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Of party politics and issues at large

Of party politics and issues at large

Yesterday, I attempted to look at the current Vice President, Sam Sumana, his role in the growth of the APC, and seeming plans to sideline him in the APC’s political dispensation. I stated that it would be wrong for the APC to treat Sam Sumana, just the way the SLPP did to Joe Demby. I did say in that article that as a grateful party, the APC should continue to embrace Sam Sumana for better and for worse.

I shall continue to discuss the Sam Sumana effect on the geopolitical arrangement, especially from the perspective of the ruling APC, thus pointing out the important role Sam Sumana may have in the growth or decline of the ruling party.  But in doing that, I shall now bring you portions of an article I wrote , exclusively some months back for a local tabloid, on party politics and deflection, and see whether our politicians, especially those now trying to put Sam Sumana in the corner could learn any lesson from it.

Politics has to do with popularity and performance, even if Ernest Koroma is popular, if he fails to perform he will not enjoy long political career. But in realty, he is actually performing; you just need to read about the completion of Bumbuna to learn more about his performance since he came to power. Ernest Koroma has himself tested his popularity on several occasions along the streets of Freetown and practically and I hold the view that he still enjoys some level of popularity, especially within the grass root.

Generally, it is truism that the opposition SLPP is an elitist and ‘bookman’ party, unlike the ruling APC, a party believed to be for the ‘ordinary man’, for the ‘Abacha Streets’ babies, and for the ‘omolanky boys’ at Guard Street.  Granted that this is so; one can argue that, the impact that a grass root party has when it comes to securing the votes of people during election time far outstretches the impact of an elitist party.

Often and again have I maintained that the political vote cast of the ordinary ‘raryman’ in the streets of Freetown is equally as important and of great value as that of the educated class, found in one small corner in his/her office, pressing the keyboard, writing opinions on how to win election.  This is the difference between the ruling APC (a grass root party) and the opposition SLPP (an elitist party)

Take for instance moments of political rallies in town; it is but difficult for the ‘educated man’ to come out under rain and sun to sing and dance for his party,; but politics is all about crowd, it is all about being able to convince the electorate, being able to take people to the voting centers to vote in your favor. One can as well understand the fact that most, if not all of our traditional parties greatly depend on what I would refer to as ‘traditional votes’; the south-easterner going for the SLPP and those in the west-north going for the APC. But this may also have an adverse effect on the body politics of the country.

It is a common practice in Sierra Leone’s politics today that those in the north and in the western area would prefer casting their political votes for the ruling All Peoples Congress party. Likewise, those in the south-east would prefer going SLPP, but that the formation of the PMDC which has helped to neutralize that perception once held for the south-easterner. And when this is the case, it calls for more division along regional and tribal lines.

The primary motive of politicians should be that uniting the people, irrespective of our political inclinations. Sierra Leone became a polarized state some years back. The division along tribal and regional lines served as a key factor for our eleven years of civil war. But Ernest Koroma has taken the lead in putting that divide behind us. This is clear in the way he runs the affaires of the country.  Following his election in 2007, President Ernest Bai Koroma has embarked upon several initiatives to unite the country.  This is practical in his recent visits to opposition strongholds, especially Bo, Kenema and Bonthe.

The people of Bonthe, Kenema and even Kailahun should see themselves as a party to the agenda for national development and I think this is what the President has embarked upon in recent times. I was elated that he spent few days in Mattru Jong. This place, as a matter of fact is not a political strong hold of the ruling party.  But the decision by the President to spend days in that part of the country will go a long way in bringing more political followers into his political vehicle. We heard of Hon. Harvey who is reported to be a strong member of the opposition moving over to the ruling APC the day the President visited them in Bonthe District.

The decision by Charles Francis Margai to form a political marriage with the APC in 2007 was advantageous and disadvantageous one, it is advantageous for the APC in the sense that it served as a determinant factor for the democratic ‘overthrow’ of the then ruling SLPP party. Remember that the SLPP, prior to the election had dismissed Margia and his followers and for Margia, his decision was timely.  To a certain degree, Margia and his PMDC succeeded in making their dream come true; how? – The SLPP are in the political wilderness, determining when next they would come into the political stage. Also the alliance is important for the fact that, it will help the APC to get some political longevity, depending on how they meet their promises to the people of this country.

Now, look at the disadvantageous part of it; the current governing party has also succeeded in destroying the political base of the PMDC. You may want to know how the decision by President Koroma to appoint key PMDC members into strategic government positions is in itself disastrous for the PMDC.  Sierra Leoneans should not be taken aback when few months to the 2012 elections, they start seeing key PMDC supporters crossing over to the ruling party. This is African politics.

The decision of key SLPP members to cross over to the ruling APC is a sign of more things to come. Mark my words! Though some of them, like Fatmata Hassan, SB Saccoh and others may not appear to have any strong political base, there is an effect they may cause for the opposition party. In the first place they may succeed to divert the attention of their once beloved party, since their defection was unexpected.  Fatmata Hassan’s decision to crossover to the APC is, in my opinion long overdue. She may be looking for political protection. In politics, you should be able to bring more into the fold of your entity. This is what Ernest Koroma is doing, though this trend may change if, the APC were to be in opposition tomorrow.

The 2012 elections are far off but the race has almost commenced. Only recently, the APC were defeated in Bo, in a local council bye election. Sign of more things to come?  I SHALL ANALYSE THOSE ELECTIONS FROM A HONEST BUT CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE SOONEST. And the strategists in all the leading parties must be searching for ideas on how to catapult to the hottest seat at State House; Mohamed Bangura of the PMDC must be putting strategies in place, just like Benjamin  of the SLPP and Victor Foe of the APC.

But is there the possibility of removing Ernest from office come 2012? I doubt it; given the fact that this he is slightly above 55% in terms of performance and may be the ordinary Sierra Leonean will want to give him another chance, as we did to Kabbah.  But that will depend on the fact that, the average Konoman does not feel left out of the political play. Let Sam Sumana be encouraged, don’t discourage him.

I thank you must humbly and happy weekend.

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