Editor of the UK-based New Africa Analysis has urged Sierra Leoneans to draw inspiration from the words of President Ernest Bai Koroma that the ongoing constitutional review exercise should serve ‘to make politics better’, by making meaningful contributions to the process as to what changes could be made to the 1991 constitution.
In an article titled “Towards getting politics right”, which is published on page 5 of this edition, Charles Davies slams the much hyped third term for President Koroma as a “distraction from a whole range of other important issues, including governance and meaningful contributions to the constitutional review debate”.
“We are much more exercised with what we think is the President’s desire, rather than what we as a people want. President Koroma himself has stated that the Constitutional Review Commission will only serve ‘to make politics better’,” writes Mr. Davies.
He describes the 1991 constitution as problematic as it gives too much power to the executive president.
“The present system of government in Sierra Leone under the 1991 constitution, somewhat of a presidential system, is open to manipulation by the executive and, therefore, problematic… If we have strong institutions, and a clear separation of powers between the three main arms of government…then presidential powers and its possible excesses might not be so much of a problem. Consequently perhaps, a parliamentary system, modelled around the Westminster system…could be a way forward for Sierra Leone if an honest and open review of the constitution is encouraged and debated,” Davies points out.
The New Africa Analysis editor also voices the need to have a ‘shadow cabinet’, which he says is an important feature of a parliamentary system. This shadow cabinet, he explains, will be made up of senior members of parliament from the official opposition party, which “appoints an MP to ‘shadow’ each of the members of the cabinet and they will be paid to do so from the public purse”.
In this system the opposition can make sure that it looks at every aspect of the government and can question them thoroughly, he says, adding: “It also means that the opposition has members of parliament that are ready to take specific jobs in the cabinet if they win at the next general election. They are also assured of jobs while waiting to form government without the need to cross-carpet in search of greener pastures as is often the case in Sierra Leone.”
This system, according to Davies, eliminates term limits, so “a party or government can go on governing endlessly save for the small matter of keeping the electorate on side”.