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19.04.2005 Feature Article

Wahala and the Kuffour-Rawlings Match: My two Pesewas

Wahala and the Kuffour-Rawlings Match: My two Pesewas
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One of the most disheartening aspects of democracy, as practiced in Ghana is that some of its tenets are either forgotten, or accepted and practiced only in relative terms. I've been following the diatribes lunged both from the NPP and NDC camps and am quite saddened by the trend of events. The Kuffour-Rawlings game is at best a cat and mouse game, and at worst, symptoms of a rather agitated and fragile tribal cohabitation.

One cannot deny that the Rawlings regime, for better or worse, was indeed the progenitor of the peaceful transfer of power in Ghana and for that deserves recognition. More admirable is the fact that he can still stay in the country without fear of incarceration or persecution by the current government. This could be attributed to the emerging political maturity of Ghana or perhaps or coup d'etat fatigue. Whatever one's persuasion, this is a welcoming phenomenon that we hope will last and spread throughout the sub region.

But this very democracy has been perverted by current events and it appears that the optimism and sigh of relief we heaved during the departure of the NDC government is gradually fading into nostalgia for the old days (be they good or bad). It has become abundantly clear to anyone who dare to analyze trends in the country today that the current regime is either out of touch with reality or has no definite plans to govern. Or maybe they know what they are doing after all.

The volleying of insults across the political divide is one example of incompetence writ large. If the NDC and for that matter, Rawlings is committing libel or sedition, perhaps he should be made to face the full wrath of the law. That would be the most prudent and responsible thing to do in a nation of laws. However, this appears to be far from what is going on currently in the nation. Both the NPP and the NDC are allegedly attacking each other in a rather crude and personalized way so as to make mockery of the entire body politic. If what Rawlings and the NDC are saying are untrue, and that the current government feels they are breaking the laws, then, they should be made to pay the ultimate price prescribed by law.

Responding to allegations and insults with insults gives the impression that the NPP lacks the vision and the moral turpitude to run the country. Or perhaps the NPP's disconnection with the common man and Rawlings' unwavering and ever increasing popularity creates an atmosphere of insecurity in the NPP. Throughout the first term, the most laudatory achievements have been the ubiquitous HIPC designation touted as an indication of development in the country. Such policies are out of touch with the common man in the streets. In fact the NPP itself may have been out of touch with the realities on the ground so as to respond to the “wahala” demonstrations with a fight with Rawlings who happens to speak for the people, instead of addressing the issues for which the demonstrations were called for in the first place.

For all his flaws (and I do not profess to be a fan of his), Rawlings' statements at the demonstrations reflect the sentiment of the larger segment of the Ghanaian populace: the downtrodden and poor who are struggling to eke out a living in a country sharply becoming divided between the haves and the have-nots. That the government's solution to the problems of Ghana include increasing the number of ministerial portfolios, blatant nepotism and appointment of corrupt and incompetent friends to high positions of policy and influence, and raising fuel prices, is testament to the government's ineptitude or overt pursuit of a more sinister agenda. Whatever the answer, we may not know but until such a time that the government can show some form of leadership by undertaking its mandate to govern the whole nation and not provide for friends and family, the “wahala” demonstrations would continue. If true democracy must take root in Ghana, then there has to be room for debate, disagreement and accountability from the government. When people take to the streets in peaceful protest of government policy, the government owes it to the people to either address their demands or provide a tangible rationale for being unable to do so.

The Government should desist from diverting attention from the real bread and butter issues, by attacking Rawlings. Instead, they should counter the charges through concrete policies and execution of the mandate given them by the people and allow freedom of speech to reign the same way it was when they were in the opposition. Then and only then would this administration have shown that the “wahala” demonstrations in general, and Rawlings in particular are simply agitators and not true patriots speaking out against a corrupt system. Dela Harlley, New York City Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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