By Hon Cornelius Deveaux
Deputy Minister of Information and Communications
Borrowing a few words from Wikipedia, Civil Society Organizations are an “aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests in promoting the welfare and will of citizens.” Civil society includes the family and the private sphere, referred to as the “third sector” of society, distinct from government, business and partisan politics.
The positive role of civil society organizations in promoting good governance, increasing citizens participation in governance, holding government accountable and promoting the socioeconomic growth of a nation cannot be denied.
But the marriage between the Renaissance Movement and the opposition SLPP, evident in the joint press release issued yesterday, does not only contradict this characterisation of civil society, it also clearly shows that the duo are one of the same. From the activities, of and collaboration between the Renaissance Movement and the opposition SLPP; the facts stares at every keen observer that the course being pursued by the Renaissance Movement is, in its entirety, a political course of the opposition SLPP. It is certainly not in the interest of the people on whose behalf they claim to speak.
And this is not surprising! When a so- called civil society organization chooses to be a surrogate of a political party, then it means that objectivity has been buried for partisan political interest and gains.
For the SLPP, removing the APC from power through the ballot box is becoming increasingly impossible because of the government’s continued development progress in almost every sphere across the country. The party’s winning of recent by -elections, notwithstanding their efforts to dissuade voters, is a clear testimony to the government’s prowess in winning elections.
One political observer told me that the fact that the ruling APC government has won practically every by – election in spite of all the malicious efforts by the Sierra People’s Party to present the ruling APC government in bad light; has caused a lot of anguish and frustration among the rank and file of the SLPP.
I believe it is this inelectibility frustration that is beginning to boil over especially as we are approaching the next general elections. There is already ample evidence that their intention is to provoke civil unrest, make the country ungovernable ahead of the 2018 elections so as to force a government of national unity.
What baffles the right thinking Sierra Leoneans is that a civil society organisation like the one calling itself the Renaissance Movement, which is supposed to be a bastion of hope for the people, has allowed itself to be a pawn in an intricate political chess game.
But for many others, this is hardly surprising given that all of those who have openly identified themselves with the Renaissance Movement are card carrying members of the opposition SLPP and sworn enemies of the ruling APC party. This has been proved beyond all reasonable doubt through various whatsapp conversations and other forms of intelligence gathering.
And I understand that this Renaissance Movemebt doesn’t even have a formal structure and presence; it is not registered and it doesn’t have any offices anywhere.They only exist in virtual space spewing anger and promoting inflammatory actions through their social media recruits such as Theresa – a university girl who has been sharing messages that incite others to set vehicles ablaze.
Their illegality owing to their unregistered status in fact, means that the Renaissance Movement is operating unlawfully with all its attendant consequences. And, as a body, the Renaissance Movement cannot sue or be sued.
Assuming then that the Police had granted permission for a street protest which would have eventually gone berserk, it means an aggrieved citizen who may have possibly suffered damages will not have been able to seek redress in a court of law.
I therefore strongly believe that the Supreme Court will throw out any Summons from this subterfuge and unlawful entity against the Police for, in their words, refusing them a peaceful procession. Interestingly, these members, some of whom are laywers, know fully well that they do not have the legal standing to carryout any such legal actions in their name.
Sierra Leoneans must bear in mind that the Renaissance Movement is an illegal organization that is working assiduously to reverse the gains as a nation. We must also remember that Sierra Leone, with support from our international partners, has come along way in promoting and consolidating the peace in Sierra Leone after a decade long senseless war. A war which many believe was largely influenced by the opposition SLPP.
The APC has twice experienced the clandestine and nefarious political machinations of the SLPP in 1967 and in 1991. We have learned our lessons and are not prepared to entertain any undemocratice succession to power. Street protest, violence and threat to public peace and security reminiscent to 1967 and 1991 only bring bitter memories of the brutal persecution of APC political leaders and supporters.
Let me therefore underscore that government will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that peace and security is maintained, even if it means apprehending members of the Renaissance Movement especially in view of the fact that they are an illegal entity promoting a dangerous political course in the guise of civil society.