By Alim Jalloh
The 2018 Afro Barometer Report that was launched on Tuesday 27th November 2018, at the Ministry of Information and Communication conference hall at Youyi Building, Brookfields, Freetown by Campaign for Good Governance, a non-governmental organization that focuses on Democracy and Human Right has ranked the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) 80% and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) 37% in terms of public confidence in the performance in their respective duties.
The report indicated that 56% of Sierra Leoneans say dual citizens should not be allowed to stand for elected office, 80% of Sierra Leoneans blame political parties for the increase in elections violence, seven out of any 10 Sierra Leoneans say citizens should be able to hold government accountable; even if that means it makes decisions slower. Half or more Sierra Leoneans say there is more freedom now than in the past.
The report also indicated that 73% of Sierra Leoneans agree that the Electoral Commission performed its duty as a neutral body guided by law, with eight out of every ten citizens saying the 2018 election was completely free and fair.
The report further outlines the challenges of Media Freedom to investigate, which are 48% and 39% freedom of NGOs/Groups to speak out or out.
During the launching, Marcella Samba, Executive Director of Campaign for Good Governance (CGG), who also doubled as chairperson of the event, threw light on the importance of the Afro Barometer which she said is a Pan-African initiative aimed at measuring citizens’ attitudes on democracy, good governance, the economy, civil society, and other topics.
She said this initiative started in 12 African countries in 1999 and later expanded to 36 countries. She added that the surveys had been completed in 2016/2018, with a goal to give the public a voice in policy making thereby providing high quality public opinion data to policy makers, policy advocates, civil society organizations, academics, news media, donors, investors, and ordinary Africans.
She thanked ITASCAP for their contributions in conducting the survey and for launching the report.
‘We are looking at how those data would affect the lives of ordinary citizens, because most times people speak on governance and politics based on mere opinion as opinion cannot change the situation because the people want to see real democracy,” she stated, adding that most of the time, politicians focus more on the methodology than on the story behind the data,’ she said.
Ibrahim Sesay also of the CGG stated that the Afro Barometer is carried out every third year and that this is the 7th survey conducted so far, but for Sierra Leone, he said this is the third Afro Barometer survey. He further stated that the data is scientific and targeted 1,200 Sierra Leoneans with a nationwide representation. He also said that the report is the view of Sierra Leoneans and not the CGG or Afro Barometer.
Minister of Information and Communication, Mohamed Rado Swarray said inviting the CGG to launch its report at the Ministry’s conference room is an indication of the government’s commitment in addressing issues of Democracy. He stated that the passing of the statutory instrument in parliament to form the Commission of Inquiry is just to demonstrate the issue of Demand for Accountability in Governance.
The dual citizenship issue he said is becoming a debatable one, and as a government, he added that they recognize the contributions of the Diasporas and will look into it. ‘However, the government is committed to addressing some of these burning issues in the country,’ the Information Minister said.
©The Calabash Newspaper