By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla & Elkass I.L. Sannoh
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Party has described recently announced nomination fees by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) as the most unimagined capitalistic features of the November 17th General Elections and calls for a joint opposition action to take the electoral body to court for an injunction to stop the coming national polls until the fees are revisited.
According to the NDA party in a press release issued on Friday 3rd August, the increment and timing for the announcement for such is absurd, and a way by NEC to disenfranchise the people of Sierra Leone, ‘who are opposed to 51 years monopoly of power by the two big political parties, the All People’s Congress (APC) party and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)’.
The NEC, on July 30th 2012, announced a hundred-fold hike in nomination fees for a candidate wishing to become President of Sierra Leone. From Le1m in 2007, the new fee to run for president announced by NEC is Le100m. Similar percentage increases were also announced for contesting Councillors, Paramount Chiefs and Parliamentarians.
The NDA party believes these new nomination charges are recipe for violence as a candidate who pays such amount will not stand by to see someone muzzling his or her right. In addition, they say it will undermine the democratic practice in Sierra Leone since the whole process has only resulted to the giving of power to the haves; and the haves-not, the less privileged that are in the mass majority, will not raise their voices in the policy making of the State.
Furthermore, the NDA party condemns the procedure through which the fees, which they describe as ‘hut political tax’, were set, saying it is logically illegal because it was not legislated before.
Consequently, the party is calling on NEC to withdraw the new fees and either go back to the 2007 rate or make a reasonable increment of not more than 100%.
If the new nomination fees announced by NEC are to stand, it will make Sierra Leone the highest in terms of such in the sub-Sahara West Africa.
All the political parties contesting the November 17th polls seem to be united in condemnation of the new nomination fees, except the ruling APC party.
APC ‘s Campaign Co-ordinator, Balogun Koroma aka Logus, says politics is not free and it’s not meant for people who cannot meet the criteria to run for positions, as elections are very expensive.
NEC needs Le88 billion, approximately twenty-million US dollars, to conduct the forthcoming national elections, with 54 percent of that expected from government.
Chief of External Relations of NEC, Albert Massaquoi says the prescribed nomination fees for the elections is a way to source funds to run the elections.
He says a lot of what they will be doing involve cost and are very expensive as they have to continue with education and sensitization, printing of posters, publicity, logistics and staff salaries.