Several business owners in the country have criticized the president of the Liberian Business Association (LIBA), Mr. Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, of becoming chairman of a political party, which they said is a violation and slap in the face to LIBA members.
Mr. Kemayah’s criticism came recently when he was elected as national chairman of the newly formed political party, Movement of Economic Empowerment (MOVEE) at its just ended annual convention in Gbarnga, Bong County.
They alleged Mr. Kemayah is not seeking the interest of Liberian businesses and as such the entire organization has turned political.
The critic business owners, who spoke to the Daily Observer in an interview, said LIBA was founded as an association to seek the interest of Liberian owned businesses and also to advocate on their behalf, which is presently not happening.
“We don’t expect him to run LIBA like a political institution. What we even expect him to do is to encourage government to promote competition among enterprises so that we have a vibrant macroeconomic terrain that addresses the different needs and demands of consumers and producers in our country,” they stated.
One of the businessmen, Morris Kromah, alleged that for the past years, Kemayah’s leadership has been divisive, calling on him to reconsider and vacate his position as president of LIBA.
Kromah, who owns a business center at the Waterside Market, said as head of a business organization, he is not supposed to head any political party.
When asked to quote bylaws of LIBA concerning the political leanings of its officials, he said every official and a member is to purposely promote Liberian owned businesses.
“Business people are great thinkers, because they need to think wisely as to how they can greatly contribute to their economy.
“We are not against him becoming a party chairman for any political party. He has his rights, but we need to look at development and ways other nations have established industrial and economic supremacy over us and try to copy their best policies and examples,” he said.
“But on the contrary, if we fail to prevent such, our supreme rights of controlling our own domestic markets will continue to be in the hands of foreigners. When this continues, they will have everything to gain while we will have everything to lose as a nation and people.”
In addition, he said for the Liberian economy to achieve stability and be middle income by 2030, local Liberian industries, companies and corporations must be strategically promoted and protected by law to regulate their own domestic markets in terms of export and import.
Another top businessman, who preferred not to be named, suggested that since the president of LIBA has gained political ground, he should turn the leadership over to an interim body.
When contacted, Mr. Kemayah clarified that his decision to directly engage in political activities at this time, particularly as national chairman of MOVEE, is not a violation of the LIBA constitution.
“For me as president of LIBA to take on any political endeavor or position in a political party, as the case may be, is not a violation. And I am not the first to become a party official or candidate while serving in the leadership of LIBA,” he said.
He said there is a trend to his dynamic leadership, for which he feels very proud, because Dr. Charles Clarke, the founding president of LIBA, was actively involved in politics as a founding member of the Unity Party, while Sam A. Mitchell, his predecessor, was also president of LIBA and ran as a senatorial candidate for Montserrado County in 2005, among others.