INTERVIEW: CPP’s Alexander Cummings Proffers Solutions to Liberia’s Economic Recovery; Political Uprightness
Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and now the chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) appears bent on solidifying the membership – the Liberty Party, Unity Party, All Liberian Party, and the ANC.
Cummings spoke to ECOWAS Radio Saywhar Gbaa on several cross-cutting national issues and proffered some considerable solutions to Liberia’s economy and political mishaps. Below is the full interview with Saywhar Gbaa.
How did you welcome your appointment as chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties?
ALEXANDER CUMMINGS: I was excited about the opportunity to be the first chairman after the signing of the framework agreement.
As you know Mr. Benoni Urey was the Chair before I took over from him.
It’s a critical time in our country as far as making sure that bringing opposition together and holding together as an opposition block, I know there are lots of challenges along the way but I believe we are all committed to restoring good Governance and accountability of our country within the eight months’ period after which the chairmanship will be handed over to the Liberty Party.
What are new ideas you are bringing to the table of reconstruction as chair of the CPP?
ALEXANDER CUMMINGS: So, there are four things we want to accomplish within the eight-month period:
1. First we want to setup the machinery to run the CPP, to setup the secretariat to make sure the executive committee is setup, the National Advisory Council, the Finance Committee, public Affairs to interact with the legislature and to setup the senatorial campaign committee for the upcoming Election.
2. We will develop our manifesto to indicate what we are advocating for, what we are committing because we need a platform for the CPP.
3. Make sure to win as many seats at the Legislature.
4. To work hard to consolidate all of the opposition parties and beyond that, we want to create an accountability coalition so all voices that want to restore good governance to our country can work together, that means religious, civil society and all groups who have Liberians’ interest at heart.
We also want to reach out to them and work with them to hold Government accountable to do the right things.
How do you intend winning those seats and how confident are you that you will win many seats at the legislature in the coming Senatorial Election?
ALEXANDER CUMMINGS: Very confident! We will get good candidates, when you have good products to sell, definitely people will buy so we will raise funding too, get financial supports and we will monitor the elections religiously.
To what extent would you agree that Liberia as a country doesn’t need strong men but strong Institutions in promoting public sector Ethics?
ALEXANDER CUMMINGS: I think Liberia needs both strong men and strong institutions in that strong institutions are ultimately what we need to maintain ethics and good Governance and to get strong Institutions, we must have strong men and women who are committed to following the rules and governance processes. So, I think we need both no matters who is in power.
Talking about governmental policy, are there objectives you’ve identified to build on as an institution?
ALEXANDER CUMMINGS: Frankly, I would say the current government has not taken the opportunity to build on what they inherited from the previous government.
Look, no government is perfect; like the previous government wasn’t, too, but they did put some good systems in place, they created all the government institutions, building blocks were put in place which this current government has ignored reversing the process.
When the CPP is fortunate as an institution, we will build on those processes collectively, we are committed to accountability, good governance and these are the things we will make sure happen but beyond that ultimately, the reasons why people elect and select is to make sure that their wellbeing are taken care of and the economy but again Saywhar, I will say to you that this is not a CPP factor, this is not an ANC, ALP, UP factor.
All of the economic indicators in Liberia are going backwards and these are facts whether you look at the unemployment, inflation, GDP Growth, I mean everything is going in the wrong Direction.
I can assure you that under the CPP Government, though there will be challenges but economic vitality will be restored, we will create jobs which Liberians would need to sustain themselves and taking Liberia Forward.
What will be the basis for Liberia’s economic success?
ALEXANDER CUMMINGS: There are multiple things we will have to do but there are three cardinal ones:
- We have to make sure to build our infrastructure, electricity, Roads and Water.
Saywhar students can’t study in the night, this country will never become a manufacturing country without consistent good quality low cost electricity so we need roads to move our goods and services around an as you build infrastructure, you will be creating Jobs.
- Another key sector we need to pay attention to is agriculture and Governments have paid lip service to that, we have to focus on agriculture and not just growing products but adding value.
- Another sector is Tourism, this sector too creates jobs which would not require a lot of hard skills, people can be trained to be good hosts and we could focus on ECO Tourism to create jobs to generate income for our country and people.
Let’s look at corruption, Former President Sirleaf described as public enemy number one during her regime, how do you think Corruption can be dealt with in spite of the numerous anti-corruption Institutions in Liberia?
ALEXANDER CUMMINGS: It’s not just a bullet point I will give you as an answer because it’s an important topic.
First of all, corruption is one of the primary reasons Liberia is where it is after 172 years so we have to tackle it on multiple fronts.
One of the first things we have to do is, the leaders of the Country will have to be the ones to set examples, if the leaders are stealing on the contrary to the examples they supposed to be setting, everyone will be doing same.
People follow what they see you do and they don’t follow what you say. This is a psychological fact globally.
So, the first examples we have to set as leaders is to not be the ones looting the Country.
We have to make sure there are consequences for people who steal. You cannot have a country where you don’t punish people for bad behaviors.
This has to be cut across at all levels of the Country and focus on the leaders who have the means.
Then we also have to pay people on living wages because if you don’t pay the Nurses, Teachers and Police to avoid a corrupt space.
We should not over regulate and over tax our people and systems instead we should simplify our tax payment.
This issue of Teens getting raped has claimed the attention of Human Rights Activists and everyone else, as a political body, how do you intend addressing the plight of women and girls on this?
ALEXANDER CUMMINGS: The first thing I will say is shame on Liberian men, I mean all Liberian men.
Saywhar, looking at the statistics, we should all be ashamed ofourselves because we are 99.9% perpetrators of rape in our society.
So, we have to start naming and shaming the culprits and it goes back to consequences and punishment, and make sure our court system is prepared to secure evidence that we get to work with especially with the families who sometimes shield perpetrators.
So, if we want to change Liberia, everybody has to be a part.
Let’s build institutions that will legitimately prosecute perpetrators with an evidence-based system.
We all know democracy is the best system in any society, do you see the need for improvement in Liberia? If so, how?
ALEXANDER CUMMINGS: Yeah, clearly, we have to define democracy in our country; we should not just replicate the western model.
We have to adjust it to fit our country educational levels, some of our culture norms but for sure democracy is the best.
And again every Liberian has to play a role to maintain the democratic principles of our Country and it has to be a merited based system, there has to be rule of law where the Judiciary must be equipped for democratic development.
I can tell you freedom of speech is one of the cardinal factors of democracy. Not lying on people but putting pressure on the powerful where citizens can protest legitimately.
Your critics say you are sitting on the fence and doing nothing, how would you described the CPP’s role in Liberia’s Development?
ALEXANDER CUMMINGS: It’s even incorrect that the CPP is quote on quote sitting on the fence and being mute about everything.
Of recent, I listened to the most disappointing statement from President Weah that if he fails, it will be the fault of the opposition block and Saywhar I will have to tell you that I have heard President Weah say many things in the past and I shake my head.
This Man is the President of this country and takes no responsibility with all the power accrued; I say shame on President Weah to blame the opposition block for his ineptitude.
When people from around the region see these headlines, they ask what kind of President is this who takes no responsibility as a leader of his country.
As the CPP, we’ve offered suggestions, recommendations and as individual Parties and Government ignored them.
But too many things are not going right so we are trying harder to catch up every day so the Liberian people can see the difference now that the framework agreement has been signed.
Let me affirm the CPP commitment that we will continue to engage the government on what supposed to be done rightly.