Monrovia - It was Saturday, June 16, 2012 and the day of the African Child and Bushrod Island was loaded with traffic. Drivers of cars, trucks and Motorbikes were heard frustratingly hooting their horns in this busy commercial district.
Suddenly it was noticed that the traffic was caused by a joint team of Monrovia City Corporation, MCC and the Drug Enforcement Agency, DEA working their way into a criminal hideout and drug infested community called Jlika.
Standing there under the pouring rain was the embattled Monrovia City Mayor Mary T. Broh issuing orders to members of her team to get to work and help the DEA comb, the area where there has been a discovery of a huge consignment of marijuana and other drugs, with some people arrested and taken away to be investigated by the DEA.
“I like the drug bust, I like to see them being cuffed for drug use, they are less busy they need to be working. They are very lazy. They need to do something better than that,” Broh says of those arrested by the DEA.
“The DEA actually did a drug burst and of course we were around there, it was a whole bunch of young people, seven to eight and the bags of drugs that we found, that’s a real big drug area. So I think DEA should really shift its focus there and beyond.”
But the issue was not about the drug bust or the youths arrested that mattered here; why was Broh in the rain working again as she has been asked by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to stop as a result of the Senate’s vote of No Confidence, at least according to reports circulating the media in the absence of President Sirleaf.
Fulfilling the president’s mandate amid no confidence vote
Broh says she had been ordered back to work by the President and was carrying out her master’s command.
“The President saw the trash, while on her way to Bomi and called me, again here I am doing the intervention,” Broh told FrontPageAfrica as she issued orders to get the garbage which has piled up apparently as a result of the brawl with the senate.
The upper house of Liberia’s National legislature two Tuesdays ago cast a vote of no-confidence in the controversial City Mayor in an action many say is a prelude to a recommendation to the President by the body for Broh’s dismissal.
A fortnight ago, the controversial City Mayor has run afoul of some citizens over her unconventional running of the city in her bid to enforce what she calls 'city ordinance'. The action by the Senate came as a result of accusations levied against the mayor by a staffer in the office of Senate John Ballout (UP-Maryland).
The staffer, Nancy Gaye, reported that she was mishandled and assaulted by Broh recently and was left with bruises. The Senate in its deliberation on the matter, wrote the mayor inviting her for inquiries and to gather clarity from the mayor over the allegations.
Broh must be allowed to work, Senate overreacted
Despite agreeing that Broh erred as a result of the alleged assault on the lady of the senate, many believe that the body has overreacted in its handling of the matter.
“You see the Senate, the capitol building that it’s in there, it’s got big power. There Liberian people gave that house power. The first thing they did, they summon the woman and when she went there, she stood for three hours and the women in this republic, they never said anything,” says John J. Bridges a resident of Logan Town.
Bridges, speaking to FPA on Saturday as he watch Broh under the rain working, expressed his anger over the way she has been treated by the Senate recently. He accused the body of taking sides in the quarrel between the two women without giving Broh the chance to give her side of the story.
“Why do they hate her? Is it because she is bringing development to our nation? Then she and someone makes palaver in the street, the person carry report, instead of calling Mary Broh to get her side, they started insulting her that she rebel she creature.
Then later on they calling her to come there; what she going there for; to belittle her? That’s somebody’s mother; is it because she’s cleaning the city, so everybody just hate her?” lamented Bridges.
There are many others like Bridges who passionately feel that a woman like Broh is hard to stumble upon in Liberia.
“We don’t want to hear that thing in their mouths about a vote of no confidence, do they know how dirty Monrovia was and this woman has been working hard to control everything? We don’t want to hear it; we put those senators there, they can’t remove this woman without our consent,” says Paytoe Kennedy another resident of Logan Town.
The tensions were high as the rain raged on; some abandoned their work to see the controversial figure that has raised so much heated debate leaving the senate with no option but to use its ultimate power.
But Alex Martin Resident of Bushrod Island speaking to FPA wondered why the Senate would want to remove Broh despite the kind of impact her work has had on Monrovia.
“We will not allow senators, representatives or whosoever to say Mary Broh should be removed; on what ground is she going to be removed? Who do they have to replace her?” says Martin.
“If she stops who are they going to put there? Who will be under the rain, the sun; smelling all this kind of garbage, who? Let them come up with one person, if they can’t make it then we will decide; if they cannot make it they should sleep and forget about it. She’s doing extremely well.”
‘The Mayor sometimes oversteps her bounds’
Even though a lot of the residents expressed support for the embattled city Mayor, there were also some who felt she crosses the lines sometimes. G. Marcus Gwain looking over his shoulders as if trying to watch out for the pro-Broh residents pointed out to FPA that Broh’s method of work is good, but sometimes she oversteps her bounds.
“The city is clean we agree, we don’t want the senate to remove her, they should advise her not to be beating on people in the street. I have been one of the persons she ordered arrested, while I was standing before Clara Town store,” he says.
Continued Gwain: “The way in which she is working to be arresting people is wrong. We appreciate her work, she is cleaning the street but why is it that she slaps people on the street; beat people; that are a rebel attitude. This is a democratic country. It is unprofessional.”
‘Broh, not answerable to Senate’
The President’s decision to order Broh back to work confirms the view held by many, that the acting mayor, who has been denied confirmation by the senate, is not answerable to the legislature but to her employer the executive.
“My message to the senators is that they wronged the woman, first of all they rejected her, so the executive employed her, anything she does, go to the executive and leave her alone,” says Bridges.
Continued Bridges: “For the parking fees, it is because their girlfriends complained to them that the money was too much so they reduced it, but when they go abroad they pay to park, they go to restaurants, they pay US$ 200, 400 they can’t complain, but when they come to Liberia, everyday Mary Broh Mary Broh. Let them leave her alone.”
Anthony Toe a resident of Monrovia shares the same view that the senate cannot call for Broh’s removal because she is not answerable to them. “Mary Broh must not be removed, the president recommended her, so only the president can remove her.”
Martin says the Senate should rather focus on the complaint before it and stop politicizing the issue adding: “They say she slapped someone, they should investigate, they should think very carefully. We elected them and she will do her work; without her this city will not be clean.”
“Who do these senators have, let them bring somebody and show us the person; then we will take that person, other than that, no way!” Kennedy says he is ready to stand up and support the President’s decision to order Broh back to work and that the senate is only wasting its time.
“I know her to be a hardworking woman and other people are going against her saying all kinds of things, so I want to encourage her to do her best,” he says. “No one cares about what the senate says, as long the president can back her, we will back the president. We voted the president.”
‘I’m doing my work’
With all this debate going on, Broh laughs and says as far as she is concerned she is doing her job; as her employer has ordered her to. She tells FPA that she cannot respond to questions surrounding the senate’s decision concerning her duties or holding on to her budget as it has been reported in the press.
“Look, I like what I do; I am passionate about my work, so for now I continue to do my work. I am not going to comment on that because at this particular time there is no need to comment on these things,” she says.
Continued Broh: “You see because sometimes, you just go about your business and do your work. You see me here on Bushrod Island and Logan Town Junction doing my work. I’m doing my work. I love my work. I’m in the rain making sure that there is no filth here, no thrash for mosquitos and stuff like that.”
As the rain poured on her head she ordered her team to clear the waste at some instances she would climb up the frontend loader telling the driver of the heavy duty machine which direction to go, at the same time unmoved by negative perceptions held by her critics about her.
“ I’m a big girl and I can take criticisms, I like constructive criticisms; where you see me working and you don’t think it is the right path, you can tell me and say look, I notice that this is not going the right way, and we will sit down and we will reflect and say yes you were right.”
Last week when quizzed to comment on the Broh-Senate Saga, Information Minister Lewis Brown stated: “We have not received any communication to that effect from the Senate.” With the ordering of Broh back to work by the President amidst the Senate’s vote of no confidence many are watching to see what the body’s next step will be.
Senate Pro-Temp Gbezohngar Findley told reporters Thursday that the senate’s stance remains unchanged that the vote of no confidence remains enforced. If the president tries to impose her will on the senate, the MCC will not be covered in the new Budget.
All efforts made to contact Senate Pro Temp Findley proved futile as his phone rang endlessly without answer. But the secretary of the Senate J. Nanborlor F. Singbeh told FPA via mobile phone that he was not aware of the Broh working due to the President’s request.
“We are not aware of what you are saying, we cannot respond to anything we don’t know of. I have not heard it on the radio so I can’t say anything,” Singbeh responded angrily to an FPA enquiry.