WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY - CRIMINAL LIBEL STILL ON
It's now close to NINE YEARS since De Pa came to office with a big manifesto promise to REPEAL the anachronistic colonial legacy called Criminal and Sedition Libel laws. Throughout his campaign before the 2007 elections, De Pa was very clear that those laws would go on day one of his presidency. NINE YEARS on, the laws are still hanging over the head of journalists. In fact it has fallen on many heads since De Pa came to office.
Half way through his term, De Pa's former Attorney General, the late Serry Kamal told the media that De Pa never promised to REPEAL but to REVIEW the hated piece of legislation. Many journalists simply went back to their little recorders and reminded themselves of what De Pa actually said. The journalists were absolutely CORRECT.
So have the media learned any lessons from this experience? We think they have. Let's capture a few of those lessons.
1. Promises made in the heat of political battles are not to be taken as DONE DEALS.
2. Journalists must always continuously focus on their own issues and not be too cosy with politicians just because they promise things.
3. When politicians come campaigning next time ask clear question and hold them to account.
4. If journalism is all you know, hold on to it and let politicians run the country
5. This law will be in force even on the day De Pa hands over power in 2018. The CRC process will run into difficulties in the Red-dominated parliament.
CRC LIMPING TO THE FINISH LINE: WHO KNOWS WHY?
We understand the CRC people are on the road again trying to give the people the people one final look at the draft constitution before it is finally presented to the government. Well, it's not been easy with the CRC - their budget was very savagely slashed and their chairman was also very badly attacked by a Red Movement politician who was subsequently appointed a minister.
We can understand media attacks on people in public office. It's part of the game. But we cannot understand why the budget of a committee that some many things now depend on was so badly slashed by the government that set it up in the first place.
We understand some people are uncomfortable with some of the provisions in the draft document. That's very interesting to hear. Even the best documents in the world leave some people very angry so why should our draft constitution be expected to satisfy everybody?
We hope the current process is not compromised because there's not enough cash to give all our people a chance to have their say on it.
Whoever told this government constitution-making was a cheap process must go back and withdraw that assurance.
We have met many people who are so satisfied with what the CRC has produced so far, that they are prepared to put in their little pennies to complete the process. Let's open a citizen's account for the CRC. Politico will donate some big cash. Long live democracy!
CONDUCTING AN ELECTION AND BEING PART OF THE WINNERS
How does it really feel to conduct a general and presidential election and then be appointed to serve as a minister in the government that results from that election? We have said before in this place that it doesn't sit well with us. What do you think people?
And please, don't tell us that other people before us have done it. We will not accept that. When politicians are thrown out of office, it is because the people want those succeeding them to change the way the country is run. So we will not listen to anybody taking us back to Tejan Kabbah and James Jonah. We are now NINE years into De Pa's reign.
For those who like football, how would it feel, if the referee of the match that handed the English Premiership trophy to Leicester was seen in Leicester city center celebrating with their players and fans after the Tottenham - Chelsea match? Surely, his career would end in disgrace.
So back to our original question: When an Electoral Commission who conducts an election ends up being appointed a minister by those who emerge as winners how does that feel?
This is a topic we shall be returning to in subsequent editions. We are off to Rome now to see Pope Francis. We need all the prayers we can get to remain strong in asking such crucial questions on behalf of our people. There's temptation everywhere these days as good people fall one after the other leaving Emerson alone standing. How long before he too went down? Welcome to Sierra Leone.
NASSER AYOUB AND THOSE THREE THOUSAND BROOMS?
So Mr. Nasser Ayoub, how was it with those THREE THOUSAND BROOMS of yours. We are talking about your cleaning exercise on the day before independence. Did it go well sir? Did it happen at all?
You see, we've been going around the main streets of Freetown to see how fresh the place is after your effort but, to be honest we are very disappointed.
We will not drill too much into what you did or was supposed to do, all we have here are a few issues to raise.
1. Was it really a good idea to talk about those THREE THOUSAND brooms to clean dirty Freetown?
2. Was this one of those publicity stunts that Nasser Ayoub rides on from time to time?
3. Aare all those brooms under one roof now? Where are they please?
4. We haven't read anything about you THREE THOUSAND brooms in any paper. The media ignored you, right?
5. Please don't mind us. We are only doing what normal newspapers do.
THE GRAVEYARDS ARE FULL...WHERE IS THE FCC?
The graveyards in Freetown are full. Very full. This tells us two things: too many people are dying in this part of the country or this pattern of removing the bones of people to bury others has run its course. We have to find a new and dignified way of disposing of the dead bodies of our people.
We have heard stories of bodies that are not properly decomposed being removed to bury others. That speaks of a very desperate situation in the cemeteries. The Freetown City Council has to speak out right now.
We have also complained about the presence of criminal living among the dead in our cemeteries. They call themselves friends of the dead but they are the ones stealing from our dead relatives. Why has the FCC not tried to find out why a group of people would leave them homes to set themselves up in a cemetery? How do they survive?
Can we just add this? We have been told, we can't yet confirm this that some Sierra Leonean movie producers are using human skulls illegally obtained from graveyards in certain scenes. When we can conclusively prove this we will make it public but we now serve that we are investigating a particular movie group that recently did some work in the Newton area just outside Freetown.
As long as people have vowed not to all the dead to rest, we will also not allow them to rest one bit.
(C) Politico 04/05/16