From the Editor’s Keyboard

SLPP Yesterday, SLPP Today and Vision of its Outlook Tomorrow

5 May 2006 at 18:46 | 602 views

It’s not every day you get a policy statement or political commentary from Sierra Leonean political parties. We were thus pleasantly surprised when we saw a recent statement from the Secretary General of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party, Mr. Jacob Jusu Saffa. Readers may agree or disagree with Saffa but one thing that is clear is that he has done a good job for his party.He gives us an opportunity to have a look at his party and have an idea of their aims and objectives. We hope other party functionaries would follow his example. Features editor Zubairu Wai’s article will be re-published at a future date.

By Jacob Jusu Saffa, SLPP Secretary General

1. Introduction

This paper explores the political economy of Sierra Leone during the SLPP era. It attempts to give a summary account of historic political and economic developments in Sierra Leone largely under the SLPP administration. It starts with a brief but useful information of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) since its formation and its re-emergence in 1996. It also gives an overview of the current structure of the party. It then goes further to inform you about the maladministration under the regime of the All People’s Congress (APC) and the impacts of the civil war on our political and economic development processes. This forms the context of any thorough assessment of progress under this regime.

The paper further explores the remarkable efforts by the SLPP administration to go through the rough road to recovery and laying the foundation for development. It justifies the need for continuity of good policies and programmes started since the end of the war in 2002. It ends with an unambiguous explanation of the SLPP Makeni Conference and the reforms by the current national executive to restore the confidence of the party’s large membership in Sierra Leone and the diaspora in the management of the party.

2. Brief history of the SLPP

The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) was formed in 1951. Three semi-political organizations merged to form the SLPP. They were the Protectorate Educational Progressive Union (PEPU), the Sierra Leone Organisation Society (SOS) and a Colony-based People’s Party (led by Lamina Sankoh). The Party’s motto is One Country, One People and symbol is the palm tree and green and white are the Party’s official colours. The Party stands for Unity, Freedom and Justice. It is the Party in which every ethnic group, every religious group, and every shade of opinion is well represented. As a Party, SLPP believe in equality of all ethnic groups and equal opportunity for all. It is a Party for all and it is the only party that can boast of a large number of eminent people of experience and maturity from among whom it can always select the best men and women to head the affairs of the country.

Today, the SLPP is one of the oldest ruling political party in Africa and the largest and most organized in the Country. It had majority seats in the colonial legislative councils in 1957 and 1962. It pioneered the fight for freedom that made the people of Sierra Leone independent in 1961 from the British colonial rule. It again won majority seats in the 1962 elections. A few of the notable post independence achievements included the establishment of a central bank, the Bank of Sierra Leone and the introduction of the Leone, the establishment of Njala University College, Milton Margai Teachers College, establishment of trade centres in Kenema, Maugbauraka and Freetown. In 1967, the Party lost power to the All People’s Congress (APC) making it the first political party to loose power through a democratic process.

3. Structure of the Party

The Party is organized hierarchically at the national, regional, district, Chiefdom (in the case of the provinces) and zonal (in the case of Freetown and other urban towns) levels.

(a) National Secretariat

The Party is headed by the Leader and Deputy Leader, who also serve as the presidential nominee and running mate in ensuing election. The overall day-to-day management of the party is carried out by the National Secretariat, headed by the National Secretary-General, under the supervision of the National Chairman. The National Secretariat comprises thirty-three (33) national officers and divided into six units, namely: Administration and Coordination, headed by the National Secretary-General, Organisation and Mobilisation headed by the National Organising Secretary, the Women’s and Young Generation Wings, under the leaderships of the National Women’s and Young Generation Leaders respectively; the Publicity Unit, headed by the National Publicity Secretary and the Finance Unit, with the National Financial Secretary as the head.

(b) Regional, District, Chiefdom, Zonal and Constituency levels

There are four (4) regional offices (3 in the provinces and 1 in the Western Area), each headed by a Regional Chairmen (who are Vice Chairmen) and six regional officers. The regional party officers are responsible for coordinating party activities in the districts in their respective regions. Similarly, there are seventeen (17) district offices (12 in the provinces and 5 in the Western Area), with each district office having ten (10) party officers and the district chairmen as the head. The District Chairmen are responsible for coordinating party activities in the constituencies and the district and are supervised by the Regional Chairmen. A similar structure exists at the chiefdom and zonal levels. There is an organised branch of the party in every parliamentary constituency (105 constit9uencies currently and 112 in 2007), with membership including individual members and representation of member organizations of the party resident within the area.

© Branches

There are two recognized overseas branches of the Party. The North America and UK/Ireland branches. In the past, these branches have provided support, largely in the form of financial assistance to the party. The branches function under separate bye-laws. The relationship between the branches and the National Secretariat is unambiguous. At present, there is no executive in North America although the various chapters but Washington DC are in place. In UK, although the executive is in place, there are difficult relationships with some of its membership largely as a result of differences in support for leadership and the subsequent break away of Charles Margai, who disgracefully lost the elections held in the last Party Conference in Makeni.

The challenges of the branches are as follows:

Ensuring a working Washington DC executive
Ensuring a federal/national executive for North America
Reconciling the differences between executives and some Party members in the UK.
Ensuring an immediate review of the bye-laws of all branches
Defining clearly the relationship between the branches and the National Secretariat
Establishing additional branches overseas.

(d) The Party Conference

The Party Conference constitutes two (2) delegates from each constituency, all members of the Party in the National Legislature, all District Chairmen, two (2) representatives for the first two hundred members of registered organization, and thereafter one for each additional two hundred, the 33 elected party officials, four (4) members from the women’s wing and young generation from the 4 regions and two representatives from each oversea branch.

The Party Conference meets regularly once in every year at such a place and time approved by the National Executive Council. The Conference directs the overall work of the party including: developing work programmes, examining policies pursued by the government, receiving and considering constituency reports, initiating and approving plans for fund raising for the party, election of National Officers and members of the National Executive Council, authorization of publications and nomination of Presidential Candidate.

(e) National Executive Council (NEC)

The National Executive Council constitute the National Party Official, Members of the Party in the National Legislature, five (5) members at the regional level, one of which should be a member of the Young Generation and one (1) a member of the of the Women’s Wing, twelve (12) from the provinces and five (5) from the Western Area, four (4) elders, one nominated by each region and former Members of Parliament.

The NEC meets at least once during each session of the legislature and is the principal administrative organ of the party and mandated to carry out the programmes and policies determined by the Party Conference.

NEC’s duties include: ensuring the establishment and active operation of the constituency, enforcing the Constitution, Standing Orders and rules of the party, seeing that all its officials and members conform to the Constitution, Rules and Standing Orders, amendment to the Constitution, Rules and Standing Orders, present of annual work and progress reports, organize and fill vacancies in the party.

(f) National Policy Council (NPC)

The NPC is made up of the National Chairman, Deputy National Chairman, Leader and Deputy Leader, Regional Vice chairmen, Secretary General, Treasurer, National Organising Secretary, Chaplain, Imam, Leader of Young Generation, Women’s Leader, Chairman of the Parliamentary Council and Four (4) Elders (one per region) and work closely with the Parliamentary Council.

(g) The Parliamentary Council (PC)

The PC is composed of all members of the Party in the National Legislature, with a Chairman elected from among its members. The PC discusses matters which come before the Legislature in order to adopt an agreed party line on all matters.

4. Reign of Terror, Civil Conflict and the Re-emergence of the SLPP

Following a brief military rule after the 1967 election controversy in 1967, in 1968, the APC ushered in a regime of intolerance, disrespect for the rule of law and destruction of democratic values. After two poorly managed elections in 1973 and 1977, the APC forcefully imposed the One Party State in 1978 creating a perfect situation for reign of terror. In 1991, the gross misuse of power was later resisted by rural youths and urban lumpen in a form of a rebel war led by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). The war caused the loss of many lives, destruction of properties and bringing a near state collapse.

The period 1991-2002 was characterised by series of disruptions as a result of the civil conflict and subsequent political upheavals. In 1992, APC Government was overthrown ushering in a military regime, National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC). After 4 years of junta rule, a pluralist democracy was introduced. The war continued to rage.

Multi-party elections were conducted in 1996 and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) was returned to power with majority seats in the legislature. Barely a year later on May 25th 1997, a coup d’etat was staged and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), a military junta including the RUF rebels was formed. A state of anarchy followed with severe human rights abuses. The legitimate government went into exile in neigbouring Guinea. Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) through its military intervention force, ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) intervened and rooted out the junta regime about nine (9) months later and re-installed the SLPP Government. As life started returning to normal in 1998, the AFRC/RUF started aggressive attacks first in Kono, Northern provincial capital, Makeni, most Northern towns and then Freetown, the capital City on January 6, 1999 leading to loss of about 6,000 lives and destruction of private properties. This forced the government and the rebels to start a peace talk that culminated into the signing of the Lome Peace Accord in July 1999. A United Nations Mission was fielded with about 17,500 soldiers deployed to disarm and demobilise ex-combatants and provide security for lives and properties of Sierra Leoneans. After series of protracted negotiations and with the support of UN Missision to Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and the international community, Government disarmed and demobilised over 70,000 and provided reintegration services to at least 56,000 of these. Through the frantic efforts of the Government, the war ended in 2002. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up as required by the Loma Peace Accord and the Special Court by a UN resolution.

At least 3 million people were displaced at different times between 1992 and 2002. Most were displaced locally and a good number (estimated at 1.5 million) fled to neighbouring countries like Guinea, Gambia, Liberia and Ghana whilst others went to overseas such as UK, USA, Australia and Canada. Social infrastructure including hospitals, Peripheral Health Units (PHUs), community barrays and centres, prisons, water wells and public offices were destroyed in most towns and villages. After over 20 years of non-maintenance, conditions of roads became more deplorable and in few cases impassable creating further difficulties for delivery of humanitarian assistance and social services. Where the infrastructure was not destroyed, conditions considerably deteriorated as a result of long period of non-use. Chiefs, teachers, health workers and other essential service workers left work stations. Almost all governance structures at district and chiefdom levels collapsed. Economic activities, notably farming, fishing and mining all came to a halt. Basic implements such as hoes, cutlasses and fishing gears were all carted away. Production levels in all sectors plummeted to unprecedented levels and exports of all products fell to zero level. With cut-backs in imports and slow down in economic activities, revenue from government became meager and thus rendered the government incapable of delivering basic services. Overall, there was substantial economic loss. Recorded real GDP growth was about -17% in 1997 and -10% in 1999.

The government had the huge task of repatriating and resettling the thousands of displaced and refugees, restoring law and order, restoring governance structures at local levels, rehabilitating and reconstructing the damaged infrastructure and providing basic livelihood to people to restart their lives. Government relied on donors, particularly DFID, EU and UN agencies to provide both humanitarian and budgetary support to Government. Between 1998-2002, at least 80% of total public expenditures were financed by donors.

5. The Road to Recovery and Laying the Foundation for Development (Second Term of SLPP)

In 2002, presidential and parliamentary elections were conducted. The ruling SLPP secured its second mandate to rule Sierra Leone with majority seats in parliament. It had to carry out the huge task of economic recovery. The National Recovery Strategy (NRS) and the Interim-Poverty Strategy Paper (I-PRSP) guided the recovery process. The UN Consolidated Appeal was the major instrument for mobilizing resources for recovery. In 2002, the government presented the I-PRSP at the Consultative Group Meeting in Paris and over $600 million was pledged indicating a stamp of confidence for satisfactory recovery efforts.

The Government has since then embarked on massive reconstruction of state infrastructure, restoration of social services and rebuilding state institutions. Notable gains in recent years are economic and political stability, conducts of chiefdom elections (at least 70 paramount chief elections since 2003), local government elections in 2004 and restoration of rule of law including freedom of expression, movement and association. Since the APC dissolved local government in 1972, decision-making became centralized and was the business of the Freetown-based government officials, largely those in the executive arm of government. Subsequently, this led to neglect of rural areas. The re-establishment of local governments in 2004 creates the opportunity to promote popular participation in the development process and reverse the centralization of power and its associated rural deprivation. Nineteen (19) Local Councils were established and Central Government responsibilities in service delivery, particularly in primary education, health care and agricultural extension are being devolved to the local councils.

Real GDP growth rate averaged about 6.5% between 2002 and2004 compared to its low levels of -17% in 1997 and -10% in 1999. In 2004, Government completed the preparation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) that was tabled at the Consultative Group (CG) Meeting of donors in London in January 2006. A total of $860 million (exceeding $350 million financing gap) was pledged by over 25 bilateral and multilateral donors and partners. This was another registration of independent and external vote of confidence in our recovery drive, particularly when there were disasters and civil conflicts in other countries. It is expected that Sierra Leone will soon benefit from debt cancellation after successfully implementing the PRSP for at least one year and would have reached completion point and become eligible for additional cancellation. This in turn will expand government fiscal space to provide services and reduce poverty that stands at about 70% of the population.

Consolidating the peace process and improving governance, promoting pro-poor growth and creating jobs, particularly for the army of unemployed youths, infrastructure development, food security and human development are the key development challenges. These challenges have been recognized by the government and are articulated in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and other policy pronouncements. There is a security sector reform in progress with emphasis on the police and military. Basically, the reforms aim at building the capacities of the security units to ensure a peaceful Sierra Leone. Today, few months after the departure of UN mission to Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone is still peaceful. There are also reforms in public sector, particularly in areas like finance and administration. The decentralization programme is on course. Responsibilities like primary health care, agricultural extension and primary school management are radically devolved to local councils. In the area of corruption, some of the efforts include establishment of an independent Audit Service, strengthening of Anti-Corruption Commission, and enactments of financial and procurement laws.

There has been a remarkable turnaround in productive sectors, particularly agriculture. Recently, the government distributed over 100 tractors nationwide and has introduced free tractor services for poor farmers to cut down on production costs and enable them increase acreage under cultivation. Several other interventions in the areas of food production and processing are ongoing. Currently, domestic food production stands at about 69% of total requirement comparable to pre-war levels. Mining and exports of diamond and rutile have resumed. Rutile. Marine and tourism activities are picking up. New hotels and modern restaurants are being opened along the Lumley beach and the peninsula. The Chinese will soon start the construction of a 250-room hotel along the beach. New industries and other commercial enterprises are being established. All these are absorbing the large army of unemployed youths.

Several initiatives are underway to rebuild the poor infrastructure including electricity in Freetown and other big towns. In the area of electricity, through the support of a South-Africa-based firm, Eskom, 7.5 megawatts generated is being installed and we expect additional machines to be provided with funding from BADEA (Arab Bank). Work on Bumbuna is progressing satisfactorily. Pujehun now has electricity and the Dodo mini-dam that provides electricity to Bo and Kenema will soon be expanded to meet the growing needs. Efforts are now being made to immediately supply electricity to Makeni and Koidu. A new potential (Bikongo -lying between Kenema and Kono with a potential of 88 megawatts) has been discovered and discussions with Chinese government are advanced for possible assistance. In addition to the hardware, government also recognizes that electricity supply can only be sustained by strong sector policy. Therefore a robust policy and institutional reform is now taking place. For instance, in Central Business District and parts of West of Freetown, a pre-paid meter system has been introduced as pilot.

Pipe-borne water supply facilities have been restored in Bo, Kenema and Moyamba. Makeni and Kono will soon start enjoying pipe borne water. With the growing Freetown population, providing water supply continues to pose a challenge. Funds have already been allocated to extend water supply to hillsides and East End to meet the increased demand. Work is in progress to improve the situation. In small towns and rural areas, hand-pumps wells or gravity water supply facilities are in almost every community of over 50 houses.

Several economic infrastructures are being reconstructed particularly in rural areas. With support from EU, the World Bank and other donors over 1,000 km of feeder roads have been constructed and at least 1,000 have commenced or will soon commence. Regarding trunk roads, below is a brief update:

Masiaka-Makeni highway - completed
Rogbere Junction-Pamlap highway - ongoing
Masiaka-Bo road - contract awarded and work just commenced
Waterloo -Kent road - completed
Lumley-Kent - bids opened and being assessed. Work expected to commence soon.
Hillside road bye-pass Kissy (ashobi corner) - Pademba road - tender process on and discussions on relocation/resettlement are ongoing
Bandajuma-Gendema (Liberia road) - feasibility study ongoing
Kenema-Koindu (through Kailahun) highway - feasibility study ongoing
Makeni-Matotoka road upgrading - tender process just started
Bo-Kenema highway - tender process just started.
Matotoka-Kono road - feasibility study ongoing
Ashobi corner-Kalaba Town road (old road) - work just started

Few roads in towns like Freetown, Bo, Kenema, Makeni, Koidu, Kabala, Pujehun will soon be repaired

Transport and telecommunications services have improved compared to the situation in late 1990s. The international airport has been rehabilitated and funds have been secured for further developments and expansion. International flights to Freetown have increased. There has been considerable improvement in port management and additional work is planned and funds are already available. Mobile telecommunication services are impressive. Today, every district is connected by mobile phones and small telephone operators are available everywhere. A large number of young and adult persons own cellular phones in urban towns. Internet services are expanding nationwide. There are now two TV stations and 33 radio stations nationwide. Every district has at least on FM radio station. There are at least 40 newspaper houses with freedom to publish subject to existing laws. Human rights record and freedom to associate, move and speak can hardly be compared to only few countries in Africa.

Policies and laws that affect investment flows are being reviewed to make them investment-friendly. Already, an investment code has been ratified and existing commercial laws are being revisited. Regulatory frameworks are been established and processing of processing of registration simplified. Perhaps, this is one area where we need to intensify our efforts when we renew our mandate.

Today, every chiefdom can boast of at least a primary school or a health unit or a community barray or centre. Government has introduced free primary school education nationwide, no examination fees at NPSE, BECE, WASCE levels and girl child education targeting girls entering JSS I(covering fees, uniforms and books) in the North and East (to be extended to South and West in 2007). Government also has adopted a policy of at least one secondary school in every chiefdom. To date, at least 1,000 schools have been rehabilitated/reconstructed and at least 600 additional schools are being constructed. Discussions are ongoing for the establishment of Teachers Service Commission that will have the responsibility for the recruitment and conditions of service for teachers. At the tertiary level, a robust educational reform is implemented. Two separate Universities, Njala University and University of Sierra Leone now exist. Several polytechniques are now in place in all the regions. After over 100 years of western education, for the first time the conferment of academic degrees in the provinces took place this year in Bo.

All district hospitals and over 700 PHUs (higher than pre-war number of 528) have been rehabilitated/reconstructed and constructed. Remarkable of all these is the rehabilitation and refurbishment of Connaught, PCMH and Children’s hospitals. Several satellite clinics have been built in Freetown. A 300-bed hospital is constructed in Makeni and Kono, Moyamba and Kabala district hospitals are being rehabilitated and expanded with improved facilities including X-ray and laboratory services. New drugs policy has been developed and when implemented is expected to end the leakages in drugs. Government is also seriously addressing the manpower problem in the health sector. As a stop gap measure, Sierra Leone is benefiting from medical doctors from Cuba and Nigeria to add up to the existing doctors in few hospitals. Discussions are already advanced for the construction of a University Teaching hospital and specialized hospital for critical ailments.

In the area of sanitation, government has devolved the responsibility to local councils. The provincial municipalities are performing satisfactorily using locally generated resources. In the Western Area, the appalling situation has been largely as a result of difficult relationship between the central government and the Mayor of Freetown. The Mayor prefers directly implementation and has heavily relied on central government resources. The Public-Private partnership model agreed earlier between the central government and the World Bank and for which about $2.8 million has been allocated is now been fast-tracked. The model involves establishing a semi-autonomous Freetown Sewage Management Company that will have the responsibility to zone Freetown and contract out to private firms the cleaning of Freetown. The company should be established by a special act of parliament. The company is expected to be initially financed by government, Freetown City Council (FCC) and donors. This institutional reform will free the FCC from hiring of staff, vehicles and maintenance, purchase of spare parts and fuel and carrying out minor but important things that usually cause inefficiencies when the Council directly implements.

The National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) now provides regular pension and other related benefits to retired people. Long queues for pension benefits in front of Ministry of Finance building have disappeared. With huge reserved capital, NASSIT has started investing in real estate. It has started the construction of 1,500 houses to be sold to the public on mortgage basis. There are plans for NASSIT to engage in tourism, banking and other areas. Today, it is the single major source of non-government domestic investment capital.

As we moved from emergency to recovery, our development activities were largely in the areas of security, basic livelihood support in the form of food aid and input supply for small-scale agriculture, rebuilding of social and economic infrastructures and restoration of basic social services. Like most post-conflict country, the level of destruction was the key criterion for resource allocation. By all estimation, the rural areas were most severely affected. It was therefore morally correct and economically rational to allocate more of our meagre domestic and external resources to the vast deprived rural areas stretching from Falaba to Sulima, Koindu to Songo, Dema to Fintonnia. These areas were neglected by the APC government and are today the chronic poor areas. As we now move into the development phase, developing the infrastructure (roads, electricity water supply), promoting private investment, promoting mechanized agriculture and increasing income levels of the poor are key.

7. Makeni Party Conference

In September 2005, the Party conducted a National Party Conference as the last stage in its restructuring process. Key changes including Chairman, Secretary-General, Women’s Leader, Young Generation Leader, Publicity Secretary were made in the national executive. Perhaps more important was the overwhelming victory of Hon. Solomon Berewa, as Party Leader and Presidential Nominee for the 2007 presidential elections. Prior to his election, Solo B as he is fondly called was a successful Lawyer and Attorney General and Minister of Justice (1996-2002). In his latter capacity, he successful brokered the Lome Peace Accord which formed a formidable basis for peace in Sierra Leone. Currently, he is the Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Solo B is human and caring, a good listener, a decisive and disciplined character, a respecter of second opinion and a brilliant leader. He appreciates a strong political party as his power base.

Other candidates for the leadership election were Joseph Bandabla Dauda, former Minister of Finance, Rtd. Brigadier Mada Bio and Mr Charles Margai. All except Charles Margai have renewed their pledge to work with Hon. Solomon Berewa and continue to be SLPP members. Charles Margai who was overwhelmingly defeated could not accept the democratic challenge and keep up with the political embarrassment and therefore left with a few members, mostly those who had lost party executive positions, refused party symbols by their people, have not benefited from public appointments and feel marginalized and disgruntled.

The APC and to some extent the public had branded the SLPP as an elitist party dominated by mendes. The APC preached broad-based party ideology, relied on anti-mende sentiments, workers, students and the unemployed youths for its support in 1967. Although this charge was not entirely true, there were grounds that gave credence to it. In 1996, when the war was raging, President Kabbah in his wisdom had topmost on his agenda, bringing the war to an end, promoting peace, reconciliation and unity. He embraced every well meaning Sierra Leoneans and made deliberate efforts to bring into the Party notable Sierra Leoneans, particularly from the North. Some traditionalists see this bold move as an attempt to mortgage the party. The current leadership of the Party is committed to embracing all well meaning Sierra Leoneans into the party fold and would not be blackmailed by conservative and retarding sentiments that the Party might be hijacked by Sierra Leoneans who are fairly new in the Party. The Party will remain broad-based, open to all Sierra Leoneans and respectful to chiefs and all other progressive traditional values and institutions. It is currently the main instrument for uniting the people of Sierra Leone.

Until recently, the SLPP was also seen as a party dominated by elders. There was an apparent inter-generational crisis in the Party. Although this might have been true, the last National Party Conference held in Makeni elected into strategic offices young, dynamic and educated people to man the affairs of the Party. Few of these were the Hon. Dr Bernadette Lahai, a renowed gender and agricultural specialist as National Women’s Leader, Hon. Victor Reider, a renowed civil society activist as National Publicity Secretary, Sahr Nyama (formerly Secretary, Kono district) another veteran civil society activist as National Young Generation Leader and myself, a former World Bank Development Economist as the National Secretary-General. Under the guidance of the new Chairman, Alhaji UNS Jah, a renowed Islamic scholar, public confidence in the Party has been renewed. After barely five months in office, the Secretariat has been relocated to its own building and started putting in place systems for better party management. The young team is moving aggressively to rekindle the confidence of the youths in the Party and its development agenda. Public perceptions are changing and criticism of the Party is now shifted from the composition of the Party hierarchy to the performance of public officials. Young professionals are being attracted to the Party as they now see hope of playing key role in national politics. This confidence is re-echoed by the flagbearer, Hon. Solomon Berewa who has around him several young professionals either as government officials or unofficial advisers. Other well-meaning Sierra Leoneans with progressive ideas are welcome to make their contributions.

7. Post Makeni Activities

The current executive inherited a very bad situation. The national secretariat was located in a crowded and filthy building at Rawdon Street. There was an overall bank debit balance of Le 138,000,000. The then systems for party management, particularly in the areas of administration and financial management were weak. Roles were not clearly defined and there was no schedule for regular party meetings. The executive did not inherit a single vehicle. The executive relied on personal vehicles for official party activities. To date, no hand-over note has been submitted by the previous National Secretary-General.

As we try to address these problems, Charles Margai despite series of efforts to reconcile with him, left the Party with a few members and started a calumny campaign against the SLPP, largely in the South and Kenema district in the East in his desperation to create a political base for his People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC). He allied with the APC and sympathizes with anything that is or anybody who is anti-SLPP. He wanted to use pro-Norman and thus Kamajor position to advance his course. Just after few weeks, he lost the steam as the Party moved aggressively to undo him. Today, we are confident these areas are under control but we will continue to work to ensure no other party survives in these areas. With only pockets of opposition supports in these areas coupled with our robust sensitization and eventual focused campaign, we are confident no Party will win a single seat in the South and East. We will largely rely on our development activities in these areas.

Most interesting is our substantial gains in the North and areas that were perceived to be APC strongholds. Total votes for SLPP presidential candidate increased in four districts in the North between 1996 and 2002. In Tonkolili from 3,577 to 21,531 (21%), in Kambia 18,673 to 49,107 (60.1%), in Koinadugu from 18,266 to 50,828 (67%) and in Port Loko from 11,613 to 35,828 (28.8%). We also had majority seats in these four districts in the 2004 local council elections. All district chairpersons of the local councils in these districts are SLPP. Today, all MPs in the South and East and 5 out of 8 in Kambia, 6 out of 8 in Koinadugu, 3 out of 8 in Port Loko and 2 out of 8 in Tonkolili and 2 out of 8 in Bombalili are SLPP members. We have gained confidence in the Northerner electorates because of our fairness in public appointments and unbiased development resource allocation and the non-tribal non-regional sentiments of our leadership. The people see it and feel it. They trust us and have promised us the votes, We are confident they will pay us back. With this, we are confident that we will defeat APC in the North. This will make the SLPP more national. We are not complacent but remain proud that we are in the lead. We are very much mindful of the award of symbols to parliamentary candidates and the implications for the results. We promise the process will be transparent and broad-based and the popular candidates will be awarded symbols. We therefore encourage those interested to become parliamentarians to go home now and start working.

Within the context of a reform agenda and barely seven months in office, we have accomplished the following:

(i) Administration and Coordination

· Rehabilitated and refurbished original Party Office at Wallace Johnson Street (former NEC office)

· Moved into the refurbished party office

· Put in place basic management rules to complement the constitutional provisions

· Defined more clearly job descriptions of all national officers

· Developed a wage structure of party officials

· Provided training for party members in basic computing

· Started the following regular party meetings

- Weekly Management Meetings - Mondays 12 noon. Core operational staff (National Secretary-General & Assistant, National Organising Secretary & Deputy, National Women Leader & Deputy, National Young Generation Leader, National Publicity Secretary, Financial Secretary, Treasurer, Accountant and Administrative Secretary. It is chaired by the National Secretary-General.

- National Officers Forum - Bi-monthly

- Chairman’s Forum - attended by regional/district chair & secretaries -bi-monthly

- Patrons Meetings - Grand chief patrons/chief patrons - Quarterly

- Support Group Meetings - held monthly

- National Secretariat-Parliamentary Council Interface - quarterly

- Local Council Forum - bi-monthly

- Policy Council Meeting - quarterly

- Finance & General Purpose Committee - Quarterly

- Constituency/district/regional meeting - monthly

In addition to these, all officers, particularly the National Chairman, National Secretary-General, National Deputy Organising Secretary, National Young Generation Leader and National Women’s Leader hold regular and irregular meetings with various groups to address different party issues.

(iii) Financial Management

· Prepare financial rules and regulations for the party

· Established more accountable system for managing Party finances

(iv) Organisation, Outreach and Mobilisation

· Developed a database on party membership

· Decentralized the registration of ordinary members to the district

· Accelerated membership drive.

· Reached out to prominent party members that felt disgruntled and have renewed confidence

· Reached out to APC strongholds in Freetown and in the provinces

· Encouraged support groups to exist under the leadership of the respective elected officials. These support groups have been very useful in areas of weak executives.

· Established strong linkages with youth groups, women’s groups and other strategic/vote-pulling groups like teachers etc...

· Visited several chiefdoms/districts in the provinces

(iv) Young Generation

· Developed a concept note youth empowerment

· Established a student coordinating office

· Conducted a national student retreat and prepared an action plan

(v) Women’s wing

· Developed a proposal on women’s empowerment

· Resolved several conflicts among women’s groups

· Developed a proposal on women’s empowerment

(vi) Publicity

· Developed a publicity strategy

· Commenced a regular radio programmes on the achievements of the SLPP in Freetown, Bo and Kenema

· Improved relationships with newspaper houses

(vii) Public Governance

The Secretariat fully recognizes the fact that good governance is imperative for winning election. It therefore regularly engages ministers and public officers on projects and activities. It holds bilateral meetings with ministers on their activities and occasionally bring convene meetings to hear from the ministers their accomplishments and plans.

8. The Road to 2007 and beyond

As we seek a new mandate to govern, I therefore implore Party members to remain respectful, disciplined, avoid violence and rude conducts, remain focused and not be bordered by the few resignations of those that do not believe in the tenets of democracy. The year 2007 is crucial for our sustainability and your support is crucial. I also advise you to be persuasive, preach party messages of improving on participatory governance, restoring law and order, promoting human development; creating jobs for the unemployed and ensuring food security and developing the infrastructure. We should be hopeful that the party will be much integrated into public governance. The credibility of the Party will be restored and the apparent gap between the Party and government will be narrowed. Government policies will be anchored on party manifesto. Appointed public officials will regard the Party as their source of power. Competent and loyal party members will be proud to belong to the SLPP family. Youths and women will have their rightful places in society. Above all, national cohesion will be fostered, peace will be sustained and the economy will boom and living standards improved.

I therefore appeal to all Sierra Leoneans to vote SLPP for continuity of good policies and programmes.

I thank you all.

One Country One People.

Jacob Jusu Saffa

National Secretary-General, SLPP

Photo: JJ Saffa