By Septimus A.M. Saffa
Good democracy is not only about ensuring periodic elections are held but equally to ensure elected leaders ranging from the president, members of parliament, mayors/district chairpersons to that of local councillors, once elected, remain accountable to the electorate. It is in light with this element of democracy and good governance even first class democracies including USA, Britain and Nigeria have continuously go into parliamentary elections on constituency-basis instead of this SLPP’s much-touted proportional representation!
Over a month now, Eagle’s Eye has been privy to discussions following the launch of the President Julius Maada Bio’s “report on the review of the 2017 government white paper on the constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991 (Act No.6 of 1991) December 2021.” What has been the thrust of propagandists of SLPP government is to ensure that come 2023, parliamentary elections are conducted on the basis of proportional representation. What they have failed to point out to citizens is that PR system or district block system was ushered into the 1991 constitution during the period Sierra Leone was largely unstable with good number of hamlets, villages, towns and even number of districts hostile to lives. In short, they were no-go areas, making it impossible for the tried and tested constituency-type parliamentary-elections to be held in 1996 and 2002.
Hear another argument of SLPP’s as per their so-called white paper that “members of parliament shall be elected in accordance with the system of proportional representation, the threshold for which shall be 30% of the popular vote, Government accepts this recommendation of having members of parliament to be elected in accordance with the system of proportional representation as bye-elections have been held at a great cost to the economy, peace and security of the nation.” Eagle’s Eye considers the above as highly disingenuous and also as a pointer of President Bio and SLPP’s brazen determination to ‘win’ 2023 parliamentary elections by default. What can give beef to this postulation are sections of Bio’s address which goes: “ on that note, government shall take practical steps immediately to implement the non-entrenched ones immediately and further commits to implement those that touch on entrenched provisions as soon as practicable.” And, coupled with the fact that, the ex-president Kabbah SLPP-led government in 2002 amended the 1991 constitution to pave way for the holding of parliamentary elections on district block or proportional representation may have given false sense of assurance to the now Bio SLPP-government.
What a distortion of the fact!
There is a caveat which makes it clear that constituency-type parliamentary election is still a valid alternative in the 1991 operative constitution. Eagle’s Eye as well as well-meaning citizens is pleased over the fact that, in 2007, 2012 and even 2018, it was constituency-type elections that were conducted. Why this fixation by SLPP to change the rule mid-way in the game! Could it be because SLPP has consistently lost majority of constituency-type elections due to their unsellable and unproductive candidates, that is why they are out for a short-cut to claim undue victory in 2023? Is SLPP pretending to be oblivious of strengthening of good democracy, accountability and responsiveness fostered by constituency-type parliamentary elections? This displays of the Trojan horse tactics to by-pass the wishes and aspirations of citizens and win an underserved victory will not be tolerated. Citizens are determined to resist and reject peacefully all, repeat all dubious and nebulous designs and caprices of the President Julius Maada Bio SLPP-led government.
Eagle’s Eye may also want to suspect that Bio’s endeavor to conduct 2023 parliamentary elections on proportional representation-a most detested, unrealistic and unaccountable system could have emanated his reading of the writings on the wall. The hallmarks of failures, retrogression and decay that have enveloped Bio’s four year regime are just too cinematic. Thus, as William Shakespeare (one of the greatest playwrights of all times) writes in the classic play: Julius Ceasar–“Coming events cast their shadows,” premonitions of defeat across the board in 2023 elections for SLPP are tormenting Bio and caboodle. So, they are feebly fighting to navigate and circumvent dirty waters to land on safe shores. Ironically, the more they move an inch, the more citizens move thousands of miles in their determination to ensure come 2023, Bio and cohorts are voted out in place of APC. Hiring notorious political academics in the likes of Dr. Julius Spencer to write moving but slanted articles to justify the relevance of proportional representation vis-avis so-called national cohesion and integration cannot outweigh the strong arguments or rather advantages of constituency-type parliamentary elections. This system enhances and sustains effective representation, common touch and relationship between the electorates and MPs; as well as accountable governance.
Eagle’s Eye is pleased to conclude by restating with emphasis that based on the opinions, thinking and standpoint of most compatriots, the constituency-type parliamentary election should stand in place of this SLPP’s fixation on proportional representation which is against good governance!