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12.03.2007 Press Review

COUNTER POSITION TO MARTIN AMIDU (FORMER AG UNDER RAWLINGS REGIME)

By CHARLES KWAKU AMOO-ASANTE

It is sad and regrettable for Martin A. B. K. Amidu (former AG and Deputy Secretary/Minister of Justice) under the corrupt, violent, ruthless, 'Klepto' regime of Rawlings to state that “We are witnesses to a cesspool of corruption, bribery, fraud, waste, and abuse of the country's resources as well as the infiltration of drug money into our country, The latter have tended to degrade morals and our institutions and they have affected the reputation and commitment of our country” This so-called educated or learned man has been either asleep for over 25 years or hiding under Rawlings' carpet or bed or is simply brained dead. To make spurious allegations without giving any examples with evidence is professionally incompetent. Such so-called lawyers do not win cases in court because they cannot produce evidence and argue their cases in courts of law. In effect, they act as laymen and repeat what others say without seeking evidence. To ignore the 20-year Kleto-rule of Rawlings with its attendant waywardness, drugs-inhaling and drugs-smoking leaders is just plain partisan nonsense and trash.

To say that there is a cesspool of corruption in Kuffour's administration and to ignore the blatant and naked pilfering by many leaders of PNDC/NDC and then to complain about selective prosecution of 'crony capitalists' at best and highway robbers at worst in Rawlings' junta is laughable. There is insincerely on the part of Amidu to the point where he cannot ever offer justice to anyone not even to himself. Under 20-year Rawlings regime, the majority of the Ministers and their deputies were full-time thieves and part-time ministers who deserve to be locked up.

Since he is not an accountant he must understand basic inventory of cases under the First-In-First-Out” (FIFO) To leave the many crimes of NDC and move on and move out of the sad history of NDC/PNDC will be a monstrous miscarriage of justice. Again, to move on to current crimes without dealing with old crimes will make NDC crimes statute barred and other legal loophole. Though it is no binary outcome, the lack of legal resources to prosecute all crimes at the same time may partly explain why several cases have not come up. The efforts by a few to abuse the law and take advantage of the patience and easy-going tolerance of the NPP administration have led to a logjam of the criminal justice system and we are all paying for tricks like Tsatu Tsikata and others to frustrate and prevent proper due process. We have all witnessed court room dramas that will not be tolerated under Rawlings' violent regime or in the US or UK, bastions of the rule of law.

A crime must be prosecuted at all times. Thus, I have sympathy and support for the writings of H. Kwasi Prempeh. In his online posting on February 13, 2007, HKP makes brilliant arguments which make Amidu's noises and nonsense
more the speech a primary school teacher. I take the liberty to produce in full Kwasi Prempeh's position.

'There are many who have protested the conviction and jailing of Abodakpi on the grounds that the Kuffuor administration is not investigating or prosecuting any of its own members reported to be engaged in high corruption. In essence, this argument would have Abodakpi go scot free UNLESS some member of the Kuffuor administration is similarly prosecuted and convicted. Of course, this makes no sense. Abodakpi did not commit his crime in collaboration with some member of the Kuffuor administration who has been let off the hook. His crime must stand on its own and be adjudicated on its own terms and not be "conditioned" on some other independently committed crime involving an unrelated person.

The more significant issue that is raised by the "Abodakpi protest," however, seems to that, "post-regime accountability" (that is, investigation and prosecution of crimes allegedly committed by members of the previous government) amounts to selective justice unless there is, at the same time, "incumbent accountability" (that is, investigation and prosecution of crimes allegedly committed by members of the incumbent government). But, here again, the Abodakpi protesters would appear to prefer "no accountability" at all (whether post-regime or incumbent) to exclusively "post-regime accountability." I disagree. Must we arrest no thieves or no murderers unless we can arrest all thieves or all murderers?

Ideally, accountability and enforcement of the criminal laws to punish corruption and other forms of criminal abuse of office should cover both post-regime and incumbent. But it seems to me politically naive to expect that a government, in a highly partisan, "winner-take-all" political culture such as ours, would have as much political will and courage to pursue "incumbent accountability" as it does "post-regime accountability." In fact, when the Kuffuor Government first applied the law against willfully causing financial loss to the State, it applied it against its own Minister for Sports. That unprecedented political act was not politically popular across the board. Since then, political accountability has been almost exclusively of the "post-regime" kind, involving alleged crimes committed by persons in the previous NDC government. And that too is generating vociferous objection. It is instructive, that even the non conventional Rawlings administration, could not muster the political will to pursue one single instance of "incumbent accountability," despite its earlier bloody record in the area of "post-regime accountability" that was pursued without appropriate due process safeguards.

Despite its imperfection, I fully support "post-regime accountability" (in a constitutional democracy), even if that's all we are going to get from our governments. First, I believe it is far better than "no accountability" at all. We need to break the culture of "Impunity and immunity" that has become part of our political culture, wherein high public officials are almost never held legally accountable for their criminal abuse of office or corruption. "Post-regime" accountability is a very good starting point. We should not let the best be the enemy of the good!!!

Second, "post-regime accountability" will have, over time, a measure of deterrence, as long as competition between the main rival parties remains fluid and competitive. If incumbent governments believe that their hold on power is only tentative and tenuous, and that the rival parties may oscillate between Opposition and Government, the risk of being subjected to "post-regime accountability" will have a disciplining and checking effect on the conduct of incumbents.

In fact, the pursuit by the Kuffuor Government of even very limited "post-regime accountability" is already having a checking effect on his government, as many Ghanaians are now looking closely at the activities of his own Ministers. Moreover, a government that pursues only "post-regime accountability" while shielding criminal malfeasance in its own ranks is likely to suffer a loss of political legitimacy that could be costly electorally.

For these reasons, and a host of others one could easily think of, I would readily endorse a policy of "post-regime accountability" over one that enforces no accountability on either previous or incumbent officials alleged to be involved in criminal malfeasance. I would support the jailing of Abodakpi even if no member of the Kuffuor Government was ever investigated or prosecuted for similar crimes by a Kuffuor-appointed Attorney General.

Lest I be misunderstood, a distinction must be made between the "normative" position ("what should be") and the merely "descriptive" ("what is"). My normative or preferred outcome is, of course, for us to have accountability across-the-board, including "incumbent accountability". However, my normative preferences aside, I am also "describing" a certain political reality that necessarily provides the context within which I must place my preferences. Once I do that, it becomes clear to me that we may have to live with "post regime accountability" for the present time. HOWEVER, as I have noted, post-regime accountability is NOT sustainable over time, either because incumbents who are seen to be pursuing only post-regime accountability will pay dearly at the polls, or post-regime accountability, when it repeats itself in alternating regimes, will compel incumbent accountability.

The Abodakpi protesters take an "all or nothing" approach to accountability that I find politically unrealistic and counterproductive. "Some" accountability is better than no-accountability at all. In the end, if our democratic politics remain fluid and competitive, "post-regime accountability" will generate important "feedback effects" that will promote and compel "incumbent accountability."

Given the state of our current politics, it is naive to expect a great deal more. In instilling a new kind of ethic in our public life, I believe incrementalism and modest steps are still preferable to inertia and perpetuation of the status quo. In the long run, "post regime accountability" alone is not politically sustainable; but in the short run, it may be unrealistic to expect more than that.

To conclude on a rhetorical, if lighter, note, if our criminal justice system operates on a "FIFO" ("first in, first out; or "first come, first served") basis, and continues to operate at its super-slow pace, how can we reasonably expect to get "incumbent accountability" when the backlog of "post-regime" accountability cases have yet to be cleared?”

Mr. Amidu, I will support you to prosecute any criminal in the NPP at any time. A thief is a thief. A thief works for only one person; himself. In the NPP a thief is an aberration; in the NDC a thief is an inspiration. How else can we explain the noises when Abodakpi's hands were caught in the cookie jar? In the NPP a thief is a member of the party who happens to be a thief. In the NDC a thief 'is in his element'; his comfort zone.

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