On the re-opening of SLPP Office … “We would never encourage violence” John Benjamin...

Political Analysis: How we voted in 2007 & 2008 The ethnic and regional voting pattern in Sierra Leone

The results of the 2007 General Elections and 2008 Local Council Elections in Sierra Leone clearly depict a pattern of ethnic and regional allegiance in the sense that people vote on the basis of ethnic / tribal patronages, and not necessarily on the basis of national economic and development policies.
In my quiet moment, I obtained and analysed the results of the 2008 Local Council Elections, as a test case, and they reveal very vividly that voters in Sierra Leone do not determine their votes on the basis of policies or on the intellectual and political integrities of politicians. Northerners strictly vote for the All Peoples Congress (APC) Party and south-easterners vote for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP). The issues of economic and development policies do not matter. For the average northerner voter, the APC is always better and same for the average south-easterner voter who says the SLPP is always better. I developed the following map showing the voting pattern of the 2008 Local Council Elections, and it is so revealing the ethnic and regional political polarisation that prevails in our politics. The country is distinctly bisected into red and green.
With my experiences in some Western democracies, whose type of democracy we tend to emulate here, political parties determine their strongholds largely on the basis of people’s appreciation of their economic policies and of course somehow on class. In Sierra Leone like in most of Africa’ democracies, we deviate from the western democracies in the sense that our political parties determine their strongholds based on ethnic and regional loyalties.
And it is worrisome when tribalism and regionalism determine the way we choose our national political leaders. The danger is that tribalism and regionalism will become politically motivated and tribal and regional prejudices will continue to prevail in our governance.
Note the voting pattern in Kono district in the general elections in 2007, which suddenly changed in the local elections in 2008. In the general elections, Kono voted overwhelmingly SLPP. Only one constituency voted APC, but even here, the candidate was a new SLPP convert to APC. In the Presidential elections, majority of Kono votes were cast for APC and this was largely attributed to a Kono, Chief Sam Sumana being the Running-Mate to the APC Presidential flag-bearer, Ernest Bai Koroma, and the Konos seeing this as a golden opportunity to have one of them in the second highest executive office. They got it right Chief Sumana became Vice President and his Kono wife assumed the status of Second Lady. The wife of the President, First Lady Sia Koroma is a Kono too. Little could one then wonder why the voting pattern in Kono went all red in 2008. The assertion here is that Konos voted APC in the 2008 Local Council Elections for the ethnic factor, and not on policy issues. Their embracement of the APC can be alluded to people of their ethnicity having very high statuses in the party Vice President, and First and Second Ladies.
Four years after, there has been an increasing disenchantment in Kono for very serious problems affecting their community, which have remained unsolved by the APC Government, despite the high statuses of their tribal men and women in the Party. The deplorable conditions of the main motor road from Makali to Koidu, the lack of water and electricity supplies in Koidu particularly, amongst others, are the worst problems plaguing the Kono community.
The question is: will Kono, for example, maintain their voting pattern for APC as in the 2008 Local Council Elections or will they ignore ethnic allegiance and determine their votes on the basis of the performance of the Government, and the proposed policies of the opposition?
Again, after five years in governance, will northerners maintain their voting pattern for the APC on the basis of mere ethnic allegiance, giving that most Government Ministers come from the North and with the fuzzy notion that APC is northern-based, or will they use this as an opportunity to appraise the Government on the basis of its performance and how this has improved or worsened their lives over the past five years of APC governance?
Also, will the rest of south-easterners consider Government’s performance and the impacts this has created on the lives of the average south-easterner and determine their votes on this basis? Or will they simply vote SLPP for reasons of ethnic allegiance, also with the fuzzy notion that SLPP is a south-easterner based party?

Comments are closed.