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Political Parties Sustainability Act: It Undermines Multi- Party Democracy

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When a group of people minds are beclouded with personal interests and corruption, they try to cleverly take everything from the poor there by making them poorer and poorer. Such is the case of some of our lawmakers and politicians who have destroyed and continue to destroy almost everything that must exist for our country Liberia to survive.

The efforts by some politicians and lawmakers in our country to carve a law that they called “Democracy Sustainability Act” also known as “Political Parties Sustainability Act “must be condemned and strongly opposed by every well-meaning Liberian because the law undermines democracy, violates several provisions of our current constitution of 1986 and creates unnecessary burden for tax payers for the benefits of rapacious politicians. In fact, the act will cleverly be eliminating or killing political parties and making room for a one party state instead of sustaining them.

Undermines Democracy and Killing and eliminating of political parties Democracy which is a system of government allows all illegible citizens to have an equal say in decision affecting their lives. That is, it allows parties in a political system to participate equally without hindrances. Our constitution espouses multi-party democracy as it did not place limitation over the number of parties needed in our political system. It however says that in order to be considered a political party, a group not less than 500 qualified voters in each of at least six counties as article 78 of the 1986 constitution reads, “As used in this Chapter, unless the context otherwise requires, an “association” means a body of persons, corporate or other, which acts together for a common purpose, and includes a group of people organized for any ethnic, social, cultural, occupational or religious objectives; a “political party” shall be an association with a membership of not less than five hundred qualified voters in each of at least six counties, whose activities include canvassing for votes on any public issue or in support of a candidate for elective public office; and an “independent candidate” shall be a person seeking electoral post or office with or without his own organization, acting independently of a political party.” This is the provision we expect the lawmakers to ask the Executive to enforce instead of twisting it to suit them.

Democracy also encourages people to have the right to associate in groups whether political parties, social clubs, business club, etc in a peaceful manner. This is enshrined in our constitution via article 17 under Fundamental Human Rights which read “All persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceable manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct their representatives, to petition the Government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances and to associate fully with others or refuse to associate in political parties, trade unions and other organizations.”

By passing this bill into law, our lawmakers will be limiting the rights of citizens in the absence of a court hearing. They will be facing financial problems having been out spent by other parties. When a monkey is jammed, it eats pepper. This law will create that situation. Our constitution under Chapter 8, Political Parties and Elections refers to “competition” as the essence of democracy via article 77 a) which reads, “Since the essence of democracy is free competition of ideas expressed by political parties and political groups as well as by individuals, parties may freely be established to advocate the political opinions of the people. Laws, regulations, decrees or measures which might have the effect of creating a one-party state shall be declared unconstitutional.”

By giving money to parties that are already powerful will only make them more and more powerful thereby throwing smaller parties out of competition which is against the spirit and intent of the above provision. When one looks up the definition of the word “Sustain” which is the base word from which the word “Sustainability” was derived on the free online dictionary, one would find the following definitions: 1. to keep in existence; maintain. 2. To supply with necessities or nourishment; provide for. And etc. If one actually intends for democracy to be sustained in Liberia, one must protect the kind of democracy that the constitution describes or talks about, which is the multi-party democracy.

In order to do that you must support smaller parties that have been beaten out of competition. The essence of sustainability is to save not to kill. By giving bigger parties huge sum of money, will put them way ahead in terms of competition thereby eliminating smaller parties and narrowing the political choices of Liberians as opposed to the constitution.

This is however not my argument. I do not believe that tax payer’s money should be spent on politicians who have destroyed our country for the past 165 years leaving the many relevant and pressing demands or needs of Liberia and Liberians unattended. This bill is the clever elimination method of political parties, not sustainability. If the argument of our lawmakers should be anything to go by, then let’s assume that Lawmakers of the Liberian National Transitional Government 2 NTGL2) had passed such bill into law before the 1996 election, do you know how many party would have survived with the $250,000 to $1,000,000? Only NPP and by 2005, the NPP would have had in it coffer $ 9000, 000 because it was the only party that got 10% or above.

Unity Party which came second got 9.58% and ALCOP which came third got 4.02%. You imagine a poor party that the people have decided to put their choice into as was done to the UP in 2005, going into elections with another say, NPP with $9,000,000? The Unity Party and other parties would have been out spent and beaten out of competition thereby muzzling the choice of the people with excessive vote buying in a poverty stricken nation like Liberia. Take the same assumptions for 2005, only UP, CDC would have gotten about $6,000, 000 each and Liberty Party 1,500,000 preparing them ahead of the 2011 elections to the disadvantages of other parties and voters who would want to make better changes.

The same assumption for the 2011 election would have only benefited UP, CDC and NUDP of Senator Prince Johnson $6,000,000 each and LP of Cllr.  Charles Brumskine $ 1,500,000 by 2017. This is not the kind of competition the constitution calls for in Liberian as enshrined in article 77 (a) quoted above. The field must be leveled economically and in terms of other opportunities.

Creates Unnecessary Burden for Taxpayers

One must begin by asking yourself, “why must we spent such amount of monies on political parties that  have the proclivity to kill smaller parties that others want to represent them at the National Legislature or in other sectors of the government and also kill our democracy taking into consideration the many important issues at stakes? Liberians now need electricity throughout the land and birth of the Republic of Liberia, basic health care facilities, good drinking water, infrastructural development including the constructions of roads and bridges not only in Monrovia but in the interior and the restoration basic social services not money for politicians to spend to keep themselves perpetually in power thereby gravitating the country towards De-Facto single party state. A de-Facto single party system is a term used to describe a dominant-party system where laws or practices prevent the opposition from legally getting power. This would have been the case with NPP after the 1996 elections and before the 2005 elections.

My calculation tells me that if this so-called bill becomes a law, $18,000,000 USD would be paid in the coffers of UP, CDC and the NUDP by 2017 with each carrying 6,000,000. But if one must divide the 18,000,000 by $200 (increment for each civil servant), it will be affecting the lives of 90,000 employees. This is more relevant to us than sponsoring political parties.

This is a cleaver attempt by some politicians to cleverly steal the resources of our newly discovered oil. They are calculating way ahead as they normally do to scatter our proceeds from our resources- blessed nation. Let’s spend these kinds of Monies on subsidies to schools, small businesses and give more scholarships to deserving students to go abroad and study so that they may return with qualifications that will help build the economy and the country. We have many options or uses for these kinds of lavished spending which will kill our democracy.

Violates several provisions of our constitution

As clearly pointed out in my opening paragraphs, this bill when passed into law, will be a violating articles 17, 77 (a) and 78 of our constitution. Again, any action/idea that violates any provision of our constitution also violates article 2 which should make that action void and of no legal effects. Article 2 reads, “This Constitution is the supreme and fundamental law of Liberia and its provisions shall have binding force and effect on all authorities and persons throughout the Republic. Any laws, treaties, statutes, decrees, customs and regulations found to be inconsistent with it shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void and of no legal effect. The Supreme Court, pursuant to its power of judicial review, is empowered to declare any inconsistent laws unconstitutional.”Conclusion: With all of these constitutional discrepancies or lapses in this bill, it gets me wondering as to whether majority of our lawmakers are reading our constitution and other laws? In the first place such bill must not be introduced on the floor of the

House of Representatives if our some of our lawmakers are reading the constitution. Lawmakers must read the constitution and other laws since their lawmaking functions for which they were elected must be in conformities with the constitution and those laws that are already in effects. Finally, I would rather be happy if the Liberian people would support paying for tutorials for each of our lawmakers to attend constitutional classes at least twice every week in addition to their lawmaking functions under the tutelages of selected constitutional lawyers so as to enable them focus on the people’s works. This will enable our lawmakers to prioritize issues having understood the constitution and to also know the pressing demands of Liberians in keeping with our organic laws. The tutorial constitutional classes will prevent our lawmakers from entertaining any time wasting discussion such as the one on the so-called “Democracy Sustainability Act”.

This is no offense to our Hon. Lawmakers. This is just my sincere view as I do not believe that our lawmakers are focusing on pressing needs of the country which I think also has something to do with understanding the laws and the people that they must be working for. I am also calling on the Senate not to concur with the House of Representatives or the President to veto it should in case the Senator concur with their colleagues from the lower house.

Manyou MAS Bility – Milwaukee, WI414 530 1728.  Little education is self-destruction. Hon. Sheihk Kafumba Konneh.

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