At the Information Ministry’s office yesterday Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) projected Sierra Leoneans perceptions of democracy, elections and citizenship, while looking at the Afrobarometer Round 7 survey in Sierra Leone, which was conducted by ITASCAP.
Some of the outstanding findings revealed were that 56% of Sierra Leoneans say dual citizens should not be allowed to stand for elected office.
More than one quarter of Sierra Leoneans say the president “often” or “always” ignores laws and parliament.” 64% says government should be able to ban any organization that goes against it policies. 81% have more trust in the military as a state apparatus fulfilling it functions as stipulated in the constitution than that of the presidency (70%); the National Electoral Commission (64%); the Parliament (63%), Local government councils (59%); Courts of law (56%) and police (37%).
Substantial proportion of Sierra Leoneans say people often or always have to be careful about what they say (48%), how they vote (41%) and which organization they joined (37%).” “…80% of Sierra Leoneans say party politics ‘often’ or ‘always’ lead to violence.” While, 41% say they fear becoming victims of political intimidation or violence… during electoral campaigns.”
In the past two years more than half 53% say they have personally feared violence at political events, and a third 33% report having feared violence during public protests.” However, it is not all gloomy as large majorities support democracy and reject non-democratic alternatives. Six in 10 (62%) support multi party competition. 69% says we should be able to hold government accountable. 70% says the government must always obey the law and 60% says he or she should be accountable to parliament.
The Executive Director of CGG Marcella Samba-Sesay said the thrust of the Afrobarometer is about how data affect the lives of ordinary citizens.
“Many a time we want to present issues around governance and politics … Through our mere opinion and those mere opinions can not change the welfare of citizens but when backed by evidence, when backed by data we are able to resonate and understand exactly where we are going… it shows if we are making difference or not,” she explained.
“The data should be such that we are able to interrogate it to understand why is it that, in as much as all of these energies are put into such actions, why are we not realizing any dividend.” Marcella added, “ordinary citizens want to see democratic gains in their lives it is not only about casting their ballot they want to see real changes as democracy transform.”
The CGG Executive Director said “…as we move towards democratic consolidation we need to look at what are the hiccups we are having and what are the serious issues as policy makers to be considered that hinders or hampers democracy.” Also advising that the find should be looked at “from a forward looking perspective.”
CGG Programs Officer Ibrahim Sesay explained that the purpose of the Afroberometer is to measure popular perceptions on the social, political and economic environment of Sierra Leoneans. Adding that “the goal is to give the public a voice in policy making processes by providing high quality opinion data to policy makers, policy advocate, civil society organizations, academics, the media, donors, investors and ordinary Africans.”
However, he pointed out that “a program of this nature will go a long way in breaking the democratically questionable habit of experts, politicians and others that often unilaterally claim that their opinions represent those of the ordinary Africans and give voice to the people.”
Ibrahim said with this process “we are hopeful, would direct us to provide governance, views of ordinary citizens to feed directly into policy advocacy and policy making processes. We are also hopeful it will go a long way in meeting the objectives of the Afrobarometer survey…”
The Minister of Information, Mohamed Swaray expressed his delight noting that the information would serve as “precision guided missiles” in addressing policy making.