When through an international research Sierra Leone was pronounced the third most disaster prone country in the world, many compatriots reacted with a wave of the hand in the usual levity that is so characteristic of the average Sierra Leonean. We have survived the war; we have survived Ebola, cholera, mudslide, floods, storms and even corruption. So we now think we can survive anything and everything. No! at the moment we are finding it too difficult to survive the peace. When it comes to politics in Sierra Leone, our country is divided left right and center. Why this is so, is hard to understand. Why also a small country like ours has some 16 or so odd ethnic groups, only nature knows. What I don’t know is that as a tiny tot, I just found myself speaking a language that I heard people around me speaking. These people I later realized were my parents. I don’t know about you but I never had a chance to choose my ethnicity or even parentage. So if you do not like me for speaking my mother tongue, it’s up to you. Again if you do not like me because of the part of the country I hail from, that’s your nice funeral! In this modern world, every nation is dragged along to be part of the Global world which design has been nicely crafted for the rest to fit in. The Western world will always tell you that democracy is the best for our world and perhaps they are right. What they will not tell you is the difficulty of it working in particularly Africa whose orientation had been megalomaniac, autocratic and dictatorial. How about the many tribes and even sub-tribes! This is not to say that it has started working in a few African countries, mind you I said “started working.” The current teaming and looming rancor between the APC and the SLPP is making a serious ridicule of our country as a people who do not care for peace and development by the continual threats of violence and untoward behaviors of some sycophantic partisan fanatics. These go on social media and even have the audacity to use the most profane abusive expressions in audios that become viral. Our dire security situation is like the proverbial tsetse fly on the scrotum. You leave it there, it will suck you dry. You hit it, you will crush your testicles. Over the years we have had just too many animosities over General Elections and bye elections in this country. Even a single ward bye election is now seen as ignominious precursors to the General elections. Now tell me, have we ever had any positive outcome to violent acts at our elections and other events in the country? Just check them out? But of course we all know how nice our country is, we will all pretend that all’s well. We will hold thousands of crusades and all-night prayers…yet our troubles will continue to torment us. Nobody wants to look at the root causes, we do not dig deeper or act outside the box. Why? Like they say, if you want to have what you have never had before, you have to do what you have never done before. As Sierra Leoneans do we really care? Just see the feverish way in which we take every slight political issue. Every time we have some kind of election, you see dignitaries flocking there. Some go whole two weeks before the elections. Sometimes we see a flamboyantly vulgar display of lavishness with funds. Sometimes we get on our way to being a democratic success in Africa but it seems the very people supposed to be custodians of our statutory provision are the first to dismantle them. Like Jonathan Balla of the Africa research institute once wrote that many problems beset Sierra Leone like corruption, politicized communal identities, youth unemployment, and rising prices. Of course these have always been there. Now although we score high on some global Indexes like fighting graft or scores in other areas are too dismal to allow us to celebrate. See the recent progress we made with the MCC, before we could joyfully feel proud, we realized that after all that other parameters were too awful to make us get that mouth watering cash.
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The good thing is that the government has resolved to give the Anti-Corruption Commission the full political will. Just a few days ago Sierra Leone Jumped 10 places up the transparency Index on corruption. That is good news but even there it grinds some unpatriotic compatriots. OMG. This is the country where people in responsible public positions try to amass so much wealth, sapping the many poor and depraved citizens. You can research on our past Leaders and you will find out that most of them left office worth hundreds of millions of US Dollars. Too much corruption will engender disaffection, hate and even lead to violence. And you know what the two leading parties in our country are responsible for all the ills our nation has gone through and seems to continue to go through. In 1991, the United Nations ranked Sierra Leone last of 160 countries in its Human Development Index! Of course we were also taking our final steps to war. Now the younger generations who have only scanty memories of that war are making volatile statements on social media that have the potential for violence. This definitely is not the sort of credential our country needs. Although elections to a large extent have provided Salone’s true measure of progress, however the fundamental character of political competition in Sierra Leone has not been altered. Identity, not ideology or policy, remains the paramount factor. Ethnic and regional voting blocs – sustained by entrenched patronage networks and corruption – are as rigid as ever. The APC draws majority support from the Temne, Limba and other northern tribes, and Krios of the Western Area, while the SLPP are favored by the Mende and tribes of the south-east. Defeat often entails exclusion and disadvantage for the losers and their regions. Salone’s Political parties still use violent means to achieve political goals. All the Inquiries set up to investigate electoral violence have come to naught. The mining sector which should have bailed the country from its economic wilderness has little to show due mainly because of corruption in very high places. Another key feature of Salone politics is the changing of parties by normally very prominent personalities. This has been happening rather frequently. Since there is no law preventing this, it has been causing a lot of impasse between mainly the two leading parties. What is very clear is that the nation seems stuck with the two main parties which have not been able to improve the lives of the people of Sierra Leone, a population smaller than that of Accra City. The current Government has about three more years to run and it seems their relationship may remain strange bedfellows till next elections. Remember when a bird is alive, it eats ants. When the bird is dead, ants eat it.
By Beny SAM
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