Yankuba Kai-Samba: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 May 2021:
There is a worrying wall of silence in Sierra Leone in the face of massive corruption and human rights violations under the SLPP Paopa administration.
The subdued people in Sierra Leone are primarily concerned about where their next meal will come from because they have been conditioned to believe that government has control over their lives.
Government is only in Freetown and even here few intelligentsias can afford to impartially analyse what the government is up to regarding the mismanagement of the economy and poor governance. Majority of our people do not really understand the role of government in their lives and its responsibilities to the society.
Many rely on the diasporas to be fighting for them. I know this because I receive calls of appreciation and encouragements from people in Sierra Leone.
Britain is taking note, no doubt about that, but the people inside Sierra Leone must show solidarity with their fellow citizens whose human rights are being violated. And they must hold the government to account for financial mismanagement.
Our institutions, which can put fear in the government are weak, compromised or partisan.
Take the case of the opposition politician – Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray, who remains in incarceration now going to a year without a trial or bail. Mr. Mansaray is an opposition leader and an outspoken critic of the government.
Take the recent ridiculous arrest and four months imprisonment of Maada Salia in Kenema for ” insulting president Bio and his wife”. I challenge the judge or magistrate who sent this young man to such a lengthy sentence to cite any law in Sierra Leone that justified his imprisonment, notwithstanding the fact Maada Salia did not use any insults but only exercised his fundamental right to freedom of speech. Maada Salia should never have been arrested or charged in the first place.
Take the murder of stone throwing youths in Makeni by the government security forces, which the US country report described as government violation of human rights.
Take the murder of youths in Tombo, outskirt of Freetown, after youths rioted over fishing boats.
Take the young innocent youth shot and crippled outside the gated house of the deputy interior minister.
Take the brutal murder of the only son of a woman in Kailahun by Paopa SLPP supporters.
No one has been held to account nor are the relevant institutions or organisations in the country seeking justice for the victims, leading observers to believe that Sierra Leone is a failed state.
There is no opposition leader or party to lead a peaceful street protest against what is an extremely dangerous creeping dictatorship and oppressive tactics in peace time Sierra Leone.
You do not defeat the incumbent in an election, cunning and deceitful as they are, by allowing them to dominate the political space for too long without an appropriate and proportionate response.
There are dozens of these instances but there is a distinct and disturbing acquiescence or silence against the excesses of this Paopa administration.
In Liberia, even school kids have taken to the street to protest about the condition of their schools and teachers’ salary.
There are no critical masses in Sierra Leone. They remain quiet, either in fear of losing their jobs or hope one day, they will get an appointment.
The Paopa government’s mass sacking of people from their jobs within days of coming to power was a deliberate strategy to intimidate the workers. It has caused deep insecurity and fear in the minds of public sector workers, leading them to tow the Paopa line, even though they don’t want to be there.
These are factors of inhibition, that will undermine democracy and development.
About the author
Yankuba Kai-Samba, former SLPP UK secretary general, writes from Chelmsford, UK.