A Response to President Koroma’s CRC Speech

 - Monday 9 September 2013.


Response to President Koroma’s address to the Constitutional Review Committee

My response to President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s key note address at the launching ceremony of the constitutional review committee on the 30th July 2013.

I respectfully submit and commend the President for his articulation on issues surrounding the history, people and the constitution of Sierra Leone.

Having said that, let me also remind members of the committee that

Sierra Leone’s present constitution is deeply rooted in the Rule of Law as well as in the Magna Carta (1215), which serves as an inspiration for other instruments of personal liberty and five centuries later, served as inspiration to the United States constitution, therefore Sierra Leone cannot be off track constitutionally. However, a review of the constitution is also an acceptable

practice, in light of it’s short comings.

In my view Mr. President, Sierra Leone constitutional dilemma is due to the fact, in part, that Sierra Leone has two operating systems of laws in existence,

One Tribal and “unwritten” traditional and the other Western and Constitutional and both used in governing the country. The question becomes, which is supreme? The conflict between the two laws are much more pronounced and vivid in areas I’m about to point out. The people and the nation as a whole must reconcile these duplicity, inequality and discriminatory practices that are condoned by the constitution itself, due to the shortsightedness and lack of vision of our founding fathers vis-a’-vis our colonial emancipators, as well as every other administration since independence, to date.

For instance, as this paper goes to press, What most Sierra Leoneans do not know, or are not aware of, is the fact that the majority of Sierra Leoneans in most parts of the country outside the western area cannot, CANNOT use their land as a collateral to obtain any type of loan, from any bank in Sierra Leone. Why not?, the inquisitive mind may ask. Because land outside the western area is not owned in free hold.

Therefore, without the ability to obtain a loan from a bank, by using their land as a collateral, most Sierra Leoneans will fall short of benefiting from your “Agenda for Prosperity”. This is an economic bottleneck. This economic bottleneck is caused by the constitutional restraint on land ownership in free hold, fee simple absolute, that is not universal throughout Sierra Leone; because of our dual land laws, to wit, one for the Western Area and One for the rest of the country. We need a unified, universal system of land ownership.

Further, it is reasonable for one to suggest that your “Agenda For Prosperity” is in itself a discriminatory instrument against the very people it was conceived and design to uplift economically. (more on this subject later).

The unintended consequences of the “Agenda For Prosperity”.

Rightfully, as you pointed out “there are some imperatives that propels this review, they are the reasons for the establishment of this committee and we urge this committee to be true to the better aspiration of our people.”

Mr. President, if this committee is to be true to itself and the people of Sierra Leone, and if you would allow me, I would like to take this opportunity to request that you add these three concerns to your list of imperatives that affect all Sierra Leoneans, as well as your “Agenda for Prosperity”.

Namely: * First and foremost, our Land Tenure Laws. The provinces land Act, The protectorate land ordinance of 1927,which creates a massive bottleneck in economic transactions, as well as an unparalleled discriminatory consequences among Sierra Leoneans in land ownership.

* The second, Gender Inequality. A woman’s right to contest and run for public office. A good case and point was recently demonstrated in Kono District, where a female candidate was disqualified because of her gender due to local traditions, customs and practices, which are in conflict with your aspiration to have 30% inclusion of female participation in the political affairs of Sierra Leone. The same is true in Kailahun and Kambia.

* Thirdly, our Patriarchal requirement of Sierra Leonean Citizenship. If former President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, President Barack Obama of the United States were Sierra Leoneans, they would not have been qualified to run for the office of the President of Sierra Leone.

I must also take this opportunity to point out that these three issues and concerns as they relate to the constitution of Sierra Leone, have always, always been ignored, put to the back burner, dealt with very lightly by every government in Sierra Leone’s fifty years of independence. As I researched the subject, I stumbled into the following from a blogger on Leone net who wrote “Momoh appointed a 35 man “Review committee” the last time to review the constitution and yes, they did consider land tenure. They examined both oral and written submissions for and against reform but in the end came out firmly against liberalization of the existing position” Mr. President, I’m of the opinion that, this is not the way how you would want to be remembered in the books of history, nor the internet.

If the true purpose of independence is for Sierra Leone to chart her own destiny for the prosperity of her people, then, it is reasonable to request that this constitutional review committee include them in their deliberations.

As always, I’ll like to share with you the words of Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University in which he reminds us that, “Political liberty thrives best where there is a large measure of economic liberty” to wit, personal liberty is important, but the best route to true independence and prosperity for all, is reforms that create economic liberty.

In conclusion, I urge you in the interest of all Sierra Leoneans to add these three issues and concerns to the list of imperatives that should propel the newly established constitutional review committee.

Dr. Walcut B. Metzger, JD

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Related material


                                      Review of Sierra Leone Constitution planned

                                      2007 Peter Tucker Constitutional review recommendations