The new government of Sierra Leone under the leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma and his All People’s Congress (APC) party has been in power for a little over seven months. But the opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) says it and Sierra Leoneans in general are disappointed with the way the country is being run under President Koroma.
Jacob Jusu Saffa is the National Secretary General of the SLPP. He told VOA Sierra Leoneans are worried because the factors that led to the country’s brutal civil war from 1991 to 2002 are again being repeated by the Koroma government.
“The SLPP and the entire nation are disappointed with the way things are being managed in the country. We are worried because the factors that led to the war in 1991 seem to be repeated by this same government. For several reasons, one of them is the growing marginalization of people who are not perceived to be supporters of the APC, particularly people in the south and east. There is clear evidence of summary dismissals of public officials,” he said.
Saffa also accused the Koroma government of politicizing state institutions and doing little to ease the rising cost of food.
“Very recently, ex-combatants who were bodyguards to the president are being recruiting in the police without going through the proper procedures as stated in the Police Act. They are now personal security to the president. We also have clear evidence of corruption, particularly in the area of procurement, and of course the food crisis,” Saffa said.
Current Sierra Leone Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana told VOA in an interview last month that the opposition was playing politics with its accusation that the government was doing nothing to control the rising cost of living.
But Saffa said the Koroma government has failed to prioritize its agenda.
“Governance is a scientific process that involves policy choices. In the case of the food crisis, granted it’s a global problem, but what we are saying here is that people are not only worried about the fact that there is no food today, they are even more worried about the fact that even tomorrow and next year there’s not going to be food because this same government reduced the budget allocation to the ministry of agriculture from about five to six percent of the budget to something less than two percent. So it’s not about politics. It’s about prioritization,” Saffa said.
He brushed aside as mere political rhetoric the Koroma government’s promise to alleviate future shortages of rice by focusing on mechanized agriculture and doing away with the importation of rice by the year 2010.
“They are not doing the investment in that sector to ensure that output in the year 2010. Over $1 million US has been spent on overseas travel only for the president. And virtually every ministry has exhausted its budget allocated for the year for traveling in just one quarter. Which type of leadership are we seeing? Is it leadership by example?” he said.
Vice President Sumana also said unlike the SLPP-led government when Freetown, the capital was always in blackout, the Koroma government was been able to bring electricity to the capital on a constant basis.
But Saffa said the government’s claim of constant electricity supply to Freetown was misleading.
“Very few areas in Freetown enjoy electricity up to 10 to 12 hours a day. A lot of areas go without electricity. We have to look at what does it cost them to provide this electricity and what is the opportunity cost because we know very well we are running the electricity at a rate we cannot afford. And the money they have used for emergency power is quite sufficient to have done other things that could have had the same impact on the economy in terms of job creation, in terms of food production and other things. The question we are asking is that can one live on electricity alone?” Saffa said.