The flag bearer aspirant for the SLPP Dr Bu-Buakei Jabbi last week secured an injunction from the Supreme Court to temporarily stop his party’s convention where a flag bearer for the 2012 elections for his party would have been elected. In an exclusive 14 minutes 25 seconds answer, Dr Jabbi poured out his heart as to why he took the decision to take his party to court. The following is an accurate transcription of his answer word for word.
Awoko: Dr Jabbi why did you take your party to court? Ans: My party indeed. It is my party and it is because it is my party and I want to ensure that my party suffers no damage or risk in trying to come back to power – broadly speaking, that is why I brought this matter to court, on behalf of my party, in the interest of my party and so that my party can advance.
There is a possibility that an objection can be raised to the party’s flag bearer at the Presidential election and at the nomination stage even before voting takes place. If such an objection is raised by any other party to our own candidate it has to go to the Supreme Court. The constitution requires that only the Supreme Court can hear and determine that. There is an express and specific provision in that regard. If the Supreme Court decides the objection against us (SLPP), then our candidate is automatically disqualified and cannot continue as Presidential candidate. There is a provision in the constitution as well that says that if a candidate is disqualified at the Presidential election the party will have seven (7) days within which to nominate another candidate. So some people will say ‘we go able nominate another candidate’ but it depends on the objection that was upheld. If the objection is of such nature that you need to repair things from a long time ago you will have to go through that (and) repair those things that have been the basis of the objection, and then do a fresh flag bearer election – that whole process may not be completed within seven (7) days so you may end up being unable to present another candidate for nomination and then the election will have to be conducted without a presidential candidate for the SLPP. The SLPP wants to come back to power and the party has done a lot in the last three (3) years or so to show people that they are indeed the best governance body in this country, all other political parties cannot measure up to the competence of the SLPP in ruling, in governance, so if that happens we are deprived of that objective by the party. And even the parliamentary election will be affected by a decision like that. If SLPP is presenting no Presidential candidate at the 2012 presidential election many people will prefer to vote for parliamentary candidates for other political parties, so then our representation in parliament could also be reduced as a result of that problem – so the damage is considerable, and it is to clear that possibility that I have brought this matter (to court).
What can be the cause of that damage it is good also to explain this to people. Now our own party constitution has certain specific stipulations about certain things – I should clear the impressions that some people have that other parties can have no interference in the internal affairs of another party because some people think so – so even if this is wrong in our party other parties have no right to interfere so we can still go free at the elections – so this point has to be cleared.
From 1991 that situation has been changed by constitutional provisions – the 1991 constitution has provisions seeking to control the democratic operations of parties even by their internal operations and there are provisions in the constitution requiring that even parties and everybody should comply with those democratic provisions principles of democratic conduct and also sheer constitutionalism, those provisions of the constitution about various things that must not be contradicted in somebody’s conduct or otherwise. They are there in the constitution then it is that same constitution that made possible the political parties act which infact more directly controls the operations and activities of political parties and has certain requirements that parties must follow. And it even establishes a body, the Political Parties Registration Commission responsible for supervising and monitoring the democratic and constitutional conduct of political parties with powers to take to the Supreme Court any political party who goes against those principles or specific provisions – it has those powers – now it is under that political parties act that party constitutions are established and a provision requires that when you have a party constitution you have to register it with the political parties act before it can come into force and even when you amend it you have to submit that amendment to the political parties act and then it will set the process for the thing coming into force. Therefore it is not really correct to say that the internal affairs of a party cannot be interfered with by any other political party. If you are not complying with those democratic credentials and requirements you can be challenged by an individual in the party or outside the party or by another political party depending on the particular thing you are contravening.
So we now come to the actual cause of this matter that is to say our own party constitution which is governed by both the political parties act and the national constitution itself, our own party constitution, SLPP constitution has a specific requirement for the election of party executives, they have to be elected and it is stated in mandatory terms that – it has to be, it must be done, it cannot otherwise be done, it shall be done – that those executive elections have to be conducted once every two (2) years. If one has been done and the two (2) years have passed the tenure has expired and there is no provision in that constitution saying how else you can bring an executive into being or enable it to continue in being. So some people say for instance they have the power to extend the life of executives without an election being conducted – as the party constitution stipulates there is no such power in the party constitution even NEC of the party and the Conference of the party have no such power at all and this has been explained to the party- I wrote a special letter on this issue, this particular issue of whether NEC or the Conference has power on January 12, I analysed the provision that people were misconstruing as containing that power, I analysed it in that letter and sent it to the party executives – the national executive – but obviously it has been ignored and it was contravened in the conference at Bo. Again November 27 when we held the Makeni NEC meeting I explained this problem that the proposal they wanted to make for the conference to consider cannot be done because the constitution does not empower, and the constitution requires that both NEC and the Conference notwithstanding that the Conference is the highest organ of the party – the constitution expressly requires in one particular provision that even they are subject to the party constitution, so they cannot do anything contrary to a provision in the party constitution they will be contravening the party constitution and they could be doing it in a way that could be read as an indirect amendment of the constitution and there is a provision in that constitution as to how you go about making amendments so if you have not followed that provision and you do something either contrary to the constitution or likely to be read as an implicit amendment of the constitution you will also be going against that provision that says this is how an amendment in the party has to be done so NEC and the Conference do not have any power to extend the life of an executive without having done an election in the terms that other provisions in that constitution provide. So this is what has not been done and it is executives that provide delegates, at least the majority of delegates not all delegates need to be executive members, local councils for instance like the district council the city council or town councils as the case may be – those also where the SLPP controls such a body they also can send four (4) delegates each if you live in an area where a local council is not controlled by the SLPP they are required to send two (2) delegates, but those are not the ones affected by this situation because they are not executives of the party – so those executives of the party that provide delegates for a convention have to be elected according to those provision in our own constitution if we have not done that and we extend in quotation marks we extend their tenure and take delegates from them to go and vote at a convention for the flag bearer, that convention will be invalid; that election of that flag bearer will be invalid; and at nomination time in the presidential election in 2012 any political party can raise objection to that and if it goes against us although we can re-nominate another person we will however have to go back and do that correction – do fresh elections for all executives of the party and the delegates from those fresh elections will have to go to a new convention for electing a flag bearer and it is only such a flag bearer that can be presented for nomination. But it is only seven (7) days that are given after the first objection and all that exercise cannot be done within seven (7) days so either we present another candidate who will still be rejected on that basis or we may not present any candidate at all throughout the Presidential election, then the party cannot form the next government. If that is the case 2012 sharp 12 will become blunt.
That is why to avoid that I have brought this matter so that we clear the problem before we do our flag bearer election. When once we do it on the basis of well conducted executive elections we are clear and safe and we can be sure that we will win the 2012 elections.