By Millicent Senava Mannah
The Parliamentary body of Sierra Leone has the constitutional right to make laws and hold the Executive of the state accountable. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission says “Parliament, as the principal law-making body in Sierra Leone, has a special responsibility to check abuses by the Executive branch.” (Vol 2, Chpt 3, Para 241, Page 155)
The people of Sierra Leone voted in Parliamentarians they trust, to be their mouthpieces in Parliament, though some were unconstitutionally removed, and replaced with others, however, the people are counting on these parliamentarians to make decisions that are in the interest of all.
In recent times, we have seen Parliament been on fire, some members of Parliament need to go back and cross-check the reason they were voted for. Are they really representing the people who voted them in, or themselves?
Parliamentarians must be aware of the fact that, if they fail to represent the people well or remain dormant, allowing Bills to be passed that are not in the favor of the peace of the state, they must accept responsibility of the negative outcome.
The TRC Report says, “In 1966, Parliament passed the first reading for the passage of Sierra Leone to a one-party state. In 1978, Parliament failed to oppose the introduction of the one-party state. Parliament must accept responsibility for the effective entrenchment of dictatorship and bad governance that laid the grounds for war.” (Vol 2, Chpt 3, Para 241, Page 155)
This country has suffered a ten year war, wherein lives and properties were lost, and the country is still suffering from postwar problems, this is the place where we don’t want to go back to as a nation.
If fights like this nature are happening in Parliament, what is the future of our country? If the police force is asked to investigate inward fights in Parliament, where are we heading to? What kind of signal do we want to send to the outside world?
How can we attract foreign investors at this time, when prices are inflating, our economy is crumbling, and those we entrust the power to make decisions for us are busy fighting themselves?
If they as a law-making body are calling on external forces to solve their own problems, who would we now depend on to solve the problems in this country? The people of this country are left with so many unanswered questions.
Is the Parliament for the Ruling Party, or one set of people, or for the people of this country? Who will answer the questions of the ordinary Sierra Leoneans who can’t even afford a 3 course meal per day?
This nation needs parliamentarians that will be in favor of the progress of the state, not parliamentarians who only care about their selfish gains. This nation needs a Parliament where laws that are in the favor of all will be enacted, not the ones for a particular set of people.
We are tired of seeing a Parliament where members of the opposition are oppressed and suppressed, and their voices are less important. We are tired of seeing a Parliament wherein a Ruling Party enact laws forcefully that are not even in the interest of the people.
The voice of each parliamentarian is important, as they are all representing thousands of people in each constituency, regardless of their political parties. Therefore, they all must be heard, and put into consideration.
We want a Parliament where parliamentarians see themselves as fighters of the people and not their political parties, as fighters of democracy and not dictatorship, as fighters of the progress of the nation and not for their personal gains. That what Sierra Leone deserves.
This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF Project on “Engaging the media and communities to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.