SLPP Politics As I See It

21 August 2013 at 20:56 | 6054 views

By Abu Bakarr Biggie Kamara, Winnipeg, Canada.

The SLPP, the once mighty Party Machine, which dominated the political landscape of Sierra Leone, before and after the acquiring of political independence for the country, is now, it seems, fighting for its very survival as a political institution in the country.

However, it is too soon for any one to start writing the obituary of this Party, the party of the founder of modern Sierra Leone, Sir Milton Margai and yes, Siaka Stevens, founder of the APC, was also a leader of that party at a time when the party had a stranglehold on the so-called protectorate votes. What has gone wrong is the question in the minds of not only the members of the party, but also in the minds of its political opposition.

These days, it appears, nothing seems to be working for the Party. At least in the short term the party’s leadership is in disarray as they fail to agree on any particular course of action. The party has lost two general elections in a row, and this might be taking a toll on them but nobody is prepared to admit it.

They had a problem to hold the latest leadership convention without the intervention of Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic. Arguably, it is a very productive thing for the President on occasions to confer with the leader of the opposition on certain legislative matters for his opinion. But definitely this particular meeting was not called by the president to solicit advice or an opinion regarding any legislative matter. It only showed how far the party’s leadership has lost touch with the needs of its members for a strong and responsive political organization, ready to govern the country at the first opportunity.

ON these and other counts, the once mighty Party, is definitely struggling to do things right these days. Their acclaimed lawyers, with nationwide recognition have failed many times to help the Party. They are to say the least, a bunch of incompetent members of the Bar. Many may not have bothered to read the constitution. Otherwise what explanation do these learned scholars have for failing to correctly petition the Courts to overturn the results of the last General Elections? Other behavior (the SLPP lawyers) have also shown that they are not good with dates when it comes to filing petitions with the Courts. Perhaps it is time for the SLPP leaders to start looking for good lawyers.

Undoubtedly the APC Party and government will naturally attempt to put road blocks, to make it difficult for the SLPP to carry out and to implement its programs, if any. But the APC should not be blamed for the current manufactured problems of the SLPP. The Party’s myriad of problems, arguably are self inflicted if they care to admit. Some of the elected parliamentarians are also part of the problem. Some are prepared to jump ship at the first opportunity if Ernest Koroma dangles a carrot in front of them. Being a member of the opposition in any political environment is not always an easy proposition. This situation partly explains the problem of indiscipline commonly seen among the members of the opposition party who are looking for opportunities to bolt to the other side. On the other hand, indiscipline is less of a head ache for members of the governing party; as the President can reward his backbenchers for good behavior.

A recent case study is Boie Kamara who bolted from the SLPP after losing his leadership contest and was immediately appointed a Minister by President Koroma.

Only the SLPP can save itself from the malaise it has created for itself. The time for soul searching is now. The party has to create a new forwarding strategy or a workable road map. In other words the Party has to recreate itself and to work hard to convince the Country why they should trust them with the reins of government the next time around. That argument has not been made yet; simply because many of the leaders, as I see it, are opportunists who would want to use the party affiliation for their petty goals and dubious ambitions.

The infighting evident in the party is not motivated by serious debates about the future of the Party. It is not a fight for the soul of the party either. It is a fight by a group of yesterday men who know very little about the challenges of organizing, managing and leading a Political Machine in a very complex world. If they knew these challenges in a complex political world, they would have spared their embarrassment by not involving The President in their petty squabbles. AS I see it, it is time for the party bosses to start to involve the people in a very meaningful way.