Last week, I received an e-mail from a group of young men from Danteng (Eastern Region) whom I met during the Christmas holidays. In their e-mail, they complained that the NPP government is going soft on Flt. Lt Rawlings. They argued that Mr. Rawlings feeds his family at the expense of the public, and therefore, he must do things, which will not incur the displeasure of the public.
Since I received the email from these young men, I have spoken to scores of people and they all agree that Mr. Rawlings is being allowed to behave as if he owes Ghana. They think that Mr. Rawlings should be made to respect the laws and institutions of the nation. A good friend of mine, whom I have nicknamed “Okro-Mouth” due to his exemplary ability to sniff information, no matter how confidential it is, told me that some high-profile traditional chiefs have reproached Mr. Rawlings for his provocative utterances, which they think, do not befit a former President. I am tempted to believe the story of my good friend because for the past few weeks, Ghanaians have been graciously spared the ordeal of hearing from Mr. Rawlings. Many people are praying that he keeps quiet so that Ghanaians enjoy a peaceful campaign and elections in December 2004.
Mr. Rawlings, as a past President, seems to be enjoying more privileges than President Kufour. For example, President Kufour's house, which he used as his official residence, in the early stages of his Presidency, was refurbished by a philanthropist due to opposition by the NDC. Meanwhile Mr. Rawlings sent a bill of 38 million cedis involving the renovation of his house wall to the State. It is a rule that any contract paid from the public chest must be subject to tender, but as we all know, transparency is not known in the world of Mr. Rawlings. Observers are wondering if the bill sent by Mr. Rawlings has been paid. NPP contested the 2000 elections on the basis that it would bring peace to Ghana. People from all walks of life – from Greater Accra to the Volta Region to the High Mountains of Kwahu and the Upper Regions - have witnessed and enjoyed an increased explosion of freedom and the rule of law. People from all political strands, including the NDC gurus have even been empowered by prevailing democratic developments in the country to speak freely – a fact that the NDC Presidential candidate, Prof Mills acknowledged during his visit to UK.
At Danteng, a member of the Narrow Path Ministries was not exaggerating when he likened the coming to power of NPP to a story in the Christian Holy Book (the Bible), where an angel was believed to have miraculously rescued Apostle Peter from the gallows of King Herod Antipas. At Asubone, the Chief Priest of Fofie who has remained politically neutral for over 50 years due to the divine nature of his work could not hide his appreciation for the respect for human rights in Ghana today, when he remarked that “God is certainly at work in the politics of Ghana at this moment!”
However, there is a feeling that the NPP government's desire for peace is compromising its ability to deal decisively with Mr. Rawlings whose behaviour and utterances are infringing upon the laws of the nation. There are countless cases, where Mr. Rawlings has uttered insults, which during his days as President would have been treated as treasonable and malicious. There were reports that when Mr. Rawlings visited Ashaiman during the just ended voters' registration exercise, he and his bodyguards assaulted a man at Ashaiman. Before the charges against Mr. Rawlings were dropped by the victim, I heard that the Police wrote to Mr. Rawlings, inviting him to explain those charges. In fact, it was an honour, which the Police accorded him because I have never heard the Police writing to any citizen to appear before the Charge Office. But as expected, Mr. Rawlings did not think highly of the gesture of the Police. For the sake of our democracy, the Police should have acted independently and firmly against him.
Does the Constitution give Mr. Rawlings immunity from being a law-abiding citizen of Ghana? Any way, the Constitution says that a Past President cannot be brought before a court within 3 years after leaving office. We are now in the third year! In all fairness, the Police and the Judiciary are doing well by bringing NDC politicians who defrauded the nation to book. In the same vein, the good people of Ghana expect them to rise up to the challenges posed by Mr. Rawlings. I believe that past politicians must not be hunted, which explains my admiration for the NPP government for using democratic processes to address injustices and crimes of past politicians. But I admire the countries, which have let their leaders face the national laws as ordinary citizens do. For example, an Indonesia Speaker of Congress was jailed for corruption.
Former President Estrada of Philippines is in jail for fraud. President Chiluba of Zambia no longer enjoys immunity from the law as guaranteed in the constitution, which made it possible for charges of corruption to be brought against him. No foreign investor will be scared if he realises that the laws of Ghana do not treat people differently. In fact they will even adore us for having such a principle because it provides them with security. Many people applauded the government when it withdrew diplomatic privileges to Mr. Rawlings during his visits abroad because he abused his position. Similar measures should be taken to make him feel that he is not above the laws. Since he became an ex-President. Mr. Rawlings has also has refused gifts from the State Protocol. Until he writes back to say that he wants to resume receiving the gifts, the State Protocol should stop sending them to him. After all, we will be saving the nation fuel cost used by cars, which sent the gifts to them. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.