A five-day parliamentary debate on the presidential speech delivered on Friday 8th October 2010 to mark the opening of the fourth session of the House commenced yesterday in the well of Parliament. Majority APC members’ motion on the debate was ‘To thank his Excellency the President Ernest Bai Koroma for the address he so graciously delivered on the occasion of the state opening of the fourth session of the third Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone.’
Members of the opposition parties, the People Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) and the Sierra Leone People Party (SLPP) seriously and unequivocally scrutinized some sections of the president’s speech. They described the document as an extension of programmes and policies that were being initiated by the former SLPP government.
Honourable Morie B. Kamanda of opposition SLPP advanced that 80% of the projects highlighted in the president’s speech were initiated by the past government led by Tejan Kabbah. He said the president’s promise to turn around the country in terms of development in 36 months was not for the APC to drag supporters from up country and present them to the house to fascinate diplomats with lies. He said the people of Sierra Leone are in dire poverty as all what was squeezed in the document were not praticalized, adding that people are in consistent suffering as a result of bad policies this present government is implementing. “The All People Congress APC is not an alternative to the SLPP but an extension to programmes and policies initiated by the SLPP,” he echoed.
He also disagreed with paragraph (21) of the speech which stated that the APC designed most of the projects they are implementing, saying APC was not grateful to the SLPP and that they should not lie to the people of Sierra Leone. He said the activities of government are the destiny of any country.
Honourable Shaka Sama of the People Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) started by commending the president for mentioning Kailahun District six times in his speech because Kailahun has been one of the most deplorable districts in the country. “Anything that is meant to put a country forward must be commended but we should commend the Sierra Leone People Party (SLPP) for their past developmental strides,” he noted.
He disagreed with some sections of the president’s speech like in the area of agriculture where the president said the government bought 300 tractors for the sector but yet they remain accessible to the poor farmers. The reason for this he said was because the 20 million as an amount required for a tractor is very huge for the poor farmers in the villages. He on that note appealed to the government to make available these machines to the poor farmers at low operational costs.
Hon. Shaka also charged the free heath care delivery. He said according to what is seen in the provinces, the initiative has created more harm than good because of poor monitoring system. He on that note cautioned that government should not only implement projects but must also take into cognizance monitoring. He lauded government’s achievement for providing electricity in the city, though he noted that Freetown hosts less than half of the country’s population.
In conclusion, he cautioned government against pressuring traditional heads to participate in politics for peaceful co-existence as in his words ‘they are ready to fight any dictatorship attempt by this government.’
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.