Sierra Leone: Deputy Minister of Trade Calls for Peace and Reconciliation among Traders
By Stephen V. Lansana
The Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Madam Fatmata Wurie on Thursday, November 2, 2023, held a peace dialogue with the chairladies of Traders associations in Freetown, at the Freetown City Council Hall, 4th Floor in Freetown.
The event was attended by the Presidential Adviser of Women Affairs, Mayor of the Municipality of Freetown, Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Traders Council, National Council for Market Chairladies, Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) National Women’s Leader, and hundreds of traders in Freetown, among others.
The purpose of the dialogue is to bring peace and reconciliation among the traders in Freetown.
Madam Wurie said that President Julius Maada Bio has dedicated this [November] month to peace and dialogue, noting that the dialogue is going to continue.
She explained that the traders are the first group that has engaged in peace dialogue among its members. “There is a need for dialogue and collaboration irrespective of the political party you belong to because we only have one Sierra Leone.”
She said, “These chairladies of different markets have been coming to the Ministry for the past two months so that we can address the problems they have within themselves.”
“We realized that the only way we will be successful is to bring the chairladies in over 150 markets together for us to engage them.”
This is the President [Julius Maada Bio] that has given 30% to women. This is the President when the opposition was aggrieved over the election outcome, he organized a platform for dialogue to bring peace and unity,” she said.
She asked, “If President Bio has engaged the leadership of APC in dialogue, why can’t we follow the same?”
She said that today is a new beginning for the traders’ chairladies, adding that they have a take-home message that they should go and tell their respective traders that they have embraced peace and it is a peace that President Bio wants.
The Presidential Adviser of Women Affairs, Madam Isata J. Kabbah said, “Today is a wonderful day for Sierra Leone because women form half of the population of the country.
She said that politics has come and gone and it’s now time for peace and development, noting that the next time they are meeting with the traders, they will want the traders to tell them developmental plans and not peace dialogue. She added that the next elections  are far and as such traders should concentrate on what will bring them together.
The Mayor of the Municipality of Freetown, Her Worship Yvonne Aki-Sawyer said that to make peace among the traders is to address the main issues.
She appreciates the initiative to bring peace among the traders, noting that they will collaborate so as to get the best result for all.
She called on the traders to love their neighbours, noting that all of them are welcome and there is no barrier.
The Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Dr. Isata Mahoi advised that they should form a committee that comprises the various stakeholders to monitor the peace among the traders, noting that there are SLPP and APC members among the traders, but women who are ready to develop and build Sierra Leone should put the country first above the political party.
The President of the National Council for Market Chairladies, Kadie Paul-Winner said that this dialogue is timely as politics is over and therefore traders should now focus on peace and development, adding that the Ministry of Trade is ready to foster peace and unity among traders irrespective of the political party they belong. “Traders are very important group in the country,” she said “Let’s come together as families.”
The President of the National Market Women Organisation, Jinnah Alie said, “I am glad that we as opposition sit together with the SLPP to make peace. I hope that after this peace, we will live as one.”
She called on every chairlady of the SLPP and the main opposition All Peoples’ Congress (APC) to go and engage its membership to accept the peace that they have built in the dialogue and work as one in the markets so that things will be better for all of us.
The National chairlady of Traders Council, Madam Yankadie Jalloh called on traders to come to one, adding that if they do not come together as one, they will not benefit from the government.