Analysis

New York PMDC Dinner

29 December 2006 at 00:18 | 536 views

"Besides gracing us with his presence, Mr. Margai also spoke to those present about the need for change in Sierra Leone. He emphasized the endemic corruption in every structure of government as well as the politicized poor judiciary system in Sierra Leone."

By Vickie Remoe-Doherty, New York.

Mr. Charles Margai(photo) was in New York City recently. A dinner was held in his honour, where he was also welcomed by Sierra Leoneans in the NYC community as well as friends from the diaspora.

Besides gracing us with his presence, Mr. Margai also spoke to those present about the need for change in Sierra Leone. He emphasized the endemic corruption in every structure of government as well as the politicized poor judiciary system in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Margai scored an overwhelming success with his supporters consisting of several college professors and other professionals; most of the forty people present, identified as Sierra Leonean and American. Mr. Margai was effective, impressive and demonstrated a mastered understanding of the inner workings of the Sierra Leone’s government, having once served as Interior Minister in the Kabbah government.

An astute politician committed to rescuing his country from the torment of corruption and mismanagement, Mr. Margai is a powerful communicator and was applauded many times. Moreover, he is determined to work to restore confidence in the hearts and minds of the people of Sierra Leone and together, we as Sierra Leoneans can work to bring back the glory of our country. Comparatively, he is the best candidate for presidency and he would bring strong leadership to the government of Sierra Leone. He received unanimous support from all those present.

Below are excerpts from Charles Margai’s talk with the dinner guests including an interview that was conducted that same evening.

Margai: Sierra Leone has sunk because of civil war. People have suffered enough and deserve peace and tranquility along with social and financial support. The
July 28th elections mean a choice between continuity and change. What can we continue with when Sierra Leone is ranked second to last in economic development not withstanding human and material resources? Our resources can be transformed into millions. Are we in Sierra Leone satisfied with the status quo?

Sierra Leone has the longest and most attractive beaches. Sierra Leone has not enjoyed electricity or water in the last 6 to 7 months. There is 75-80% unemployment. Traveling to BO from Freetown takes 8-10 hours, a journey that in the 80s took only about 3 hours.

The Sierra Leone diaspora make sacrifices with remittances and contribute to economic growth. We are going to have to start from scratch. We have the will and all we need is the commitment. It will take time but a thousand mile journey begins with the first step. We must make a concerted effort to improve the lives of our people.

PMDC comes out of Sierra Leoneans’ desire for change. PMDC is the third force. So much to be done and everyone has a role to play. PMDC will immediately address absentee voting for people in the diaspora. We will make it possible for you to vote from the U.S. PMDC will ensure that when it comes to ambassadorial and ministerial postings, these positions will be equally divided. One third of these postings will go to people in the diaspora and another one third to women. Our women should no longer be relegated to the kitchen. They should be side by side in nation-building.

For my running mate, I am looking for a Muslim man or woman from the north. I intend to remain in SL for the first 18 months of my presidency so I need a running mate who equals or surpasses me in performance. It is only when there is an absence of a comparable running mate from the north that we will look elsewhere. APC leads in the Northern area but PMDC has the east and the south while the SLPP trails because they cannot come back after 10 years and say give me another opportunity. Mr. John Kerefa Smart will be returning to Freetown to official resign from politics and to endorse the PMDC and encourage his supporters to vote for the PMDC.
We need logistical and material support to prevent a runoff. People in the diaspora must register to vote between January and March in order to be able to receive posting assignments. People in the diaspora have to be partners in development.

QUESTION:Upon his last visit the current Vice President assured the community that dual citizenship had been approved but we know that it has not yet been signed by the current President. What will the PMDC do about dual citizenship?

Margai: I believe that the dual citizenship bill will be signed by Kabbah because they passed it to gain political support. I am in favor of dual citizenship as long as it doesn’t compromise Sierra Leone’s sovereignty.

Question:Why is it that voter registration is not continuous and can only be done in 3 months time frame so close to the elections?

Margai: Well, the constitution makes it so that we register during that time frame. Also, until the new re-zoning laws are signed, people cannot register. We cannot go against the constitution of Sierra Leone

Question:What role is foreign investment going to play in your government? How are you going to make sure that foreign investments benefit the average Sierra Leonean?

Margai: Sierra Leone’s economy is currently donor oriented, so we will promote private entrepreneurship. Also, I have made Reverend Hunter in Annapolis, MN the PMDC ambassador who will coordinate and encourage African-American brothers and sisters to become partners in SL’s development. Also, we will revitalize the agricultural sector, turning Sierra Leone minds from mining to the land. You can trip an entire area without finding one gem but what you sow you must reap.

Question:What do you intend to do about youth disenfranchisement in Sierra Leone, as the political stability in Sierra Leone is dependent on keeping the youth invested in the government and economy?

Margai: We will continue with the current reconstruction and rehabilitation of our youths. We will encourage small scale business for the youth. We will make sure the youth feel invested in the government and have a sense of belonging and ownership. We will take up the previous Saturday cleaning exercises imposed during the NPRC regime and hire youth in these cleaning exercises. We will provide jobs for them. But most importantly, we must change the attitudes of our youths through education.

Question:How do you intend to encourage investors and people in the diaspora when non-native citizens and foreigners do not have the same ownership rights when it comes to freehold land in the provinces?

Margai: There has been consistent discrimination against krios in land ownership in the provinces. No investor is going to bring millions into Sierra Leone to invest if they cannot own land. You can’t use lease hold property to gain a bank loan. We have to look at land tenure laws in Sierra Leone as we currently have a dualistic model.

Closing Remarks

PMDC is optimistic because they have the people’s mandate. We will have our national conference in February. Two problems plaguing Sierra Leone are lack of an independent judiciary system and institutional corruption. The anti-corruption commission was not set up to rid Sierra Leone of corruption but to act as a political tool for the government. However, we will look into giving the ACC prosecutorial powers and ending corruption once and for all. There will be zero tolerance for corruption and there will be no sacred cows.

Additional notes

When asked about the current state of health care in Sierra Leone and problems of access and availability, Mr. Margai replied that the problem with our current system was that it is too centralized. Also that what is needed is the construction of more clinics and hospitals so as to serve those who currently live in areas that are underserved by the healthcare system.
When asked whether he sometimes felt overwhelmed by the current status quo problems in Sierra Leone, Mr Margai responded that he hardly feels overwhelmed because he is certain that we have the resources to turn things around in Sierra Leone.
Finally a suggestion was made that Mr. Margai look at the recommendations of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on areas of good governance, transparency , corruption etc. as the TRC recommendations not only highlighted the conditions that led to the civil war in Sierra Leone, but also that they present guidance to reconstruction and sustainability of peace and development. When asked whether he would implement TRC recommendations if elected, Mr. Margai said that his government would look into the recommendations of the TRC but that he could not say at the moment that all suggestions would be used. As far as he was concerned the TRC recommendations are not necessarily going to be the law of the land though the current legislative act that brought the TRC into being mandates that the government implement findings and recommendations of the TRC.

Disclaimer: Vickie Remoe-Doherty is not a member of the PMDC and she does not personally endorse any political parties or the presidential candidacy of any politicians in Sierra Leone.

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