Dying or Rolling? -Pundits Interrogating CDC’s Morale In Opposition

MONROVIA – Political commentators posit, perhaps unarguably, that Liberia is settling into two-party political arrangement, others say into blue and green dichotomic Liberia, colors named after the Coalition for Democratic Change’s dominant blue insignia and Unity Party’s foremost green emblem. This is increasingly becoming true since the rest of other opposition parties are in total disarray or inertia, on life-support, struggling tenuously to find their bearing. Others however think the emerging two-party culture also depends on whether or not the CDC, which is currently the biggest opposition political bloc, will survive yet another epoch of toxic political furnace in which it has found itself. But there are some analysts that are predicting otherwise, thinking that the last four months of opposition life does not appear reassuring as the CDC has gone into coma, yet to show the fierce and robust CDC belligerence for which it is known in opposition. This some insiders disagree with, retorting that the party is silently regathering its forces soon to pick up—something a good number of pundits, including some CDCians, reject. The Analyst reports on the looming CDC conundrum.

Gbarpolu County Senator Amara Konneh’s recent assessment about the preparedness of the former ruling party now in opposition, the Coalition for Democratic Change, particularly about party’s arrowhead George M. Weah, stirred extreme venom and ire amongst supporters of the party and of the former President.

Konneh, the seemingly rising most prolific lawmaker in the 55th Legislature—a senator with a apparent pragmatic and insightful mind and communication acumen—spoke to the CDC’s wanning steam in its recent months of opposition, something he attributed to “mixed signals” that Mr. Weah have given regarding is preparedness or unpreparedness to contest in 2029.

But before inks got dried on reports from the Senator’s Spoon Talk conversation, a sporadic barrage of venoms was splashed at him from both high and low support levels of Mr. Weah.

Prominent of the swift and anger-pregnant riposte came from the arguably most knowledgeable and trusted inner-circle Weah protégé, Former Information Minister and former Commission-General of the CDC government, Eugene Lenn Nagba. He wrote on his facebook page: “Mr. Senator, the CDC has an undisputed leader and arrowhead. He is George Manneh Weah. He will be on the ballot in 2029, pretenders notwithstanding.”

Then followed a flurry of rebuttals to Konneh, amongst them one released by the all-time bellicose former CDC representative Acarious Gray, who was quoted as saying, referring to the Senator: “Rest assured that former President Weah will run in 2029, and you all get ready for the political nuclear weapon.”

Few months back, Weah himself was quoted as saying that he would contest in 2029. According to the reports, he made the statement during his last cabinet meeting at which time he reportedly told the attendees: “As I look in this room, we don’t see many people old enough not to be active in 2029. By 2029, most of us in this room will not be holding walking sticks to move around. If oldman Boakai was using walking stick to aid him move around, and was able to defeat us, what makes anyone believe that as agile and robust as we shall be in 2029, we won’t be able to whip them too.”

That was November 22, 2023. But it was not long, exactly on Sunday, January 14, 2024, during a Sunday workshop service at his Forkey Kloh Chappel, the one-term president was quoted saying he would be 63 in six years and his retirement age being 65, he had no plans to be active in politics beyond that age.

According to some pundits, the crushing reactions to Konneh by CDC stalwarts not only suggest continued summersault on the part of the ex-president, the third in six months, but also give credence to critics’ assertion that traditional politicians who are hard to die in the political realm are the ones luring and pestering the ‘meek and tired Weah’ continue the life-and-death game of politics”.

What is more instructive, as other pundits conjecture, is the CDC’s weak and laisser-faire posture since its defeat, with a cross section of his supporters lamenting and craving for reorganization and momentum which is yet come bud.

The CDC, they say, is not known to be passive, withdrawn in opposition, notwithstanding the apolitical nature of its standard-bearer. Even while in opposition as the Congress for Democratic Change, with Weah serving as peace ambassador for the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf-led Unity Party government, other forces other than the standard-bearer himself were still politically fiercely combative and meaningful on the landscape.

“In our various chatrooms, we have continued to call for recalibration, a word our standard bearer popularized amongst us, but we don’t see any sign of it,” said a county coordinator who does not want to be named in print.

“Since the resignation of former National Chairman Morlu, and even in the face of the recent naming of Janga Kowo as acting chairman, it still seems our party is in coma,” the CDC stalwart continued. “Now see how long it took the party to replace Morlu; quite a long time that any serious main opposition party would allow.”

“Morlu was an ace mobilizer as chairman,” the CDC CC continued. “Morlu was given to providential spirit of networking. He was the centripetal force for mass-grassroots awakening, but was not the favorite of party elite. That was one of the party’s intrinsic tragedies. Janga is good, educated and qualified, but not all qualified persons are competent for specific job, specific task and specific time. At this movement, CDC needs an arrowhead that is unrepentantly aggressive, politics-centric with a populist flair. Such a person is in short supply at the moment or yet to be identified.”

That CDC is wanning and not rolling forward—something many believe is playing to the taste and advantage of the governing Unity Party—is also seen in its failure or delay to restructure since its November 14 waterloo.

While other CDCians are justifying the delay or failure to reorganize and rebrand as a “necessary sabbatical to allow the Unity Party drown itself in its own filth before we unleash our potency” as one CDCian wrote, there are those who interpret the delays as a heralding internal paralysis and deep cracks foretelling bad omens in the years towards 2029.

According to two CDC stalwarts who are privy to internal sensitive information and would therefore like to remain anonymous, the issues facing the part in opposition are three: one, the CDC’s unpreparedness for immediate opposition life, not expecting just a single term; two, the other is the clash of ambitions amongst well-to-do partisans, and third, is the United States’ sprinkling of sanctions upon potential heroes of the party.

One said: “First, the CDC did not make allowance for opposition days, financially, logistically and organizationally, entertained by the folly it would be reelected. We are all regretting for failing, as did the five virgins, in the Bible to prepare for a strategic moment. We had thought, based on our development credential, that two-term leadership was an automatic entitlement. So, we failed to fill our water tanks while it was still raining. We failed to save and back up for sunny days. The only surviving legacy or monumental investment is the Vocational Institute. Even at that, we are currently unable to sustain it. Teachers are getting pay, and supplies are draining if not drained up already. Had we been smarter, we would have built institutional capacities—financial, logistic and otherwise—instead of privileged partisans building up personal accounts. Even to the extend that we, the youth, are crying today, for not been given opportunity for human resource capacity building. We are almost at zero on this. Six years; had we invested in the youth, the party would be inundated with the brightest of minds of diverse professional persuasions taking over the party right now. We are now forced to settle down for the draining expertise and knowledge from 2005. We failed contemporized the party.”

Another anonymous insider chipped in on the second failure. He told The Analyst in during a joint interview: “One of the reasons why the rebranding of our party is not handled as a priority or emergency is because many of the elite, meaning those who politically and financially lavishly benefited from the party, have ambitions. And the ambitions are clashing. Whether they are currently in the Legislature or out of government, many of them have been eyeing the standard-bearership of the party. During the 2023 elections, we know partisans who organized auxiliaries and other support bases with the clear intent to contest 2029 if the CDC had won. Their recruitment of supporters, mobilization and campaigns were strategically structured and programmed to achieve this singular ambition. Today, they haven’t shed that ambition, because too many of their followers are already mentally paranoid on this. You will be surprised to note that many of these party bigwigs celebrated when our standard-bearer announced he wouldn’t be a candidate in 2029, and with new developments, they have recoiled into their non-cooperative shell, disinclined and disinterested in any recalibration and rebranding processes under Weah’s standard-bearership. Don’t forget, they are the ones the party depends on largely to sponsor those processes of party reawakening. How can they help when their ambition appears forestalled?”

The third weak point for CDC recalibration, according to the stalwarts interviewed, is the morale-paralyzing impact of economic sanctions imposed by the United States on some of the crème de la crèmes of the party.

One stalwart said: “The sanctions pandemic suffered by our party is woefully crippling, undermining the morale for reorganization. All the victims of the sanctions constitute the very bulwark of the party.

Though the Standard-Bearer is left off the hook, and from what we see the Americans never bothered with him because perhaps they believed he’s virtually apolitical and harmless, the impact is most paralyzing for the present and future of our party. With the holdings or say wealth of these folks under spotlight, if not on surveillance by the Americans, and prestige ruined in the dust for no reason, how can these folks muster the courage and tenacity to do active and more so meaningful party works. A callosal dint was cast by the US, and it struck the very core of the party.”

Whatever the case, whether those revelations by the two CDCians who spoke The Analyst are right or wrong, one thing is clear. The CDC is no more like the CDC Liberians know in opposition. As someone put it recently, “the CDC, which is normally widely relied on as the foremost opposition party, is right now lying in a deepfreeze, while the governing party is rampaging unattended all over the place, leaving unlikely figures such as a few brave journalists at Freedom FM, Voice FM, Kings FM—just young media cadres — filling the gap”.

Meanwhile, another unlike character widely regarded “the only man on the block” is Representative Yekeh Kolubah who, quite ironically, is also credited for aiding and abetting the defeat of CDC and the victory of the Unity Party, taking the stage.

While know bigwigs and beneficiaries of the CDC, including prominent opposition lawmakers, are cowering to the bully of the government party, some masking their nonchalance with ‘trying to be patriotic and responsible politician’, Kolubah is risking it all—his chest to the bullets, as “the only voice in the wilderness adamantly barking at corruption, tyranny, mysterious death, unexplained wealth” as someone wrote the other day.

Other stalwarts say they were backing out of mainstream CDC activities or and reconsidering active works because they don’t see their future clear in CDC since the standard-bearer is still being arrested, enclaved and quarantined by the same folks who downplayed, elbowed, denied them from meaningful participation in, and benefits of, the party’s six-year leadership.

“Those who possessed and commandeered the president for years to themselves at the painful exclusion of some us, despite the sacrifices made and competence we acquired to have meaningfully contributed to the growth and protection of our party, should start the ball rolling, and we will follow,” said another county coordinator who participated in the joint interview with The Analyst, also refusing to be named.

“One of our tragedies was that, very serious, competent, devout party comrades were overlooked, relegated and ignored for long, while some were favored, taken on regular lucrative foreign trips, given agencies or ministries to manage, did nothing; all at the exclusion of very able individuals,” he stressed.

“At the end of the day, they dumped all of us during the elections,” he stressed. “Sadly, we still see these same figures hovering around the standard-bearer; we still see them pressing their kneels on his neck never to allow him breathe and look out freely to see decent, committed comrades. If the same cartel is intact, at live and well, how does it fare for us? How guaranteed the future for us. Let them start now, perhaps in next four to five years, we will follow”.

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