of the PPRC
The Political Parties Registration Commission, is a creation of Section 34 of the 1991 Constitution, replicated in Section 2 of the Political Parties Act 2002. Its core mandate is outlined in the same Section 34 aforementioned and again replicated in Section 6 of the Political Parties Act 2002.
The Commission’s core functions are to register, supervise and monitor the conduct of political parties and to mediate and resolve disputes between their membership and/or amongst political parties.
From the foregoing, one would see that, the Commission is conferred with tremendous regulatory powers, with virtually no enforcement powers and very limited mediatory powers. The only enforcement power conferred on the Commission in the current Act, is deregistration for every transgression of the Act. Even that cannot be invoked by the Commission as of right, it has to go by Application to the Supreme Court, which Court should actually sanction the deregistration.
The Political Parties cognizant of this lacuna, frequently flout the law and directives of the Commission, with near impunity. They constantly breach the public peace.
The public who are at the receiving end of their misconduct, will justifiably turn to the Commission and ask the embarrassing but justifiable question, what is the PPRC doing?
What the public is oblivious of, is the limitation in our mandate. We are rendered functus, by the existing legal regime and made a toothless bulldog.
This unsavoury situation has led to public outcry, each time political parties misconduct themselves, with the attendant feeling of insecurity, from members of the public. This has warded off most people from politics, particularly our women folk.
Consequently, it attracted the attention of critical stakeholders in society, who thought that, something needed to be done, to remedy the spate of violence and misconduct by political parties.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report for example, inter alia recommended the strengthening of the Commission’s mandate. Informed on that recommendation, the registered Political parties at the time, SLPP, APC, NDA, PDP, PLP, UNPP, RUF, PMDC and CDP, met at the British Council in 2011 and agreed that, the 2002 Act needed to be reviewed. They recommended the review to the Law Reform Commission.
Acting on that recommendation, the Law Reform Commission submitted a draft bill to this honourable house, titled, the political Parties Act 2012, for enactment. There were very progressive provisions in the said Act, but it however did not go through this house, on the basis that, there was an ongoing constitutional review exercise, by the Constitutional Review Committee. Parliament did not want to engage in a potential exercise in futility, in the event the CRC recommends a dissolution of the Commission.
Fortunately, the CRC Report did not only recommend the maintenance of the Commission, but also the strengthening of its mandate. However this did catch the esteem attention of Parliament, to retable the 2012 bill for enactment.
In 2018, we had our multi tier elections, that attracted a lot of foreign and domestic Observers, including the EU, AU, COMMONWEALTH, CARTER FOUNDATION AND OUR OWN, NEW.
After the elections, all these Observer missions wrote Reports and in those Reports made Recommendations, intended to bolster and enhance our democratic credentials.
Again all of them recommended a strengthening of the PPRC’s mandate and capacity.
Based on all of the foregoing, the Commission engaged in extensive consultations of critical stakeholders, principally political parties, development Partners, line Civil Society Organisations and of course Government, on legal reforms. Those consultations were climaxed by a validation conference, attended by all registered Political Parties, development partners, line Civil Society Organisations, Parliament etc. Those efforts were funded by EU, UNDP and the Government of Sierra Leone.
At the validation Conference, the Commission presented forty two proposed amendments of the 2002 Act, to the political parties. At the end of the conference, the political Parties adopted thirty seven of the forty two proposed amendments and rejected five. The Commission collated the thirty seven proposed amendments endorsed by the Parties and submitted them to the office of The Honourable Attorney and Minister of Justice, as legislative instructions.