Forceful Registration… 3 Cups Rice Plus NLe10 To Register

SLPP Loses Control Of Kenema District

By Sall Tee Jay

Desperation hits SLPP, as it is now employing all sorts of means to get people to register in its stronghold, using both constitutional and unconstitutional means. The latest action taken by the party is the distribution of 3 cups of rice plus Le10, 000 to people who are willing to go and register, but this action seem to have also hit a brick wall, prompting the Mayor of Kenema to employ an unconstitutional means to get people to go and register. He has declared a lockdown of the city of Kenema, commencing on Friday 30th September 2022 for residents to go to register.

This action by the Kenema Mayor has been criticized by many citizens and legal minds as unconstitutional, as it is only the President who has that right to declare such a measure, which has to be approved by Parliament, as it is a violation of the right of citizens to move freely in the country. Should the President decide to take such action, he need first of all to declare a State of Emergency that is approved by Parliament and gazette, after which he could then declare lockdown in any part of whole of Sierra Leone. As things stand there is no existing State of Emergency, and there is no imminent danger to the safety of people in part or whole of the country to warrant such action. The fact that the said lockdown is merely to get residents in Kenema to go and register is unconstitutional and a clear violation of the right of people to exercise their freedom of movement in and around the country, as well as a curtail of the right of the people to livelihood, especially when there are people who depend on what they sell per day to take care of their families. This lockdown imposes a complete shutdown of businesses, including trading, as well as a sit at home directive. If people are to comply with this lockdown directive of the Kenema Mayor, how will they move out from their houses to register? The word Lockdown simply means cessation of any movement in and around the city. According to the English Lexicon, the word Lockdown means “confinement of people as a security measure”. Is the Mayor of Kenema trying to tell the nation that the security of Kenema is threatened, and that there is imminent need for the confinement of residents there for their security?

Political analysts say that since there does not seem to be any prevailing circumstance of pending danger to the safety of residents in Kenema, the Mayor of Kenema’s decision is politically motivated, and a sign that the SLPP has lost complete control of its stronghold. Our investigations revealed that party operative of the SLPP are offering people 3 cups of rice and Le10,000 cash to anyone prepared to register, and this is a clear indication that people in the party’s stronghold are refusing to register to vote. Analysts also maintained that despite offering residents the 3 cups of rice and cash, they are still refusing to go to register, leading the Kenema Mayor to declare this unconstitutional directive. They furthered that the desperation of the SLPP government to get people in their stronghold, especially in Kenema, to register is to authenticate the Census Report presented to the President recently that described Kenema as the most populated city in the country, over the capital, Freetown. This figure had earlier on been contested by opposition politicians and the Freetown Mayor, who wrote to the Statistician General about her misgivings over the figures, including data on the FCC’s housing survey done recently in the city.

However, in an interview with the Kenema Mayor over his declaration via a media outlet in Kenema, of the said directive, his answer was that he did not declare a lockdown, and that the interview on radio was merely to encourage people to go and register and not a lockdown per say. He said that the action was merely as part of their by-laws, stressing that they are merely implementing their by-laws. He stressed that if people come from anywhere across the country into Kenema, they will have to register before entering. He stressed that Kenema residents who wish to leave the district should first register before leaving, otherwise they will not be allowed to leave. He made reference to actions taken to restrict movement during cleaning exercise, saying that this action is the same as that done during such exercise. He also admitted that Kenema residents are refusing to go and register. Whereas, in the interview on radio, the Mayor told residents that on Friday, no school, no business, all offices to close and everybody should go to register.

As news of this unwillingness of residents in the Southeastern Province to go to register, the President has taken an unusual step to address people in that region in Mende from State House via video, which is now trending, calling on them to go and register. Many see this action as another sign that ‘push has come to shove’. Critics say that the refusal of residents to go to register in that region is a form of protest against the government for its failure to deliver on its promise to address the bread and butter issue, which has now been replaced with very high cost of living, with many families finding it very difficult to have food on the table. Many are of the view that amidst this situation, they have watched as the President and his close allies travel endlessly across the world on tax payers money, with little or nothing to show for these trips, only endless promises of a better future.

Meanwhile, voter registration centres in Freetown and the North are crowded on a daily basis, ultimately overwhelming the ECSL staffs. Despite actions, allegedly by ECSL Staff to discourage first time voters from registering, they still throng the centres on a daily basis, determined to be registered.

Political commentators say that with all these happenings, the government should read the writing on the wall that their days in office are limited, and hopes of winning the 2023 elections are fading by the day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *