As the politicking grows very crucial and even mercurial, it is slowly but definitely becoming quite apparent that we might have to face a run-off. Even electioneering party heavy- weights like Balogun Koroma and Jacob Jusu-Saffa are no more talking about winning the first round hands down. For the 2012 elections, fortunately or unfortunately, the king-maker party is again the People’s Democratic Party (PMDC) of Margai fame.
A lot of political fanatics in the two main parties will not like this. But definitely this is the reality and if Mr Charles Margai boasts about it, do not blame him.
After all, his party made some interesting inroads in 2007. Really,if there is any party both APC and SLPP are to watch, that is Margai’s PMDC. I will tell you later.
Maybe, I would not have made this remark, if the 2007 and 2008 results bring out some difficult-to-ignore facts. We all know that part of the reason why the SLPP lost in 2007 is the backing that Mr Margai gave to the APC. The average Sierra Leonean politician has the kind of confidence that is so difficult to understand, especially if they belong to any of the two big parties.
The PMDC for quite sometime had had bickering among party stalwarts to an extent that some people thought there was going to be a split or even a demise. Probably this was why gradually the UDM was nurturing the idea of being the third force. But then, things suddenly changed and PMDC’s internal squabbles were amicably settled and they are poised to face the 2012 elections. Now look at this… In 2007 presidential election, Mr Margai had more votes than President Koroma in six districts.
These were Kailahun, Kenema, Bo, Bonthe, Moyamba and Pujehun. On the other hand, the president beat Mr. Margai in the rest of the eight districts.
Mr. Berewa also beat President Koroma and Mr. Margai in seven Districts. Now for the interesting part, Mr Margai beat both President Koroma and Mr Berewa in Bonthe District.
He polled 31,995, Mr. Berewa 16,590 and the President, 1,597. Do you see the statistical dynamics here? Do you now see that it is not that easy for any one of the two parties to score that 55%? One really has to study the registered voters district totals before one jumps into sweeping statements. One could hazard a guess that Freetown might determine the winner in the first rounds. However the Freetown registration is not impressive. This may not affect the results except that it will not be enough to give a win in the first round. One thing that parties always miss out is getting people to register.
When more people register it means those who’s so called strongholds are the ones with most voters definitely have the advantage. In the last presidential elections, President Koroma had very high votes in particularly western Urban. In fact in the Local Government elections, the APC cleared all 17 seats in the western Urban, plus all 4 in the Western Rural. The SLPP replied by clearing all the 8 seats in Kailahun and all 11 in Kenema except one that was won by an independent candidate. For its part, the PMDC cleared all the seats in Bonthe.
You might be wondering why I don’t bother myself with the other parties. Well it is simple; they all could not win any seat in even the councils, not to talk of parliamentary. This is why I hold most of these run-off parties in suspect. Well I guess they are needed for the sake of multi-partism, right?
A plausible action could have been, all the other 8 parties after APC and the SLPP to form one single party thereby making a formidable force to upset the time-honoured dominance of the political scene by the big elephants.
If our democracy is taking a leaf from the west and the western countries normally do not have more than say three to four parties, so why do we need up to 10 parties.
After all, most of these parties do not field candidates beyond Waterloo.
In Parliament, only three parties are currently recognized. In Nigeria, after some spell of Military rule, what they did in order to have a kind of fresh start, parties were established fresh, without the old names and with new set of criteria. It worked and that is how the current parties were born. The good thing that has happened to us is that our parties are not formed alongside religious lines, otherwise we would be gliding down to another one party state. I say so because Sierra Leone has a Muslim population of 60%; Christians 30%, and the remaining 10% accounted for by others.
If like I say that a run-off is a must, what other issues apart from the 2007 and 2008 elections result. From the onset I will venture to say that there is always vast advantage of incumbency.
However it is also the incumbent government that everybody else assesses, since they are in power. President Koroma’s government has performed reasonably well in certain sectors like maternal health, electricity generation and infrastructure. The opposition is going to harp on accountability and transparency especially the cost of the Wilkinson Road compared to other longer ones. One other thing that may feature in the opposition arguments will be the mining agreements, whether they are in the best interest of the people or not.
The issue of the award of contracts in situations where there are apparent conflict of interest. Ironically, although President Koroma’s bold step on infant and Maternal mortality remains a point in his favour, what the opposition may point at is the cholera outbreak, even though this is attributed to a large extent to personal hygiene.
The point they will make is that the cholera is a reflection of the none-stance on the filth in the country and the breakdown of authority in Freetown for example, following the indictment of the former mayor.
Definitely the Mayor issue will be ‘vuvuzellared’ vehemently. They will state the instance of the City council bye law on dropping filth on the streets. Street trading will also feature, not to talk of the party’s seeming generosity in allegedly dishing out dollars to various sectors.
The Oppositions greatest headache will be getting high votes in the Western area combined. At the run-off 2007, the SLPP did not have up to half of the votes. APC garnered 304,388 and the SLPP 137,613. The latter had no seats in Parliament for these areas.
The former also had no parliamentary seats. We have 19 Localities and the APC won in 10, SLPP 8 and PMDC 1. With all this, tell me where are we going to get a win in the first round? Every big party has its own area. Like Bobby sings, ngoneh Tia pussie ti waa peh bu. One thing we need to do is to play by the rules.
Like Sir Thomas Moore says in A man of all seasons, ‘I think that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short cut to chaos.
By Ben Cambayma