If only MPs could go and talk to their constituents
There are three arms of government, namely; the Legislature, Judiciary and Executive. The Legislature (House of Parliament) is there to enact laws; it is the law making body of government. The Judiciary (court) is the law adjudicating (judging) section of government; simply, it interprets laws enacted by the Legislature.
The Executive arm is the law administering (carrying-out) section of government. So, in a way, all the three arms of government are interrelated. That is the beauty of democracy. People elected to be part of the Legislature are called Members of Parliament. Members of Parliament have a crucial role in sustaining a country’s democracy and rule of law. Sierra Leone’s democracy is no exception to the above statement. Generally, they serve as representatives of the people.
Sierra Leone is government through a multiparty constitution, Known as the 1991 Multiparty Constitution. Part IV of this constitution deals with the responsibilities, privileges and immunities of Members of Parliament .Section 97(b) of the said law says, “All Members of Parliament shall regard themselves as representatives of the people of Sierra Leone…” Honorable Justice Abel Nathaniel Bankable Stronge is Speaker of Serra Leone’s Parliament. He has, in my view, lived up to the task. He has effectively conducted the business of Parliament within the last four-five years. In a Foreword he did for a publication of the National Democratic Institute, titled “A Directory of the Parliament of Sierra Leone 2007-2012”, he states, rightly that, “…as representatives of the Sierra Leonean people, Members of Parliament are the eyes and ears of their constituents; they debate and adopt legislation to benefit all Sierra Leoneans, and exercise oversight over the executive branch of government…” (http://www.ndi.org/files/226). This means, the people look up to their MPs for effective representation in the governance of the State.
In the area of enacting laws, having to do with the governance of the State, I will say, a lot has been achieved by this present Parliament, made up of the Sierra Leones People Party, the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change and the All Peoples Congress parties. The area of representation has had its challenges. Taking into account the relevance of the electorate, President Koroma recently told Sierra Leoneans, that this time round, they are going to choose their MPs by deciding who gets a party symbol or not.
Effective representation plays an important role in the re-election of a Member of Parliament. The people will look up to their MPs, in terms of educating them on national happenings. They bring to the knowledge of those they represent what laws are enacted and other developments as related to what they do in Parliament.
Sierra Leone is preparing for her next general presidential and Parliamentary elections, with a date slated already for such, which is November 17th, all things being equal. The National Electoral Commission and the political parties have done well in educating people on the new voter registration exercise. We know, we still can do more, in encouraging people to register so as to exercise their constitutional right in November. Registration is one of several processes leading to the election of Members of Parliament and President. Failing to register, therefore, means one will not be able to vote for his or her Member of Parliament or a Presidential candidate of his or her choice. This is why it is incumbent on all to register and part of the decision making process in the country.
Sierra Leoneans should go out and register
There is however the crucial issue of our members of parliament, also going out to talk to their people at the constituency levels to not only register, but ensure they cast their votes come November 17th. The people should be reached.
I can understand the challenges faced by our Members of Parliament in the exercise of their constitutional functions. Travelling to a place like Kailahun to convince people to register, or a place like Koindu or Kabala involves a lot. But again, these are some of the sacrifices they should continue to make, if Sierra Leone is to make progress and if our democracy is to be sustained. With the over 100 Parliamentarians, I will suggest, they continue supporting and helping NEC by: 1) engaging community radio stations in their constituencies; 2) have, if possible, village-to-village, or chiefdom-to-chiefdom public education drives and encourage people to register; 3) having court barray meetings, reaching people who could not understand Krio or English, through the local languages they could understand, among other ways. Taking into account the time constraints and perhaps, the resources involved in having chiefdom-to-chiefdom sensitizations, the use of community radio stations could be of great help now.
The new system of voter registration needs continuous sensitization. We are making progress as a country, especially in the move towards the conduct of credible elections. But where progress is bound to be achieved, challenges must also be encountered, thus, the need to get solutions to such challenges.
Speaking recently in China Victor Foe spoke of his party working towards having a majority in Parliament, For him even though his party is “ presently having a majority in Parliament with 59 seats, the target for the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections is to win not less than 75 seats so as to get an absolute majority…” (http://allafrica.com/stories/20111220118). The opposition parties are also working in the same line. But all of this is achievable when, in the first place, the electorate participate fully, by” 1) registering; 2) avoid political violence; 3) cast their vote on the day of polling. It is, therefore, with this in mind that I would want to encourage all, especially our MPs who are closer to our people, to reach their constituents and encourage them to register. President Koroma, no doubt has done well, in talking to people, devoid of political orientation, to register.
Only recently, the Hon. Minister of Information was in the south-east, on a public education drive. When our MPs from all the parties in Parliament, go to their people, talk to and with them, then I will continue to appreciate them for having done so much in five years. We all have one Sierra Leone en na we nor more go able make e fine…so make we go register.
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