WITH REGARDS TO OUR EXECUTIVE ARM AND THE CONSTITUTION – OUR LOWEST POINTS

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by Mahmud Tim Kargbo

The level of stability, development and advancement of any society, can often times be ascertained with some measure of precision from the level of independence, transparency and predictability, based on the rule of law, of its Parliament. The less independent, more opaque and unpredictable the Parliament is, the more likely a society is retrogressive, lawless and subject to the whims and caprices of whomsoever has temporary custody of the instrument of force or purse strings of the particular enclave – in other words, the more likely a society can be termed a ‘banana republic’.

Under the Sierra Leone Constitution, the Parliament is eloquently and lavishly described and portrayed as an Independent Arm of Government – this pretence is very far from the reality in the past Government and it’s now clear the “New Direction” Government of President Bio is very willing to sustain it. Just like in the past, currently the Parliament in Sierra Leone in practice acts like and could rightly be termed an appendage of the Executive branch of Government. The usual cup-in-hand approach of the Parliamentary branch to the Executive Arm for virtually all needs of the Executive branch, ranging from very exploitative neocolonialist, imperialist and corporate rogue contracts, to requests for other overheads and infrastructural expenses, makes the concept of an Independent Parliament in Sierra Leone clearly a figment of the imagination. This hallucination, it must be pointed out is more prevalent at the State level of Sierra Leone’s purportedly national system, where our New Direction Executive Arm is getting away with blue murder of the constitution in it treatment and control of the Parliamentary Arm.

It is always very clear in modern days democracy that the political doctrine of the Separation of Powers states: “There are three elements in each constitution …first, the deliberative, which discusses everything of common importance; second the officials; and third, the judicial element.” This highlights the three elementary functions that are required for the organisation of our democratic state. Commonly known as the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary, and are carried out by our democratic Government.

The Legislature is the law-making body, and comprised of the MPs. Their function involves the enactment of general rules determining the structure and powers of public authorities and regulating the conduct of citizens and private organisations.

The Executive is all the institutions and persons concerned with the implementation of the laws made by the Legislature. It involves Central and Local Government, the Armed and Police Forces. The role of the Executive …includes initiating and implementing legislation, maintaining order and security, promoting social and economic welfare, administering public services and conducting the external relations of the state.

The Judiciary is made up mainly of professional judges, and their main function is to determine disputed questions of fact and law in accordance with the law laid down by Parliament and expounded by the courts and …is exercised mainly in the civil and criminal courts.

The question which now arises is whether or not under President Bio’s Government of “New Direction” there will be separation of each of the above functions or are we going to experience business as usual?

Locke stated:

…It may be too great a temptation to human frailty…for the same persons who have the power of making laws, to have also their hands the power to execute them, whereby they may exempt themselves from obedience to the laws they make, and suit the law, both in its making and execution, to their own private advantage.

Similarly, Montesquieu believed that:

When legislative power is united with executive power in a single person or in a single body of the magistracy, there is no liberty…Nor is there liberty if the power of judging is not separate from the legislative power and from the executive power. If it were joined to legislative power, the power over the life and liberty of the citizens would be arbitrary, for the judge would be the legislator. If it were joined to executive power, the judge could have the force of an oppressor.

All would be lost if the same man or the same body of principal men, either of nobles, or of the people, exercised these three powers: that of making the laws, that of executing public resolutions, and that of judging the crimes or the disputes of individuals.

Statements from both academics illustrate if one, or a group of persons, controlled more than one limb, the result would inevitably be corruption and an abuse of power. Tyranny and dictatorship would ensue and this, in turn, would mean a loss of liberty for the people. It further show that there is a strong importance still placed upon the doctrine of separation of powers.

The question now is whether President Bio government of “New Direction” will want to sustain the past odd action of controlling the Executive and the Legislature? We know the Legislature has, in theory, ultimate control as it is the supreme law making body in Sierra Leone. However in reality, over the years, the Executive can be seen to dominate the Legislature. President and Government Ministers direct the activities of central government department and have a majority in Parliament. I refer to such Executive as an “Elective Dictatorship”. Such a situation occur when Parliament is dominated by the Government of the day. Elective dictatorship refers to the fact that the Legislative programme of Parliament is determined by the Central Government and Government bills virtually always pass the House of Parliament because of the nature of the governing party’s majority. Or when the President through his massive powers given to him by the 1991 constitution decides to use them wrongly to protect the Executive, his party or personal interest. However, the Legislature has opportunities to scrutinise the Executive, and does so during question time, debates and by use of committees.

The final question in this area is whether or not President Bio government of “New Direction” Legislature and Executive exercise each other’s functions? It can be seen in the past that the Executive performs Legislative functions in respect of delegated legislation. Parliament does not have enough time to make all laws and so delegates its power. This is convenient to the Executive that ministers, local authorities and departments can implement primary Legislation by making regulations. However effective parliamentary procedures exist that scrutinise the use made of delegated power.
[1:22 pm, 20/5/2024] Boss Joseph: When push comes to shove, the Statistician General rides okada to State House

Bongolistically,

By Mallam O.*

This particular morning found me sitting in the back of my official car, a brand new Toyota landcruiser, staring anxiously at a seemingly endless traffic jam on the streets of Freetown. I had a crucial meeting at State House, and everyone who works with me knows I never arrive late.

The car had crawled to a stop near Lumley. We hadn’t moved an inch in fifteen minutes, and my driver James stepped out to investigate. He returned with a look of concern, reporting a massive truck breakdown ahead. I glanced at my watch, feeling the weight of each passing minute—we had only thirty left.

Despite my long-standing vow to never ride on okadas (motorcycles) due to the reckless behaviour I’d often witnessed, the direness of the situation called for an exception. Ignoring James’s worried protests, I pretended to stretch my legs but quickly slipped away from the car, making my way to hire a bike.

Heart racing, I stopped several riders, examining each one. The fifth rider, a young man with a surprisingly steady gaze, seemed trustworthy enough for the urgent task. I negotiated a fare five times the usual, emphasising the need for speed but with caution, and climbed onto the bike.

The journey was a frantic blur of acceleration and risky maneuvers. I clenched my teeth each time we narrowly skirted past cars and pedestrians, my grip tightening on the seat. I kept my eyes shut during the most perilous passes, silently praying for safety and appealing to the gentleman to be careful.

“Bossman, nor worry bra, mi na sober porsin,” he assured me.

As the grand gates of State House appeared, relief washed over me. We arrived with barely five minutes to spare. I thanked the young okada rider profusely, impressed by his skill at navigating the chaotic traffic.

Stepping off the bike, my legs trembled slightly from the adrenaline. I checked my phone to see a call from James. He was still stuck in traffic, his voice filled with confusion when I answered.

“Where are you, sir? I’ve just crossed Bottom Mango at Wilberforce, but I can’t see you.”

“At State House now, James,” I replied, trying to steady my breath. “I took a bike. I needed to make it on time.”

As I walked into State House, ready for my appointment, a new sense of appreciation for life’s unpredictable journeys filled me.

Today’s incident was a clear reminder that sometimes, the paths we least expect are the ones that deliver us exactly where we need to be.

When James finally arrived at State House, he was visibly surprised to find me standing outside, calmly waiting. His expression was a mix of relief and bewilderment as he parked the car and hurried over.

“Sir, I can’t believe you actually rode a bike,” he said, his voice tinged with awe and concern. “Are you alright?”

I smiled, still feeling the remnants of adrenaline. “I’m fine, James. More than fine, actually. The meeting went very well, thanks to that ride. We even finished ahead of schedule.”

James shook his head.

I nodded, appreciating his amazement. “It was certainly an experience, James. One that I hope not to repeat, but it taught me something important about adapting to circumstances.”

I patted him on the shoulder. “I appreciate your concern, James. But sometimes, we must take unconventional routes to meet our commitments. Today was one of those times. Thank you for understanding.”

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