Salone News

Sierra Leone: Elections or Reflections? (Part 2)

11 January 2007 at 00:07 | 405 views

By Mohamed Boye Jallo Jamboria

Whichever way the wind blows, Sierra Leone is ready for another round of political juggling that in principle can be considered an election. The mechanics of this process are now being put in place whereas the mechanics that lead to its actualisation are still far from being thought of.

Over the last couple of months a lot of opinions have been in the print as well as other media on the prerequisites that will see a well organized and actualised pluralistic process. Speeches, orations and seminars and workshops have been organized in various countries and arena by the political parties, civil society and other stakeholders.

All such acts have been undertaken with one logical motive but with different emotive agendas. The logical motive simply put is those involved are canvassing the electorates for votes come elections 2007.The emotive agenda, of course, differs from one person or group to the other.

However, from all the opinions and published speeches, orations and what have you that have so far been made one point is clear. That is, Sierra Leone is still in the political dark woods; this may sound like a statement of antipathy to some but it is time all Sierra Leoneans take a closer look at the practical aspects of their country’s destiny and understudy the mechanics of the act of elections and it’s actual consequences on the future of the country’s peace and prosperity.

As players of a nation state that is struggling to emerge from the banal level of a failed state, it is but necessary that our emotions are shelved and rationality is allowed to prevail especially so in this electoral event. If that does not happen then Sierra Leoneans have no reason to continue to claim the identity that is unique of sovereign nations and their citizens, and which is an entrenched clause in the Declaration of Human Rights-the right to a nationality.

A simple proof of this fact is in the statement;”man is master of his own destiny”. Or rather in the axiom;”you put your mouth where your money is”. These are two important statements that have been rephrased in diverse forms and drummed into Sierra Leoneans over the last half of the new millennium. In various speeches made by different members of the international community that have so far been involved in the peace process since the end of the war, these two statements above have been the foundation or rather emotive themes.

In short, Sierra Leoneans have been told in very diplomatic terms that they must take responsibility of their actions to build and ensure peace and progress. How this can and will be done has not been prescribed as in the free world everyone is left to decide the route they will follow and they must be ready to bear the consequences of their actions. If the above is logically true then it is time to examine the present build up to elections 2007 from a rational perspective by every member of the Sierra Leonean society.

The question now is, have Sierra Leoneans ever exercised their franchise in the right way with a consideration of the consequences that shall be brought to bear by this action? If yes, how is it reflected in the infrastructures and social welfare of the country? If no, what must be done to ensure that the processes of change are put into motion?

Of course, every reasonable Sierra Leonean will tell you one thing, which is, things are not the way they should be, but why? Where have the mistakes been all these years since independence? For how long shall these mistakes be made, especially after a senseless war, whose only result has been a change of “The wine bottle“ or rather the driver and an addition of new passengers to the vehicle of unscrupulous voyagers to the galaxy of damnation?

Is it just going to vote and voting for a person or a party that appeal to the individual emotions? How long does it have to take before it can be realised that no sociological or philosophical prescriptions can make it better without a rational assessment of the in depth motives of those who want to be elected? Can the country afford the luxury of putting old wine in new bottles and the act of turn coating?

A man, Peter White, once said:” a people gets the government they deserve”. This statement met with a lot of controversial debates in Sierra Leone a few months prior to the war. It was a truism that must be a signpost of all altruistic Sierra Leonean.

How this can affect the social status quo is by examining the aspirants and making unbiased conclusions on their individual and collective motives.

For this to be done entails a prior introspection by every Sierra Leonean from the premises of the individual and collective aspirations and outlooks. There must first be answers to what wishes each Sierra Leonean holds for the country and the roles of everyone with regards to achieving these wishes.

This means that everyone must realise the following:(a) one cannot eat his cake and expect to have it in the hand. If it is change that is wished then change must come from a rational use of the ballot box not from an abuse and/or misuse of it.

(b) The fox and grapes attitude no longer have a place in the national agenda. If change is to be realised then everyone must effectively make it possible by not campaigning and voting with the aim of gaining favours at a latter date. Those voted in must not be allowed to usurp and dictate the individual well being of the Sierra Leonean; instead they must be made to realise that they are obligated to serve the collective needs of the country.

(c)Condemn not and you shall not be condemned. Speeches, statements and events in the last half-year since the intentions of holding elections were made public have so far indicated that the psychology of political acrimony still prevails. There are certain truths that must be accepted by every Sierra Leonean.

First, the country has had a very ugly political history that has adversely affected the economy and development of the country.
The focus of all Sierra Leonean now must be why and how did it happen the way it happened. Condemnations and reorganising alliances, as no new ones are made, cannot produce answers to this all-important issue. Instead everyone must face the challenges of the past decades since independence, to produce changes that will bring about the desired dreams by examining the factors or forces that led to this catastrophic situation.

To realise this begins with an examination of the colonial human and material infrastructures that were inherited and what changes have been made so far to these infrastructures.
The inherited human infrastructure, first and foremost, must be thoroughly examined. At the time of independence, was there a political entity operating on a national agenda with an ideology that was in the collective interest? If there was nonE,why has there not been one in place up to this point in time?

This begs the question: Have there ever been democratic processes in Sierra Leone before and even now? Or is political pluralism synonymous to democracy for the Sierra Leonean? If the first is true, how comes it is not reflected in the social infrastructure? If the second is also true why has it not affected the attitudes of the individual voter in the decision making regarding good governance?

Why do Sierra Leoneans always have to grumble and condemn their leaderships? Most important, why did Sierra Leone have to go to war after a period of prolonged and acute mismanagement, more so when within that period there had been elections or what seemed like elections? Who was fooling whom within that crucial period, was it the elected or the electors or both?

The answers to these questions are obvious but it’s like there is some form of mental blindness affecting the majority of Sierra Leoneans. Take a look at the history and composition of politics, political parties and parliaments and the answers will be found.

For how long more can the country afford the luxury of recycling politicians with a tint of new unpatriotic breeds. Is governance of a state a club business, changing hands as and when one club falls out of favour but still retaining the old hands who are smart enough to change their club sympathies? Or is Sierra Leone a sovereign football federation where the players and supporters have no obligation of permanence of membership? Meaning that they can change as and when they like?

Take a look at the democracies that Sierra Leone wants to emulate, the first observation will be permanence of membership in the political alliances simply because these alliances are made out of ideological standpoints that are similar, not out of personal interests. In Britain one hardly hears of a Conservative party member crossing over to Labour or vice versa. Same with the United States, it is almost impossible for a Democrat to become Republican or vice versa. Yet in the case of Sierra Leone an APC member can become SLPP or vice versa at the sound of a whistle. This is not only true of the elected but more so of the electors.

These same people criticize and condemn others when they cross over to buy favours, forgetting that they are usually guilty of whatever they criticize or condemn.

To be continued

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