Monday January 11, 2005
If the SLPP government have people who read the signs for them, these soothsayers should have by now advised the government to take serious note of the recent successful workers’ strike called by the Sierra Leone Labour Congress.
Though it lasted one day, the strike was successful as workers heeded the advice of the Labour Congress to down their tools until certain demannds made by the SLLC were met by the government. Freetown virtually came to a standstill as work places shut down and taxis and Poda-Podas disappeared from the streets.
That the public was in tandem with the Labour Congress was a powerful indictment of the SLPP government. It showed how much goodwill the government has lost among the Sierra Leonean people. This very public stood tall, risked their lives and defied the AFRC Power-grabbers when they overthrew the government in 1997 . But for the support of the populace, no external military intervention would have succeeded to bring the government back to power , however ferocious. It will be a miracle if the same public sticks out its neck again for the SLPP, should the government be overthrown in another coup.
The consensus of opinion among Sierra Leoneans is that the government has failed the people. The government has failed the people because it has not lived up to all of its promises made in 1996 and 2001 when it sought the votes of the nation. Cost of living has spun out of the government’s control and prices of basic commodities have trottled beyond the means of the people. Not many breadwinners can now afford even one square meal a day for their families. Most Sierra Leoneans go to bed hungry. They wake up in misery with no water or light and they retire to bed at night with the enzymes in their stomachs in a riot.
Not even the SLPP Spokesman for the party’s powerful UK Branch, Mr. Moijueh Kai-Kai , who is in Sierra Leone on vacation, could disguise the fact that life was terrible for our people in the country. Infact, some of the most outstanding critics of how the government has messed up the economy and the lives of the people are SLPP supporters ! ! ! While it could be argued that many of them are angered by the indictment and arrest of Chief Hinga Norman, whom they consider their hero, that they too are now denouncing the very government they fought to bring to power, is not a good sign for the administration.
The government has failed and it must use the successful strike as a wake-up call to redeem its name and its future and rebuild the lives of the people . Solid socio-economic and political reforms must be immediately put in place to redress the aweful economic and social conditions in the country. Salaries of workers should be immediately increased , commensurate with the harsh inflationary trends in the country. And for heaven’s sake, let there be some price control for once in Sierra Leone. There is no reason why the government should not reduce the ridiculous prices of basic commodities. And it also high time that electricity and water are completely restored in the country.
There is to much waste going on in the country.Money that should have been used to improve the lives of the people are being stolen by government ministers and other public officials. Our minerals and natural resources should have been bringing in enough revenue to transform the country from the poorest in the world to one of the richest. But the government does not have any mechanism in place to actualize this goal and smugglers are having a field day.
President Kabbah and his government must buck up. Sierra Leoneans are sick and tired of their empty promises and sorry excuses. Last week’s strike sent a clear and uncompromising message. Power belongs to the people and if the populace turns against the government, support will no longer be available from the masses when it is needed most by the government. And any government that does not enjoy the support of the people will soon become a casualty of change. With the 2007 General Elections just around the corner and many contending voices arising in the nation, the SLPP would not want to lose the goodwill of the Sierra Leonean people , which is the only thing that has kept it in power.