Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a bid to foster closer ties between newly appointed Members of Parliament and their communities, Talking Drum Studio (TDS) organized a pivotal meeting yesterday, 7th February, 2024, serving as a platform for reflection on pre-election discussions and debates.
In his statement, the National Director (ND) of TDS, Alpha Kamara, mentioned approach to extend beyond these initial engagements. Emphasizing the importance of continuous dialogue, the ND proposed creating platforms for ongoing interaction between parliamentarians and their communities. He said “This initiative aims to uphold campaign promises, both at the party and individual levels, by facilitating meetings where elected officials can directly address constituents’ concerns.”
Moving forward, the ND revealed plans to support parliamentarians by covering expenses for community meetings, thereby enabling direct interaction with their people. According to Kamara, this does not only strengthen the bond between elected officials and their communities but also enhances the likelihood of their re-election and increase citizens’ understanding of their representatives’ work.
During the meeting, a video showcasing the parliamentarians’ participation in pre-election debates was screened, providing insight into their viewpoints and commitments.
The meeting saw parliamentarians articulating their roles, highlighting the need for increased visibility within their communities. They underscored the importance of advocacy in parliament and oversight of laws affecting their constituents’ welfare. Moreover, they expressed eagerness to collaborate with TDS to address community needs effectively.
Notably Honourable Musa Fofanah, emphasized the necessity for parliamentarians to engage with ministries at the district level, highlighting the critical role of parliamentarians in ensuring effective governance and resource utilization.
He aptly stated, “We have the oversight to see what government budget is doing,” underscoring the importance of active involvement in monitoring the implementation of allocated funds.
Fofanah noted that by actively participating in district-level activities, parliamentarians can bridge the gap between government policies and community needs, ensuring that budgetary allocations translate into tangible benefits for constituents, enabling them to remain visible and responsive to the needs of their communities.
“As the stewards of public funds, we play a pivotal role in holding ministries accountable for the effective utilization of resources, thereby fostering transparency and accountability in governance,” he said, maintaining that by working collaboratively, parliamentarians and ministries can maximize the impact of government interventions, ultimately promoting socio-economic development and progress across districts.
Tommy Massaquoi, the program manager, elaborated on the objectives and potential outcomes of the round table meeting. He emphasized the importance of accountability, explaining the establishment of a political manifesto tracker to monitor progress on campaign promises. Furthermore, he outlined plans for ongoing engagement, including follow-up meetings and resource provision, to address identified action items effectively.
As per the aforementioned, Tommy stressed that the insights gleaned from this meeting hold significant implications for future initiatives and advocacy efforts.
“These discussions pave the way for a more responsive and accountable political landscape, and constructive action to address community needs effectively,” he added.
The meeting which convened MPs from various districts was held under an Irish Aid funded Project titled “Strengthening the Role of Women for Inclusive Governance and a Peaceful Society and Building Bridges! Connecting Citizens and Local Governance Structures to Provide Good Governance in Sierra Leone.” PSN/8/2/2024