Elections in Sierra Leone: A Reflection

7 August 2006 at 21:26 | 697 views

By Mohamed Boye Jallo Jamboria

A "tentative" date for elections has been announced. It is tentative because from experience the announcement is a purely political statement made to attract some from of credibility from the international community following the recent visits of the World Bank president and the other high ranking internationals to Sierra Leone.

From experience also, this move to get more credits from the international community can be interpreted as a desperate move to create juggling room and avenues for devising a campaign strategy by a de facto one party government whose only track record is Machiavellian and draconian tactics; a government which can best be described as wolves in sheep’s clothing. In short it is a move to rob Peter to pay Paul in the sense that one favourable announcement from the international community is what is required for political propaganda to be manufactured that will keep the people on the dream highway as usual.

This announcement has galvanized into motion activities of diverse sorts, creating alliances and loyalties that disappear immediately after the “elections” would have been done next year. Also it has created room for some "invisible" short term jobs and a reduction in the socio political tensions under which the majority live. These invisible jobs as they are have been the hallmark of all governments since independence and it has been the channel of misuse of the young and able bodied Sierra Leonean, the youths , who are still struggling to gain a foothold in a society that has no national goals, ideology or what have you.

As from now on to that date in 2007, the unimportant people have become important because if not for the sake of a free and fair polling their participation alone can make the whole difference and justify the lies that normally follow ,i.e., that every thing went on fine and all processes were democratic.These evil politicians always need the people to give credibility to and legitimize their tricks.

Taking all factors into consideration and all things being equal, elections will be held next year. It is now that all true and well meaning Sierra Leoneans must put on their thinking caps and do a lot of reflection and introspection. It is, in short, time to ask how far has the vehicle of governance and development gone and what has been achieved and how.

If one is to go by these questions then it is clear that all answers will be in the negative. Well it is possible that such questions will have diverse perspectives and so create room for diverse responses. However, looking at the logical and / or technical sense of the words "governance" and "development" then the negative response holds as any positive response has to reflect a complex of social and environmental factors that can be seen and assessed as reflections of the achievements of a collective that took over from a point in the recent past to now. These social and environmental facts must not only reflect the human index but must also reflect the basic and collective infrastructural changes so far.

A point in consideration must be; how has the lives of the common man and woman changed? This change must not be measured by how much more freedom the people have to misuse and abuse themselves by indulging in social vices such as drugs, prostitution and gambling , which on the other hand are indicators of economic decline and social tensions and which are commonplace in today’s Sierra Leone. It must be change that involves and reflect an improvement in the basic living standards and the general affordability of food, housing and clothing alongside welfare services.

Naturally, some may want to say Rome was not built in a day, but Rome has taken too long to be built or is it ever going to be built? Other may want to use the morally vacant arguments of ’we are just coming from a war’, but the question is for how long is this going to hold given all the monies (as much as 4 billion dollars pumped in by the international community for various projects from reports by a BBC reporter in Sierra Leone last year) that have been pumped into the Sierra Leone economy since 2000.How are these inputs reflected in the present socio economic status of the country? Or is someone going to say these monies did not actually get to the country? If they did not where are they or who is holding on to these monies?

Given these reflections, it is time for the people to take a critical look at themselves and their attitudes to elections and support of political parties from now on to next year.

The following questions must be addressed by all voters:(1) What is the difference in terms of the present and past composition of all the political parties now making the rounds ?In this regard the people must examine the issues of who and how. Also it is time the people reflect on the effects and contributions of recycled politicians. Politics is not an occupation but a social vocation and service to humanity.

However, in Sierra Leone passports and documents of politicians indicate occupation as ’politician’ because these mentally misguided members of society think they are God’s selected few to access the nation’s cake and distribute it at their will and convenience , an attitude or rather concept passed on by the colonial masters that operates on the general human misconception expressed by the political hypothesis of “Manifest Destiny” which is a misapplication of the Darwinian theory of genetics.

Also the people must reflect on their contributions to such situations of recycling politicians. In this regard, they must first look at themselves not from their material but from their mental perspectives. This applies mainly to the youths who have been the victims of misuse and abuse for generations now and who always lay claims to an awareness which in most case is hallucinatory and far from the realities of their circumstances, which can be best summarized as lacking mental emancipation.

A key question that all must ask themselves is why their loyalties to a particular political party? This is a very important question because for most people politics is like a religion and loyalty is hereditary, ethnic or relational. Is this a correct approach to the nation’s future? Or if this cannot be changed can it be modified by decentralization at some time in the near future?

The next question that the people must be asking now is, ’is it in the best interest of the country to have all these political parties or are they mere reflections of the myopic, selfish and unpatriotic nature of the political class as their attitudes have shown them to be over the years?.’

If the answer to the above is in the negative then the next question is what can be done by the people to change this cyclic situation? Or are they going to surrender to fate? Naturally this they must not do!

If Sierra Leoneans are true to their country now is the time for them to help create the beginnings of a true democratic society by taking steps to ensure that no one party holds them to ransom. Just how this can be done is simple. They must vote and ensure the following :(a)that no party has a strong majority in parliament so as to dominate and make it a mere rubber stamp institution.

(b) That the party that dominates the executive arm of government is different from the party that has the majority in parliament.

When such situations begin to exist then changes are sure to begin!

To be continued