In 2007, the All People’s Congress (APC) Party was elected with Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Again, in 2012 the same party won and Koroma retained President of Sierra Leone.
I have held and still holding the strong maxim that no political party in Sierra Leone will win an election with just the support and votes of its tribal kinsmen. In 2007, the SLPP under the leadership of former Vice President Solomon Ekuma Dominic Berewa lost the elections when its tribal votes was shared between itself and the then newly formed People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC).
Charles Francis Margai defected from the SLPP and formed the PMDC that relegated the SLPP to opposition unto this point and promoted the APC to become the ruling party in the country.
Currently, Sierra Leone is witnessing massive defections from both the ruling APC and opposition SLPP to newly formed political parties and movements (soon to become political parties). These two colonial parties in the country are confident and living in past glories thinking that Sierra Leoneans are still practicing the politics of heritage.
The concept of both parties is becoming very bold: Sierra Leone will only be ruled by two parties-SLPP and APC. They do not believe in change; that is what their statement is subscribing to. But on a quick note, if no political party can win elections with just the support and votes of its ethnic clan, and even members of its family are disowning it and forming new families; is that not worrisome to their existence?
Now, forget those leaving the SLPP and the APC joining new forces, there are new voters who do not practice the politics of genetic. Those voters apparently account for about 20% of the country’s voting population. Recent baseline study revealed that the appealing nature of people serving as presidential candidates guarantees that party some 25% of the votes.
The new voters are navigating their way toward the new forces of the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP), the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and the Coalition for Change (C4C). Even amongst the conventional voters, they are so disgruntled and dissatisfied over current happenings in both the APC and the SLPP. They have demonstrated their dissatisfaction over the periods during the conduct of the last 15 bye-elections across the country.
The ADP for example, has enjoyed a huge percentage of the traditional voters in the north-one of the strongholds of the ruling APC and the East-a stronghold of the opposition SLPP. People (political assets) are leaving the APC and SLPP in droves to join other parties for several reasons ranging from change to sentiments, revenge to development and betrayal to jobs creation.
Yet, our traditional thinking APC and the SLPP think that those leaving are “jokers” and “political lightweights”. “They” have no political significance. “Their” resignation and joining these new parties can create or make no significant impact in the 2018 elections. I’m tempted to ask: why are these parties averse to change? Are they not seeing the signs? Are they not feeling the velocity of the wind of change? Or are they fooling themselves?
The big surprise that awaits them in 2018 is what they are not countenancing at this initial stage. The APC believes that it has the support base in Sierra Leone to win the 2018 elections with their ill-conceived mentality of “we have never lost a democratic election”.
The signs are glaring that the young people are demanding change. They are the ones driving the vehicle of change. And these young people constitute a huge chunk of the country’s voting population. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella of the National Grand Coalition is out there busy canvassing support that would be translated into votes come the 2018 elections. Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray of the Alliance Democratic Party has been on this long before now and has also been upsetting and offsetting both the ruling All People’s Congress Party and the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party. The APC should have learnt some lessons by now following the mountain and rough terrain being built by the ADP in their strongholds to a point of almost losing a strategic seat in Bombali to Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray.
Even the SLPP should have learnt by now that their over dependence on strongholds is failing them because the same ADP took 13% of their votes in a recent bye-election conducted in Kailahun District-predominantly housing SLPP supporters and members.
Change is coming. The APC and SLPP should not rely on their past glories. They should concentrate on averting the eminent surprise in 2018.