Hon. Musa Tamba: “What Maada achieved in three months Ernest cannot in 50 years”
The Publicity Secretary of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) Hon. Musa Tamba Sam (in photo) has said in Freetown that their candidate, Julius Maada Bio is worth far more than President Koroma in terms of leadership qualities. He said when Maada Bio was Minister of Information, he provided the state a television station and he became head of state in three months’ time and handed a transition that allowed a multi party system that gave birth to the conduction of the country’s first ever multi party democratic elections in 1996 and handed over power peacefully.
SEM: What is your take on the government’s white paper with regards to the Shears Moses report on political violence – a report which names Musa Tarawally, the Minister of Internal Affairs, and some police officers in the names of Leather Boot, Yete Yete and others?
MTS: Well I will first of all say I am quite happy that the white paper report is finally out. We have been advocating for this and the government has been dragging its feet, but now that they have seen the reason to release the report we are happy about it. Now having said that I want to take a look at the recommendations of the report and what the white paper tells us about the recommendations.
In looking at it I will only say we can categorise the recommendation into two big categories. Firstly we have recommendations that are preventive measures, what I mean is that we have recommendations that will help us if we apply them to prevent political violence in this country. Secondly, we have recommendations that are punitive measures. They are the recommendations for people who have perpetrated violence, who have been found guilty by the commission for perpetrating violence and they recommended punishment for them.
Now let’s look at what really happened in terms of the white paper release. I will start with the first group, the preventive measures, I think the white paper dealt sufficiently with the preventive measures or at least those actions that call on the satisfaction of citizens in a country; like the Shears Moses report which recommended that the PPRC should be given more powers and the white paper agreed with this and made the comments that measures will be taken to ensure that PPRC has a wider range of powers even up to prosecutorial powers. That is indeed very good and the other preventive measure the report talked about the rule of stakeholders such as MP’s, Paramount Chiefs, the media, civil society organizations in trying to prevent violence and the white paper also takes this in its stride.
For all those things I think I am pleased. But looking at the second part of it, the punitive measures, the white paper recommended two police officers; one male and a minister that should be sacked or dismissed from whatever offices they are holding, and went further to say that the mayor and the minster of internal affairs Musa Tarawally should be banned from holding public positions for five years. What the white paper brings out with regard to this recommendation I can simply describe as being very funny. Above all this they are saying that in the case of the two police officers the matter should be sent to the disciplinary board. In the case of the mayor, the government is telling us that the mayor is having an elective position and therefore they have no means by which to remove him – this is absolutely ridiculous, it’s like saying the mayor is above the law just because people elected him. If they already quote that the mayor is above the law, what happens when it becomes in the case of the president, if the president is to be impeached.
It is ridiculous and further more to Musa Tarawally, it is actually the funniest part of it all.
What the white paper tells us is that it is no threat and appropriate actions will be taken in due course. What is that supposed to mean? It is pure rubbish, because this is a commission of enquiry that was secreted by the institution starting with instrument No. 8-2009, set on this commission. And when you go to our constitution, it’s says that a public commission of inquiry has the powers of the high court and in effect it is the high court. So whatever decisions are taken by the public commission of enquiry like that one are in any case could be compared to the verdict of the high court.
What the government should have done is either accept or reject, but in this case has accepted the recommendations of the commission of enquiry. What the government needs to do is to implement and should not try to dilute.
The constitution is very clear, whenever a recommendation comes from a public enquiry; be it a fine or imprisonment or a ceasure of property or loss of status, the constitution grants full powers for the implementation of those recommendations.
The only thing the constitution says it is for the individual to take the right to appeal to the court of appeal but what we see happening in this case is the government taking an appeal on behalf of those who have been named by the commission.
For instance the government is telling us that the two police men, their matter would be sent to the disciplinary court. That is not what the report recommended, the report recommended their dismissal. What is this police disciplinary committee going to do? To overthrow the decision of the public commission of inquiry is that what they are expecting? Do they want to tell us that the police disciplinary committee is superior to that of the public commission of inquiry? It is wrong and outrageous. And also for the mayor, it’s quite clear, it’s a loss of status and they are telling us that they cannot do anything with the mayor because he was elected by the people.
You see the two faced politics the APC government is playing at, when a similar commission recommended that people like Hon. Foday Rado Yokie and counsellor Gayama should be tried or appear in court, the APC didn’t say they are elected representatives of the people, they took action, arrested them and in fact arrested some of them in the most disgraceful manner.
Well, now it is the turn of the protected sons of the APC, they are coming up with all sorts of excuses and that is wrong.
His Excellency the president has told us in many speeches that he has no sacred cows, why is he presenting sacred buffalos to us now? He should implement the commission’s report as it is written.
I am asking the president to implement the recommendations of the commission’s report to the letter.
This indictment comes at a time when President Koroma has just invited the ICC to direct its radar on Sierra Leone with presuppositions that your party, the SLPP is prone to violence, coupled with the fact that you have Julius Maada Bio as your flag man, who himself was a member of the NPRC that took over power in 1992 in a coup d’état. Now that the Shears Moses report has been released in this fashion, naming people within their circle what do you think – a shot in-between the legs?
When we are talking about the Shears Moses commission report and we make reference to the NPRC coup, I fail to see the parallel between them, the instances are not the same, the circumstances are not the same and in fact I believe the NPRC coup and whatever role our Rtd. Brig. Maada Bio might have played in that time has been dealt with.
There is a TRC report we should be referring to when we want to talk about the NPRC coup. But when we consider this political violence, then we must refer to the Shears Moses report. I don’t want people to start to draw parallel where there isn’t one.
The president I am very pleased, has called for the ICC, and I am appealing to him to ensure that the ICC is in Sierra Leone 90 days before the elections. Because already the APC is arming the OSD as if they are another military force, the police are responsible for internal security and there are those weapons which can be used in the case of internal security such as tear gas, water cannon, shields etc., if you are arming the police, these are the sorts of equipment we are expecting to see. But when you start to give the police machine guns, grenades then I wonder. But it is clear that they might be planning an attack against the southeast. But I want to warn them, I am using this media to tell them not to even think about it, because nobody in this country is ready to condone violence again.
And coming to the Shears Moses report and this white paper, the moment the ICC lands in this country, this is the very first document they are going to get. We are going to present this to the ICC. Whoever is perpetrating violence like those named in the report will be dealt with.
If the APC government does not deal with them, we will when we come back in to power. And whoever is protecting the perpetrators of violence will also be dealt with. Because he will be consider on what the special court said bearing the greatest responsibility because these are things that have people to protect them, there are people who have the power to take some actions and comb out political violence in this country, these people are reneging in their duties and these people I am sure will one day answer to the people of Sierra Leone.
We recently saw the deputy spokesperson of the government, Sylvester Swarray hosting a conference where seven young men revealed that they have been violence stooges for your party, what image does this create – keeping terms with your hard earned credibility?
Well I don’t want to talk about our credibility as a party, it is untouched. I want to talk about the credibility of the person that hosted the conference that is what we need to discuss. Look at the white paper that has been released from the government and compare it with the conference that was held, they do not speak the same language. He brought people who came to accept that they have misinformed the nation, but that is not what the government’s white paper is telling us as far as Shears Moses is concern.
What I believe should be happening here is the very Swarray and his henchmen should be arrested, should be taken to court. If these people have accepted that they lied to the public commission of enquiry then at least they should be charged for perjury.
Then why have the police not charged them as we speak?
Because the police in this country under I.G Munu is no longer credible. The Sierra Leone police force is not credible; I believe this is not the only question you should be asking. Why did the police not arrest the police man that shot the okada boy in Bo? Why have the police still not invited Nuru Deen, Hon. Tunde Lywally who had beaten the counsellor Mohamed Kanu Mansaray with stick why have they done that? There are so many questions you have to ask the police, not only this. This is very small compared to the baggage of bad policing we have in this country under I.G Munu.
We are moving on to the November polls with Maada Bio as your flagman, there are a lot of indictments or snide remarks made on his character as being a man with excess baggage by the ruling APC. What will you say to the reading public about the candidacy of Maada Bio?
The candidacy of Maada Bio as far as Sierra Leoneans are concerned is widely acclaimed, it has been demonstrated in so many ways, we see video clips of the places he has visited, the mosques, the churches and the towns and villages, we see the crowd swarming around him. He has a charisma that is attracting hundreds of people. Recently the deputy women’s leader for Kabala, Koinadugu District of the APC came with 200 women who declared for the SLPP. You see the APC is very keen on painting Maada Bio black but they have failed. These people told us when were going for convention that the moment we elected Maada Bio, they will go to sleep but since the election of Maada Bio they have not gone to bed. I wonder if they have even reached their houses. They are worried, tormented, disturbed, traumatised and that is why they have talked about Maada Bio’s excess baggage since day one. They said that to influence our vote against Maada Bio, and they also wrote a fake request about inquest or whatever is it, we have heard all those things. They have imposed very negative songs but it is simply not selling, because they are simply not saying the truth. Maada Bio at the time of the death of James Bambay was then minister of information. Strasser has accepted responsibility. The TRC has named sergeant Musa, so I wondering why they are still referring to Maada Bio.
Dr. Sam Sesay was a minister during the NPRC regime; does he have any excess baggage?
You have all of them present in the ruling APC government, why do they not go to them for their excess baggage? They are panicking. Let them do whatever they want, but I know come the November elections, they are getting out of power through the ballot box.
We can notice a cat and mouse race in this issue, because you the opposition party are claiming that the APC has a history of violence and the APC too does not want to go by that description, I wonder where this description fits between the two parties?
This is very simple if you go to the history of this country. We can classify two different periods in our political history; there is a multiparty period wherein you have APC, SLPP and the others and there was violence and we also have the single party period wherein it was only APC, and there was also violence.
So you have to know that the surname of the APC party is violence.
Go back to the elections under Siaka Stevens during the one party days, the Sembo Fonah’s and others, the Sander story, all these were violence that can be linked back to the APC.
But when you come to the era in which the SLPP has ruled this country, go to the brief period just after our independence, there was no violence. Even up to Tejan Kabba, for 11 years he ruled and where is the violence you can point at? The only violence we can talk about is the one perpetrated by the now Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma when he went to Segbwema and opened firing on innocent people.
For 11 years we had a peaceful country, even when the country is at war, we had less violence than now that we are not. So if the APC can explain everything then let them explain to us why when they are in power all the elections they conducted were based on violence.
Alright Honourable, now away from the violence discussion, we recently saw mass defections of members from your party to other political parties more so the APC, and another incident happened where 27 members of the UDM came to have membership at your party. What will you say about such development?
Actually, I also wanted you to add the defection of the APC women in Kabala to the SLPP. We should not downplay it because it is coming from the APC to the SLPP.
Here is the APC, when a single person whose numerical value is one in terms of vote crosses over, would organise a pappy show out of it. Recently we had John Leigh a man who cannot campaign for himself, he contested the flag bearership and what was his vote? And it is neither the first time, he attempted it again in 2007 and he didn’t even get a single vote. This is the type of person that would declare for APC and they will celebrate as if it was Ramadan for the APC.
We are talking about more than 200 women for the first time in living memory for people to cross from the ruling party to the opposition party. It has always been the reverse. We are having defections and let me tell you since the APC came to power; there have been ceremonies of people leaving the SLPP to the APC. They had one in Port Loko. When JB Dauda became foreign minister, they had a big one in Kenema, I was there.
200 groups and not people but groups who defected from the SLPP to the APC, that was what they said and do you know what, after I did my calculations all the people that defected from the SLPP to the APC are more than the population of Sierra Leone. So I wonder where they have removed these additional people? If all these defections are true then to be honest we won’t need an election anymore.
I will tell you one thing for sure, NEC is not going to count defections, NEC is going to count votes. In the midst of these defections, votes have been counted. We did the bye-election in Forahbay that was just after Fadikka defected and what were the results, the SLPP won. Hon. Bobor Sawyer also defected from the SLPP and joined the APC. He anointed somebody to succeed him within the bye-elections and again what were the results, the SLPP won of course.
I will continue to advise the APC, let them take the defections and we will take the votes.
Now what will you say in the face of harsh economic realities in the country because we’re currently seeing or noticing a hike of prices and lack of control of pricing mechanisms and the people have been complaining, the SLPP is gearing towards reclaiming power, what message do you have with regards such development in the country?
I will start by telling you that the APC were not prepared to come to power, they happen to find themselves there, and they definitely don’t know what to do.
They came to power as a result of an off-side goal that was ruled in their favour. So they found themselves at a square bed in a round room. They don’t know anything about the economy. Since they took power, Sierra Leone hasn’t had any meaningful economy, especially in the direction of expenditure.
The money that is being poured in this country is being grossly mismanaged with impunity. Every two or three days they will bring one APC functionary that this is for Anti Corruption to blindfold us that they are fighting corruption. In the case of Afsatu Kabba, they found her guilty and it was the APC that contributed to the fine she had to pay, so you can see that the government is giving justice with one hand and then taking it away with another.
Now you tell me of all those who have been convicted, which one of them do you know that is in prison this very moment? Nobody. The APC has always been there to pay the fine. In the case of Sheiku Tejan Koroma, it was the APC that paid for him and even to Allieu Kamara and others. And worst of all, they made the ACC a special court of its own when it came to the Nassit ferry dispute.
The APC has functionaries who will walk around with money bags, throwing money out of their car windows, distributing it and what budget line are they using for that expenditure? So I feel right to say that the country is being mismanaged.
I was talking with one of the APC’s functionaries yesterday at a radio station, and he said Sierra Leone’s GDP has increased and that is why we do not have money in our banks, I wonder really where that gentleman studied his economics? But with GDP, if we are producing more then we should be earning more. It as simple as it is. Someone made a joke that we no longer see those huge metal boxes for sale anymore because the APC members have bought them all to keep the money they are depriving the country from!
Now finally Honourable Musa Tamba Sam how would you compare the candidacy of Maada Bio to Ernest Bai Koroma, the incumbent for the November polls?
Well I will have to compare them because they are candidates. His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma is a total failure. He has never delivered on his promises. The good thing about it is that Julius Maada Bio has a record of ruling this country for 3 months and just within those 3 months, what he did, Ernest Bai Koroma can never do, even if you give him 50 years. When the flag bearer took power from Strasser he said he was going to bring democracy back into this country. And we saw it, in 3 months he did it. He did not allow a single day to be added to the 3 months. He allowed anybody to form their own political party or join any political party; he conducted the election, declared the winner and peacefully handed over power. And for you people in the media, you will be interested to know that it was Maada Bio who brought television into Sierra Leone when he was then minister of information.
Every office Julius Maada Bio has held he has done something spectacular. As information minister he gave us television, as head of state he gave us peace and democracy. So what do we lack in all this? I believe its development and am not saying the kind of development the so called His Excellency is boasting of. No, we actually mean sustainable development. It is the type of development that can impact positively on the lives of the people.
Now they claim that the country is developing but when you go to the banks there’s no money. The people are dying of hunger; they cannot even afford a square meal a day. The education section is full of strikes if you go to the colleges, as I speak N’jala is on strike. Teachers are not being approved, the minister is too busy chasing ghosts and honestly he should have just placed his office at the cemetery rather than in a building. The teachers are suffering, he really does not care about the living teachers he should be looking out for, and he is scaring for ghosts.
You go to the free health care and it’s full of thieves. DFID that is founding the health care had to ask UNICEF to refund some of their money. DFID is operating through UNICEF because it is not comfortable enough to hand over the funds to the ministry and therefore it has to go through UNICEF who in turn purchases the drugs and hands it over to the ministry.
We have also heard about the purchase of 300 hundred tractors for agriculture, but we have not seen 300 bushels of rice since then.
Sierra Leone does not need cosmetic development, such as constructing four lanes at Wilkinson Road and giving us sixteen lanes of hardship. But I am telling you about a president who is ready to bring meaningful and sustainable development in this country.
I am not the one saying this, am only referring to Maada Bio, he has said it that it is time for a new direction. He has talked about it and that is what he is bringing. His package is already ready; the new direction.
To conclude I will say whoever wants to suffer for the next five years will follow the APC, but for those of us that want to see the light, we shall all vote SLPP.
Thanks Honourable Musa Tamba Sam
Yes, thank you very much to you too.
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