The general idea of Sierra Leoneans today is that our politics that have come a long way since independence continues to cleave through the darkness to give us day.
Democratically, the general consensus is that we should have matured enough to have learnt a lot in governance and responsibilities to positively develop the country over the years. But as the saying goes; ‘if wishes were horses, beggars will ride’.
On a positive note, sometimes it is not enough to hope but working on ensuring that that hope is achieved to the fullest. Is that what we are doing as Sierra Leoneans? Well my readers you will get a clue as you continue reading.
What is happening in the country today does not tell or predict anything good for the country as far as development of our politics and the general well being of our country is concerned. Politicians are toying with the conscience and intelligence of the electorates.
The kind of democracy practiced by us came along with the entrenchment of lies, deceit and impunity in our society. Our politicians today see him or herself as the custodian of knowledge and wisdom, meaning that they the politicians see the voters as unintelligent masses easy to manipulate and convinced.
Days are turning into months, months into years and years into decades and the people of Sierra Leone are still on their marks, yet to take off. Governments have come and gone with hopeless policies and politics that are still waiting for the take off shot.
One main reason why Sierra Leone is yet to take off from its mark of economic development theory is the way we practice our own democracy. Ours is so special that I can call it ‘blame-it-on-them’. The blame-it-on-them game is played between government in power and the opposition party. It becomes overly serious and retarding development when the opposition party is the one that power was wrestled from in an election.
Another reason for the retarding of economic development is the “You-do-me-are-do-you”. When power changes hands, be sure that even the civil servants that are supposed to be the technocrats are not spared from the sack. In fact, that is what has affected this particular government as they replaced lots of civil servants suspected to be sympathizers of the opposition SLPP.
The last reason for the failing development is democracy of lies. Politicians’ are liars to the highest degree. They will tell you all the development plans they have during elections, but after winning, you will never see them again.
Let us recap 2007, The APC criticized SLPP for their tribalism and regionalism politics that they say was one of the main reasons for lack of development. They promised us that if they win, they will kick out tribalism. To our greatest shock, they became worse than their predecessors.
The president told us how he would run the country as a viable business if given the mandate. Today the country is at the crossroads where we do not know where we are coming from and where we are going. The economy is in shambles and for the very first time in the history of Sierra Leone the Leone has depreciated to the point that a dollar is exchanged for Le3, 800.
In a business, when we eat the profit and the capital, then the business is doomed to kaput. This is what we are going through now in the country.
On assuming office, all kinds of stories of corruption by the previous governments were blown out of proportion and a Commission of Enquiry was set up but as of today we are still waiting for the results. After two years in office, the British have started asking questions what is happening to the financial aid they have given us. We are waiting for the answers.
The effect of the blame-it-on-them game has left Sierra Leoneans caught up in the web and instead of focusing on things that will develop the nation, the eight years of the SLPP government was used to determine who won the game. The government is busy blaming the former government for the situation of the economy and the former government is busy finding faults with policies of the government in power. The result is few good policies were implemented and Sierra Leone is still where it started.
During the eight years of SLPP, the opposition APC had problem with the travels and policies of the then president Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah and his government. To them the president and ministers were wasting tax payers money with lots of traveling and wrong economic policies. They did not look at the angle of benefits derived from the travels; neither did they as opposition try to understand some of the policies being implemented.
That did not matter to them. To them the cost of travels outweighed the benefits and the policies were mostly wrong. How the analysis was done, only they and their God know.
Now the APC is in power and the first trip by the president in 2007 was enough to start the You-Do-Me-are-Do-You game. Trust me this game will continue till this government loses power. At least the actions and inactions of the party in power and the opposition SLPP, gives me the cause to make that conclusion. Barring any positive change of attitude as to how we do politics, I am afraid to say that our beloved country will still be at the take off point for many years to come.
Just as in 1996 to 2007, the blame-it-on-them game is being played by the new administration and the new opposition party. I believe the new government has adopted the same strategy so as to get enough time to put the economy in shape, so it will paint black, the government they wrestled power from.
Now what we are hearing is an economy that is in shambles, negative macro economic figures among other economic indices that make an economy. Of course, you would not expect the SLPP to sit back and fold their arms. Their radio was shut down because they were causing the loudest noise of the two. The status quo is followed. They have reacted and trust me, from the look of things, will continue to react till this government leaves office, if ever it happens.
The question now is; is this the kind of politics we want to use to develop our nation? Where will this kind of politics take the country to when we are still at the starting line ready to take off as usual? This game that they are playing with our economy and the general living situation of the country is against the principles of good governance.
And paranoia, as any psychiatrist will tell you, is a consequence of lack of self-confidence and the inability to cope with realities and challenges. Can we then say that the APC is paranoid, lacking self-confidence and will not be able to cope with the realities of the times? Already the president has said on a couple of platforms that they (APC) inherited a bad economy with corruption rife.
This to me is not a good statement because a bag of rice was half its original price we are buying it now. For 10 years the Leone was stable and the democratic institutions were functioning well. Corruption was rife and that was why we voted for a change, I mean positive change to improve our lives.
We believed in the message of the APC and wanted to see policies aimed at alleviating poverty and making our living conditions better if not comfortable. The last thing we need is stories about the economy and who caused what, and who did what.
Sierra Leone is blessed with the human resource that should be harnessed for the betterment of the nation. Life is hard as always and we wanted the government to take us to a different development level. As someone who loves Sierra Leone, I pray for wisdom for the president and his team of able men and women and also pray for a change of attitude by all Sierra Leoneans especially the opposition SLPP in the way we practice politics.
By Austin Thomas