Liberia’s prime democratic advancement and a think tank institution, the Naymote Partners for Democratic Development is pleased to release its 30-month monitoring report on President George Weah performance against promises made during and after the 2017 elections covering the period January 2018 to June 2020. Nearly three years in power, the findings from the President Meter Project indicate that the Weah-led administration needs to do more, increase the speed of implementation and promote smart budgeting to meet targets if they are to live up to the promises made during the campaign, inauguration, and other public events. Based on available data and records, eight (8) promises were completed constituting (7%), 47 promises, which is 43% are ongoing, and 54 promises constituting (50%) have not started or not rated due to limited or lack of available data to assess progress made towards implementation.
Pillar One: Power to the People: 33 promises were made, 3 completed, 15 promises are ongoing, and 15 promises have not started. Pillar Two: Economy and Jobs 37 promises made, 4 completed, 15 promises are ongoing, and 18 promises have not started or not rated, Pillar Three, Sustaining the Peace: 10 promises were made none completed, 4 ongoing and 6 promises not started or rated and Pillar Four, Governance and Transparency: 23 promises were made, none completed, 12 are ongoing, 11 not started and not rated due to lack of available information. Under the State of Emergency, the President Made 6 promises, 1 completed, 1 ongoing and 4 promises not started or rated.
Election promises made during 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 always needs to be respected and adhered to. The votes that George Weah received place an obligation on him to deliver on those things that he promised. Political accountability is an essential element in ensuring that politicians are held to account for promises that they make during campaign period but also promises they make when elected.
Liberians, like others across the globe, are used to seeing political promises broken. Since the end of the civil war in 2003, Liberia has held three presidential and legislative elections, which have produced two presidents – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and George Manneh Weah. In each of their inaugural speeches, there were common threads: ending Liberia’s long crisis; fighting corruption, increasing access to social services, ending poverty, improving the economy, increasing food production, and fostering national reconciliation and healing – building a framework of a committed social contract between the electorate and their elected officials. Most of their speeches, campaigns and inaugural messages equally had common themes as well. However, many of the pledges were broken – either actions taken were not enough or in extreme cases, no actions were taken at all.
The President Meter (WeahMeter) is a democratic monitoring tool used by researchers and political analysts to provide an independent assessment of the implementation of campaign and post-election promises made by President George Manneh Weah and the Coalition for Democratic Change during the 2017 elections and after he took office. This initiative seeks to promote transparency and democratic accountability to cement social contract between Liberians and their elected officials. The aim is to improve the lives of citizens and to improve communication between the governed and the government in a sustained manner. This is intended to mainstream the voices of citizens in how the county is being governed against the background that most governments come to power on the rhetoric of change. In many instances’ voters believe that change will take place. In the CDC Manifesto, their change agenda is well articulated in these words:
“It is time for change; a change that will move Liberia from a low to a middle income country, where the affordability of basic goods and services will no longer be a luxury accessible to the privileged, but rather a right for all Liberians; where the practice of corruption, injustice, resource, mismanagement and low performance will have no place in our society; and where our resources will develop people, infrastructure and institution” President George M. Weah, (CDC’s Manifesto).
The “norm” where campaign and post-election promises continue to be broken increases the risk of voters apathetic about politics and trust on their elected officials. For decades, Liberians have, by-and-large, put up placidly with the status quo as they struggle with access to quality social services, poor road infrastructures, unemployment, and varying forms of inequalities.
The dramatic victory of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in the 2017 presidential election suggested that the tide may finally be turning. At least, for the first time ever, presidential power was wrested from a ruling party, overturning the prevailing mindset that an incumbent government never loses power during an election. To secure that win, however, President Weah made a lot of promises to Liberians, which were promptly, and accurately documented by the Naymote Partners for Democratic Development and other Liberians. To ensure that he keeps to them, NAYMOTE, with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) launched the President Meter in 2018 to track the progress made by the new government on its promises and policies.
This report tracks and document campaign promises and policies and to use the outcomes to stimulate public discourse This discussion is part of ensuring that voters have a voice in reviewing the social contract keeping the attention of citizens fixed on the cycle of governance from election to end-of-tenure. Ongoing citizens engagement delve to suggest that the Liberian democracy is pointing in the direction that Liberians want a president who either meets his or her promises or is honest and forthcoming about any challenges he or she encounters as he or she battles to do so. The previous norm where anybody can break the social contract and live happily with it is no longer an option.
The WeahMeter tracked and documented 109 promises that cemented the 2017 social contract between the CDC and the Voters. These 109 promises, 65 came from the Coalition for Democratic Change Manifesto of 2017, 27 promises from campaign speeches, policy statements, presidential priority projects, 3 from 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.