At this point, it is lost on right-minded nationals that people think the current Executive Arm of government collectively owns the capacity to react in a rational way and push Sierra Leone’s economy forward for the right reasons and be rewarded by the voters that they did the right thing for voting them in governance; this is the year when any such claim has been proved to be inane beyond a reasonable doubt, and let us count the ways…
The key issue with the IMF Structural Adjustment Programme or adjustments of this kind, however, is whether they build the capacity to recover and whether they promote short- and long-term development. The adjustments currently dictated by the International Monetary Fund did neither. In a very impoverished nation like Sierra Leone, the majority of our population does not have access to clean water, adequate housing, quality education or basic health care. We are now paying debt service to wealthy neocolonial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank at the expense of providing these basic services to the suffering majority of our nationals.
Debt service payments take resources that an impoverished country like Sierra Leone could use to cure preventable diseases. The Executive Arm of government has an audited report in its table that has to do with the misappropriation or corruption of taxpayers’ monies, and IMF COVID-19 pandemic loans as captured by the Development Finance International report, but nothing is done about it to effect its recommendations. Parliament is completely weak to protect taxpayers’ money.
Civil servants with serious political connections are said to be corrupt in several odd ways. The police often operate with anonymous orders from above to victimise nationals. Independent institutions that are meant to uphold democracy by operating in the Interest of the country and the people aren’t independent at all. Those in social positions of trust mismanaged or embezzled state funds and the very innocent suffering majority are now asked by this very government of ours to pay for their embezzled or mismanaged funds by irresponsible austerity measures that are economically meant to pay International Monetary Fund and World Bank debt misused by our government officials.
Taking the above into consideration plus many more, the effect of enhancing checks and balances for the general good of all which can lead to the sharing of national wealth and close the inequality gap for the good of the suffering majority, the corruption aftermath exposes the simple truth that our democracy is failing: the appalling spectacle is anything but a continuation of poor leadership, and our society is currently incapable of producing a transformational leader or a substantive election because far too many voters abhor substance and seriousness. Something’s rotten in the system, and it’s the large portion of those we charged with the responsibility of the State, among other things.
As I am forcing myself to write this, my mind, body, and what’s left of my soul are reeling from this hidden genocide orchestrated by a neocolonial institution which is being pushed into our throats by those we elected to lead us and create changes in our lives, in particular, the ruling SLPP regime of President Bio; and since they came to governance, the suffering majority are yet to truly benefit from their governance system. Now, with the current inflation rate, the suffering majority continue to experience more hardship in their lives immediately after they returned home from the UN General Assembly where they used a huge amount of taxpayers’ cash with no benefit to the ordinary people.
There is so much that is deplorable in this government cycle that we could start from the very beginning, with most government officials living flamboyant lifestyles that are beyond their official earning powers and no one cares about them. Most government officials are flouting procurement rules and getting away with them. Government contracts are inflated to deliberately siphoned taxpayers’ money. People use political positions to victimise fellow nationals by embezzling statute funds that are meant to address the social challenges of the majority. Education is under-financed and is still poor despite the well-organised propaganda, health facilities are deplorable and many homes cannot afford healthy meals.
Most of our people can’t feed themselves with healthy food. On top of these issues, Goods and Service Tax was sustained, electricity tariffs increased, unfavourable taxes that disadvantaged the contraption from private investment and encourage the smuggling of our natural resources was imposed, the unemployment rate increased, transparency and accountability on the part of elected officials declined and all government contracts are shrouded in secrecy. Government hospitals, education and other essentials of life that are meant to alleviate the suffering of ordinary people who were forced to scale down their budgets. Unfortunately, the politicians and others in social positions of trust aren’t checking themselves to legally reduce the unexplained wealth they’re parading around with at the expense of the ordinary people. Where is the love, the leadership and the promise to close the inequality gap to be found in our government officials for the suffering majority? Where are the opposition leaders, where are the real politicians that can stand for the truth and defend the defenceless people?
Our politicians are quite capable of talking at length about a number of substantive issues which they often use as hoaxes. However, they’re now shooting themselves in their heads as it is very evident here in the coming election majority of voters seem to respond to such talk with revulsion, boredom, and by not voting for whoever emits such talk. Add both the media’s and the public’s focus on scandals and, of course, the present-day politicians to the mix, and it’s almost impossible to have any kind of a substantive discussion about anything political enough to meet the needs of the deprived majority; even if you replace the current government, it won’t be easy.
That, dear readers, is what should terrify all of us: this is no way to conduct a campaign. Because without a doubt, the function of a political organisation whether in governance or opposition must be to give leaders who can demonstrate expertise and realistic plans on substantive issues of concern to Sierra Leone citizens the chance to do so while simultaneously exposing those in social positions of trusts who cannot do so as being clearly unable to do so with punitive measures. And yet, so much about the current setup makes either action close to impossible to any meaningful extent with the exception to some degree of the very few among the rest. But even worse is that in 2023, it seems most of the Presidential and Parliamentary aspirants would not base their campaign on a substance and reason if the economy and the suffering functioned the way it’s going currently.
Yes, the media is certainly part of the problem, but as part of market-driven forces, news outlets are forced to a large extent to give consumers what they want. Newspapers that try to be substantive and in-depth are losing readers and money to less objective and less accurate bloggers and extremist cocooning outlets. The real problem is the Sierra Leone people: an increasing number are turning away from the substance of their politicians or their news stories. Many of the same dynamics explain the rise of odds in our society.
In other words, even when it comes to the most important issues thus far in the most important election in modern Sierra Leone history, our system and our society—most of our people are not capable of having a substantive discussion and an informed weighing of issues and candidates. Thus, we get a discussion that is hardly a discussion at all but becomes more about fake performance art and driving headlines to win those in social positions of trust and news cycles within the governance system with deceit. No matter who wins the potential elections, what has gone down in our economic cycle is a serious wound in our body politics that has it in critical condition, and the ruling SLPP government is a significant symptom but is not the disease itself, which is the mentality of a huge number of Sierra Leone voters who voted for this current regime, but never got what they voted for. The opposition must always be there to play its own role in checks and balances of taxpayers’ monies which they, unfortunately, compromised for self-gains.
As this nightmarish and nightmarishly long potential election cycle winds down, the most awful phase, leaders of both parties in Sierra Leone need to figure out how to come together to promote people of reason, stature, seriousness, and depth, and to find ways to actually be leaders, to lead the Sierra Leone people in spite of Sierra leones’ baser desires, to push the public to value substance over style, to do more than simply what an angry mob craves and wants by finding ways to elevate enough of our nationals to save us and our country from ourselves, rather than simply be tools of self-destruction who are chosen democratically, but are tools of self-destruction nonetheless.
As of now, I wouldn’t bet on this happening anytime soon, and if any political party hold on to the State House, there is a chance that we can lead the country into a new, better era, one in which results will be achieved and in which results will trump the noise and propaganda and create a new, strong, and progressive majority that will pick up even some skeptics when it delivers these substantive results. If this doesn’t happen, I am not sure how long or how well our system can survive continuing to be like it has these past few years, especially this coming election year. That hope—that opportunity—is worth fighting for, with a true leader this time around at the State House, especially as the majority of our politicians continue to deceive us since independence to date.