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Rumours Confirmed: Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel Sahr Yongai Withdraw Candidature After Nomination by APC in Kono District

By: Mustapha Sheriff

 

Claim: Two members of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) Party in Kono District, Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel

Sahr Yongai, have withdrawn their candidature after being nominated to run as Members of Parliament in Kono district under the APC.

 

Verdict: TRUE

Acting APC Chairman of Kono District, Sahr Mattia, and District Elections Manager/District Returning Officer of Kono District, Osman Joe Kamara, have confirmed the withdrawal of candidature by Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel Sahr Yongai last month after their nomination by the APC.

In two separate letters dated May 8th and 9th, 2023, Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel Sahr Yongai officially withdrew their candidature from the APC, effective immediately. The letters, titled “Withdrawal of Candidature from the APC,” were widely circulated on Facebook and WhatsApp platforms, catching the attention of the public.

 

Methodology: To verify the authenticity of the withdrawal letters circulating online, the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom contacted various individuals involved. They reached out to Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel Sahr Yongai, the two APC members in question, as well as the Acting Chairman of APC Kono District and the District Elections Manager/District Returning Officer of Kono District.

Through phone conversations, Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel Sahr Yongai confirmed their withdrawal of candidature from the Elections Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) after being nominated by the APC party in Kono District. The Acting Chairman of APC Kono District and the ECSL District Returning Officer also acknowledged receiving the withdrawal letters from both candidates.

However, it was clarified by the ECSL District Returning Officer that the APC informed him about removing Fellicia’s name from the list of nominated candidates in Kono, whereas Emmanuel Sahr Yongai’s name remained on the list.

Attached are copies of the withdrawal letters from Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel Sahr Yongai 

Meanwhile, Sahr Mattia, the Acting APC Chairman of Kono District expressed no regret over Fellicia’s resignation from the APC, stating that she had affiliations with two different political parties. He mentioned that Fellicia was initially placed #6 on the candidate list but was raised to #4 due to the intervention of some APC stakeholders. However, Fellicia unexpectedly went for nomination under the PMDC without informing the APC, resulting in her resignation from the APC and withdrawal of her candidature.

Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips clarified that she had resigned from the APC before withdrawing her candidature based on the advice of her constituents. She confirmed joining the PMDC and being nominated under their ticket.

Emmanuel Sahr Yongai also confirmed his withdrawal from the APC but remains a member of the party in Kono District. He mentioned winning the party primaries with a higher vote count than his opponent. However, his name did not appear as the first-choice candidate, leading to disappointment among his supporters. Despite stepping down from the race, he has no intentions of defecting to another political party.

Conclusion: The rumours surrounding the withdrawal of candidature from ECSL by two APC members in Kono District have been confirmed as true. 

This fact-checked article is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!

Madam Thomas

False and Misleading Claims: Freetown is owned by the Creoles; Creoles Cannot Contest for Political Offices in the Provinces

By: Christian Conteh

Claims:

  1. Freetown is owned by the Creoles.
  2. Creoles born in Freetown cannot contest for any political office anywhere in the provinces.

Verdict: Claim 1 is False, and Claim 2 is Misleading.

A viral video featuring Madam Nanette Thomas, former Minister of Political and Public Affairs from 2016 to 2018, has propagated the claim that Freetown is exclusively owned by the Creoles.

“Freeton na Creole get am, Freeton noto for Fullah man noto for Limba man, leh den go upline leh den go fet dae, leh den lef freeton gie den krio dem” [Directly transcribed from the video].

In English translation: “Freetown is owned by the Creoles, Freetown is not for Fullah’s or Limba’s, let them go to the provinces and contest elections there, let them leave Freetown to the Creoles”

Furthermore, she suggests that as a Creole born in Freetown, she cannot contest for any political office in the provinces. However, these claims have been examined and found to be false and misleading.

It is crucial to understand the history of Freetown to ascertain the validity of these claims. The city was established in 1787 as a settlement for freed slaves, who became known as the Creoles. They relocated to Sierra Leone with the objective of establishing a colony where they could experience freedom and autonomy. While the Creoles have made significant contributions to the development of Freetown, it is inaccurate to assert that they own the city. Freetown has always been a diverse hub, encompassing various ethnicities and cultures, including the indigenous Temne, Limba, and Mende populations, among others.

Regarding land ownership, it should be noted that the Creoles did not purchase the land they inhabited in Freetown. The initial settlement was established on land provided by local Temne and Limba chiefs, who sought alliances with the British. These settlers were granted the land to establish a colony and were expected to engage in trade and promote regional development.

In reference to Claim 2, it is true that Creoles cannot contest for certain political offices in the provinces. However, it is misleading to suggest that a Creole born in Freetown is barred from contesting any political office anywhere in the provinces. For instance, Creoles cannot become paramount chiefs as the chieftaincy institution revolves around ruling houses, and candidates must be indigenous to specific localities.

Methodology: To verify these claims, the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom reached out to Madam Thomas, who confirmed her presence in the viral video but claimed her words were taken out of context.

Lucien Momoh, the Director of Training and Outreach at the Political Parties Regulation Commission, was also contacted. He confirmed that there is no law preventing any qualified Sierra Leonean from contesting as a Member of Parliament (MP) in any district across the country.

According to Mr. Momoh, if a political party or an independent candidate nominates a Creole for election in the provinces as an MP, there are no legal impediments to their candidacy.

Conclusion: Based on the historical background of Freetown and the clarification provided by the body responsible for registering and regulating political parties, it can be confirmed that Freetown is not owned by the Creoles, and a Creole born in Freetown can contest for certain political offices in the provinces.

 

This fact-checked article is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!

 

 

 

 

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Fake Twitter Account Impersonates Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio, Spreading False Claims of Expelling International Allies

By Mabinty M. Kamara 

A widely circulated Twitter post claiming to be President Bio’s account states that “if the EU, Uk, and USA meddle in our internal affairs or elections, it is going to leave me no option but expel them from my country. I don’t care if they pay for these elections,” it reads.

Verdict: FALSE! It is an impersonated account.

Methodology:

To verify the account, the SLAJ/NDI team of Fact checkers carefully studied the account bearing the post and that of the original account of President Julius Maada Bio.

With Twitter verification now open for subscription, it is difficult to differentiate a fake account from a real one.

However, President Bio’s Twitter handle is @PresidentBio while the impersonated account is @juliusbio.

The profile photo of the account under review is the same as that of the original account of the president.

Twitter has since that post suspended that particular account for violating Twitter rules such as preaching hate and violence.

The suspension made further analysis of the account very difficult.

That notwithstanding, the team also spoke to the Presidential Press Secretary, Yusuf Keketoma Sandi, who also confirmed that the account is not of the President and that it is the handiwork of the disinformation peddlers in the opposition.

“President Julius Maada Bio enjoys the confidence of our international partners and friendly nations. He is looking forward to strengthening the bilateral relations with our international partners and friendly nations to continue his progressive leadership in the second term,” he said.

Conclusion:

It is a fake account from an unknown person and the claims there are all baseless. President Julius Maada Bio did not make such a pronouncement.

 

This Fact Checked article is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens to have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

 The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

#U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!

 

 

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) launches Media Manifesto 2023: “The Media We Want”

 

                                                                                                                  

For Immediate Release

                                           The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) launches Media Manifesto 2023: 

                                                                                             “The Media We Want”

Sierra Leone, Freetown, 5th June 2023 – The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) with support from the European Union through International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA); today, 5th June 2023, launched its media manifesto ahead of the June 24th general elections in Sierra Leone.

Titled: ‘The Media We Want’, the manifesto is a catalogue of realistic, achievable and time-bound actions and strategies to advance media freedom, media professionalism, viability, gender equality and inclusivity, safety and security of journalists and media literacy in Sierra Leone. The media manifesto builds on the collective progress Sierra Leone has made to enhance media freedom and media viability over the years – including the historic repeal of Part 5 of the Public Order Act 1965 and the first media viability and investment conference in April 2021 – and to seek commitment for concrete action from political leaders and other stakeholders to prioritise media freedom, media development and media viability in the coming years.

Speaking on behalf of International IDEA, the Head of the Sierra Leone Country Programme, Dr. Idrissa Mamoud Tarawallie stated that: “The mission of International IDEA is to promote and strengthen the values and ethos of democracy and democratic governance globally. The media is a partner in achieving this mission because public interest media is critical for democratic strengthening as it provides platform for dialogue, debate and holding elected leaders to account”.

The President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, speaking on the importance of the media manifesto to the media profession in Sierra Leone, said that: ”This manifesto is to consolidate the significant gains we have made in the last five years, and represents our collective vision and aspiration as journalists for the media we want in the next years. We want the buy-in of politicians and hope that this document will serve as the framework for all future interventions in the media sector in Sierra Leone. Many thanks to our partners Faculty of Mass Communications, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone and Bournemouth University UK, and the BBC Media Action for reviewing the document, and the EU and International IDEA for funding the project.”

The Ambassador of the European Union to Sierra Leone, Manuel Muller, stated that: “The European Union will continue to stand with the media, to offer opportunities that can further strengthen its capacity, and to support media initiatives to protect media freedom and pluralism. And as the work of the Independent Media Commission is paramount in regulating the media landscape and ensuring all registered mass media upheld the highest standards of ethics, integrity and professionalism, the European Union is pleased to be able, through International IDEA, to provide equipment and institutional capacity support for the Commission to capably implement its renewed and strengthened mandate, as enshrined in the IMC Act of 2020.In his statement, the Chairman of the Independent Media Commission, Dr Victor Massaquoi noted that: “The media manifesto is part of the new political logic and reflects media development, media freedom and media regulation that is not restrictive.”

The development and launch of the SLAJ Media Manifesto 2023 is made possible through the Sierra Leone Democracy Strengthening Programme, funded by the European Union, and implemented by International IDEA. International IDEA is an intergovernmental organisation that advances democracy worldwide, as a universal human aspiration and an enabler of sustainable development, through support to the building, strengthening, and safeguarding of democratic political institutions and processes at all levels.

 

For more information, please contact:

Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ)  Ahmed Sahid Nasralla   President   +232 76 470288

International IDEA: Idrissa Mamoud Tarawallie,  Head of Sierra Leone Country Programme +23278861686

European Union (EU): N’Fa Alie Koroma, Press and Communication Officer +232 76741418

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SLAJ Supports Sierra Leone’s Bid for Non-Permanent Seat at UN Security Council

PRESS RELEASE

Monday 5th June 2023
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) backs the Government of Sierra Leone in its bid to return the small West African country to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) after half a century since 1971.
The elections for a seat in the Non-Permanent Category of the UNSC takes place tomorrow 6th June 2023 at the United Nations headquarters in New York at around 2pm GMT.
“As a beacon of peace, security and democracy in the African continent; and having shown leadership as head of the Africa Peer Review Mechanism, Chair of the African Union Committee of 10 on the reform of the UNSC, Sierra Leone is a worthy candidate for a seat in the non-permanent category in the UN Security Council,” said President of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla.
Meanwhile, SLAJ commends the strategic campaign led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to achieve this goal.
We wish the Sierra Leone delegation to the UN led by His Excellency President Julius Maada success.
Signed:

Alhaji Manika Kamara

National Secretary General

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All reactions:

Mousa E. Massaquoi

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How Will Seats Be Allocated Under The PR System?

By Mabinty Kamara

Sierra Leone will be using the Proportional Representation (PR) system in the June 2023 elections for the first time since 2002. The Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) has decided to use a district block system.

Under this system, each district will be treated as a constituency and a number of seats have been allocated to it. In total, there are 16 electoral districts in Sierra Leone and 22 local councils.

But How Are Seats Going to Be Allocated Under This New System?

To start with, there will be 135 seats in Parliament; this is three more than we had in the fifth parliament that was dissolved recently. So why 135 seats? ECSL decided to get the average between the 2016 census and the 2021 mid-term census, given how controversial both censuses were.

The 2016 census gave 132 constituencies and the 2021 census gave 137 constituencies. So 132 +137 divided by 2 = 134.5. This was then rounded up to 135, since there is no half seat.

This mathematics also affected the council seats. In 2018, elections were held for 489 wards, now it will be done for 493.

The Threshold and the Formula

The threshold to win a Parliamentary seat is 11.9% while the threshold to win a Councillor seat is 4.5%.

How were these calculations reached? To get the threshold for MP seat, ECSL used this formula: 16 electoral districts divided by 135 seats in Parliament multiplied by 100, which looks like this 16÷135×100 = 11.9%.

For Councillors, the formula is: 22 local councils divided by 493 wards multiplied by 100, which looks like 22÷493×100 = 4.5%.

This formula applies to every candidate, whether you are running under a political party or as an independent. For every candidate, their total votes in a district will be broken down into this calculation using this formula.

To nominate for the elections, for both MPs and Councillors, political parties had to present two lists of their first choice and second choice. All d candidates were put in numerical order.

Seats will be allocated according to that numerical order in each district.

What happens to Independent Candidates?

Independent candidates do not have a list; they present themselves forward as individuals. If they get 11.9% of the total votes in the district where they are running, they win if they get more than that they still win and the remainder votes go to waste. Because votes cannot be transferred from one candidate to another.

 

This public education article is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens to have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

#U Don Chek Am? Na 4 chek am!

 

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SLAJ launches Media Manifesto 2023: “The Media We Want”

By: SLAJ Secretariat

In a groundbreaking ceremony marking the Association’s 52nd birthday anniversary The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) joined forces with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), funded by the European Union, to launch the eagerly anticipated media manifesto on June 5th, 2023. The event took place at the New Brookfields Hotel in Freetown.

The manifesto, titled ‘The Media We Want,’ presents a comprehensive roadmap of achievable actions and strategies aimed at advancing media freedom, professionalism, viability, gender equality, inclusivity, journalist safety, and media literacy in Sierra Leone. This crucial development comes just weeks before the upcoming general elections scheduled for June 24th.

Building on Sierra Leone’s collective progress in enhancing media freedom and viability over the years, including landmark achievements such as the repeal of Part 5 of the Public Order Act 1965 and the inaugural media viability and investment conference in April 2021, the media manifesto seeks to garner commitment from political leaders and other stakeholders for concrete action in prioritizing media freedom, development, and viability in the years to come.

Highlighting the significance of the media in promoting democratic values and governance, Dr. Idrissa Mamoud Tarawallie, Head of the Sierra Leone Country Programme at International IDEA, emphasized the role of public interest media in facilitating dialogue, debate, and holding elected leaders accountable. He affirmed International IDEA’s mission to strengthen democratic principles globally and the organization’s partnership with the media in achieving this mission.

The President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, speaking on the importance of the media manifesto to the media profession in Sierra Leone, said that: ”This manifesto is to consolidate the significant gains we have made in the last five years, and represents our collective vision and aspiration as journalists for the media we want in the next years. We want the buy-in of politicians and hope that this document will serve as the framework for all future interventions in the media sector in Sierra Leone. Many thanks to our partners Faculty of Mass Communications, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone and Bournemouth University UK, and the BBC Media Action for reviewing the document, and the EU and International IDEA for funding the project.”

Manuel Muller, the European Union Ambassador to Sierra Leone, reiterated the EU’s commitment to supporting the media and strengthening its capacity. He pledged continued assistance in protecting media freedom and pluralism through various initiatives. Recognizing the crucial role of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) in regulating the media landscape and upholding ethical and professional standards, the EU, through International IDEA, will provide equipment and institutional support to enable the IMC to effectively implement its renewed and fortified mandate as outlined in the IMC Act of 2020.

Dr. Victor Massaquoi, Chairman of the Independent Media Commission, emphasized that the media manifesto aligns with a new political logic, promoting media development, freedom, and regulation without unnecessary restrictions. He acknowledged the significance of this milestone in shaping the media landscape of Sierra Leone.

The development and launch of the SLAJ Media Manifesto 2023 were made possible through the Sierra Leone Democracy Strengthening Programme, funded by the European Union and implemented by International IDEA. International IDEA is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to advancing democracy globally, considering it a universal human aspiration and a catalyst for sustainable development. Their work focuses on supporting the establishment, enhancement, and preservation of democratic institutions and processes at all levels.

As the June 24th elections approach, the unveiling of ‘The Media We Want’ manifesto has set the stage for fostering media freedom, professionalism, and viability in Sierra Leone. With political leaders and stakeholders urged to embrace this vision, the hope for a vibrant and inclusive media landscape in the coming years remains high.

SLAJ President ,Ahmed Sahid Nasralla

Welcome Remarks by SLAJ President, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, at the official launch of the SLAJ Media Manifesto 2023: The Media We Want

Date: Monday 5th June 2023 | Venue: New Brookfields Hotel, Freetown | 10:00AM

Opening courtesies…

 

Let me start by asking you all to kindly join me wish our darling SLAJ a happy 52nd birthday today June 5th 2023.

And as we do that, please also join me observe a minute of silence in memory of Mrs Bernadette Cole, the last of our foundation members of SLAJ.

May her gentle soul rest in peace.

On behalf of our Advisory Council, our Regional and National Executives, our Affiliate and Sub-bodies, let me warmly welcome you to this special birthday celebration: the official launch of the SLAJ Media Manifesto 2023: The Media We Want, a manifesto for an empowered and inclusive media in Sierra Leone.

Thank you all for making time to come and join us celebrate this huge milestone in media advancement in our country.

The fortunes of the media in Sierra Leone actually started with the historic repeal in 2020 of the 55-year-old criminal and seditious libel law in Part 5 of the Public Order Act, 1965 that hindered media freedom in the country for half a century.

And then everything began to fall in place towards a strengthened media:

  • Sierra Leone subsequently made significant progress in press freedom rankings in the world.
  • In 2020 also, a new IMC Act was passed which has strengthened the Commission’s regulatory powers and provisions to address the perennial problem of conditions of service of journalists.
  • The Government of Sierra Leone has been giving annual subvention to SLAJ since.
  • In 2022, the government, media stakeholders and partners hosted the first Media Viability and Investment Conference in April. The conference was to promote and call for a viable media ecosystem that works in the public interest with the essential tools to advance democracy, prosperity and stability. Seven key recommendations came out of that historic conference which are woven into this manifesto.
  • A national fund for public interest media has been established with support from the International Fund for Public Interest Media and the Government of Sierra Leone.
  • In 2022, The National Communications Authority Bill, 2022 was enacted; it contains provisions on the allocation of frequency spectrum to radio and television stations.
  • In 2023, the Right to Access Information Regulations, 2022; the Independent Media Commission (Print and Electronic Media) Regulations, 2022 and the Independent Media Commission Elections (Coverage and Reporting) Regulations 2022 were passed into law. The Regulations are to ensure right to access information and outline various codes guiding the coverage and reportage by media institutions.

All of this would not have been possible without strategic engagement with the Government of Sierra Leone and partnership with the international community and a broad-based coalition with CSOs, higher educational institutions, and local and international media stakeholders.

Despite all of these significant strides, we know that there is a lot more work to be done to realise the actual impact on the media landscape in Sierra Leone. We want to see these gains reflect in the viability or prosperity of the media; in quality output from the media; and in the welfare of journalists in Sierra Leone.

In essence, this is the goal of this media manifesto. The critical aspects of this manifesto are: freedom and independence; empowerment and inclusivity.

Freedom

Free speech and media freedom and independence are crucial to good governance, democracy and citizens’ participation in the democratic process. Free speech is a fundamental human right that enables individuals to express themselves without fear of retaliation or censorship.

Media freedom and independence are crucial for ensuring that the public have access to accurate and diverse information, which is essential for a functioning democracy.

Without free speech and media freedom, individuals and groups can be silenced, marginalized, or oppressed, which can lead to a lack of accountability and a breakdown in trust between citizens and government.

Media independence ensures that journalists are not beholden to any particular political or economic interests and can report objectively on important issues.

An independent media serves as a watchdog, holding those in power accountable and exposing corruption or abuses of power.

Media freedom and independence can also promote cultural and linguistic diversity, allowing for a wide range of perspectives to be represented in public discourse.

The ability to express oneself freely and access diverse sources of information is crucial for personal growth and development, as well as for the advancement of knowledge and innovation.

While free speech and media freedom can sometimes be abused or used to spread harmful misinformation, the benefits of these freedoms far outweigh the risks. As such, it is important to protect and defend these rights to ensure a thriving and equitable society.

Empowerment and Inclusivity

Empowered and inclusive media provide a platform for diverse voices to be heard and represented in public discourse.

Empowered and inclusive media promote social justice by challenging power structures and amplifying marginalized voices.

Empowered and inclusive media have the potential to increase empathy and understanding among different groups, which is important for building cohesive societies.

Empowering media involves providing resources and support to media outlets that prioritize diverse representation and challenging power structures.

An empowered and inclusive media landscape can lead to more dynamic, engaging, and compelling media content, as well as more engaged and loyal audiences.

Media inclusivity means that every individual and group should have a fair and equal opportunity to participate in media production and consumption, regardless of their background.

Media empowerment and inclusivity encompasses a lot. It is about offering platforms to diversity of opinions, including non-mainstream perspectives, cultural and regional differences, bringing the provinces into national discussions and decision making, etc.

It is about building a resilient journalistic system that can address gender imbalance and women and girls’ rights, and adequately respond to national emergencies like natural disasters by working together with established institutions.

Empowered media is media that is free, and independent. To reach there a lot of work has to be done, both from media as well as government and partners. Regulations need to be changed, freedom needs to be enshrined, and measures need to be taken to ensure the safety of journalists in the line of duty. The MoU we have with the national security sector is a good framework to help us ensure that.

Media empowerment and inclusivity should be an ongoing process, requiring constant reflection and improvement.

So the launch of this manifesto demonstrates that SLAJ is not just being politically correct but we are actually thinking outside the usual boxes as we envisioned the media we want.

At its best, media can serve as a powerful tool for empowering marginalized voices, breaking down barriers, and fostering greater understanding and empathy. To achieve this, we must work to create a media landscape that is truly inclusive and diverse, one that reflects the full spectrum of human experience and resists the urge to perpetuate harmful stereotypes or amplify only the voices of the powerful. By embracing inclusivity and empowering marginalized communities, we can create a media ecosystem that is not only more just, but also more compelling, dynamic, and reflective of the Sierra Leone we want to live in.

This manifesto is therefore aimed at consolidating the significant gains we have made in the last five years and represents our collective vision and aspiration as journalists for the media we want in the next years.

We want the buy-in of politicians and hope that this document will serve as the framework for all future interventions in the media sector in Sierra Leone.

SLAJ and other media stakeholders will continue to work together to follow up on the implementation of this manifesto to ensure that it actually manifests in the media landscape in Sierra Leone.

Now, let me acknowledge the contributions of our general membership and heads of affiliate and sub-bodies.

I also recognise the support of and consultations with our various partners in enriching this manifesto: the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG), Faculty of Communication, Media and Information Studies, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Bournemouth University (BU) UK, BBC Media Action Sierra Leone, the Independent Media Commission (IMC), and the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC); and the consultant, Dr. Francis Sowa.

Let me also acknowledge Dr. Isaac Massaquoi, who contributed the original concept of this manifesto.

Finally, a big thank you to the European Union for funding the development of this manifesto through International IDEA.

 

Thank you all.

 

 

Dr David Sengeh

False Claim: David Sengeh’s Allegation about APC’s Manifesto and Teachers

By: Mohamed Jaward Nyallay

 

Claim: Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) Dr. David Moinina Sengeh has alleged that “in the APC Manifesto, their only promise for teachers is to train Physical Education Teachers (PHE)! No recruitment, reassessment, or training.”

Verdict: False. The manifesto made several other promises to teachers, including retraining and reassessment.

Following the launch of the All Peoples Congress (APC) Manifesto on Monday, May 29, there has been a lot of discussion on various policy issues. As the main opposition party in Sierra Leone’s upcoming general election on June 24, the APC will be contesting against the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party.

On Tuesday, May 30, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Mr. Sengeh, claimed in a Facebook post that the APC manifesto did not make any promises to teachers, except for training more Physical Health Education (PHE) instructors.

Mr. Sengeh reiterated these claims in a TikTok video, emphasizing the efforts the SLPP government has made for teachers since 2018. As one of the most popular cabinet ministers in the current government, Mr. Sengeh has a significant following on social media, with over 47 thousand followers on one of his Facebook pages, where he made the specific claim. By 11 pm on Tuesday, the post had received over 100 reactions on Facebook and over 700 on TikTok.

Methodology: To verify this claim, the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom examined the APC manifesto. On page 20 of the document, there is a subsection titled “Invest in the Education Workforce,” which discusses plans for teacher development.

One of the points states that they will “review and update the current teacher education curricula to reflect advancements in teaching and other skills demanded by the job market.”

The manifesto also outlines several other promises regarding teacher training and assessment that would be implemented if the APC wins the general election.

Photo Sources: David Sengeh’s Facebook Page and APC 2023 Manifesto

Conclusion: Based on the evidence presented, it is false for Minister David Sengeh to suggest that the APC Manifesto only focuses on training PHE teachers without any further plans for teacher training and assessment.

 

This fact-checked story is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!

 

2023 Elections: What You Need to Know About the New Early Voting Law

 By: Mohamed Jaward Nyallay

In March this year, parliament passed a law on early voting. This is the first time the electoral body, Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone, has had a law on early voting.  Unlike in other countries where such laws are passed for essential workers on election day, Sierra Leone passed the law for those going for religious pilgrimage.

What is the Context?

Advocacy for early voting started as far back as in February, when the Minister of Social Welfare, Baindu Dassama, raised concerns that 1,200 people performing the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage could not vote because they would be in Saudi Arabia during elections.

ECSL took on major reforms last year when it passed the New Public Elections Act, but early voting was not included.

This year’s election will coincide with Muslims’ visit to Mecca for their religious rites. The annual pilgrimage is important for Muslims in Sierra Leone because the government funds many of those who travel for the expedition.

 

What is in the New Early Voting law?

 This early voting law is specifically for religious pilgrims. Certainly, the first beneficiaries will be the over 1,000 Muslim pilgrims heading to Mecca this June.

To qualify for the privilege, the law states, “He/she is of either Islam or Christian faith who will be out of Sierra Leone on a pilgrimage and would be absent from Sierra Leone on the day scheduled for voting.”

Applicants must be registered to vote and must also be recorded in the district where they are applying for early voting to the Returning Officer, according to the law.

Section 4 of the law explains what happens throughout all the stages, including developing a register for early voters, excluding their names from the main voter register and ensuring the process is not abused by preventing them from voting on the general election day.

A screenshot of section 4 of the law

 

The new law now means ECSL has a bit more to do. The election has already started, following the conduct and conclusion of Paramount Chief Members of Parliament last week. With three weeks to go, how ECSL will handle this new challenge remains to be seen.

 

This Public Education Article is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens to have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

#U Don Chek Am?  Na 4 Chek Am!