The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 August 2013
As Sierra Leone moves closer to China, many in the country are now questioning the motive and rationale of the ruling All People’s Congress Party (APC), in strengthening its relationship with the Communist Party of China, at a time when most countries of the world – including large swathes of the Chinese population, are already shifting towards a more liberal society.
While several senior APC party chiefs – including president Koroma, may argue that this is being done in furtherance of economic expediency, pointing to their accumulation of personal wealth through ‘naked capitalism’ as evidence of their pro-laissez faire values, there is a hard caucus of veteran APC party grandees, whose political agenda is communism.
President Obama, they conveniently argue, has done very little in helping to lever much needed private investments and US government financial aid into Sierra Leone, despite inviting president Koroma for tea at the White House.
Is president Koroma cutting his nose in order to spite his face, or is the ruling APC embarking on a genuine ideological renaissance?
The US government’s recent announcement of a massive aid package, close to a billion dollars for several African countries – including one of Africa’s richest nations – Nigeria, leaving out one of the poorest in the continent – Sierra Leone, appears to have hastened the country’s ruling party’s warm embrace of its communist friends in China.
Last month, the information minister of Sierra Leone – Alpha Kanu, speaking to America’s Delta Airline chiefs, claimed that the US government has approved $500 million of its Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) Funding for Sierra Leone. This statement turned out to be false.
“The MCC compact grant of 500 million United States dollars is provided by the Federal Government of America and we would like American companies to implement some if not all of the projects lined up by the MCC”, says the information minister, as reported by State House in Freetown.
The government of Sierra Leone had pinned all hopes of using the US government’s MCC funds to implement its newly launched Agenda for Prosperity, which it is estimated could cost over $3 billion, if fully implemented.
But as reported from China today, it is now clear that the fulfillment of president Koroma’s dream, now rest on the decisions taken by officials of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.
This is worrying news for the people of Sierra Leone, who suffered tremendous hardship and state brutality for several decades, under a one party APC communist dictatorship.
According to the BBC’s ‘Inside China’s ruling party’; “The Communist Party has ruled China since 1949, tolerating no opposition and often dealing brutally with dissent. Nowadays the country is actually governed by nine men atop a pyramid of power which reaches into every village and workplace.
“They have never faced competitive election, making it to the top thanks to their patrons, abilities and survival instincts in a political culture where saying the wrong thing can lead to a life under house-arrest, or worse. Formally, their power stems from their positions on the Party’s decision-making Politburo.
“But in China, personal relations count much more than job titles. A leader’s influence rests on the loyalties he or she builds with superiors and protégés, often over decades.”
Sierra Leoneans are generally fearful of the return of a one party state in Sierra Leone, under a communist driven APC party. They are worried about a communist led APC curtailing their freedoms and civil liberty.
Many in Sierra Leone and in the diaspora are afraid of the return of state oppression and politically motivated killings – all in aid of promoting a one party state, governed by a communist APC.
Above all, they are worried about the return of mass poverty, economic decline and state control of enterprises and industry, under an APC communist party.
But should Sierra Leoneans really be afraid of the ruling APC metamorphosing into a pseudo-Chinese Communist Party, following president Obama’s decision to take his bat home?
Is president Koroma’s APC simply returning to its roots, laid down by former president and brutal dictator – Siaka Stevens?
And can the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) offer the people of Sierra Leone a guarantee of a government that respects and values a free market economy and a liberal democratic society?
Writing for the Press Office of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Beijing, this is John Baimba Sesay’s report – ‘APC bigwigs meet in China’:
The present and most recent secretaries of the governing All People’s Congress Party of Sierra Leone – Ambassadors Foday Yansaneh and Victor Bockarie Foh – respectively, on Sunday 18th August, met in central Beijing, where they held discussions on ways of not only strengthening the support base of their party back home, but also on how they could further their political ties with the governing Communist Party of China.
Ambassador Yansaneh, who is leading a ten man delegation, arrived in China on the invitation of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The delegation is comprised of: Alhaji M. S. Kargbo – Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Kadiatu Mansaray – APC Women’s Group – Koinadugu District, Mohamed Sesay of Port Loko District, Issa Kanu of Bombali District, David Fornah and Abdul Rahman Bangura – both from the APC National Secretariat, Rebecca Koroma – APC Women’s Group Leader of Kailahun District, Madam Zainab Bangura – APC Women’s Group Leader of the southern province, Mohamed Bangura – APC Youth Leader – Tonkollili District.
At a dinner hosted at his residence on Sunday 18th August, Ambassador Victor Foh, who until a few months ago was Secretary-General of the APC party, said: “The APC is a mass party and it has always catered for the downtrodden, as they are the ones who determine who win elections”.
Ambassador Foh also paid tribute to the party’s founding fathers and particularly those who have been working in ensuring its continued growth. He called for the party to be supported and strengthened by its members, and the need for it to be given the respect it deserves, referencing China where “there is great respect for the party’s operation. Everything here is party…”
Sierra Leone, Ambassador Foh said, recognized China years back as a sleeping giant and as such “if there is nothing we can give them, let us continue to stand by them at all times ….as they are making head ways.”
The party’s Secretary-General – Ambassador Osman Foday Yansaneh also commended Ambassador Foh for his time and dedication to the values and ideals of the party.
He said at a time people were afraid to be associated with the APC, people like Victor Bockarie Foh and William Juana Smith, amongst others, stood by the party and ensured its survival; “and that was at a time the NPRC wanted to kill the APC”.
He encouraged all and sundry to be committed to the party and disclosed that political payment will not come in the world hereafter.
“We are not expecting our political payment next world”, but also encouraged them to work hard, not just for the growth of the party, but for the general development of Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone, Ambassador Yansaneh assured, will see more development with the APC in power.
Talking about alternatives to party politics and national development, Ambassador Foh said: “if the SLPP is the only alternative to administer Sierra Leone, then it is a danger” and therefore, assured all present, that they will empower and strengthen the APC, which “is the only viable alternative to any party today in Sierra Leone.”
Since the APC was elected, Ambassador Yansaneh said, there has been no political prisoner and this, he stated is commendable. He said, as a government and party, they have made development possible in every region of the country, through the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma – leader and Chairman of the APC.