without being abusive or rude.
Infrastructure? You mean Roads Construction only. That is what infrastructure mean in SierraLeone Politics. Even Roads, it is only in the Northern region that you have the road construction. Check Kenema town Roads, Disgusting and shameful to the so called Infrastructural Development. I rest my case. God is watching for all of us.
The Government of President Ernest Koroma is a hogwash, not worth copying by any Sierra Leonean. For it violates the tenets of the constitution beyond belief. The removal from office of the Vice-President without Parliamentary approval or consideration is just one of them. He bypassed the Legislative branch and highhandedly bulldozed Mr. Sam Sumana out of office.
All what President Koroma needed to do was to see that VP Sumana impeached by Parliament and then act upon the result. That’s the first step in removal from office of any public official, including VP. It is called constitutional democracy practiced in Sierra Leone. And must be respected as such. But, upon knowing at the time that he does not have the votes in Parliament to indict Mr. Sumana, Ernest Koroma had to dismiss his next-in-command without question. EBK is a big bully. Shame on him.
However, it is now up to one-half of the MPs to write the Speaker of the House of Parliament alleging that President Koroma has violated the constitution and propose that a tribunal be set up under Section 51 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991, [Misconduct by the President] to immediately investigate this allegation.