20th July 2017
Sierra Leone Journalist's Letter to the Main Opposition SLPP Party!
By Jia Kangbai (19/01/17)
"Without SLPP you have nothing and without SLPP you are nothing!," blasts a staunch SLPP supporter who penned this historic letter.
Dear SLPP Stakeholders,
History has benevolently taught us that our national expectation heightens in the first few months of a new year. Hence the import of this open letter to you. It was good when initially as a party you embarked on settling your wrangling internally. (Pictured: SLPP heavyweights L-R, John Benjamin, former Scribe Tejan-Sie and Maada Bio).
The Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) is steep in history of settling its internal crisis peacefully and within it´s house. One has to go a long way in history to find a peaceful party in Africa like SLPP. But this seems to have changed recently. And with the party being the vibrant opposition party in parliament today and as one of the longest surviving political parties in Africa, SLPP must do more to solve whatever that is bugging the party down.
And as Sierra Leone heads off for another round of democratic elections shortly by this single expectation the SLPP should have released a roadmap of how the party plans to win such elections in the first place. For the forthcoming national democratic elections is expected to bring Sierra Leone to crossroads again on issues dealing with governance, human rights, corruption, national development and the frightening prevailing economic situation.
That is why for now the various SLPP stakeholders should focus on the issue of unifying itself in order to produce a formidable national party leader for their party not in the interest of the SLPP only but for Sierra Leone as a whole. This is true because as far as Sierra Leone is concerned the issue of national leadership obtained from a ruling political party is one of the most observed and intervened concepts.
But interestingly also, national leadership and grassroots governance are the least understood in this country. This provokes the question: Given grassroots supports and the results of the various sub flag-bearer elections that has so far been held within the SLPP which candidate or ´camp´ appears the most likeable choice to have emerged?
This question is prudent because judging from the previous and ongoing internal fighting within the SLPP, the wrangling compass tends to point towards the popularity and personality clout of a potential flag-bearer over the other. Honestly, one sees no reason why there should be infighting and clamouring within the SLPP at this material time when a party´s election winning strategy should simply be to rally behind the most popular candidate as indicated by the grassroots supports and the results of the various zonal, regional and other sub flag-bearer SLPP elections.
The SLPP should stop being seen to be spending its entire opposition lifespan fighting itself just for the sake of electing a party flag-bearer. It is sickening, disgusting and despicable to see people who were once role models washing their dirty linings in the open. This internal self-beating combusting of the grand old party will hurt the party more in the long run than even losing an election for the third consecutive time come 2018 if not handled now.
The outcome of any election that will determine who leads SLPP doesn't hinges on the charisma, academic status, previous career, wealth, or the composition of any political coalition formed within the SLPP alone-it hinges on the grassroots supports as exhibited by the various delegates who will be voting their choice for flag-bearer in the forthcoming SLPP national convention. And that is why as the SLPP and the country push forward in 2017 and subsequently into a new election cycle year a call for a focus on the forthcoming elections, national leadership and governance is timely, important and no doubt topical.
By all indications what appears to be in the making within the SLPP in terms of how the party and its executives are conducting themselves and how the party is poised to elect a flag-bearer have the propensity of producing a party leader that might be skewed against the SLPP grassroots support and hence devoid of a wider national support in any future national election. This can be justified because, while throughout the world there is the urgent desire among people with different ideological orientations and political postures to unite and consolidate their forces that is not the case within the current SLPP.
The squabbling within the SLPP, the media bashings, coupled with some of the party´s national executive actions and inactions, political decisions and indecisions, and the party´s governing style is not only inexplicable through the party´s political policies, decisions, choices, actions and counter-actions but can also be viewed as an inner reflection of the greed, myopic vision, calibre of the mindset and the hegemonic attitude of the people that appears to have an edge within the party at this critical time.
The various attempts (whether subtly, covertly or otherwise) to impose a flag-bearer on the party, the weak and lackadaisical attitude of the party chairman, the spontaneous fragmentation and internal combusting within the party speaks volume of the mess and the nemesis the SLPP has embedded into since it lost power in 2007.
That is why as one of the objectives of this letter, a call is also made to the grassroots SLPP supporters and executives to think and rethink very fast this year. SLPP members should sharpened and honed their strategies of how to lift their party from what has seemingly become a perpetual failed state of hopelessness and uselessness within their party. The ongoing infightings, the full blown as well as miniature court cases and the attending problems generated by a weak and easily compromised party chairman and party national executives will bedeviled SLPP for a very long time if immediate remedy is not taken.
That's why this letter is also calling on all SLPP members to re-awaken to the problems of leadership and governance. No country that practices democracy succeeds when the opposition is weak and crumbling. The staggering number of infightings and court cases, the high wave of intra-party violence, the break in law and order within the party, the abuse and the flagrant disregard of the SLPP party´s constitution are all the attributes of the failings of an opposition political party, inept party leadership and bad party governance. Within the SLPP infightings and court cases among senior party executives appears to be a sport these days-unfortunately that's the situation anywhere there is lack of effective leadership ...infighting and court cases becomes a game.
And finally as a panacea to the current crisis facing the embattled SLPP, it should be noted that SLPP stakeholders should be ready and prepared to make some sacrifice if their party is to win the forthcoming elections. For anyone who claims to love an organisation should be prepared to make some sacrifice at some stage for that organisation. And for many of the SLPP stakeholders still hanging on to this letter till now, sacrifice could well mean your last option if you are to serve Sierra Leone at any national governance level.
Age is unfortunately not on many of your sides anymore. Some of you have passed 65years and honestly Sierra Leone is not prepared to spend on huge medical bills to prop up a Robert Mugabe type president. Also, the various SLPP stakeholders should be aware that the Charles Margai breakaway phenomenon is still fresh and lingering and there is the tendency for a breakaway SLPP to emerge again should this infighting not stopped.
For when 90% of the fate of an organisation lies in the hands of 2% of its members, adding greed, cronyism and spitefulness on it spells the downfall of that organisation. Letting go one´s lofty political ambition, strategies and ideologies for the common good of a political party is not a sign of weakness.
Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent and brave people ignore and simply let go. And for those who claims to love the grand old SLPP party so dearly and wants to lead shortly must note this parting shots: Without SLPP you have nothing….and Without SLPP you are nothing.
Thank you very much.
About the author
Jia B Kangbai is a PhD Medical Research Fellow at the Center for International Health, University of Munich, Germany. He is also a US Fulbright Fellow.