IS THE OPPOSITION DYING IN SIERRA LEONE ?

 

Posted by Saloneman2 on August 14, 2005 at 11:01:25:

In democratic dispensations, political parties function as channels through which the citizenry exercises its salient right to plurality. Political parties also offer a continuous means of organized electoral competition. Thus, to ensure democratic continuity even in fledging democracies like ours, one would expect that opposition parties would embrace their rights to plurality by strengthening their positions and working toward the defeat of the ruling party through the electoral process.

The reality in Salone however, is that a paradoxical shift in the trajectory of party politics, at least in the past few years, gives little hope for a post-war political renaissance. Currently, the worse the SLPP performs in office, the weaker the opposition becomes and the better are the ruling party’s chances of staying in power. This was not the case before the 2002 elections, when a feisty opposition determined to stop the ruling party from gaining another shot at the vortex of leadership, gave it its all in the big electoral dance. Today, two years before the next polls, the opposition is dying at the expense of competitive party politics.

 

The above paradox can best be understood within the context of Salone’s ?greed-saturated’ political culture. Thus, while it is reasonably clear that corruption does exist within the ruling SLPP, the opposition by providing a credible source of this corruption is equally culpable of corruption and political malfeasance. By readily trading off the interests of their parties for a crossover to the ruling party, opposition members betray the trust of their constituents with impunity. Crossing over to the ruling party somehow guarantees ministerial or other important appointments, thereby giving access to lootable resources. Such repugnant behaviors destroy party competition and give rise to one-party domination. One party domination on the other hand brings out the worst in ruling party politicians who would be apt to think that there is no need to worry if the opposition is weak, disorganized, broke and without a voter base.

 

With two years to an all-important election there still have not surfaced any credible national agenda from the opposition. What we are seeing instead is a rising national obsession with SLPP candidates. This misguided attitude seems to transform the nominating process of the ruling party’s presidential candidate from one that is supposed to be the sole prerogative of the internal process or rules of that party to one that has all the makings of a confused and chaotic national jamboree.

 

Many non-SLPP voters by their sheer utterances have lost faith in the opposition and have made us believe that they would do anything possible to influence the SLPP process. As a result, there is a prevailing national concern with every utterances of Solomon Berewa, Charles Margai, John Leigh and political airhead Maada Bio, making these men believe that winning the SLPP nomination is tantamount to winning the presidency. Even newcomer Lansana Nyalley who is nowhere in the league of Berewa, Margai and Leigh in terms of name recognition is now taken more seriously than APC guru Ernest Koroma. The latter, when recently verbally trashed by Kanji Daramy for rightfully requesting a debate with the Sultan of the caliphate of Salone, El-Hadji Tejan Kabbah simply turned around, put his tail between his legs and walked away.

 

There is also that growing segment of anti-SLPP citizens and voters that has vowed to launch a draft -John Leigh-for president movement. This group is bent on crossing party lines to vote for John ?Howard Dean’ Leigh should he become the SLPP nominee or persuade him to run as an independent candidate should he lose at the SLPP convention. But Leigh is a dedicated SLPP leader and a man of sound political principles. He is also a man of high integrity who represents the views of the majority in his constituency. And the one thing that would put him on a collision course with most of his non or anti-SLPP supporters is his solid belief that Hinga Norman does not belong in jail. Leigh has never hidden his opposition to the ?oporto’ Special Court, the legal arm of Kabbah’s caliphate. The question here is, how do those Leigh admirers who had long pronounced Norman guilty without due process reconcile their pernicious position with Leigh’s progressive views ?

 

There is nothing wrong with crossing party lines to vote on issues. However, I wonder if it is really expedient for voters to vote for candidates whose positions on issues conflict with theirs? Is it not more politically expedient to work towards the broadening of the base of our democracy and thereby ensuring that we do not by default drift into a one party statehood? An effective way to do this is to invigorate the present opposition and make it a formidable force as that would pose as an effective mechanism for checking the excesses of the ruling party. Those, especially in the diaspora, with all their financial clout should instead of feeling cowered by Maada Bio’s vacuous threats against the APC, form competitive parties and enter the political foray. And even those who have decided to form the Third Force – the party of rapists and murderers, in view of its proposed inclusion of the RUFP, should go ahead and do so. Acting now would avoid post elections accusations of “SLPP or Mende Hegemony”. Competitive party politics makes us a better democracy.

Related Posts