Sierra Leone Parliamentary process has been punctuated once again with wrangling over procedures and to the embarrassment of well-meaning Sierra Leone, it was over voice collection to determine 2/3 majority on the issue of declaring a state of emergency on rape.
Sierra Leone should first understand how they voted in the last Parliamentary election that gave her (Sierra Leone) first hung parliament with no single party having a commanding majority but the opposition party was able to have a slight edge as the single largest party in Parliament.
Sierra Leoneans voted this way because they want a parliament that will not be rubber-stamped to the executive but one that will look at policies of government critically before ensuring approval or disapproval.
It was sad that the start of the 5th Parliament of 2nd Republic was rocked by rancorous and raucous beginnings.
The politically-minded clerk of parliament became very powerful as he was very insistent in asking some of the people’s representatives whom he deemed as petitioned members out of the well of parliament.
Because the members refused on the grounds they had not been served before then, the clerk ordered the police to bundle those members out of the house.
For the first time in the recent history of Sierra Leone, police went into parliament and did not only ask members of parliament out but brushed them off the well of parliament.
It is not uncommon for houses of representative in Eastern Europe, Southern Africa and even in Nigeria to become chaotic but it is very much “unSierra Leoneans’’ as it was the first time such has happened in the country.
When this happened, it took ECOWAS to come to Sierra Leone to settle the feud between ruling and opposition members of Parliament
From the look of things, it may seem to me that the only reason the SLPP decided to remove the so called petition APC members from the well was for them to have their way in electing their very own as Speaker of Parliament because since then, those petitioned members have been going to parliament.
Similar discord was seen in parliament when the Deputy Speaker decided to use voice collection to quash a Parliamentary approved passport contract and as such, the whole Parliament became chaotic.
In the case of the nullification of the passports contract with Netpage by a way of private member motion, the processes were also not followed by the ruling party and the deputy speaker decided not to allow other members to have their own say on the issue.
Despite all of this, the Parliament of Sierra Leone was lauded by people at home and abroad in the way and manner they handled the debate on the Commissions of Inquiry.
A frank and open debate was held and Sierra Leoneans were able to learn from their members of parliament as some of the statements of some parliamentarians were incisive and educative.
Although they put up their best in terms of the debate, the single largest opposition APC party failed to garner a 2/3 majority to stop the instruments from becoming law.
The speaker of parliament was praised by Sierra Leoneans for allowing open and frank debate and many people believed it was the beginning of serious parliament that will set the pace for proper scrutiny of the executive.
Others are of the opinion that speaker decided to allow an open debate on the commissions of inquiry because he was a victim of commissions of inquiry and will not want what happened to him to happen to anyone.
This recent appreciation by the public for members of parliament has been undermined by the action of the Speaker, Dr Abass Bundu when he decided to determine 2/3 majority by voice collection.
This has made Sierra Leone Parliament become a subject of ridicule in the world because there is no way in which anyone will be able to determine 2/3 majority by voice collection instead of voting by ballot.
The action makes the Parliamentary process a mockery to the democracy we are enjoying because on such issues of state of emergency on rape, the principle of fairness should be at the centre of everything.
It also depicts that the ruling party in the house of parliament lacks the ability to dialogue with members of parliament on the other side on very pertinent state issues.
It is my view that the ruling SLPP should understand that Sierra Leoneans voted for a parliament in which the opposition parties put together are the majority in parliament and they (SLPP) must respect the decision of those parties by ensuring that they engaged in serious dialogue instead of bypassing process for political satisfaction.