• February 5, 2024

As it stands… What is the Relationship between the People and the Gov’t?

As it stands… What is the Relationship between the People and the Gov’t?
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By Sulaiman Aruna Sesay

The relationship between the people of Sierra Leone and politicians in the last decades has been characterized by mistrust and disillusionment. The people have been disappointed by the inability of politicians to address key issues such as poverty, unemployment, and poor infrastructure. They feel that politicians are more interested in serving their own interests rather than the interests of the people. If that is the case, let me draw your attention to some of the factors that led the people of Sierra Leone to lose confidence, trust, and unfriendly relationship with politicians:

To begin with, corruption allegations against politicians over the last decades have been on the increased. This has led to a lack of trust among the public as they believe that politicians are more interested in personal gain rather than the well-being of the people. For instance, the recent instigation case executed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) at SLRA where 8 Billion Leones was recovered. It is no doubt that this money supposed to be for the development of the country but some selfish people employed to run the day-to-day affairs of the state turned out to be professional thieves.

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Monies meant to benefit thousand people are being shared among certain set of selfish people. With the above example, how can the people have confidence, trust or build friendly relationship with politicians? Impossible!

In addition, political violence is an important factor that destroyed the good relationship between politicians and the people of Sierra Leone. Political violence has become a norm in Sierra Leone during election periods. This has created fear and mistrust among the people, who see politicians as the instigators of violence rather than agents of peace and development. Recently, we are seeing the ethnic and Regional divisions in the country.

Sierra Leone is a diverse country with different ethnic groups and regional affiliations. With the Mende found in the east and south, and the Temne, found in the center and the northwest, from the two largest groups. Other major groups include the Limba, Kuranko, Susu, Yalunka, and Loko in the north; Kono and Kisi in the east; and the Sherbro in the southwest, most of our politicians emanated from these regions/ethnic groups. Politicians may exploit these differences to gain support and incite violence against rival groups.

Partisan Politics is another key factor that has hindered/ destroyed the good relationship between politicians and the people of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone’s politics is highly polarized, and politicians may fuel tensions between different parties and their supporters by using inflammatory language. It has been an eventful year for party politics in Sierra Leone.  Splits, infighting and dissension have been the order of the day in the two main political parties (SLPP and APC). Quite recently, we have seen an instance where APC’s MPs refused to participate in governance because of their dissatisfaction in the 2023 General Elections failing to put party interest aside and consider the country’s interest.

Yes, the actions of politicians over the years have eroded the trust and confidence that the people of Sierra Leone have in them. It will take significant efforts to rebuild this relationship and restore faith in political leadership.

In rebuilding the relationship, politicians should encourage dialogue and communication with the people. Politicians should engage with the people by listening to their concerns and ideas. They should also involve the people in decision-making processes and be transparent in their governance. And most importantly, politicians must increase citizens’ participation in governance and provide platforms that enable people to contribute to the running of their communities and the nation. This will build a robust and inclusive political system.

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