Political Tolerance Crucial
Tolerance and respect for one another’s views is the bedrock of any democracy and, in mature democracies, though people may hold divergent political views, the discourse is laden with decorous language.
Since Ghana set off on the democratic path in 1992, the language used by our politicians has notoriously become offensive. The inordinate zealousness to score cheap political points has led to the use of intemperate language, abuses, slander and outright peddling of falsehood.
On radio and television and at political fora, political opponents have sought to win the support of the public by displaying intolerance.
In the process, we have witnessed political discourse characterised by name-calling, such as freaks, punks, thieves and many other unpalatable tags.
The problem arises when people hold on strongly to their views and consider those of others as wrong and are unwilling to change, no matter the circumstance.
As we enter 2011, a year before the 2012 elections, political activities are expected to increase and if care is not taken, the nation will witness a further rise in the political temperature.
It is for this reason that the DAILY GRAPHIC sees a lot of wisdom in the advice given by the Omanhene of the Dormaa Traditional Area, Osagyefo Agyeman Badu, for Ghanaians to accommodate one another’s political views as we draw closer to the 2012 elections.
Speaking at an end-of-year get-together organised by the Dormaa Traditional Council, Osagyefo Agyeman Badu said, “Democracy thrives on the free expression of divergent views and opinions. The fact that you disagree with the views or opinions expressed by someone who does not share your political ideology does not make the person an enemy.”
In that regard, he appealed to supporters of both the NPP and the NDC in his jurisdiction not to allow their political differences to divide them as a people, saying they should rather unite for the sake of Dormaa and the nation at large.
Perhaps we need to stress that no development engagement can take place without unity and respect for the views of others. Many of the countries that slide down the path of civil war or unrest started with intolerant gestures which ended in chaos and anarchy.
As a nation, we have remained united since independence, although we have witnessed some skirmishes which sought to undermine our cohesion.
President John Evans Atta Mills has declared 2011 an action year but his efforts at transforming Ghana into a new haven could seriously be undermined by division, rancour, bitterness, intolerance and pettiness.
The Good Book says a house divided against itself cannot stand. We should, therefore, look at the issues that unite us, instead of the things that divide us.
Fortunately, as a nation, everything seems to be going well for us. We have discovered oil in commercial quantities and managed to stabilise the economy and set it out on a plateau for take-off.
Undoubtedly, we have recorded impressive democratic credentials which have made the nation an international showpiece. We, therefore, call on Ghanaians to avoid conflicts and unnecessary tension which can only disturb the country and jeopardise our development efforts.
Let us all rally behind the national vision of reducing poverty, improving access to education, providing better roads, ensuring better electricity supply and, above all, putting bread and butter on the table.
For, posterity will hold us accountable and responsible if we mess up this golden opportunity to contribute to the development of the country and humanity.