Possibilities and Opportunities of Authentic Governance Post-2007

20 August 2006 at 18:40 | 478 views

In this article, management consultant, Kenday S. Kamara, echoes the promises of policy actions by the PMDC in its pre-election 2006 Manifesto. The crux of the issue addressed in this article constitutes an anticipation of expectations and outcomes of authentic performance by a PMDC administration led by Mr. Charles Margai, and envisaging these outcomes’ effects on the political economy and the people of Sierra Leone.

By Kenday S. Kamara, MAOM

Crucial to Sierra Leone is a desire for “positive change” that has eluded the country during two time-honored political party administrations since independence. In the nearly five decades of national sovereignty, the SLPP and APC administrations that dominated the political environment of Sierra Leone have conducted themselves very badly by failing to execute good economic policies. The new PMDC political party therefore stands a chance to do honour to itself if it can translate its PMDC 2006 Manifesto to the opportunities of good and authentic governance after a July 28, 2007 victory.

With a PMDC victory in 2007, this will mark a turning point in the political history of Sierra Leone. Such an outcome will be a dramatic indictment against the two major parties that have dominated Sierra Leone politics for over thirty years. The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), formed in 1951, which dominated politics from its inception until 1967, and for a second time since 1996; and the All People’s Congress (APC) which dominated from 1967 until April 1992, have long lost their national foundations and purposes-which is good enough justification for most Sierra Leoneans to yearn for a new breath of positive change. A PMDC government in July 2007 will thus be the dawn of a new political and economic thinking and persuasion characteristic of the organizational direction and trajectory of the PMDC relative to its contract with Sierra Leone for responsible governance.

The PMDC 2006 Manifesto is unambiguous about its commitment to creating an enabling economic environment and creating a liberal market economy with a promise to govern in an atmosphere of liberal democracy in Sierra Leone. However, a strong focus on key sectors of the economy should be sufficient to bring about the intended positive change in the fortunes of Sierra Leone’s political economy. Private sector development, provision of infrastructure and the specification of a solid scientific energy policy, delivery of social services, modernization of agriculture in harmony with rural development, and good governance are key sectors any civilization would consider fundamental development parameters. Making these sectors to function properly is enough to significantly impact the political economic civilization of Sierra Leone and proving PMDC’s commitment to its rhetoric about positive change. How these key sectors can be pursued, requires the work of a policy research and planning committee within the PMDC organization. This article nonetheless provides pointers around some of these key sectors in the subsequent analysis.

The development experienced in western democracies demonstrates that private sector development can drive a stable political economy in any country. In Sierra Leone, the creation of jobs or facilitation of expanded employment is critical in the fight against the massive joblessness of the youth in Sierra Leone. Good jobs can be created by focusing on the right industries, providing incentives for research to spur the growth of these industries, and spawning policies that support startups. A wave of opportunity therefore lies in the private sector. Industry, academia, and government partnerships to stimulate growth in various areas of the private sector should be supported by a strong PMDC administration.

Given the centrality of agriculture to conditions of Sierra Leone’s political-economy, the establishment of constituency-based small-scale private companies dedicated to the rehabilitation, maintenance and construction of feeder roads should be commissioned by a competent PMDC administration to facilitate the modernizing goal of agricultural production with positive developmental effects on life in rural Sierra Leone. Adequate road network in major food production areas supported by mechanized farming activities, sufficient working food storage facilities, food processing plants and preservation methods under a PMDC administration should account for comfortable surpluses of rice production in the country. Sierra Leone is importing thousands of metric tons of rice annually, as agriculturally well endowed as it is. A PMDC administration should therefore present the desire to reduce rice importation by 50 percent by the end of 2010. Again, infrastructural development in the rural areas where useful roads are needed the most to connect food producing areas of the country to markets in big towns; and to ease the traffic congestion in Africa’s historic city of Freetown will validate a strong PMDC administration.

Also, re-establishing the railway system in Sierra Leone will restore the vitality of the country’s economic life. Sierra Leone will benefit greatly from a healthy rail freight system that will facilitate movement of the state’s agricultural, mineral, lumber and wood, and other natural resources and manufactured products to local, national, and ECOWAS markets. The railroad abandonment by the APC government did nothing but contributed to the substantial increase in the cost of transporting many commodities to market, particularly heavy or bulk commodities that dealt a fatal blow to the economic vitality of the country, particularly in rural areas.

And talking about specific policy initiatives regarding the provision of infrastructure, a truthful PMDC administration has to be very considerate of the rising number of the homeless population and the mushrooming of urban slum enclaves in Sierra Leone and will articulate the need for a housing program to match the needs of the people. To include a housing program policy, for instance, that focuses on home ownership for low-income Sierra Leoneans will come as a dividend of the successful social democracy a PMDC administration will provide for its people. A good starting point is a very clear home ownership program for all Sierra Leoneans who have duly maintained their tenancy at the Kissy low-cost houses for at least 20 years to now claim ownership of these properties. There are families who are tenants at these housing units managed by the Sierra Leone Housing Corporation (SALHOC) for over 40 years. It is therefore reasonable to believe that these tenants must by now have squarely paid in full mortgages to these apartments that should qualify them to own these properties. Any civilized government has an obligation to be fair with its people.

Again, a successful PMDC administration has to have as one of its goals the construction of a minimum of 700,000 new low-cost houses in Freetown and major towns in the provinces, and this is to be achieved within five years. It is a fundamental right for all Sierra Leoneans to have access to adequate housing. It is therefore a government’s duty to take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources to make this happen. Provincial legislatures and local government share responsibility with the national government for delivery of adequate housing.

Any positive change approach also has to guarantee Sierra Leoneans access to adequate energy (electricity) and a fair share of portable water at affordable prices for the poor majority throughout the country. Any responsible government has an obligation to focus on collaborating with energy and water engineers within and outside Sierra Leone on improving the availability and management of the country’s energy and water resources. The availability of energy and water is critical in Sierra Leone’s development in part because providing households with secure sources of energy and water and making power and water available for industries and rain-fed and irrigated agriculture are key elements in any strategy for poverty reduction.

Furthermore, replacing Sierra Leone’s healthcare delivery system which falls critically short of international standards in Freetown and in the provinces with a national health insurance service will be another critical function of a PMDC administration after July 2007. Sierra Leone deserves a 21st century healthcare system considering the many natural advantages she enjoys. A PMDC administration has the duty to set up a national health insurance program to benefit all Sierra Leoneans. Politicians ought to make much of their public career working to ensure that the Nation’s health care system is affordable and provides the best services possible to all Sierra Leoneans. This is an immediate priority because Sierra Leone has the worst health system in the world. Medicines are in short supply, equipment often times not sterilized, and treatment is unreliable. Instances of misdiagnosis, improper treatment, and the administration of improper drugs are common occurrences. There is no ambulance service in Sierra Leone, and trauma care is extremely limited. Malaria remains a serious risk to all Sierra Leoneans. Therefore, reversing this deadly scenario by improving the health care system and an investment in the health care of its youth will be one of the wisest investments a PMDC government can make for its country.

Inefficiency of the political machine and the public service in executing stated policies should not be allowed to happen by a PMDC administration and adequate measures for expanding the small size of Sierra Leone’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should be taken very seriously. The “borrow and misappropriate” approach of the current Kabbah government must be avoided.

And progress being the underlying law of civilization, Sierra Leone cannot continue to be an uncivilized Nation under the stewardship of political actors who work against the progress of their nation. Sierra Leoneans better do the right thing this time around to trust a new PMDC government in July 2007 with great potentialities of introducing a brand new system that would do honour to itself and good to the mass of the people for generations to come. Many things that have gone fatally wrong under the successive administrations of the SLPP and the APC concur to favor a PMDC administration not known of any time more fitting for such an enterprise. The PMDC organization in Sierra Leone apparently seems determined to successfully brave the challenges of the state of apathy in people and properly shoulder the responsibility of delivering the dividends of democracy in the form of social democracy. The euphoria seen to confirm the PMDC leader’s destined ability to lead Sierra Leone in the 21st century is expected never to be clouded by disillusionment because the interim leader himself, Mr. Charles Margai, is believed to be aware that the ultimate goal of any democracy is to improve the quality of lives of its people-understood as social democracy. Sufficient, in this regard, to conclude that a PMDC administration believes “social democracy” is both a process and a practice.

Kenday Kamara (photo) is a Ph.D. Scholar-Practitioner. He studies Applied Management and Decision Sciences/Leadership and Organizational Change at the Walden U School of Management and Decision Sciences in the United States