Tribalism/Regionalism Is Bad Politics When Loyalty to Party Damages Democracy
Who will really like to face a Commission of Inquiry that’s not bound by the rules of evidence and not time bound? Am sure even those that voted for such an instrument to become law knew they were supporting the wrong thing. However, because their loyalty is to their political Party and not to our contraption, they went ahead and voted against Justice. Sincerely, patriotic national would love to support any government that’s determining to fight corruption within the ambit of the law. However, they can immediately withdraw their support from any corruption fight that’s not within the ambit of the law and specifically designed to wrongfully score political goal.
We have two very distinct choices after the approval of the Commission of Inquiry laws by our Parliament. The SLPP Bio led regime has advocated the Commission of Inquiry should go ahead with the stated opinions of the Executive Arm, and the APC in trying to prevent our justice system from being blatantly rape they’re still maintaining they aren’t against the Commission of Inquiry, but that the Commission of Inquiry should be bound by the rules of evidence, time bound and not be selective. The choices we face are: (1) to continue to consume this sight of SLPP against APC as a crude form of entertainment as opposed to our Constitution especially in criminal proceedings, or (2) to resolve to do the hard work of democracy and educate ourselves on the separation of powers and the policies and positions of our law makers when faced with a serious national decision to respect the constitution of the contraption. With Members of Parliament voting on partisan, tribal and regional lines in favour and against the Commission of Inquiry should we now start to work to elect those candidates who will base their votes, primarily on constitutional grounds and fact rather than alternative tribal, regional and partisan facts? If we ignore the former, we perpetuate the current cycle of SLPP versus APC that we find ourselves currently being governed by.
To say that our politics have been tribalised and regionalized to the point that people are loyal to their political group above all else is to state the obvious. When Members of Parliament incredulously vote in favour of a Commission of Inquiry that’s not bound by the rules of evidence, not time bound and the Government Transition Report investigations that led to the formation of the said Inquiry Commission was not objectively prepared, plus the utterances of the Chief Minister, “everyone” who was paying attention knew that the entire purpose of the Commission is not to genuinely fight corruption, but to promote witch hunting tactics and multiply divide in the contraption. Our Constitution makes no room for “trial by ambush” when criminal proceedings are not bound by rules of evidence and the proceedings are not time bound that’s a clear indication of “trial by ambush”. One thing is now very clear, the respect of the entire Commission of Inquiry to fight corruption, retrieve public funds and punish defaulters with an intention to potentially minimise corrupt actions within governance was well watered down since the very day the Inquiry Commission instrument turned law.
Political tribalism and regionalism, imposing through power irrespective of fairness, is not solely a SLPP phenomenon, the APC also did it. (Remember the All People’s Congress Members of Parliament were supporting all bills from the Executive in the previous government even when such bills never met the test of times.) What we don’t seem to know is how to stop this kind of politics based on ideologies, rather than actual debates based on facts, data, and societal need.
There was a time not that long ago (Ahmad Tejan Kabba era R.I.P) when elected officials socialised and worked “across the aisle,” agreeing to disagree on some issues while working together on others collegially, professionally, and without rancor or abuse of our constitution. What changed? Three things: the election of unpatriotic people in our social positions of trust, the advent of politicising independent institutions built by late President Ahmad Tejan Kabba and a politically uneducated, unprincipled elders ready to flout the rules of the land to make money at the expense of the contraption.
Today, only few Sierra Leoneans can disagree that all three branches of government are one. As the two (Judiciary and Legislative Arm) are always very willing to surrender their constitutional rights to the Executive Arm and betray the public to an extent nearly all of us are unable to understand the need for separation of powers in our current democracy.
While the antics of President Bio in Bo and Kenema recently make it feel virtually impossible to avoid joining one region to the other region, one tribe to the other tribe or other tribes for national good, it’s important for all nationals to resist this temptation. “Paopa” is a cult. It will dissipate once he leaves the State House. Tribal politics, on the other hand, will continue unless and until voters put a stop to it.
It seems we’ve forgotten that the ultimate power in our democracy resides with us, the voters. The 2018 election was here. We proved we have the right and power to eradicate deplorable political actions by choosing to vote against it in the last election. The question, of course, is will we repeat the same to Bio in 2023 if he sustain his odd action in dividing our contraption? Bio time is still on your side to unite the contraption and get a second term or the forces of democracy will be up against you in 2023.
By Mahmud Tim Kargbo
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