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Following The Issue

This Funny Thing Called “Democracy Sustenance Bill” – Part 2

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A few weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed a bill termed “Democracy Sustenance Bill.” The bill, we understand, was sponsored by some leaders of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and embraced by some higher ups of the ruling Unity Party UP). The bill, it is said, seeks to make funding of political parties the responsibility of Liberian tax payers. Differently stated, the proponents of this idea want money to be allocated in the National Budget for certain political parties, based on the percentage-points derived from the number of votes they obtain in a general election.

Various flimsy arguments have been presented by supporters of the bill, arguments aimed at having – or rather deceiving – the public to believe that the bill is in the interest of the country and its people. In this article, like in the previous one, the Issues Desk is interested in countering those flimsy arguments and proffering additions comments in the process.

Most of us very well know that our leaders have always – or at least almost always – worked in and sought their own interest. The expression “in the interest of the people” is generally a meaningless saying in our nation, especially when it comes from our leaders and their praise singers.

They – that is, our leaders – are fond of devising schemes and games that will benefit them at the expense of the people. This has been the trend for ages. And they never get tired devising these diabolic and self-seeking games. Perhaps it is because they usually have their way. They are of the belief that the Liberian people are stupid, gullible and weak.  But why would they always want to force things down our throats, if they realized that they wouldn’t have things their way?

One of such self-seeking schemes is the introduction of the so-called Democracy Sustenance Bill, which our leaders argue is in our interest. However, the fakeness of this bill is seen when one considers the flimsy arguments some have proffered in its favor, and we wish to consider a few.

As you will recall, we presented five of those arguments in Part One, and we are interested in presenting additional two in this second part, but it seems perfectly reasonable to us to first summarize the first five arguments dealt with in the first article. First, we presented and refuted the argument that the bill will create fairness and a level-playing field. It does not. It will not.

This argument is a joke, for there will be nothing like a level-playing field. The ruling political party will still use state resources for its campaign or other political activities. Second, we logically dismissed the argument that the bill indicates that Liberia is ready for mature political business. As we indicated, Liberia is too poor for such an undertaking. There are too many bad roads. Clear examples are the streets in Sinkor and other places near Monrovia. Duport Road and Police Academy Road are a shame.  You would think that you are not anywhere near the capital.

Besides the bad roads, there is no electricity and safe drinking water. These, in our view, should be prioritized, not the funding of political parties from tax payers’ money. Third, we brought down the argument that the bill is necessary because partisans are too poor to support their various parties. We also debunked the flaws in the argument that money given to political parties as a result of the bill will help those political parties to have resources for an effective campaign. Giving them money does not guarantee that the money will be used wisely or for its intended purpose. Generally speaking, our politicians are eat-your-own-and-go people.  Finally, we refuted the flimsy argument indicating that funding political parties from the National Budget – using tax payers’ money – will enable the citizens to have a voice in the political process. This makes no sense whatsoever.

At this juncture, it is proper to present the sixth and seventh flimsy arguments we have heard in favor of the so-called Democracy Sustenance Bill, which some believe should actually be called Hungry Politicians Sustenance Bill.

Sixth, some have argued that the bill is necessary in that it will make political parties accountable because, according to them, there will be arrangements for the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to audit the financial records of the political parties receiving the funds. As some have said, this is a laughable argument, considering the fact that the government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has done little or nothing in terms of seriously acting on the scores of audit reports released by the General Auditing Commission. It is not about whether the General Auditing Commission will or will not act; it is about whether anything serious will come out of the actions of the GAC, whether the GAC’s audit reports and recommendations will be respected and acted upon. In a sense, we have to ask ourselves this question: What has become of the many audits conducted by the GAC?

Various ministries and agencies have been audited over the last few years. What serious corrective actions have been taken? How many of those indicted in the reports have been prosecuted? If this has not happened, what will assure us that the GAC’s audit of political parties will be any different? If people wish to stress the relevance of the so-called Democracy Sustenance Bill on the premise that the political parties getting the funds will be audited, then this is a good reason why the bill should be rejected in the first place because those very audit reports will soon be covered with dust due to the requisite authority’s inability, unwillingness and un-readiness to act on them.And, as many of our leaders are fond of saying, the Liberian people will talk and talk and talk and get tired.

Seventh, many other persons have proffered that the bill is necessary because the funds given to political parties will strengthen the opposition. This is tantamount to arguing that giving recess money to children will make them clever.  Is it money that makes a strong opposition? We refuse to conform to this orientation. Money does not produce formidable opposition. When politicians and political leaders of the opposition stand for something – specific political or socio-economic ideologies or principles, for example – and are willing and able to unwaveringly pursue and promote those ideologies or principles, then that desire will strengthen it. But, from experience, our politicians, generally speaking, stand for nothing. That’s one major reason why, we believe, they jump from one political party to another. This is why they continuously leave one candidate for another. It is about “What’s personally in it for me?” Giving them money from tax payers’ coffers will not transform them; it will not change anything. They are in politics for what they can get, not because they sincerely have or subscribe to some particular political principles or ideas. They stand for nothing. Also, their desire to seriously challenge the ruling political party on principles and policies is lacking. They participate in elections for the jobs they think they will be offered after the elections. Even after the elections, they do nothing to present themselves as serious political parties. If they speak on issues or “challenge” the government, they do so not because they sincerely want to institute change, but to create for themselves conditions that will land them a job in the government. So, we refuse to believe that giving these individuals tax payers’ money under a scheme called Democracy Sustenance Bill will change their mentality and disposition.

In conclusion, let the word go forth, and let it be loud and clear that the so-called Democracy Sustenance Bill is a scheme to enrich certain politicians on tax payers’ back. In fact, the name of the bill is a misnomer. It should actually be called Hungry Politicians Sustenance Bill, not Democracy Sustenance Bill, for it sustains no democracy. It is a bill intended to benefit the higher ups of certain political parties, when such amounts could be used to empower us the people or to develop the nation’s infrastructure. Let’s reject it in every way possible, and let’s politically punish those who have devised this scheme.

To be continued…
Believe me, my people. We will never stop following the issues.

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