THE JOINT With George S. Khoryama
Dear Brother Bangura,
Fear and hatred of the continued intra-party quarrel in the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), a sequel to the August 2013 national delegates conference in Bo, has personally rendered me timorous and unwilling to remain aloof of the quarrel; and it takes only a care-free SLPP partisan to keep aloof of such a long-drawn ‘wahala’ in the party. It occurs that this time round you happen to be the aggrieved party – someone whose dynamism, eloquence, integrity and dedication to not only partisan but equally national causes in some very difficult situations have been nothing short of remarkable. The sweep of your tongue, the majesty of your eloquence, the clarity of your thoughts and expression thereof, for instance, helped in too great measures to defeat that murderous Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) regime of Johnny Paul Koroma and to return the SLPP government to power from exile. You displayed those same elegant qualities with a flourish as election commissioner to carry the SLPP through its tension-pack party flag bearer election during the 2010 national delegates’ convention here in Freetown.
The cause célèbre of your grievance has to do with the delegates’ list for the August 2013 national convention of the SLPP in Bo in which you contested for the position of Leader and Chairman of the party against Chief Somanoh Kapen lll. The delegates’ list used for the election of the new national party executive including Leader/Chairman according to your grievance was not a genuine one; and which you believe disadvantaged you as to have lost the election to Chief Kapen. For that reason you have challenged the result of the election and formally filed the complaint to the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC). It still remains for the PPRC to make public their findings having already conducted an investigation into the matter.
In the meantime the newly elected executive of the party had made earlier advances to you with the view to reconciling whatever problems and differences may have arisen from the Bo parley if only to save the unity and future of the party. They placed the thrust of that effort in the wisdom of a special Reconciliation/Mediation Committee of elders headed by Dr. Alpha Wurie to look into all post-convention grievances and complaints and to make recommendations. Other people of goodwill and interest in the party have also added their voices by seeking a common ground between you and your supporters on the one hand, and those of the party executive on the other.
When you reacted to the advances by those goodwill missions you have continued to maintain the position that you do not recognize the new party executive and therefore, demand that a re-run of the election takes place using the delegates’ list that you consider to be a genuine one. I understand that you do not also recognize the Reconciliation/Mediation Committee because its composition excludes your own representatives. The PPRC has not helped matters for whatever reasons by delaying to release their findings from your complaint. It is even rumoured that you are prepared to take your case to as far as the Supreme Court.
True to purpose, this is a very serious situation again facing the SLPP. One would have thought the intra-party conflicts were buried at the Bo Convention. It is the reason why I personally do not ascribe to any threadbare notion that tends to downplay your course of action. After all you did not get into the race to lose but instead to win; if you have to lose at all, you must be convinced beyond all reasonable doubts; hence your protest.
Most of all you were not alone when you entered the race for the Leadership/Chairmanship of the party. You have supporters, friends and family members whose hopes and aspiration for your victory were high; and most if not all of them are also members of the SLPP whose interests, rights, emotions and temperaments you represent in this present matter. Nobody therefore, should take you for granted without taking the party further to the wall. It is the democratic pedigree upon which the SLPP was founded that you are today testing but for which some people are decrying you.
Three months after the Bo convention, I had decided to remain quiet while listening and watching the trend this matter would take before I add my voice, which I now candidly express in this letter to you and through you to your supporters. To hit the nail on the head, I am appealing to you and through you to your supporters to drop this case. You have made your point which most of us respect without doubt. The hard fact is that there has never been a clean election even by Western standard. History is replete with similar experiences like yours all over the world. Therefore if you and your group of supporters believe that you were cheated, you are not going to be the first and last with such experience. After all democracy is not a perfect ideology; and elections like examinations have never been perfect ways to judge people’s victory and knowledge but they happen to be the internationally accepted standard, howbeit their imperfection.
Brother Bangura, from the time we met in the National Democratic Party (NDP) in the 1990s where I served as Editor-In-Chief of the party’s newspaper – The New Breed – up until the present I have known you as a man who has always demonstrated the greatest courage, the greatest ability and the greatest resources in all your undertakings. I do not know you to be hard and quarrelsome; your diplomatic career only added to enhance those qualities of individual self-help in you. Is politics going to rob you of what Shakespeare referred to as the “hybla bees” and leave you honeyless?
You must have been hearing many unsavory remarks from the opposite side of the quarrel that have added to your resolve to pursue this matter to its logical end. But is it not a similar experience that may have also informed the advice of the late President John F. Kennedy when he told his wife Jackie: “You can’t take politics personally; it arouses the most heated emotions, and if you are sensitive to what people are saying, you will always be upset?” Yes, “in politics you rarely have friends and foes – only colleagues, and you should never get in so deep a quarrel as to lose all chances of conciliation; you might need to work with the other fellows later,” advised Arthur Schlesinger, a great American philosopher. In other words a political party becomes great not by the victories of its faction over each other but by its reconciliation.
Brother Bangura, drop this case for God’s sake and for the unity, future prospects and prosperity of the party that look so promising. By now six years into the rule of the All People’s Congress (APC) government of President Ernest Bai Koroma, most Sierra Leoneans of goodwill and the international community have come to be convinced that our country is much safer in the hands of the SLPP as government. For the party to continue with this election quarrel therefore means that it has abandoned the people of Sierra Leone who cannot wait for it (SLPP) to return to power in 2017 in order to take the existing chaos and failures of the ruling APC government and shape them into something for the good of all and sundry. Disunity is going to rob the party of that opportunity.
The fact is like in all other political parties elsewhere, the problem is the SLPP is also enamoured by a tornado of suspicions, speculations, rumours and even blatant lies. But are these not the same forces that constitute the mechanism of every social and political movement everywhere in the world?
For God’s sake Brother Bangura, if anything let us remember the miseries of the people in the country today, their suffering and grinding disabilities. The institutionalization of ethnicity, tribalism and regionalism as a way of governance under President Koroma has thrown the whole country into a great mess. The cabinet, parliament, civil service, foreign missions, military, police, universities, parastatals, etc. remain strictly under the remit of the President’s northern brothers, sisters and friends since he came to power. These officials generally promote family, tribal and community interests regardless of the dire need for national unity and nation building. The same people qualified or not, are considered for national awards, contracts, grants, scholarships, lands, honors and titles by the President to the exclusion of the rest of the people.
Corruption and graft, murder, guile, lawlessness and indiscipline with impunity have gone haywire in the country because it is a government of the family, for the family and by the family of the President. People are offered jobs for the prospect of plundering public resources. “Time is not in our favour,” most government officials today are quoted as saying.
To this point Brother Bangura, you may now appreciate the reason why unity in the SLPP is so paramount. The people are saying in the streets, in the homes and offices that Sierra Leone is by far safer in the hands of the SLPP in governance than the APC. Is the party going to miss this golden opportunity and let down those suffering people who now consider the SLPP as their saving grace, because of this election quarrel?
Brother Alie, let the SLPP not be allowed to be construed as a hopeless institution of bitterness and remorse. Let us take cognizance of what someone once said that “experience is the foundation for leadership, and obligation to the people takes precedence over loyalty to individuals or group.”
Robert Kennedy in his book – THE PURSUIT OF JUSTICE – wrote “It is the essence of responsibility to put the public good ahead of personal gain. This still leaves room for individual goals and for the pursuit of them with energy and intelligence. This of course applies to daily life – to the family as it does to politics.”
Like I said earlier, you and your supporters have made your point loud and clear for which you must be respected. However, to sacrifice for the unity and the wholesome functioning of the party is not to ask too much. Is it? Remember that there is always another chance.
It is over six months since I visited you. I will try to do so soon. Remember me to the family. With kind personal regards.
Very truly yours,
George S. Khoryama