This Sunday, Sierra Leoneans head to the polls where President Ernest Bai Koroma faces his main rival Julius Maada Bio. But key issues affecting the people have not featured in the campaigns.
The Pan-Afrikan Community Movement (PACM) is a newly formed grassroots Pan-Africanist community-based movement of youths, students, women and employed and unemployed workers in urban and rural Sierra Leone. We believe and uphold the Pan-Africanist ideology of Africa’s total liberation, unity and socialist transformation. We stand for the self-emancipation and self-determination of the oppressed and exploited Afrikan masses at home and abroad. We are opposed to privatisation, racism, sexism, neo-colonialism and imperialist proxy wars in Africa. We are part of the worldwide resistance to neoliberal globalisation, the struggle for global social and economic justice and the worldwide Pan-Africanist movement.
Ahead of the November 17 2012 presidential, parliamentary and local council elections in Sierra Leone, PACM believes that democracy means more than just voting every five years. Democracy for us means the total emancipation, involvement and reorganisation of society in all economic, social and political spheres. Democracy is not an every-five-years event; it is a process of struggle for the people to secure the full benefits of their labour and wealth of their land and to obtain the full and total emancipation of women from all backward traditional and social obstacles to their progress and to ensure that political power is exercised BY and FOR the people.
The reality in Sierra Leone is that since the last elections in 2007, scarcely anything has changed in the lives of the majority of Sierra Leoneans. Over 70 percent of the people are still living in poverty; structural violence, corruption, inequality and identity politics remain unchanged making President Koroma’s claim of bringing ‘transformation to Sierra Leone’ a false claim.
We in PACM are appalled that none of the political parties has a clear plan to eradicate illiteracy in their manifestoes. The current 65 percent illiteracy rate in the country is unacceptable. It seems that the APC-SLPP regime is happy to perpetuate illiteracy so that they can continue to dominate the people and rule for their selfish ends and the interest of their foreign backers – big mining companies, land grabbers, etc.
We in PACM also express grave concern over the silence of all the political parties on the issue of the out of control large scale land grabbing by foreign multinational companies in connivance with our rulers. We note that the trend of foreign land grabbing in Sierra Leone is deepening poverty, increasing suffering, violence, hunger, landlessness, social alienation and loss of livelihoods among the poor rural farmers.
PACM notes with alarm, the silence on the part of politicians and political parties in addressing the burning issue of economic justice and how people can more meaningfully benefit from mining, oil and other natural resources.
LIBERAL DEMOCRACY VS MASS PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY
Three post-conflict elections have not brought any fundamental change in the lives of ordinary people. The recent cholera epidemic is a testament to the collective neglect of the people for which the APC-SLPP are squarely responsible. The provision of the most basic needs of life – water and sanitation, health care, food, education and housing – has been neglected, with the leaders choosing instead ethnic based politics, bribery of political opponents and state violence on ordinary citizens.
• Condemns the current political parties and their continued practice of ethnic based politics. Identity politics started under colonialism and is still used by the current neo-colonial ruling elites to serve powerful political and economic interests.
• Calls on ordinary people of Sierra Leone to demand full accountability from ‘elected representatives’. We call on people to demand MPs regular (monthly) report to the people at constituency level. Today MPs are only interested in their own personal interests and those of private big businesses, mining companies, foreign land grabbers, etc.
• Calls for citizens to demand that all bills put before parliament and discussed at constituency levels and voted for by constituents before such a bill is passed in parliament to enhance mass participatory democracy.
• Urges the citizens of Sierra Leone to demand full democratization and accountability of all state institutions including the judiciary, police, military etc.
• Demands the introduction of citizens right of recall. This means that citizens can recall an MP, a Councillor, Mayor or even the President at any time if they deem him/her unsuitable or not working in their interests.
• Condemns any attempt by politicians to engage in violence or instigate violence during the elections. Youths cannot be blamed for the violence as politicians are the real instigators of violence for their selfish interests.
• Calls on the masses to struggle for their own interests - clean water for every citizen, decent housing fit for human beings, quality education, decent pay and clean environment, etc.
• Maintains that workers are the key to social transformation. Workers should demand a better life for themselves and engage in Class Struggle – the process by which the exploited and disposed workers and peasants struggle against exploitation and “owners” of banks, factories and mines for a fair distribution of wealth and the collective ownership of the means of production. Working class victory always leads to improvements in living conditions of workers, peasants and the masses generally.
• Calls for the recognition of full labour rights and right to work, an end to casualisation of labour, living wages for all workers and right to organise and form trade unions.
• Demands the nationalisation of all minerals – iron ore, rutile, diamond, gold, oil, gas and other strategic economic areas, under worker/community control to serve the socio-economic interests of ordinary people.
• Calls on workers to demand six months paid maternity leave and benefits plus free child-care facilities in all places of work.
• Calls on workers, farmers, unemployed, students, youths and grassroots groups to build mass organisations to demand their full political, economic and social rights.
• Calls on the masses of Sierra Leone to advocate and struggle for a just egalitarian society.
Down with elections violence!
The people united will never be defeated!
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* The Pan-Afrikan Community Movement can be reached at: [email protected]