By Shifu Fadda – Beijing
Chairman Mao Zedong and President Siaka Stevens (of blessed memories)…emergence of development cooperation
President Xi Jinping and Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma…taking development cooperation to another level
Barry Hampe, (Ex-Republican, later a libertarian (small L) leaning Independent) described a good political party as “a party with a clear political philosophy, consistent with governance… It would attract members by the strength of that philosophy, rather than by modifying it to pander to special interest groups. Its members in office would focus on doing the people’s work, including making compromises with members of other parties when necessary so that the perfect does not become the enemy of the good. It would stand for maximum personal liberty and economic reality. It would at all times strive to ensure that government is never any larger than it needs to be.”
The above good qualities are visible on the day to day activities of the world’s largest political party, the Communist Party of China (CPC).
No doubt that CPC continues to enjoy a fruitful relationship with its political allies across the globe. It has successfully established stronger political relationship with more than 400 political parties in more than 160 countries. This is done under four key principles: the CPC maintains its independence; ensures complete equality – which deals with treating all its relations equally; have mutual respect – respecting the opinions of the different political parties; non-interference in the internal arrangements of political parties; and does not impose its ideology on them.
The ruling All People’s Congress Party of Sierra Leone (APC) happens to be one of the good allies of the CPC. History between the two development oriented political parties could be traced as far back as 1979 after the two nations established diplomatic relations on the foundation of mutual trust and respect in July 1971. Sierra Leone voted in favour of a United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758, recognizing the People’s Republic of China as the only and legitimate representative of China in the UN Body, just three months after entering into diplomatic ties.
That produced dividend in terms of much needed infrastructure in Sierra Leone from China, in the areas of Magbass Sugar Complex – under agriculture; Youyi Building, Military and Police Headquarters, Mange and Kambia Bridges – under infrastructure etc.
The China-Sierra Leone friendship, which was started by then President Siaka Stevens of Sierra Leone and Chairman Mao of China, has not only further strengthen the diplomatic and people-to-people relationship between China and Sierra Leone, but has lifted the bars of political diplomacy, and expanded the cultural relationship between the two countries.
The month of October serves as a busy moment for both political parties, whose membership will be meeting to not only discuss successes and the way forward, but also to inaugurate a new line-up of leaders who will rule their parties for the next five years.
The APC agreed to hold its national delegates’ conference on the 14th and 15th October 2017 at the newly constructed Ernest Bai Koroma conference Center in Makeni City, whilst the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held in Beijing, People’s Republic of China, opening on 18 October 2017.
Coincidentally both leaders (President Xi Jinping of China and Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone) celebrated their 64th birthdays this year. But on the other side of the presidential equation, whist President Koroma is saying goodbye to the presidency after completing his second term in office, his counterpart, President Xi Jinping, who is also the party boss and the head of China’s military, is all but assured of a second five-year term.
As a leader that will continue to hold on to the mantle of leadership in his party, President Koroma has enjoyed working with China and appreciates the continued support and intervention in many areas of economic, education, and technical cooperation. He has on several occasions reaffirmed Sierra Leone’s commitment and support to the one-china policy, assuring further deepening and strengthening the already existing cordial bilateral ties between the two countries and peoples for mutual benefit.
On the China’s side, President Xi has a stronger conviction that both Sierra Leone and the People’s Republic of China share common friendly relations and has assured that the bilateral relations between the two countries will grow from strength to strength.
Such friendly relations between the two countries have further strengthened not just the bilateral relations between china and Sierra Leone, but helped to promote the Sino-Africa relations.
China continues to support development programmes in Sierra Leone, agreed upon for the mutual benefit of all sides and also implement exchanges especially at the political level.
The relationship between the two countries was however not much effective under other regimes since the APC under later President Dr. Joseph Saidu Momoh was overthrown by the military in 1992. The return of the APC to office in 2007 under the leadership of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, saw a swift rebirth of the excellent relationship between China and Sierra Leone.
Each year, the CPC receives over twenty delegations from different political parties in Africa to exchange ideas in conferences and meetings where development issues are mostly discussed. CPC Committee members on the other hand are sent annually to visit some Africa countries as part of the multilateral exchange visits.
Since 2007, both parties have continued to have high level exchange visits in the last few years, leading to the APC learning much about China’s development stirred by the CPC. Key areas of development like intercity, towns, district and provincial connections with good roads, maintenance of peace, agricultural development, national economic growth etc., are amongst key development spheres Sierra Leone has learned from China.
Another area learnt by the APC is the principal role of the CPC, which affords the party the opportunity to be the guiding instrument for policy and programmes. The CPC do not only provide guidelines, but are participants at every level in the development of China. For the APC, it has provided the guideline in the ‘Agenda for Change’ and ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ which concentrated on major sectors of the Sierra Leone economy.
President Koroma will be happily leaving a sound legacy with the help of China. His visit to China in 2016 saw the singing of six cooperation agreements, including, 300 Million RMB Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement; Freetown Ring Road (Limkokwing University to Regent Village; Debt Relief of 20 Million RMB (of previous Interest-Free Loan); Establishment of Consultation Mechanism between the two foreign ministries; Cooperation Agreement for Hospital Partner Assistance; and Mutual Visa Exemption of Diplomatic and Service (Official) Passport Holders).
There is progress in the energy sector with an improvement from 6 megawatts inherited to now over 100 megawatts. With the help of China, the country is having hydro projects and has gotten assurances for other areas such telecommunications, transport and communication. There is also an increase in the number of scholarships offered by China to deserving Sierra Leonean students. This year, 113 students have been offered the opportunity to study in various fields and institutions in the People’s Republic of China.
Both countries continue to pursue mutually beneficial cooperation. China under Preside Xi has made commitment towards the construction of a Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Sierra Leone to serve the West African Sub Region; and building the capacity of Sierra Leone’s health sector.
Sierra Leone, under President Koroma is using the scaled up bilateral relations through comprehensive, strategic cooperative partnership in a bid to fully take advantage of the ten point cooperation package announced during the 2015 Johannesburg Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit, which focuses on industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security.
I believe that there is some truth in the adage, “Great leaders are born, not made.” To some extent, the capacity for great leadership is innate. President Xi has clearly demonstrated to the world that learning how to be a more effective leader is within everyone’s grasp – whether you lead a nation, multiple teams, an entire company or just one staff member.
Both Xi of CPC and Koroma of APC are political leaders with a combination of charisma and integrity, as well as having the ability to assess a situation and make a decision based on what would be best for the greatest number of people. Most of all, they have proven that leadership in a political framework that requires ‘statesmanship’ – as opposed to just being a ‘politician’ – this means having the integrity and willingness to stand up for what is right.
The ‘OCTOBER’ Family Meetings of CPC (China) and APC (Sierra Leone) is a sharing of good purpose of political leadership. Whist President Koroma will be saying goodbye to the seat of power; President Xi will be receiving greater assurances of support from his comrades in the CPC and will have his presidential mandate extended.