From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
"Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Election Influenced by Past Executive Members" ÖSays Female Aspirant Campaign Team
Apr 17, 2013, 17:30

The Campaign Team for one of the former Presidential Candidates, who doubles as the only female candidate in the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) election that was held at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown on Saturday 13th April 2013, Mrs. Williette James, has said that some members of SLAJ have lost the moral high ground from which to condemn politicians for using alcohol and bribery to induce votes for themselves. They allege that major parts of the electoral process were influenced by some senior members of the outgoing executive who also bribed and drugged voting journalists with booze prior to the voting.


According to Mr. Francis Sowa, the Campaign Manager for Mrs. James, whilst the actual voting, counting and announcement of results were done in a transparent, fair and peaceful manner, the campaigns were not free from fear, intimidation, manipulation and bribery.


He alleged that some top outgoing executive members of the Association, openly used 'well-crafted tactics' in the form of innuendoes to demolish all major campaign messages put forward to the delegates by his candidate, adding that these members did so not only on radio but also at the delegates' conference.


For example, he went on, the point made by his candidate that "I am not in the race to fight against government,'' was a response to what one of the male candidates had said to her during a meeting. The said male candidate according to Mr. Sowa had among other things told the female candidate that she could not stand up to pressure from the government.


Mr. Sowa stated that even though Mrs. James explained what transpired between her and the male candidate that warranted such response, these outgoing executives in their statements twisted and slanted the woman candidate's response. This he said was a direct attack on his candidate on the very day and moment delegates were casting their votes.


The Campaign Chairman said "we will like to state that some members of SLAJ have lost the integrity to challenge politicians giving alcohol and money to people to vote for them", whilst alleging that at the just concluded election, some delegates were taken to bars and clubs and they were overdosed with alcohol and huge amount of money to vote for particular candidates.


"How could outgoing executive members become campaign managers and spokesmen for aspiring candidates in an election?" Mr. Sowa asked, adding that the Team has noticed that SLAJ is beginning to be run and ruled by a 'succession policy'.


"We will want to remind the outgoing executives that they may have succeeded in doing this by fulfilling the Biblical adage, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased, vote for him", but that they and their cohort will fail in doing so in the future.

He used the forum on behalf of his former presidential candidate, to thank all those strong men and women including the female caucus of Women in the Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL) who withstood all other considerations and publicly supported, campaigned and voted for Mrs. Williette James.

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