African News

A New Lease of Life for the APC

22 July 2005 at 21:10 | 772 views

A special correspondent in Freetown, the Sierra Leone capital, looks at the implications of the ending of the court case involving some of the leaders of the country’s major political party, the All People’s Congress.


By a Special Correspondent

According to the July 19 edition of the Awareness Times, a Freetown-based newspaper, the court case involving the leader of the All People’s Congress (APC) party, Ernest Bai Koroma, and party heavyweights lawyers Serry-Kamal and Eddie Turay has finally come to an end with the court ruling in favour of Ernest Koroma.
This is extremely good news for supporters of this party, Sierra Leone’s leading opposition party, a party that had been in power for almost two decades until it was overthrown in a military coup in 1992.It is extremely good news for these supporters because they have watched in anguish for the last couple of months as their party leaders tear each other apart in and out of court leading to a postponement of a planned national convention of the party.With the court case now over, this writer believes the APC is now in a position to organize and hold a convention to elect a leadership team to face the ruling SLPP in the 2007 elections.
The news aforementioned is also of great significance to all those Sierra Leoneans looking for a viable alternative to the present political dispensation in the country. Many were disillusioned with a part of the record of the ’old APC’ and are hoping that the new APC led by Ernest Koroma, a man with an untainted and untested political background who is comparatively younger than the majority of leading politicians in the country would do things differently.
Thus Ernest has been and is still being closely watched by many Sierra Leoneans. He has indeed already scored some success as leader of the party when the APC soundly defeated the SLPP in Freetown, the capital, and other parts of the country in the recent local government and municipal elections. Many people believe the APC was able to trounce the SLPP in this way because of the personality of Ernest Koroma and his message of a new and rejuvenated APC free of the hangover of the past.
The court case also tremenduously affected the APC’s performance in parliament as the main opposition party.Time that could have been spent doing research, consulting the general public and challenging and criticising the SLPP in parliament was obviously spent preparing for the court, putting together arguments and raising lawyer fees, a drain on the time, energy, finances and productivity of the people involved.
Some people contend that the ruling party was behind all this litigation, encouraging and financing some of the litigants to sow the seeds of confusion in the APC and weaken it politically.There is no evidence to prove this but we however believe that is not the point.The point is all political parties have internal problems.The SLPP has more internal problems than the APC but as SLPP top gun JJ Blood said recently, they prefer to solve their problems in-house rather than go to court. We think that is the path political parties in Sierra Leone should take due to their limited financial and human resources.
However, Ernest Koroma and his team have to still convince the majority of Sierra Leoneans that they are ready to break with the past and most importantly do things differently from the much-criticised Kabbah SLPP administration.One way they can do this is to pay attention to the media.The party organ, WE YONE, should be revived to vigorously put across the party’s vision for post-2007 Sierra Leone.The SLPP has directly and indirectly invested in a huge way in the media.Most of the newspapers in the country are pro-SLPP with the managements of some of them with close ties to the ruling party.It’s the same with the private radio and television stations.The national broadcaster, the SLBS usually broadcasts government propaganda with little or no coverage of the opposition parties.The APC has to do somthing about all this.
However, not all is well in this party.Some APC parliamentarians are said to be collecting contracts from government agencies, spending their time as private contractors like their SLPP colleagues leading to conflict of interest and limited productivity and absenteeism in parliament.Ernest Koroma has to look into this and instill discipline in his team in parliament and elsewhere.
Finally we would like to state that there is no winner or loser in the outcome of the court case between Ernest Koroma and the others.The APC and indeed the people of Sierra Leone do not need politcal litigants. They need peace and progress. They need a better life.That’s the bottom line.