LIBERIA: Senator Sherman bows Out of Politics
Varney Sherman, former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has declared his retirement from the political arena following his defeat by Senator Dabah Varpillah, a member of the Unity Party (UP). Sherman attributed his defeat to tribal affiliations in Grand Cape Mount County and constituents’ lack of engagement in his senate activities.
Sherman expressed his deep disappointment, noting, “I am retiring from politics entirely. What troubles me is that over my many years in politics, we have not been recognized for our efforts. I cannot recall a single instance during my travels in Cape Mount, visiting 240 towns, where anyone inquired about my role here. Not a single person.”
He continued, “In my county, we have two major tribes, the Golas and the Vais. During our elections, there were seven prominent candidates for the senatorial position, with seven from the Vai group, to which I belong, and four from the Golas. The Vai community split their votes among these seven candidates, making it impossible for me to secure victory.”
Sherman’s political career was marred by controversy. The U.S. State Department imposed sanctions on him for offering bribes to numerous judges during his tenure as a judge in 2010 as part of a bribery scheme. The State Department revealed that Sherman maintained undisclosed conflicts of interest with judges, leading to favorable verdicts. The statement read, “Sherman routinely provided incentives to judges to sway their decisions in his favor and allegedly orchestrated payments to Liberian politicians to support the impeachment of a judge who ruled against him.”
In 2010, Sherman was also engaged by a British mining company seeking to obtain the Wologizi iron ore concession, one of Liberia’s last remaining mining assets. He advised the company to change Liberia’s procurement and concessions laws by bribing senior officials. In 2016, Sherman and several government officials were indicted by the Liberian government for their involvement in a USD 950,000 bribery scheme.
Sherman was one of Liberia’s long-serving senators, hailing from one of the country’s impoverished counties, Grand Cape Mount. The region faced challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, including roads, schools, hospitals, electricity, and limited social and economic development.
Furthermore, Grand Cape Mount was home to two mining companies, Bea Mountains, which often faced allegations of harsh treatment towards citizens. As the senior senator, citizens had expected Sherman to intervene on their behalf, and his perceived failure to do so ultimately led to his electoral defeat.
Sherman questioned the prevailing priorities in politics, saying, “When will people start valuing policies, capabilities, and abilities? Perhaps never. Maybe on my gravestone, it will be written that there was once a senator who gave his best, but the people did not care.”
In addition to his political career, Varney Sherman is also a practicing lawyer. He lamented, “No one seemed interested in my achievements. So, I wonder why I was here in the first place. If constituents do not show concern for what their representative does, then why am I here? Moreover, our country places great emphasis on identity. If voters cannot relate to you, they do not wish to know more about you. It’s quite serious, and you cannot possibly win. It is truly regrettable, as I bid farewell to politics.”