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These bye-elections …were they really necessary?

These bye-elections …were they really necessary?

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate both the SLPP and the APC for winning back the seats they previously held. (Photo:  Cillaty Daboh, author)

Reports are that Sahr Fatorma of the SLPP won the Kailahun constituency 4 bye-elections held on May 28th.  The seat was held by the SLPP whose member was elevated to a deputy minister position in the current ruling government.  The story is the same for the Western area constituency 97 where Ibrahim Sankoh of the APC won the elections.

These results are only surprising to those SLPP and APC operatives who have made a living of deceiving people.  The results however showed some interesting barometer which both parties can use to measure whether Sierra Leoneans would want to stay with the APC’s “no sacred cow” or go for the SLPP’s “sharp 12, 2012, we go wap”.

According to a Mr. Suma on the Sierra Leone discussion Forum, the APC lost the elections, but gained a 10% advantage point with 1244 votes in the Kailahun 04 constituency where the SLPP won with 1906 votes, a strong hold of the SLPP. Even though the SLPP won, they scored a 23% deficit in that constituency from the previous election.

In The Western area constituency 97, an APC strong hold which APC won with 1860 votes, compared to the SLPPs 920. That gives a 24% surge to the APC while the SLPP suffered a 7% deficit in that constituency. I have not been paid to analyze these results by any party, so I’ll leave it to their spin doctors to interpret them to our gullible electorate. But to me it shows that the more things change in our country, the more they remain the same. Well, poor PMDC cannot even be counted.

With these results, I am wondering why the political operatives did not spear our meager resources, instead went ahead to spend it on elections; the results of which they already knew before going into it. Some will say it is Democracy which calls for a representative government. But I have always wondered if our government is representative. Who has the power in deciding who should be a candidate?  Definitely not the people, but the political parties big Whigs.

In a Democracy the people’s representative should be just that. Elected by the people and representing the people and their interests. In other words the people have the power to hire and fire the people they chose to elect. That is not the case with our representatives.

Our constitution gives enormous powers to political parties over the people’s representatives than the people that hired them. It is case of “A gee you de cow mi hold de rope”

Section VI of our constitution binds parliamentarians to be loyal not to the people they represent or the country but the party they represent in parliament.

According to this clause, a member of parliament can lose his/her seat in parliament if he/she “Ceases to be a member of a political party of which he was a member at the time of election…”

It does not matter if the party under which he/she was elected no longer represents the interest of the people who voted for them. Parliamentarians are supposed to vote their conscience and not the will of the party they represent.

But our constitution even made our parliamentarians robots controlled only by the political parties they represent in parliament. The same Section even provided for a remote control of our parliamentarians by the political big Whigs.  “… if by his/ [her] conduct in parliament, by sitting and voting with members of a different party….” such member will lose his/her seat in parliament.

Is this how we interpret Democracy? Democracy is not partisan, it is about openness, and those leading it should have an open mind about everything and anything. The country not party should always come first. What this clause is saying is that no matter how good a Bill is for the country, if some party big Whigs believe that the Bill does address their personal interests they can force the law maker to vote against it or be fired.

Now we know why the majority of our parliamentarians only visit their constituencies during election times. After all they don’t owe the electorate that elected them anything and they hardly have the power to fire them.

With all these powers giving to the political parties, I would ask why not just allow the party that was representing the constituency to just present a candidate to the speaker as their next MP as long as the vacancy occurred during the life of that parliament.  We all knew there was no way the APC was going to win in Kailahun just as the SLPP was not going to win in the Western area. Why did we have to put our people through the trouble of going through another wave of electoral violence that always mars elections in Africa?

Some will argue that Democracy dictates that there is an election. But Democracy cannot strive in chaos. It can only survive when practiced with common sense. People don’t eat Democracy and they are hungry.

I’ll suggest that when a seat becomes vacant in parliament or the local councils where the member has served for more than half of the life of his/her term, such seat should be occupied by a nominee of the party that held that seat before.  For goodness sake, our next scheduled elections are just around the corner. By the time Sankoh and Fatorma learn their way around parliament building, it will be time for elections. Was that money well spent when the people of those constituencies would have used it to improve their schools or other social services? I see the recent bye-elections as a waste of money in a deprived economy like ours.

By Cillaty Daboh, Atlanta GA USA

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  • I would like to know where the writer found the election results of 2007 to which comparisms were made with the just concluded bye-elections. To my knowledge and understanding, Christiana Thorpe took down NEC website immidiately following the 2007 general elections – hence the loss of all records from polling stations across the country.

    3rd June 2011

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