Opinion

Horror in Sierra Leone

27 May 2007 at 19:38 | 19928 views

By Ayo Mason, Holland.

International organisations including the UN have constantly warned that the things that led to the outbreak of Sierra Leone’s civil war are still visible and there is a concern that steps are needed to lift the people from the yoke of poverty.

The present SLPP government has told an outright and intentional lie that its policies cater for all and are even-handed to all while at the same time it promises to treat Sierra Leone as one country and Sierra Leoneans as one people and one family.

In truth, these deliberate historical flasehoods are misleading and can subject the people to mis-rule and political masturbation. The lies are indicative of the skillful deception used by Sierra Leonean politicians to sway the people from the reality.

In its report on Sierra Leone, DFID complains of a lack of transparency in the Kabbah led government. It condemns official corruption and the inability of the SLPP to strengthen the Anti- Corruption Commission.

Sierra Leoneans are ill-prepared to continue with a leadership that has brought such huge corruption into their country. Their present poverty and economic backwardness are due not to years of colonial exploitation, but rather to the policies of Post-Independence governments.

State-led economic policies encouraged Sierra Leone’s politicians to consolidate power in their own hands, diverting resources that could have bveen used for profitable investment to political patronage and the personal enrichment of the ruling elites.

Sierra Leoneans have known suffering, they have endured government corruption and they have seen part of their land seized in the name of alleged state laws, which in fact only portray the might is right dictum. With the end of the war, President Kabbah, with an instinct for the interests of the ruling class, revived the days of Siaka Stevens.

Almost all the people in the country live on less than fifty cents a day, according to the World Bank. The SLPP rule sets out in stark detail how social conditions have deteriorated drastically after minor gains that were made during the NPRC era. Only one in ten Sierra Leoneans has access to electricity and two thirds of the population has no clean water supply, while three quarters lack sanitation. More people are dying from infectious diseases than at any time.

Quite recently, A UN report reveals a picture of catastrophically declining economic and social conditions in Sierra Leone. Yet supporters of the government of President Kabbah hid the underlying problems affecting the average man.

The promise of greater opportunities and independence offered in the post-election speeches of President Kabbah has been replaced by the prospect of prolonged hardship and poverty never experienced by any generation in the country.

The UN defined anyone lacking three or more of the following items as living in absolute poverty: safe drinking water, health, sanitation facilities, education and access to social benefits. The youths have not had a job. They are dispirited, depressed and their self-esteem has gone.

Sierra Leone has become poorer than at anytime as the country has lost market share in almost all of its main export crops. For the past forty years, Sierra Leonean politicians have largely made selfish policies. With such an abysmal record, and mounting public anxiety, the current SLPP governmnet with breath-taking arrogance speaks of the hidden growth reserves that are waiting to be tapped if only the people will vote for them.

It need to be said that the legal system is not exactly advocating the sanctity of its independence. It merely wants to please the executive arm of government at the peril of the weak.

The US ambassador, Thomas Hull, said it is extremely difficult for the poor to access the justice system. The SLPP government has not done a good job in earning trust and respect for the judiciary. The government of President Tejan Kabbah has got immense support from the UN and the international Community since the war ended. But, governmnet official continue to funnel funds meant for sustainable projects into their own pockets.

An examination of what has taken place inSierra Leone shows that President Kabbah’s promise to help Sierra Leoneans regain economic well-being is nothing but a thinly disguised cover for more exploitation of the country’s natural resources. Whatever the agenda, neither Kabbah nor opposition politicians are leading a campaign against graft on behalf of the poor folks in the country. Kabbah is throwing his support behind Berewa to succeed him as a convenient way to shield him from being prosecuted when he leaves office.

The starving public is not prepared to forgive those who have made their life miserable.
A radical reshaping of the country’s socio-economic base is needed and must occur so that economic power, wealth and income redistribution of wealth, resources and incomes are equitably shared among the people.

In searching for a new and vibrant Sierra Leone, its leaders should realise that there are ways to inject socially equitable policies to satisfy the people’s needs for such necessities as water, health, food, education and information.

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