November 1, 2021
After a long day, tensed, dramatic debate, Parliament eventually approved the appointment of Zainab Moseray to serve as National Electoral Commissioner for the Western Area Region, amid the boycott of three major opposition parties in Parliament.
The Consortium of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP), which comprises of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC), National Grand Coalition (NGC), Coalition 4 Change (C4C) and Unity Party, walked out of the Well of Parliament as a protest against what they say lack of consultation and violation of procedure in the appointment of Zainab Morseray, National Electoral Commissioner (NEC) for the Western Area Region.
But notably enough, the leader of C4C in Parliament, Hon. Sahr Emerson Lamina, who maintained that his party was consulted, did not take part in the walk- out protest.
The Consortium of Progressive Political Parties in a press statement read by the Chairman and Leader of the NGC, Dr. Denis Bright, shortly upon their boycott, accused the government of imposing the NEC Commissioner on them.
“We are here today to stand by our members of Parliament who have responded to our call to condemn the imposition of Mrs. Zainab Morseray as Commissioner for the Western Region at the National Electoral Commission (NEC),by staging a peaceful walk out from Parliament,’’ he read.
Mrs. Moseray’s appointment generated controversies among political parties since she was appointed on 7th July this year. In a series of letters written to the Clark of Parliament, COPPP claimed that they were not consulted before the appointment was made while other political parties, notably the UNPP, ADP, PDP, UDM and the leader of C4C acknowledged the approval.
Section 32 (3) made provision for consultation to be made before the appointment of NEC Commissioners. But the leader of the main opposition in Parliament, Hon. Chernor Maju Bah, read a letter they received from State House which sounded like they were only being informed about the appointment of Zainab Moseray. Thus consolidating his claim that their party (APC) was not consulted. He further claimed that from an investigation he conducted around Congo Town where the NEC appointee lives, it was rumoured to him by residents in the said community that the NEC appointee, Mrs. Morseray and her family members ‘’have always been active in SLPP activities’’ – thus insinuating that the NEC nominee is a member of the ruling party. On that note, the Hon. Member called on the House not to support the appointee.
With consistent focus on the issue of consultation and the corruption allegations, all MPs from APC raised similar concern against the credibility of Mrs. Morseray to serve in such a sensitive position in the nation’s national electoral office.
Speaking during the debate, the leader of the NGC in Parliament, Hon. Kandeh Yumkella pointed out that their concern was not just about the NEC appointee, but also about the integrity and credibility of NEC in the 2023 elections.
Hon. Yumkella continued that although Section 32 (3) of the 1991 Constitution provides for members of the Electoral Commission to be appointed by the President after consultation with the leaders of all registered political parties, his chairman and leader was not consulted rather, he was merely informed about the president’s decision to appoint Mrs, Morseray, noting the lack of consultation in the President’s decision before making the appointment.
He accused Mrs. Moseray of biases and lack of neutrality. As a result, the staunch critic of the NEC presidential nomination, emphasized that he cannot approve the candidate.
“From the days of the Alliance in 2015 to the formation of the NGC, and to the present day, we know of the candidate’s biases, we know her lack of neutrality. When we tried to register a new party, we know the candidate’s role in delaying the approval of political parties. So, we question her impartiality as a NEC Commissioner at a crucial time in this country’s democratic development. So I cannot in any good conscience support this candidate,” he stated.
However, the Leader of Government Business, Hon. Sahr Mathew Nyuma maintained that all political parties were consulted. He continued that the letter he received from APC, NGC and UP had only raised concern about corruption allegation against the nominee of which Anti-Corruption Commission had cleared in a letter to the Clark of Parliament.
In an effort to resolve the issue that kept popping up as the crux of the whole day debate, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Sengehpoh Thomas and Hon. Hindolo M. Ngavao of the ruling party uttered that as far as Section 32 (3) of the 1991 Constitution is concerned, the issue of consultation which was the crux of the debate, can only be interpreted by the Supreme Court, noting that the legislative house is not the Supreme Court to interpret constitutional provisions.
Since the inception of multi-party democracy in Sierra Leone, hardly any election is conducted without some form of challenge to the results. The fairness of electoral process in an election is often questioned in which frustrated political parties usually file for court litigations and generally ruling parties have always been victorious in those litigations.
This is perhaps the reason why the approval of Presidential appointees to serve in the National Electoral Commission is often so difficult.