Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 January 2016
It’s amusing to read the differing explanations put forward, regarding the current electoral predicaments and palpable ineptitude of the SLPP.
Indeed, one is constantly entertained by the valiant efforts of factional camps within the SLPP, implicitly or overtly pointing the accusing finger at each other for the ignoble and systemic demise of the party.
SLPP is one of the oldest political parties in Africa. It is intellectually, strategically and productively supposed to be head and shoulders above the rest in Sierra Leone’s politics.
So what is amiss? What has gone wrong? What are the real reasons behind the recent ascendancy of the APC and obvious descendancy of the SLPP?
As a true Sierra Leonean patriot who does not subscribe to the ‘ideology’ of any political party in Sierra Leone, I believe citizens like me are better placed to honestly hit the nail on the head – politically speaking.
But before analysing these reasons, it’s vital to quickly debunk all the habitual factors paraded as causes by rival SLPP factions: internal fractiousness, paopaism, Maada Bio’s alleged endorsement of the APC leadership.
People forget that opposition political parties are habitually fractious and querulous, simply because they are not in power. Remember the APC’s troubles in opposition?
Cast your mind on the internal squabbles of both the UK’s Tory and Labour parties in opposition. So SLPP’s internal upheavals are simply norms of the game.
Equally, paopaism cannot be blamed for the party’s national ineptitude because Maada Bio is not the one in charge of the SLPP. If the man is allowed to wield disproportional power, he will obviously do so and SLPP leadership should be squarely blamed for it.
So I would rather focus on the real social, economic and political factors responsible for SLPP’S demise.
Socially – a miscalculation
SLPP’s strategists seem to counterproductively miscalculate or underestimate the formidable dexterity of the APC at communicating with voters.
It is for instance, easier for an illiterate village-dwelling peasant to easily grasp the APC’s ” de Pa dae woke” mantra, than for such voter to ponder the loftiness of SLPP’s “we established NASSIT”.
So although the latter is a much more formidable achievement, the APC would easily win the race of attracting the voter’s attention.
Economically – identical elitism
In government, both political parties have woefully failed to discard the imagery of economic elitism.
This means that both have entrenched the perception of inherent and systemic corruption, that unfairly and unscrupulously enriches those in the establishment, at the crippling expense of the masses.
Voters are not stupid – even the most illiterate are conscious of this.
Consequently, the SLPP cannot realistically exploit corruption scandals under APC, without reminding voters of Emerson’s anti-SLPP “Two fut arata” song.
When one considers APC’s superior ability to talk the layman’s language, it’s not rocket science to deduce why the SLPP struggles to dislodge APC electorally.
Politically – ideological bankruptcy
An intellectual assessment of our political parties, and indeed most African political parties, will uncover the dearth of distinct ideological values and principles.
When one thinks of the Democrats and Republicans in the USA, Tories and Labour in the UK, the Apartheid National Party of South Africa, one instantly acquaints all of them with a distinct political conviction: socialism, capitalism, fascism or racism.
But if one cast aside the ideological theories put forward on their respective websites, one is easily bemused by the total lack of political direction of both our political parties.
Both claim to be ” democratic and development oriented” but the prevalent imprint on people’s minds about the two major parties is a plethora of corruption scandals, autocracy, failed promises and chronic dependence on foreign aid.
In conclusion therefore, it’s obvious that the SLPP has tragically transformed itself into a replica of the ruling APC. But it is weak at talking to the largely illiterate electorate.
One can therefore logically deduce that, irrespective of who leads SLPP – paopa or no paopa, SLPP disunity or not – the ruling APC will continue to dominate politics in Sierra Leone, until the official opposition effectively tackle these three major problems, and adopt the language of the common man.
Most ominously, the longer these problems remain, the quicker will Sierra Leone acquire the most unenviable title of being the first multi-party nation in post-colonial Africa, that by default, democratically votes for a one party state