It Is Time To Promise Bridges Where There Are No Rivers.

Abdulai Mansaray

The Sierra Leone elections have been slated for a run-off on the 27th March this year. As we all know, elections do have set percentages that must be garnered/achieved to declare winners. Democracy demands votes, decisions, etc. to be made by the majority and for most of the people.  Our recent election results show that no single party has been able to do so. But again, like all elections around the world, fraud, malpractice, violations and allegations always become the currency with which results are traded. Sierra Leone is no exception, but still not an excuse.  The courts in Kenya recently intervened in the elections outcome. This was a first; especially in Africa. Interestingly, most protests againstelection results come from the oppositions. The notion is that the incumbent ruling parties have the luxury and ability to manipulate results and election processes. Depending on who you talk to, our main political parties have been engaged in a jamboree of accusations. There are no surprises there. What is surprising this time is that even the NEC stands accused of fraud, favouritism etc.

It is one thing to doubt the integrity of a political party, but it is an entirely different issue, when the body conducting the process is put into disrepute. Our Electoral Commission should be the ultimate reservoir of credibility for our electoral process. For our democracy to be certified as one, we do need an electoral process that would reflect such that befits democracy; as a political concept. The NEC is the organisation that is charged with ensuring that such practices are beyond reproach. If our voting practices are exposed to fraud, vote rigging, ballot tampering etc., our last hope of redemption should reside in the organisations that are mandated to ensure that our democracy remains credible. This means that organs like the National Electoral Commission (NEC) should be God’s Political Deputy on earth. But what hope have we got, if the very organ of our political process is brought into disrepute?

Since the end of Act 1 Scene 1 of our election, the NEC has come under increasing scrutiny for how the election has been conducted. There have been series of accusations involving NEC officials collaborating in fraudulent behaviour. Some have even questioned the mathematical acumen of NEC; questioning its idea of PERCENTAGES.  There are a lot of people who feel that the NEC has been complicit in some of the accusations that are emerging. We have seen how social media have been central in promoting these accusations.  The veracity of these accusations is up for grabs. The worrying bit of this all is the implications of such allegations. When the central and main organisation that is charged with ensuring that our democratic rights and responsibilities are observed, is a subject of credibility tests, what hope have we got? At this stage, it is worth noting that I do not subscribe to any of such accusations; especially when most of what is being read is Whatsapp friendly. The truth is out there.

Well now that Act 2 Scene 2 is upon us, the political horse trading is now on overdrive. This means that “coalition” will be the new party exchange currency. As ironies go, we had a lot of parties with names ringing as coalitions. We had Coalition 4 Change (C4C), National Grand Coalition (NGC), and many others, though not in name. Although these parties were christened as “coalitions”, in the strictest form of the word, were they coalitions? If they were coalitions, who and what were they coalescing with and against respectively? There is no doubt that there was a coalition of ideologies or some sort, but if there were actual coalitions, would we be in this position today? When little Gambia embarked on a political coalition for change, we all saw what the parties did, and the rest is history. We must admit that we have a coalition of parties only in name. Even though the terms were peddled in our political conversations, here was nothing to even suggest a minimum of 2 parties coming together in a coalition. What we had were amoeba like parties that engaged in binary fissions. Replicating their politically genetic material through mitotic division was in no way a coalition. If Sierra Leoneans ever wanted to see what coalitions look like, get your front seat and keep your feet up. Let us sit back, sip our drinks and see how the little parties are gulped by the big guys.

In our world that is populated by political amoebas, their cytoplasms are ready to flow round their preys and engulf them into a “proper coalition”. The currency for such horse trading is anyone’s guess. The promise of a ministerial post here, an ambassadorial position there, a 2nd VP here, are some of the sweeteners many think will tilt the scales of loyalties in this stock exchange. If people had such political acumen to bring others into their fold, why were these not used in the first place? Why did we fail to get such coalitions in the first place? Is it because of ego, greed or a vacuum of goodwill? It will be difficult to envy any promise of those sweeteners if offered. So, while some may use whatever is in their power to get the support of their adversaries, others have resorted to the basest of human instincts to do so; and it is UGLY.

There is every reason to conclude that despite the perceived tribal induced voting pattern across the country, there is no doubt that a large percentage of the electorate voted on matters of principle, policies and visible results or the lack of them. You cannot dismiss the impact of the televised debate in helping voters form their opinions and choices. With some of our incompetent politicians having nothing to offer, they have embarked on the cesspit route of campaigning. They are now preaching tribalism and hate. Sadly, and as s a result of this, those who voted with their consciences are now adopting the “Going Back to My Roots” stance for the run off. Those that are preaching the gospel of hate and tribalism are literally blackmailing their fellow Sierra Leoneans.  Truth is one of the first casualties of this run-off election. There was a time when you were tempted to conclude that we are slowly being emancipated from mental slavery. Little did we know that we have leaders who are ready to get down to the basest of human instincts to wallow in political power?

If any politician is so sure of what they have done for the people, or so sure of what they will do for the people when they get into power, why do we need to preach the tribe thing? As Sierra Leoneans, we should all rise above such base instincts. While some have resorted to visiting their primitive instincts, there are some politicians who have realised that you can’t shake hands with clenched fists. The political horse trading has started. We have heard of presumed foes visiting family members. Others have just remembered that they were brothers. Some even recall now that they attended the same madrassas, and others are telling us that they used to share stands 21 and 18 at the national stadium to support East End Lions. Phew. The things we do for politics eh?

But that is what you call politicking. Ordinary folks should remember that our politicians are ever ready to appeal to our tribal instincts just to get our votes. These are the same politicians who would take each other to court. They will accuse one another of embezzling public funds. They will make every accusation and any accusation against their opponents under the sun. They will even tell you that they are enemies. But when it comes to the need to speak with one voice, when they need the support of the other, when they know that their survival will depend on the support of their once declared foes, those same leaders are ready to eat humble pie, lick their wounds and “lay belleh” to get what they want.

This is not a mater of principles. As for thsee politicians, it’s Machiavellian, and the end justifies the means. Who would expect Victor Foe to refer to Sam Sumana as his brother today? He replaced him when he was sacked. There are stories that Ernest Koroma visited KKY’s mother last week. But after the elections, there is the  small matter to sort out in court; to find out if KKY was citizen enough to contest the elections in the first place. There are lot of purists who see nothing wrong with that. I am tempted to agree with them. Politics is a matter of expediency. If anything, politics has no room for morals; although it is an expectation. If these guys are ready to be at each other’s throat at one point, but ready to shake hands over the left over of their political scars, WHO ARE YOU TO ATTACK YOUR FELLOW HUSTLER FOR TWO CENTS?

When a political party tells you that we are “ONE PEOPLE, ONE COUNTRY”, why do you fight your fellow Sierra Leonean for that party? When another party tells you that we are “ALL PEPOPLE’S CONGRESS”, why do you hate your fellow Sierra Leonean? This is exactly what the leaders have been telling you. They will wind you up, incite you to believe that the next man in the other party is your enemy. But when it comes down to it, they will shake hands with unclenched fists. Some of us may have been fooled for some time, but we should not allow ourselves to be fooled all the time. They can pretend to be servants to be masters.

Don’t allow these politicians to turn you against your brother or sister. Our politicians are all friends. After the elections, Maada Bio and Samura Kamara will still be friends. KKY and Maada Bio will still exchange Christmas cards. After the elections, Sam Sumana will still say hi to Diana, and Ernest Koroma will still be welcome to visit KKY. As rumours abound, there are several parties rallying around the SLPP and APC parties for the run-off. Some are now pitching their tents for the “bam bai”. You wonder why they didn’t t come up with these “coalitions” all along.




1 Comment

  1. Please pressure and I say again pressure these two parties to take an oath of political non violence after the Run Off results have been announced.My root is in all the tribes of Sierra Leone and I don’t want a single one of them to suffer because of criminal mindede politicians.
    Nothing to add,except worth reading. Thanks

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