By Idrissa Conteh :
How and Why the Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) Lost Power
1) Poor Governance and Corruption: The second term of the SLPP was marred by widespread corruption, poor governance and myopic leadership. The ACC existed only in name. The sources of wealth of senior government officials building expensive houses at IMATT was not checked though a ministers salary was less than USD 500.00 at the time. Most of the donor funds were misappropriated and the international community pressed for a regime change.
THE SLPP’S FAILED 2007 CAMPAIGN
2) The SLPP had been shattered by too many internal political wrangling long before the 2007 presidential elections. The arrest and detention of Chief Sam Hinga Norman by the ICC was considered a sellout by most SLPP supporters. Legally, there was no way the minor agent could be arrested without the principal agent. Norman put his life at stake for the restoration of President Kabbah to power and his reward was disgrace and humiliation. Many SLPP supporters boycotted the polls out of anger and frustration over the way Norman was treated.
3) The Role of local artists: local artists waged a massive war on the SLPP exposing the corrupt practices of officials. Songs like Daddy SAJ’s “Corruption e Do So” and Emerson’s “Borbor Belleh ” raised the level of awareness of the electorate. The SLPP was ridiculed to nonsense.
SOLOMON BEREWA : WAS PUT UP BY PEOPLE DUMB IN POLITICS
4) The Charles Margai Factor: When Lawyer Charles Margai announced he was forming a new political party, he was underestimated by the SLPP. All the votes obtained by Margai were precious SLPP votes lost. The internal SLPP crisis continued to deepen with the Charles Margai factor.
5) The Gaddaffi Rice Brouhaha: The Libyan leader, Muamar El-Gaddafi visited Sierra Leone just a few months prior to the 2007 elections. A mass meeting was held at the National Stadium. After President Kabbah’s speech, Gaddafi brought out a long list of aid items he had sent for the people of Sierra Leone through the SLPP administration. It was the very first time the people discovered that a whole shipload of rice was sent for them. The whole stadium went haywire. President Kabbah requested VP Berewa to explain how the rice was used. Berewa said the rice was sold and the proceeds were used to set up NASSIT. Gaddafi was visibly disappointed as that was not the intended purpose. President Kabbah and VP Berewa were booed. The explanations did not sound convincing to the masses. The rice saga spread like wild fire in the harmattan.
SOLOMON BEREWA COULD NOT FATTEN THE PIG ON THE MARKET DAY
6) The Broke Ose hullabaloo: Though the objectives of giving Freetown a facelift by demolishing unsightly shacks and recovering plots of government land that had been unscrupulously acquired sounded plausible, the way and manner in which this was done angered many affected victims and sympathisers. There were no resettlement plans for the victims and no compensations. The SLPP was seen as public enemy N0.1.
8) The Imposition of Solomon Berewa and Momodu Koroma didn’t go down with most supporters: Both men were handpicked by President Kabbah and imposed on the party. Many supporters followed Charles Margai or just boycotted the electoral process in protest.
9)The Kailahun episode: The barring of Ernest Bai Koroma and his APC delegation from entering Kailahun sent strong negative signals in the APC strongholds. Koroma and his APC campaign team were chased out of Kailahun, Seigbwema and Pendembu will stones and this in no small strengthened the resolve of the people of the North and the Western Area to divorce the SLPP for good.
10) Lack of Foresight and Effective Campaign Strategies: Though the SLPP were perceived as an elitist regime, they did not prove that in any shape or form. In 2006, when the SLLP lost all the seats in the Western Area during the Municipal elections, they did not know what to do in order to reverse the situation in the 2007 elections. The SLPP had also lost control over the police and the army and did not know what to do to reverse the situation in its favour. In African politics, if you have no control over the security forces, you have no power at all. The book men of the SLPP did not seem to know this. The army voted against the SLPP in all the elections and the regime had no figment of imagination about how to correct the situation.
KABBA’S SINS FOLLOWED BEREWA
The SLPP supporters campaigned very badly. They became irritated and started insulting the electorate. The SLPP campaigners stoned the people with rice calling them illiterates. The people of Freetown chanted “we nor go school but we sabi vote”!
Berewa insulted Christians and later apologized after withdrawing the statement on the persecution of the Lord Jesus Christ. The issue of elitism was exaggerated by the SLPP which put a distance between it and ordinary people.
The SLLP was nil in terms of information management and dissemination. No proper media coverage was given on its activities in the interior though the party appointed one PhD holder after another as Minister of Information.