Wednesday September 28, 2005
A duet of double standards – Letters to Berewa/Margai from SLPP UK/Ireland Branch Secretary General sparks new fury among members
The letters from the Secretary General of SLPP UK and Ireland Branch, Mr Harold Saffa, and some of the executive members on the presumed behalf of the branch to both Charles Margai and Vice President Berewa, published on Cocorioko site on 26 September 2005, came as big surprise to members especially the Margai supporters who form a vast majority of the active membership. Firstly, members are not exactly clear about the purpose of the letters in regard to what it will achieve and how. Secondly, the membership of this branch were neither consulted nor informed about the content of the letters. We understand that certain members were told about the intention to write such a letter and that was it. Then for members of this branch to read both letters, on the net, for the first time, could be regarded as irresponsible and reckless on the part of the executive.
The Chairman Mr Tamba Lamina and the Secretary General Mr Harold Saffa went to Freetown, paid for by this branch – something they will still have to answer for, to represent us at the convention that never happened while they were there. They returned to London two weeks later; and over eight weeks now since their return they have not even had the courtesy to call a general meeting to report to the membership. How dare they then pretend or assume that those letters reflect and represent the views of the entire membership of this branch? Do you call this responsible leadership? No, we will call it emotional spasm and a gross error of judgement. It would be interesting to know from them on what basis the executive decided that the letters represent the views of the entire membership.
RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP were the golden words of the SLPP UK and Ireland Branch executive when they were elected by a strong, committed and enthusiastic branch members over a year and half ago.
Having gone through years of incompetent administrations by opportunistic leaders of this branch, in May 2004, members decided enough was enough hence in good faith and high spirit, members throw their weight behind the present executive of the branch. Expectations were high and so the hope for positive change and new direction based on responsible leadership but most members have been greatly let down, as this executive has embarked on a non-consultative attitude.
The executives placed themselves in a tangle right from the start, before the convention, when they failed to show clear leadership as to what direction this branch should go in regard to a preferred candidate (Berewa or Margai). They failed to convince the entire membership to rally behind just one candidate. They lost control when it became clear that there are two groups – one supporting Berewa and the other supporting Margai; each group hoping that the solution would come from the executive. This never happened.
For the benefit of readers, it would be useful for you to know that most members of the Margai Campaign Team are also members of the SLPP UK and Ireland branch,
some as executive members and some as members of the Council of Elders. It is therefore ridiculous that such important letters should go out without any consultation.
It would be fair though to say that the idea of these letters is generally good but we have our doubts on the motive and intention, and as well as serious reservations on the process and methods used by Mr Lamina and some of his executive members. As mentioned earlier, it has been established that a general meeting was neither called to discuss the issue despite available opportunities to do so, nor were drafts or copies of the letters distributed to the general membership either for consideration or for our information.
If our brothers and sisters whom we elected into the executive cannot talk to us directly to agree to disagree on issues before presenting them on our behalf, then there was no point in changing the former executive. We have all along shared the same views and aspirations so how could they now be so sure they can effect a compromise between Berewa and Margai?
In fact, what Mr Lamina and Mr Saffa have succeeded in doing is to wildly condemn the very process of the convention which VP Berewa and his allies strongly consider to be democratic and transparent – thanks and we commend you both for that. They also succeeded in proving a point – that the way the olive branch was offered to Margai without any incentive was not a very wise act by VP Berewa – bravo for that as well. And many thanks also for pointing out to the world that if Margai and his followers pull out of SLPP that could leave the party empty and dry. And thanks again ever so much for your laborious and painful justification of the qualities of Mr Margai as opposed to that of Mr Berewa’s. The question now is if the SLPP UK and Ireland Branch Executive knew and were so convinced about Mr Margai’s qualities, why did they not demonstrate this earlier prior to Makeni? Why now?
What political party would wilfully decide to bring about its own downfall by voting in a candidate to represent them in the next general election – a candidate who is grossly unpopular as Berewa. We understand the hierarchy of the APC were cheering for us all the way the minute we pressed that self-destruct button at Makeni – ?selecting’ Berewa as our new leader. Just as some of us fought hard for change in this branch, those of us who are well meaning and patriotic Sierra Leoneans will continue to fight for that much needed change in Sierra Leone. We believe that change – and as your letter has also confirmed – that change can be brought about with Charles Margai at the helm. It will be up to the SLPP to decide what part they want to play in all this but they have very little time to put this right!
The duet of double standard here is that both of you (Harrod and Tamba), on one hand have virtually glorified Margai while on the other hand cautiously advising the Vice President to have a face to face chat with Margai after a brisk congratulatory note. What do you (if you believe in what you have written in your letters) want to advice Berewa to say to Margai when they meet face to face? – That “your grandfather and forefathers fought hard for the SLPP so please do not let the party die, stay and be a party member and support me”?
We wish you well in your fight and effort to gain compliments from the two sides but you have just lost the trust of your brothers and sisters. To remind you again, consultation in responsible leadership is an overarching principle for any successful administration, especially in politics. We say no more.
The Margai Campaign Team and some disappointed members of the
SLPP branch members – London UK/Ireland.
26th September, 2005