Did the Dog Eat Rawlings’ Homework?
The much anticipated appearance by former president Jerry John Rawlings before the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), in mid-February, ended in a whimper! While others have expressed indignation at the failure of the NRC to bombard the former president with questions pertaining to his activities during the nearly 20 years when he ruled Ghana, I thought the NRC did a perfect job with Mr. Rawlings. It appears the NRC has thrown a long rope to Rawlings, with which he would certainly hang himself.
The former President was subpoenaed by the NRC to produce first, an audio tape recording that he made at the execution of Joachim Amartey Kwei in 1984. Amartey Kwei, a member of the then PNDC government, had been ‘implicated’ in the brutal murder of three High Court Judges, and a military officer in 1982. According to Rawlings’ own testimony, he drove in a convoy of cars to confront Amartey Kwei who was then tied to the stake, and managed to extract a confession from the man awaiting his execution! Rawlings claims he recorded the confession on tape; and he did this, to afford Amartey Kwei, the ‘cleansing’ he needed before he (Amartey Kwei ), “meets his maker”!
Mr. Rawlings was also asked to produce a copy of film recordings made by Riad Hozaifeh (apparently at Rawlings’ request), at the interrogation and execution of Cpl Halidu Gyiwa and L/Cpl Andrews Sarkodie-Addo, and others at the Air Force Base in Accra. Gyiwa, Sarkodie Addo and others, had been charged with an attempted overthrow of Rawlings’ PNDC government in 1983.
Alas, Rawlings came empty handed!! The NRC dismissed Rawlings after his fatuous claim that the recordings were no longer in his possession. The NRC wisely refused to turn Rawlings appearance into a shouting match; thus, denying the ‘amateur film maker’ an opportunity to rant and rave about matters unrelated to his appearance before the panelists.
However, what evidence the NRC managed to obtain from the former president, goes a long way in further confirming that our JJ, is a man who is clearly in need of some self-cleansing himself. Jerry Rawlings suffers from what I call ‘truth deficiency’; a syndrome which renders the afflicted individual incapable to realize that what he is pontificating as fact; is really a laughable excuse to mislead unsuspecting people. And, indeed what Jerry said at the NRC could be cause for comic relief, except that the lives of real people were lost.
Rawlings claims he gave the tapes to his special assistant, the late RSM Tetteh! By seeking to shift the blame to a dead man–the bodyguard-- one of several aides and body guards who died in mysterious circumstances, on the eve of Rawlings departure from office as president of Ghana, Rawlings further opens himself to ridicule and mistrust. In case the deceased Tetteh did not have the tapes, Rawlings further claimed that the tapes were probably deposited at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, where they got destroyed in a ‘mysterious’ fire!! Whew!!!
Were the tapes made available, Ghanaians would be reminded (if such reminding were needed), of what characters ruled the country for nearly twenty years. If the tapes were made available, we would also get a better picture of the circumstances that drove Joachim Amartey Kwei, to make the so-called confession! As matters stand now, these tapes may never be seen by the public. Yet, in attempting to use dead people as his alibi, Rawlings confirms the wisdom in the Ghanaian aphorism: Otrofuo na ose me dansefuo wo akyiri-kyiri; or it is the liar who employs the lame excuse that his witness cannot be found!!!
His claim is another episode in a series of weird, and weirder public claims made by Rawlings on important issues affecting Ghana. For example, regarding the unsolved ritual murders of more than two dozen women between 1998 and 2000, when he served as president; Jerry John Rawlings now claims he knew the perpetrators of the dastardly crime all along. But he kept the names sealed in a little wallet in his back pocket, he claims! There are fifteen people in all, he says; and they all serve in the present government! Not only that, Rawlings announced at a National Democratic Congress (NDC) rally at Takyiman, in the Brong-Ahafo Region last year, that he had known the names of the perpetrators at the time he was president, but had refused to divulge them because it would interfere with the 2000 elections!!
Here's my question: Does anyone really believe Rawlings when he claims that he actually gave the tape to a man who is now deceased, and cannot therefore defend his good name? Jerry has dealt the final insulting blow to the memory of an aide who obviously served him with dedication and aplomb.
A student who comes to class without having done his homework, usually seeks to escape responsibility by providing all sorts of excuses that do not make any sense, at all. JJ has perfected the art of creative weaseling, a well-honed talent for explaining away his own past shortcomings, and coming up with what would sound like plausible explanations for his own flops; not to speak of alleged crimes.
The Roman Emperor Julius Caesar had a slave walk behind him and constantly whisper in Caesar’s ear "remember you're only a mortal". The NDC has done the reverse with Rawlings. With Jerry J. Rawlings as the lead character, the entire NDC leadership follows like the Roman slave, except they whisper to Rawlings’ ears, ‘you’re the man; you are infallible; you’re immortal’!!
By confirming that he had video recordings made of the executions of certain individuals, and that he watched video tapes of the torture and murder of people, yet claimed that the tapes are lost, JJ is behaving like the school pupil who seeks to explain away his lack of preparation for class thus: the dog ate my homework!! It is a tale that is as preposterous and devoid of integrity, as the individual making it.
And, when leaders of the NDC, including the Party’s candidate for the impending presidential elections refuse to repudiate such behaviour by the party’s founder, they lose credibility before the court of public opinion.
Articles by Kofi Ellison