Covid-19 And Politicking

A house of over 12 residents at Reservation View in the Allen Town community has been quarantined following the discovery of a case of Corona Virus most popularly known as Covid-19.

As Covid-19 routine and procedure demands, an orange coloured line has been passed around the house and two military officers keep guard. The barricade has turned the house into an enclave to stave off outsiders so that that transmission chain could be cut off. By their looks, the residents have been in the facility for over a week, but hopes ride high that they would soon breathe a sigh of relief.

Staying in a quarantined home means a lot for the affected persons as they are not entitled to move as usual and fend for themselves. Those attending classes are not permitted to do so as they do under normal circumstances since government is poised to trample the virus in the dust of history.

A year-two student, name withheld, at the Institute of Advanced Management and Technology (IAMTECH) is also affected. He has spent days in the quarantined home, and has lost a number of lectures. The student, no doubt, has been trapped in a horrific situation as exams period fastly approaches.

He wonders what the future holds for him, but also hopeful that he would soon get of the quagmire as he put it “most likely, next week.”

The quarantined home at Reservation view is an epitome of hundreds of Sierra Leones if not thousands who are in quarantine facilities most times without much means to make life comfortable.

Updates on statistics from National Covid-19 Response Centre (NACOVERC) recently put Covid-19 death toll close to 100, and the figure is sure to roll in coming days as quite a substantial number are in treatment facilities.

Sierra Leone, like many other countries, still wrestles with the virus, and fainted signs of the virus going away remains.

NACOVERC also claims that over 2, 000 cases of Corona virus has been recorded in Sierra Leone, and government continues to push and pull along rough and rugged terrains to nip the virus in the bud.

The Covid-19, by all indications, has proved to be stubborn as it has lingered in the country since 31st march this year although several restrictions have been put in place to suppress its existence.

Covid-19 and politics are strange bedfellows meaning the existence of the former could produce a damaging effect on the other. Covid-19 hates crowds and other congested conditions; it cherishes the use of face masks, use of hand cleans or handkerchiefs when sneezing, the virus also applauds among others frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitisers.

Fines and sometimes waves of arrest and detentions may follow for distinct breaches of Covid-19 rules. No gainsaying that quite a good number of Sierra Leoneans have been arrested, fined and sometimes detained for failing to adhere to Covid-19 rules.

Others have been arraigned, and incurred the wrath of judicial officers and the law for infringement of the Covid-19 restrictions and regulations. Politics is a game that does not agree with such rules, and the rules would definitely be violated regardless of the consequences.

Politics is a game of mingling, dancing, singing, rejoicing, chilling and most notably music and dance.

They are platforms on which politicians sell their ideologies to the public for consumption.

The ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party and the main opposition, All Peoples Congress (APC) and other opposition parties would fall short of the rules in the campaign periods.

Under normal politicking, Covid-19 rules are at high risk of violation let alone during abnormal circumstances when situation gets tough and violence mar the campaign.

Hindsight is enough to show that Sierra Leone has been caught in the twin evil between the devil and the deep blue sea. The days quickly pass off peacefully, and every passing day takes the country closer to elections in the face of Covid-19 restrictions.

2022 and 2023 being the dates slated for local council and general elections are sure to come with just two more years to go. In what appears a desperate move for change of government on the part of Sierra Leoneans, they eagerly want the elections to happen on the said dates.

A local civil society activist, name withheld, told Nightwatch that he and other activists hope and prays that the elections hold on the slated dates for Sierra Leone to begin another chapter.

To him, The New Direction Government has ridden roughshod on the values and principles that hold the nation together. He fears what will be the leadership style of the main opposition, All Peoples’ Congress should they bounce back to power even if not in 2023, but at a future date.

A teacher of good years and local activist, Mr Ibrahim Bangura told this medium that nothing would disrupt the 2022 and 2023 elections. Bangura by his responses is not comfortable with the New Direction dispensation and desirously want to see elections.

He identified a number of ugly incidents that have taken place in the country which to him has derailed the trail of democratic progress in Sierra Leone. “The beautiful values of political culture, socialisation and tolerance that once characterise the country’s body politic are no more. Those values have been thrown out of the window, and have been replaced by political thuggery, terror and intimidation,” he said.

He makes it clear that he is not attached to any political party noting that a victory for any political party that can preserve and consolidate the afore-mentioned values is a victory for all Sierra Leoneans.

He said he would not hesitate to throw his weight behind any party that seeks to maintain the peace and security of the state through the politics of compromise.

The Politics of compromise that caters for a broad-based government of national unity, Bangura says, is the best model for a post-conflict Sierra Leone. As if making a strong case for the elections to take place on the slated dates, Bangura sees the ballot a sine qua non.

“Africa and the world have unanimously resolved that the only means of getting rid of any government in any country is the ballot box,” he said.

The emergence of another party at the helm of state governance, to Bangura, is about reclaiming the political glory the country has lost quite recently. On the other hand, other Sierra Leoneans call on government not to hold elections in the midst of a spiralling Covid-19.

Their fear is based on the contagious and deadly nature of the virus, and most fear contracting it.  Government’s recent effort seems to have resonated with the call not to hold the elections until Covid-19 problem is resolved.

Over six months back, government in a press release expressed its intention to defer the 2022 and 2023 elections to 2024. It is hoped that by 2024, the virus would have subsided and life returned to normal thus paving the way for active and effective politicking.

The move by government has a semblance with that of the Ebola Virus period when former President Koroma postponed the supposed 2017 elections to 2018. The former President’s move worked well, and the international community approved the move. However, it is a different case for President Julius Maada Bio who was going to embark on a similar action had it not been a backlash from the international community.

The European Union Delegation and other members of the diplomatic community in Sierra Leone did not accept President Bio’s bid for 2024. The diplomatic community has insistently called on the President not to defer the elections to any further time, but to respect 2022 and 2023 as the dates for the elections.

If all things remain equal (ceteris paribus), and the chosen and right date for elections stay, no doubt politicking will surely take place in the face of  Covid-19.

“What a threat to the survival of Sierra Leone,” most Sierra Leoneans have asked, “considering the nature of the virus.”

Adding weight to the stance of the international community, Sierra Leone’s regulator of political parties, Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) has in a recent press release maintained that it does not stop any political party from politicking.   PPRC’s action means that political parties are free to play politics when the time is ripe.

Since Covid-19 is a threat to the country’s viable socio-economic and political existence, a Sierra Leonean Professor resident in the United States have earlier called on African governments to quickly tackle the virus at a time the virus was at its outset.

Prof Karim Bangura, one of the most learned in the world was quite aware of the deadly impact of the virus on politics, economy and social life. In a recent interview via social media, Prof Bangura made it clear that Africa is blessed with hot weather, an opportunity they would use to gallantly and successfully combat the virus.

“Africa must work hard to end the virus and not hope to receive loans and grants from inter-governmental organisations,” Prof Bangura urged.

The argument most pervasive among public domain is that the United States which is Covid-19’s hardest-hit is in active politicking. Sierra Leone’s closest neighbour, Republic of Guinea has just ended their elections.

The question is: Why not Sierra Leone?

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