It has been twenty years since Sierra Leone returned to multiparty democracy, with the first election won by the Sierra Leone People’s Party. Twenty years on, Sierra Leone’s economic future, in spite of bits of progress that have been made in the realms of reinforcing the rule of law and engineering infrastructural development here and there, the economy still remains in the doldrums.
Twenty years after the return to democracy, Sierra Leone cannot still boast of a per capita income of USD1, 000 per head. Economic growth is largely restricted to the mining sector which suffered a huge blow between 2014 and 2015 during the Ebola outbreak and a dramatic slump in the price of the country’s main mineral export, iron ore.
In this light, in order to bring the people of this poor, helpless, hopeless nation renewed hope in the political system as a powerful force that can drag the long suffering masses from the mess they find themselves in, much will be expected from the next president and the party that wins the majority in parliament.
No doubt, the next leader and the party that will win the elections will have to think and act outside of the box in terms of drawing up a comprehensive and realistic development blueprint that robustly addresses the perennial development problems of bad state governance.
Bad state governance is due to an ineffective and corrupt civil service structure, poor public sector financial management because parliament, the executive and the judiciary pay no heed to the Auditor General’s annual financial Reports and the recommendations given for stopping massive theft and misuse of public funds that includes widespread procurement fraud, coupled with the irresponsibility and criminality of the local councils who fail to deliver effectively on the services devolved to them by the central government.
Clearly, it can be seen that solving Sierra Leone’s problem goes far beyond simply asking people to register and vote. Are the people who we will vote for sincere, honest and committed to the development of the country and not in pursuing their selfish aggrandizement at the expense of the people?
Twenty years is a long time. If the political system had been genuinely pursuing a strict well charted course of developing the country and its people, we would have by now climbed up significantly on the United Nations Human Development Index list.
But to say the truth, look at the poor state agriculture, industry, education, health, sanitation, transportation, housing, employment and incomes are in, and the scary level of national debt that the country carries.
The problem of Sierra Leone’s continued underdevelopment and poverty cannot be excluded from the fact that the two parties that have led this country since independence use politics not for altruistic reasons but to promote tribal and regional interests at the expense of the nation’s collective development.
Can the new head of state and the party that wins the next elections be visionary enough to help the nation transcend this parochialism and rise to new heights of patriotism and nationalism?
Without that, I am afraid, things would only continue to move from bad to worse as we have seen in the last twenty years of so-called economic growth without any meaningful development.