Analysis

Ernest should adopt the Mandela model

28 September 2007 at 21:00 | 647 views

By Abu B. Shaw, London.

Will he or won’t he, are the questions presently being bandied around as
President Ernest Bai Koroma settles into the seat of power in Sierra
Leone.

Will President Koroma, as a matter of urgency, execute a more appealing form
of reconciliation that does not go with justice or will he implement the
stern form of reconciliation that favours adjudication against the
corrupt officials of the outgoing SLPP government?

I believe, with a strong feeling, that if President Koroma’s current reign(less than a month old) is
anything to go by, then his All Peoples’ Congress (APC) government will go
for the former option, the soft option.

Like many other patriotic Sierra Leoneans, this is an
option that I wholeheartedly feel is right.
This sensible option is in stark contrast with what the dreadful Sierra Leone
Peoples’ Party (SLPP) government adopted when they were reinstated to power
in 1998.

That was the first single most significant mistake of the SLPP
misrule. And they paid the price dearly in the recent elections for taking
the second political step, the jail them- burn them-shoot them option.

An air of optimism for the better is blowing at the moment throughout the
country since the APC/PMDC alliance defeated the SLPP. The unprecedented
move by President Koroma to work with former ministers of the defeated SLPP
(though temporarily) to sort out government offices before handing
over, signals the fact that another Nelson Mandela form of reconciliation is
born. It is political maturity of the highest order hitherto unknown in
Sierra Leone.

The rumour mill in that country has started in earnest. Speculations that
Solomon Berewa and cohorts are to face corruption charges by the APC
government is gradually dissipating, thankfully. This is a great relief for
the vengeful SLPP who were expecting the APC to reciprocate with blood for
blood.

Sierra Leone, then, now and in the future, does not need this negative and
unprogressive stance. Our precious time, energy and resources should be
properly utilised to providing the best for the nation. The suffering masses
need safe drinking water, food, electricity, healthcare, employment, good
roads and affordable education and so on.

These basics of life, which were practically insurmountable thanks to former
President (Wotsisname), could only be realised if we garner support in and
out of the country to fight any form of political witch-hunting and
economic bastardisation. President Koroma’s must not resort to this mistake
of revenge, the main reason and catalyst of SLPP’s fall.

I honestly think that taking the road to genuine reconciliation without
dispensing justice will put President Koroma at par with Sierra Leone’s
greats like the late Dr. Sir Milton Margai, Dr. John Karefa-Smart and so on. It
will serve as the first significant milestone towards confidence building
and development.

Some critics might disagree with me. But I view
this as the best way to usher in sound economic and political recovery.
We wasted over $US100 million on the United Nations Special court in
Freetown to try and convict and jail in far away places, fellow Sierra Leoneans.

Such negativism could
have been avoided had the SLPP executed true reconciliation, the Nelson
Mandela format, rather than going for bloody retaliation.

Economically, Sierra
Leoneans have not benefited from the UN Special Court. Only a few greedy
Sierra Leonean lawyers and their foreign counterparts reaped financial
benefits from this hopeless court.

Every one knows that the UN Special court, since its inauguration, had only
generated more hatred, disunity, hunger, disease, poverty and misery in
Sierra Leone. However, the UN Special court building situated in New England
opposite the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) in Freetown is the
only positive achievement the country can be proud of.

During a snap visit to Sierra Leone two years ago, I was really impressed
when I saw the heavily guarded UN Special court mansion behind a high barbed
wire fence. It reminded me of George W. Bush’s Guantanamo Bey.

Today I
advise President Koroma to quickly explore possibilities of scrapping this useless court and utilise this massive
building for the benefit of the country. Turning it into a memorial or museum our
dead heroes and heroines or making it part of the university would be a clever move.

Millions of US dollars disappeared in thin air when the SLPP hastily
constituted a kangaroo court martial in 1998 in the name of justice to try
some of our soldiers. These 23 gallant men and one woman, widely considered to be
the brains of the Sierra Leone’s military, were murdered by foreign
executioners(Nigerians).

Many Sierra Leoneans are very unhappy about the amassing of thousands of
dollars by the SLPP crooks following the arrest, detention of innocent civilians in
1998 many of whom were ridiculously charged with treason.

Many, who did not have money to pay bribes, lost their
lives in prison. Countless others were publicly burnt to death, maimed,
amputated by both the SLPP’s Kamajors and the dreaded RUF rebels.

The
rebel war started in 1991 and ended in 2002.
Now we have to move on. It’s difficult to forgive these corrupt politicians
and warlords but Sierra Leone will not achieve any success if we ignore true
reconciliation.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela did it after
27 years in prison. He was not bitter when he became president. He embraced
his enemies. His reconciliation format succeeded. If he does the same, President
Koroma will surely succeed.

The beauty about Mandela’s formula is that it leaves these corrupt
politicians with guilty consciences and they are always looking behind their backs
for the rest of their lives.

I believe a guilty conscience is the worse form
of punishment, according to natural law.
All we should demand from the corrupt SLPP politicians is to come forward
and confess their sins openly on national television and radio and ask for
forgiveness and return the money they have stolen. We will leave them with their guilty consciences. That’s the
surest way to end the circle of violence and usher in peace and development.

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