“Democracy is meaningless when a government is not held accountable for its action or inaction,” NAYMOTE report says.
Back in 2017, when President George Weah was seeking office he made a plethora of promises in the vein of transforming the lives of all Liberians, fostering national reconciliation, and weeding out the menace of corruption.
However, nearly half way into his six-year term, most of the President’s promises remain unfulfilled, with just a few having been implemented. According to NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development, a Liberian democratic advancement and a think tank institution, the President, since taking office has yet to fulfill 57% of the promises he made during the campaign and after being elected.
“The WeahMeter tracked and documented 109 promises that cemented the 2017 social contract between the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the Voters. Of these 109 promises, 65 came from the CDC Manifesto of 2017; 27 from campaign speeches, policy statements, presidential priority projects; 3 from the President’s State of the Nation Address (January 2020), 6 from the State of Emergency (SoE); and 8 from the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) Pillar 4,” Naymote said in its 5th edition report of the WeahMeter Project, which covers the period of January 2018 to June 2020.
It added: “Based on available data and records, 8 promises were completed constituting (7%). These 8 promises include the Payment of the WASSCE fees for all 12th grade students (Public and Private Schools); Renovation of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital; the passage of the Land Rights Law; the reduction of salaries of public officials under the Executive branch of government; and Government Pavement of the Doe Community Road to Clara Town and other feeder roads in Monrovia and Paynesville.
“Others include the construction of New Kru Town fire victims’ homes; the revision and launch of the national school curriculum (Grades 1-12); and the suspension of the pre-shipment inspections (PSI) penalty until otherwise notified.”
In the report, Naymote uncovers that none of the 23 promises made by President Weah’ concerning good governance and transparency have been completed, although 12 are ongoing, and 11 have bet to begin.
Similarly, the President has also completed none of his promises to Liberian people to sustain the peace, though 4 promises are ongoing, with 6 being unkept. But when it comes to the President Promised of giving power to the people, he manages to complete 3 out of 33 promises with 15 ongoing and 15 unkept.
Also on the economy and jobs, President Weah was able to complete 4 of his 37 promises in this category, including reduction of salaries for members of the executive branch of government, the passage of the Land Rights Act, Pavement of the Doe Community Road, and Construction of New Kru Town Fire Victims Homes. However, 15 of these 37 promises are ongoing and 18 have not yet started.
“In addition, 6 promises were tracked and assessed during the State of Emergency that was declared on April 8, 2020. Of the 6 promises, 1 was completed, which is the Government’s immediate suspension of the Pre-Shipment Inspections (PSI) penalty until otherwise notified. One Promise is ongoing which the food distribution, 4 not started or not rated due to the lack of available information,” Naymote report said.
It added that other promises such as the provision of free Electricity and Water were never implemented, as well as the “settlement of loans taken by market women and informal traders from commercial banks and the promise to service Government’s domestic debt was not fulfilled.”
Among the 109 promises made, Naymote report reveals that governance and transparency, which is the fourth pillar of the PAPD, remains the most unkept category of promises. However, the government has attempted to create the impression of keeping its promises through policy statements, which Naymote considers, “is not a response or a good strategy to arrive at an outcome that provides a building block for a fulfilled social contract.
“This pillar is critical for ensuring that the country’s resources are properly managed to support the government’s development programs so that citizens can benefit and share in the dividend of democracy,” Eddie Jarwolo, Naymote Executive Director said in the report. “The lack of transparency in governance creates the environment for the mismanagement of public resources to benefit a fewer group of people rather than addressing the needs of the larger populace.”
The report added that the overwhelming number of votes that President Weah received place an obligation on him to deliver on those things that he promised, especially since it is an essential element in ensuring that “politicians are held to account for promises that they make during the campaign period, but also promises they make when elected.”
“Election Promises made during a political campaign period forms the basis for a Social Contract between the Voters and Aspirants. This contract, wherein candidates promise to perform certain actions in return for the votes of citizens, needs to be respected and adhered to at all times.
“While no President can make good on all promises that are made, President Weah and his CDC-led government are under legal and moral obligation to deliver on their social contract contained in their promises they have made to the Liberian people. Democracy is meaningless when a government is not held accountable for its action or inaction,” the report said.
According to Naymote, the government needs to increase its speed of implementing programs if there will be a genuine and successful fulfillment of promises made in 2017 during the elections and ongoing commitments.
“The tracking shows that, of the promises made, the government has made substantial efforts in the area of infrastructure, mainly roads. Despite this effort, investment in roads has been limited to feeder roads in Monrovia and nearby communities.
“Access to other social services such as education and health remains limited. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the economy was in a declining state, with little compliance with fiscal and monetary policies. The impact of COVID19 will further weaken the economy because of low or no production in the agriculture sector,” Naymote said.
The Naymote report added that state institutions are underperforming due to the lack of resources for the implementation of programs, with 80% of the national budget being spent on recurring costs.
“Weak state institutions coupled with high unemployment, inadequate access to social services and lack of respect for the rule of law continue to make the country fragile,” the report said. “Fragility, if not properly managed, can adversely affect the development of a country and exposes it to various forms of shock.”