The Leader of the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) Charles Francis Margai on Friday 22nd October 2010 informed at a Press Conference that he will now emulate the SLPP’s style of Monthly Press Briefings which seek to scrutinize the activities of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) Party. The inaugural PMDC press conference was held at the PMDC headquarters at Prince Street, off Circular Road in Freetown. The erudite, charming and charismatic PMDC party leader who is also a trained lawyer of repute and well-renowned both inside and out of the country, spoke on a variety of issues; some of which are highlighted below:
The Alliance between the PMDC and APC
The Leader of PMDC, Charles Francis Margai insisted that if the All Peoples Congress is in governance today, it was as a result of the decision which PMDC took in 2007 runoff elections, adding that the APC should thus be grateful to the PMDC for that “our decision in 2007 prevented this country from returning to war as there should have been a serious problem if the SLPP back then had bounced back to power”.
The PMDC to Contest 2012
Mr. Margai noted further that he was in complete agreement with the United Nations Secretary General that the upcoming 2012 elections was very much crucial for Sierra Leone because the PMDC party is determined to ensure that they win the elections. According to Margai, the PMDC’s “only target” is to be included as one of two parties in the Run-off as he believes once that is achieved, PMDC will be in the all-clear to take over governance from State House since the APC will never vote for the SLPP whilst the SLPP would not vote for the APC but both parties will prefer to pitch tent with the PMDC. he derided those who said the PMDC was dead as he confessed that indeed many other political parties have been formed only to die natural death but the PMDC has survived intact for the past four years in full legitimate existence. He appealed to the press to be vigilant come 2012 as it was only the Press that would help ensure all the political parties enjoy free and fair elections.
Stop Blaming the War for Failures
Mr. Margai also said it was now time for officials to stop laying the blame for their continuing failures on the 11 years Civil War in the country as he said the war was now gone and Sierra Leoneans should now focus on development activities.
Mr. Margai expressed his disappointment over the way and manner in which the bye-elections in the country were being held, adding that most of the elections ended up with violence, which is sending a bad signal that the upcoming 2012 general elections will be violent. He called on the international community to ensure that they put swift mechanisms in place in order to maintain law and order during the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The Police and the Judicial System
Margai referred to the police and the judicial system as important arms of government, pointing out that the survival of any nation clearly lies on the application of the rule of law without fear or favour and any failure to maintain this will lead to anarchy. As a party, he use the opportunity to call on the Inspector General of Police to release more police patrols team to patrol round the city at night as according to him the spate of armed robbery is now on the increase and it was the responsibility of the police to ensure that they combat this. He also called on the Chief Justice to put mechanisms in place to ensure that cases at the courts are dealt with according to facts and with speed since justice delayed is justice denied.
Energy and Water Resources
Lawyer Margai thanked the ruling APC government for the bit they have done in taking Bumbuna from the stage of completion they met it to where they have brought it today. He however revealed that the most confusing issue about Bumbuna is that the Minister of Energy and Water Resources has been saying that Bumbuna is almost at it completion stage, whilst Members of Parliament of the ruling APC party are saying that Bumbuna has been finally completed. PMDC, he said, is still sceptical about the completion of Bumbuna. He thus called on the government to organized a field trip comprising of the government, independent Press houses like Awareness Times, all Political Parties, Civil Societies Organizations and other relevant stakeholders in development to visit Bumbuna to prove whether the Bumbuna Hydroelectric Project Dam is supplying electricity or not and whether infact the project is now 100% completed or still not completed. He further appealed to the government to consider calling back a French company to come back and finish constructing the pipe borne waters that they had left uncompleted during the earlier APC regimes all across the country.
Free Health Care Programme
He commend the government for introducing the Free Health Care Delivery system in the country as it will helped to reduce the maternal and mortality rate in the country. He however appealed to the ministry concerned to do more sensitization across the country so that people should understand the concept properly. He urged the government to start putting mechanism in place to ensure the sustainability of the project as they should not sit down waiting for more drugs from donors, “Sierra Leone is fast approaching to 50 years and a fifty years old man should be able to take care of himself; the country is blessed as it is one of the richest countries in the world but what we lack are good leaders”.
Internal Affairs and Local Government
PMDC Charles Francis Margai revealed that District Officers (D.O.) were part of the organogram of the running of the provincial administrations, adding that they were removed from existence due to the laudable decentralisation exercises that saw the re-introduction of the District Councils in the country thus making the positions of D.O. to be redundant. He thus derided the ruling APC’s plan to re-introduce DO back in the country.
“Our problem is we don’t know the reasons for the proposed re-introduction of DOs. He categorically stated that they are not making judgments over the re-introduction of the DO but government should be mindful of DO, especially when they are serving in the capacity of returning officers during elections. He briefly explained his own bitter experience with D.O. in elections past before he queried, “Why the re-introduction of the DO? Are they necessary?”
Wilkinson Road Extension
Margai stated that the introduction of four lane roads is not the solutions to reduce the traffic congestion in the city, adding that he knew of no country in the world that has four laned roads in the heart of the city. He opined that the APC government has its hidden agenda for the demolition and the construction of four laned road in the city. He suggested to the government to apply better traffic-control solutions like construction of giant lorry parks, stopping vehicles from parking in the streets, and the construction of culverts along the streets of the city, this he said will help greatly in curbing traffic congestion in the city.
Margai stated that the Ernest Bai Koroma government has been “causing a lot of noise” about the APC bringing in 300 tractors to improve agriculture in the country and increase the volume of locally produced rice in the market but according to Mr. Margai, he has traversed the length and breadth of Sierra Leone and was yet to count any significant number of tractors he had set eyes on. he thus asked the APC to also engage the independent presshouses like the Awareness Times on a nationwide tour during which they will identify and show the location of these hundreds of tractors which were currently yet to be seen. He asked of the gathering, “Where are the tractors? Who is using them? What are they using them for?” He further noted that despite all the talk of tractorisation and agricultural growth, the standard of living in the country has increased greatly as the price for basic food commodities like rice in the country is too expensive for the average Sierra Leonean let alone clothes and other basic necessities. He derided the APC by asking if APC’s own economics was more tractors means higher prices of rice?
APC’s Misplaced Multiple Priorities
Margai described the priorities of the government as confused and totally mixed-up thus befitting the description of misplaced priorities because each time one Government spokesperson or the other appears in a TV or Radio programme he will speak lengthily about every issue under the sun and refer to such multiple issues as “priorities of the government” so it looked like for these Spokesmen, everything in Sierra Leone was a priority meaning they do not understand what priority means.
Tribalism and Regionalism
Mr. Margai disclosed that one of the reasons why they decide to partner with the APC was to fight against tribalism and regionalism as people were referring to the then SLPP government as a Mende man party. He then went on to ask of how far have we, as a Nation, achieved the fight against tribalism and regionalism?
He said he would be making public “on my next press conference a comparison” of the list of the previous SLPP-led executive positions and the present APC led government executive to compare the level of tribalism of the two regimes.
Re-opening of Radio Democracy 98.1
He described the re-opening of Radio Democracy as a blessing as he was praying every day for the station to come back on air during the time it was off-air for the simple reason that “I like the station because they give equal opportunities to politicians, Civil Society Organizations and members of the public to express themselves without taking sides”. He continue to state that the more radio stations, the more voices people will have in expressing themselves.
Mohamed Bangura & his New Party
Mr. Margai stated that he does not have much to say on either Mohamed Bangura, the suspended PMDC Chairman nor about his proposed party, the PUP because he has merely been hearing about it and had not yet seen it in operation.
“I cannot comment about something that is not functional and not even in existence,” he said adding that he will only comment on Mohamed Bangura’s new party after the party has been formed.
Hon. Legacy Sankoh of Bo Town
Lawyer Margai openly condemned the actions of elected PMDC parliamentarian, Hon. Legacy Sankoh whom he announced might soon be expelled from the party following due process as the PMDC was not prepared to sit back and watch Hon. Sankoh hobnob with the ruling APC to the detriment of the interest of the PMDC. “We are going to ask that he (Sankoh) be removed from parliament and we will be ready for the Bye-Elections to replace him” he said.
He furthered that even if the Bye-Elections caused another party to win the seat currently held by the PMDC, he would prefer that than for Legacy Sankoh to continue to hold the seat fooling people that he was PMDC when in reality he was APC in disguise. He said if even it caused PMDC to be left with just one elected MP in Parliament, it was preferable to having so-called PMDC parliamentarians pursuing another party’s agenda under the guise of the PMDC.
I B Kargbo Apology
Mr. Margai stated the same words he had said in his exclusive interview with Awareness Times concerning the apology of the Minister of Information Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo. He said I.B. Kargbo is a human being who is liable to mistake and having realised his mistakes, he has since apologized and the apology had been accepted by Lawyer Margai. With the full realisation that he had only corresponded and granted exclusive interviews to Awareness Times during that imbroglio, the charismatic leader used the opportunity to appeal to members of the press to forgive him for not granting them interviews during that particular period as he had not wanted to say anything which might be misconstrued. He appealed to the press to continue to work with the PMDC in ensuring that not only did democracy continue to take a firm foothold in the country but that the 2012 Elections are run on a free and fair level playing field.