New political parties in Africa usually come and disappear after either being absorbed by the ruling party or could not finance its activities. The People’s Movement for Democratic Change party (PMDC) could or could not be one of such political party. But recent events unfolding in the party and their going into their first local council elections puts them to a test to either survive or die slowly.
Like the PDP and the UNPP who created consistent upsets for the APC from their main support area in the North and Western area, so also is the PMDC who created similar upset for the SLPP in their strong holds in the South and East.
The PMDC came about after its leader Charles Francis Margai reneged from the SLPP after he was beaten at the party’s convention to lead them to the presidential elections, very much like the People’s National Party (PNP) which came in to existence in 1958 as a result of ideological differences and struggles for power within the SLPP leadership. By then, Sir Milton Margai and the rest of the SLPP old guards were happy to continue with their gradualist approach to national issues and also wanted to maintain the party’s alliance with the chiefs. These policies were absolutely rejected by the young and more dynamic members of the SLPP who wanted quick action.
This group was led by Sir Milton’s younger brother, Sir Albert Margai father of Charles Margai. He successfully bid for the leadership of the party but severe pressure was put on him to step down for his elder brother. As if not happy with that, Sir Albert and some of his colleagues including S.T Navo, A.J Massally, Maigore Kallon and Siaka Stevens then quit the SLPP to found the PNP.
Like his Father, Charles Margai replicated that in the 2007 presidential elections which saw his party forming an alliance with the APC to win the elections.
A lot has happened since the PMDC was compensated with four ministerial positions and two deputies. There are even questions being asked as to whether the alliance is still strong or not, even though it has been stated by the PMDC that all was well between them and the APC.
But one will start to question the unholy alliance slowly turning to a high sounding nothing. Charles Margai has not been happy with the way the APC is ruling so also are some members of the PMDC not happy with their leader Charles Margai. And if media reports are anything to go by, the recent outburst by the PMDC leader against the APC in Kailahun, Bonthe, Kenema and Moyamba were sufficient enough to refer to the alliance as a high sounding nothing.
As earlier stated how new political parties form an alliance and were later divorced, that seems to be driving closer to Hannah Benka Coker street the headquarters of the PMDC. Events monitored so far are proving that the APC will soon divorce the PMDC based on the PMDC criticisms on them and also if they make political gains in the forth coming local council elections. Now the PMDC is not consulted either at parliament or at party level. The PMDC MPs in parliament even though they are ten in number, do not head more than two oversight committees. As if they too are not happy with the APC MPs, the PMDC have started dissenting from voting on a government motion. It is also a concern to see the PMDC Publicity Secretary, Mohamed Bangura ganging up with the SLPP Secretary General J.J Saffa in blasting the APC. More concern is expressed when media reports states of the PMDC district chairman candidate for the coming local council elections in Kono is allegedly beaten by the APC supporters and also a candidate in Bonthe complaining of APC harassment.
If it is also true that the PMDC leader wrote a letter to President Koroma expressing his disgust about the way the APC is ruling, and also of the president visiting him at his residence to express disappointment about the PMDC leader writing him such a letter, then indications of a split are becoming clearer or coming closer.
What the APC is presently doing is putting the PMDC on a test for its survival in this local council elections. The APC is going solo in all areas and are even desperate to get rid of the independent candidates posing as a threat to them. What they want to assert is to experiment – if without the PMDC they will be able to make inroads in the south-east.
If that laboratory test proves them right, then a divorce with the PMDC is eminent. But it will again be disastrous if the PMDC is just abandoned like that, remember, they are still beautiful in the eyes of the SLPP who will be ready to warmly accept them and should that happen, statistically, it will be difficult for the APC to win 2012 elections.
To prove the APC wrong, the PMDC needs to continue beautifying themselves in the eyes of the APC and the only way to carve that is to ensure that the APC does not make any inroad in the south-east and for them also to win more seats in the elections.
Without this it is anybody’s guess whether the PMDC will survive or die.
By Ishmael Bayoh