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11.02.2006 Feature Article

Police Takes Sides; Tear Opposition Posters – a rejoinder

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Since the 2000 elections Ghanaians have enjoyed a level of freedom of speech and protest which is unprecedented in the history of the country which most commentators and Human Rights groups credits the NPP government.

Some argued that Ghana should have adopted the Chinese system where economic and social development freedoms are paramount to the Chinese authorities than political freedom, with a tight grip on political events by the Chinese Communist Party.

To chart why it is dangerous for the security services to be politicised, this writer will look at the Human Rights of Ghanaians under the previous NDC regime and its implications for the NPP using the security forces to terrorised and/or break up legitimate political protests.

In a recent debate about Human Rights and development at London School of Economics (London), which the Ghanaian High Commissioner Isaac Osei was a panellist, and indeed argued for Human Rights, shows our maturity and how far we have come as a country.

But in the same vein we must balance this freedom with economic development and the importance of combating poverty. In Malaysia, Dr Mahatiar Mohammed was unfairly criticised for curtailing political freedom in his quest for economic and social development.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s Ghana experienced continuous growth of more that 5% for a decade and was hailed as a “success story” and an “Economic Miracle”. This generated immense interests by researchers and commentators, including this writer, about how Ghana managed to successfully turn around her economy.

Although there were large inflows of funds from the Bretton Woods Institutions and other International Financial Institutions, which fuelled this growth (aid related growth as this has now come to be known in the literature) yet the ordinary Ghanaian did not directly benefited.

The Rawlings regime curtailed political freedom in the pursuit of the Structural reforms. Most horrific crimes were committed under the PNDC regime and most opposition members (majority, ironically are part of this current government) were either jailed or were forced into exile. The internal and especially international outcry and the need to take the Structural reforms to the next phase which demands political reforms (as has been implemented elsewhere) forced Rawlings to obliged to follow the instructions of his paymasters (the Bretton Woods Institutions, who propped up his regime in the first place) by allowing political reforms and freedom of speech.

There are now questions about this so-called success as most of the inflows were badly managed and or looted by the NDC politicians.

This government was right when it lunched the investigations against some ministers of the former regime for economic crimes against the state (Ghanaian people). Instead of using the security services to hunt these corrupt ministers down, the Kufuor government use the courts, in effect using constitutional means to bring the corrupt ministers to justice.

There have been criticisms of the NPP government for being vindictive, but as the President emphasised at the out of his government in 2000, fighting corruption and making everyone to take responsibility for their actions was the right thing to do.

Despite taking more personal insults than any of our past presidents, all in the interest of freedom of speech, this president did not use the security forces to fight back. In a related article this writer and others argue about the need to respect the institution of the presidency and the not the individual who holds the position.

In the London School of Economics debate (which was aired on London based Ghanaian television station) Professor Yao, one of the panellist and a senior economic lecturer at Middlesex University, who argue in favour of economic and social development rather than Human Rights in the early stages of development use the Chinese and the Malaysian examples as a case in point. Ironically Ghana under Rawlings chose the same mode of repression but still Ghana remains a poor country.

Indeed in the early 2000s Ghana joined the Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative in order to get relief for her huge debts that were incurred under the PNDC/NDC regime with its restrictive hold on freedom.

The essence of this argument is having shown maturity thus far, it is imperative not to start adopting the same tactics that the NDC adopted in the last days of their rule. However the opposition can argue that a party that is massively corrupt tends to turn to the security forces to prop up their dieing regime and would use every means to hang on to power.

It is now incumbent on the NPP to dispel this notion of thinking and come clean as to what measures are in place in fighting corruption instead of prompting people to report those that they think are tinted with corruption.

This writer has supported the policies that were put in place by the NPP administration to lift the Ghanaian people out of poverty, but if those in charge of the policies then go about to use the security forces to terrorised the citizenry then serious questions needs asking.

Ghana has given the people so much political freedom that going the East and South East Asia way is impossible. The FREEDOM ALREADY ENJOYED BY THE PEOLE, THOUGH FRIEGHTENING NEEDS TO HAVE BEEN BALANCED WITH ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL FREEDOM AT THE VERY OUTSET.

It seems it is now too late to curtail this level of freedom in exchange for something else. Freedom of speech in Ghana is the best in any developing country, yet we are still deemed as a poor third world country…the question is, where has this freedom got us in terms of economic and social development? Perhaps as Hon Isaac Osei can attest to (during the London School of Economics debate) Professor Yao was right, that economic and social freedom far more out weighs political freedom in the initial phase of development.

No one should be allowed to glorified violence at the expense of our freedom of speech/protest, but at the same time no one have the right to use the security forces against innocent civilians protesting against a cause. At the end we are all striving to achieve the same VISION. The unity and integrity of our motherland is far more important than any one individual or party of group of politicians. The Unity that Dr Nkrumah of the CPP family and Dr Danquah/Dr Busia of the UP/NPP family built should be uphold at any cost. That unity is what holds us together today as a sovereign nation and pride of sub-Saharan Africa.

God Bless our Homeland Ghana Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Peter Nee Jeffrey
Peter Nee Jeffrey, © 2006

The author has 54 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: PeterNeeJeffrey

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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