Sierra Leone Political Updates: The Third term Argument and Some Replies
|William Juana Smith|
Ever the consummate Sierra Leone politician, I won't be surprised if President Koroma gives the Sierra Leone People Party's (SLPP) embattled parliamentary minority leader Dr. Bernadette Lahai the job, as pressure from her SLPP colleagues to relinquish her party leadership position has been driving her into the courts and deeper into the embrace of the welcoming arms of the APC. That will mean a by-election in her constituency and another fight by the APC to gain another seat in the SLPP dominated Eastern Region. The current APC Parliamentary leader was nominated by no other than Bernadette Lahai herself.
EBK may decide to give the position to an individual from Kono, the home of his wife and Vice President, continuing his tradition of working mainly with people he is close to. He may appoint another Kono adversary of his beleaguered Vice President Sam Sumana, a man who fell out of his favor a year or so ago.
There are also all the Eastern region APC parliamentary candidates, many of who lost to SLPP candidates, with the region being the bastion of the country's oldest indigenous party. President Koroma has many names to choose from and knowing the President as we do, he will take his time, make them wait, make them sweat.
Then there is former US Ambassador John Leigh, a man mortally wounded by his loss of SLPP flagbearer position and whose mother hailed from Komende Station in the Eastern Region, even though he parades as a blue blood Freetown bred Westerner. This position given to John Leigh would be a major platform for the retired old man to continue his endless rants against his former party and its members. How they used juju to cause him to lose the party leadership.
President Koroma may even shake up the area and appoint Sylvia Blyden his Special Executive Assistant as resident minister, a woman whose disdain for people from the area she wears on her sleeve like a badge of honor. This would remove her corrupting presence from State House and return some calmness to the Presidency after a year of high drama. Why not transfer some drama to Kenema?
As of now Robin Farley,a man who just a year ago was exercising his parliamentary responsibilities from a Kenema jail, accused of electoral malpractices, is now the prime contender. Robin's public down crying of his former SLPP allies, his incessant praise of his new benefactor EBK, and his leading of the charge for the people of Sierra Leone to defecate on the country's constitution and give the President another term will put him in strong position, if EBK's past behavior is used as a political barometer.
In typical fashion, EBK will likely take his time while kept sweating, testing the limit of their loyalty. Already the nightly visits to the "World's Best" would have doubled, and the usual " the Pa don sleep." would have tripled.
So Mr. Farley would now redouble his call for a third term, giving reasons why in Sierra Leone today, there is none more intelligent, more capable, more visionary, than the Lord's appointed himself, EBK. Already there are rumors of thousands of t-shirts being printed, to distribute to the poor gullible illiterate masses to wear stating they want a "Third Term" for the Pa. In a country where 60% of the people think the word constitution is part of the national anthem or a history book, the advocates of 1970s "One Man" politics will have a field day.
So, what are the arguments of these people who are advocating for a third term?
The first argument is that Ernest Koroma is doing a lot of things and he needs to complete them. The simple answer to that argument is that the President has a cabinet. If they are not just going to cabinet meetings to listen to what he has to tell them, I believe they discuss plans as a government. So, any intelligent member of the cabinet should be able to continue just where the President stopped. Except in the situation where the President deliberately appointed a cabinet of incapable men, he should have no worry about continuity.
The Second argument is that the time is too short for all the things the President wants to do. This is really the most ridiculous argument. President Koroma knew when he took up office that the most he could serve was ten years. If he can't do what he wants to do in ten years, then his time management skills are poor. Ten years is not ten days, it is ten years! If you need more than ten years to do anything, then you are likely incompetent and even five more years would not help. If development was measured by the number of years leaders are in power, then Africa would be the most developed continent on the face of the earth. America has a new President after every 8 years, is Zimbabwe more developed than America?
Botswana which has consistently been the most well run country in Sub-Saharan Africa is also the only such country that has the longest tradition of true democracy in the region. Their economic management has been exemplary byregional standards. They have a two-term presidency.
The third argument is that President Koroma is doing such a good job that it will be hard to find a replacement. My answer is that the President is doing such a great job at propaganda. However paying journalists thousands to write about you is not leadership, it is deception. In spite of all what people were saying about a President Kabbah when he was alive, most people agreed when he passed away that he was a competent leader. Most of President Koroma's main accomplishments were already in place and financed when he took office, and only those who do not read would think otherwise. President Kabbah would have stayed to consolidate war gains, to finish Bumbuna, to complete the roads he had sought funding for and to reform the military and the police. However, he was a democrat, a diplomat and a gentleman. Though he may still have had many things to do and could have used the excuse of AFRC interruption to continue to stay in power, he followed constitutional mandates and handed over to the same President Koroma who now has so many things to do that he does not want to give up power.
Ernest Koroma wants to behave like the boxer who does not know when to quit. I just hope that all this talk of a third term is just mere fantasy. We were all in Sierra Leone when the same acts by Siaka Stevens and Momoh saw the country slide into ten years of bitter civil war. Why anybody would again want us to go down this road is simply beyond me. For those ministers who want to be ministers for life, you can still support another person and if they win, they can still make you a minister.
There are many APC supporters who may think that the Sierra Leoneans crying against a third term are against APC are against, their party. That is farthest from the truth. APC has all the right to field another candidate. They can even field President Koroma's wife, but trying to keep EBK on the stage even when the music is over is not good for Sierra Leone, a fragile country with high youth unemployment and many people feeling alienated. One wonders why it is always APC that brings about these problems. The last party did not even discuss such an idea even when they had such a respected leader. Is APC a party that loves Sierra Leone? One wonders.