What at all does Ghana owe the Rawlingses?
6/6/2011 9:50:46 PM -
As usual we were treated to a tirade by Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings last Saturday, on the 32nd anniversary of the June 4th uprising. The way he went on revealed the level of his arrogance, to the extent that he thought Ghana belonged to him that he wants to take it back. What impudence! The country called Ghana was established out of the struggle and sweat of noble men and women of the then Gold Coast. Even they would have hesitated in making the claims that Jerry Rawlings and his misguided followers are making.
It is alright if he wants to take his NDC back; but Ghana - the man is deluding himself. If it were not for the level headedness and maturity of the people he tongue-lashes from time to time, this man could have been the spark that will ignite a civil war in Ghana. In 1992, we were all told that the NDC had been founded by people who believed in the ideals of Rawlings and he only reluctantly became its leader. Now we know the truth. Whilst he was reluctantly ceding to the tide of democracy he sought to linger around further by concocting this lie that he himself has lain bare today.
It is true that President Mills has failed to inspire Ghanaians but not for the reasons that the Rawlingses have given. In any event Mrs Rawlings is certainly not and cannot be the answer. She is no Dr. Letitia Obeng; she is no Mrs. Annie Jiagge and neither is she Ms. Akua Kuenyehia. Until her husband violently burst onto the scene in 1979, no one had heard of her and her so-called fight for the empowerment of women. There were a lot of spousal abuses then in the barracks, as soldiers lived up to their macho image, yet no one heard of Mrs. Rawlings rallying round abused wives of soldiers. I dare say even this credential of fighting the cause of women is questionable. She and her husband presided over an era in our country's history when women were subjected to all forms of state-endorsed humiliation.
As many have said, Mrs. Rawlings is entitled and qualified to vie for the NDC leadership and even the Presidency of Ghana. In my view though her claim to political experience can only be found in the fact that she once kissed a dictator and bore him children. She once received the adulation of market women who felt compelled to be on the side of the powers that be to protect their livelihood. This is something a great number of women within and without our country can do without batting an eyelid. They are not unique qualities with which to aspire to the highest office in Ghana. This is, however, for Ghanaians to judge.
Let us grant her the recognition that she has championed issues concerning women in Ghana. Is that an unduly difficult thing to do? It is always easy to be a single-issue politician. The real challenge comes when one has to aggregate and deliver on different such issues that appeal to different sections of society. The difficulty lies in meeting these with the limited resources available to the country. It is only a dictator, who by the way can afford to ignore the priorities that people assign to each of such issues, who is deluded into thinking that this is an easy task. Ghana has changed considerably in democratic terms and expectations from when Mr. and Mrs. Rawlings used to lord it over all. Mrs Rawlings has no wherewithal to be the 'saviour' of Ghana. She can aspire to be the saviour of the NDC party but the needs of the NDC do not coincide with the present day needs of Ghana.
Flt. Lt. Rawlings last Saturday (June 4th) made a number of accusations against President Kufuor - human rights abuses, ethnic murders and corruption. From my experience as a Ghanaian, if I had heard him mid-sentence, I would have thought he was referring to himself and his two decades long dictatorship. It is only a congenital liar or an ignorant sycophant or someone who has just landed on earth from Mars, with the Ghanaian experience we had, who will believe otherwise. There are enough volumes written about human rights abuses and corruption during the Rawlings' era to fill an encyclopaedia. Whether it is by Africa Watch or Amnesty International, Rawlings cannot escape the tag of having been a 'brutal dictator' during whose era (when 'the culture of silence' prevailed) Ghana witnessed unparalleled bloodshed. From the murders of three Akan High Court Judges to the disappearance of B. B. Bismarck (an Aburi sub-chief); from the suspicious and yet-unsolved attempt on the life of his one-time Vice (Arkaah, who fell out with Rawlings) by a hit and run driver which led to his eventual death; to the brutal manner in which he unleashed national security agents on his critics and the shit bombing of the premises of media organisations, he has no leg to stand on when it comes to talking about human rights. From the Abacha $5million to the $1million annual payments from Ashanti Goldfields; or from the Mabey & Johnson to the SCANCEM bribery scandals, he has no moral standing to accuse others of corruption.
The High Priest of probity and accountability and his 'Osofo Maame' Konadu were last Saturday preaching about the Presidency and the importance of principles. They, however, do not get it that the principles that underpin probity and accountability are transparency and the avoidance of conflict of interest. Thus, he smuggles into the Ghanaian Constitution clauses that would prevent light from being shone onto his period of stewardship and yet still can hold his head up high. He presided over a situation where his wife became the beneficiary of divested state assets and can still accuse others of corruption. I wonder what judgement Flt. Lt. Rawlings of 1979 would have passed on President Rawlings of the 1990s with regards to the charge of corruption.
From their own account, their children's education abroad was sponsored by unnamed friends; some other or the same unnamed friends bought them high specification 4x4 vehicles. What 'quid pro quo' did the so-called friends receive in exchange? The country is yet to find out. In the UK, Peter (now Lord) Mandelson had to resign from office as a Minister of state because he took a loan from a friend to buy a house without disclosing it. Why did he have to resign? He had to because he put himself in a position where he could be influenced. Yet in Ghana it is alright for a Head of state to receive goodwill from unnamed friends and that same Head of state can even mount the moral high horse to still preach accountability!
It is very easy indeed to be a single-issue politician because nothing else matters. Has anyone heard Rawlings speak about any other issue apart from probity and accountability? Even in this quest, has anyone ever heard him argue for the creation of an institution or the passing of some legislation to minimise the incidence of corruption? No; the man is hollow and phoney! It took the Kufuor administration to pass the Procurement Law with which the current government is falling over itself to prosecute people. How many times have anyone heard Rawlings advice the numerous NDC youth (and for that matter Ghanaian youth) who thronged to him to make something out of their lives? Never; he would rather they go and burn party offices; he would rather they resort to lawlessness. Such is his stock-in-trade. He thrives on anarchy!
Rawlings burst onto the scene a waif, full of hatred for anyone successful. His near two decades in power never taught him to speak with civility. After dealing with the Generals, he took his vengeance on those who had dared to work hard - the J K Siaws and the Boakye 'Mattress' of those times. What do we see now? He has now joined the very elite he so much detested even though he still seeks to deceive the gullible. He and his wife now even spot academic titles!
So back to my question: what at all does Ghana owe the Rawlingses? NOTHING! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! They have done well out of Ghana and they should leave us alone or join the democratic process. Yes, as a system of government, democracy can be slow and at times frustrating. But human beings are not domestic animals - you cannot herd them in the direction you desire; you can only persuade them. The only way to make democracy work better is to contribute and compete with ideas delivered by force of persuasion and not persuasion by force. Throwing unfounded allegations about, and unjustifiably tarnishing people's reputation, do not in the long run serve anything good. It only draws people's attention to your own shortcomings, which Dr. and Dr. (Mrs.) Rawlings have in abundance!
Dr Yaw Ohemeng