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23.10.2013 Editorial

Mr. President, Scapegoating Will Not Help You In This Dispute…

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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The diametrically opposed positions of the John Dramani Mahama-NDC government and Organised Labour over the 130-plus percent hike in electricity and water tariffs got more entrenched yesterday.

President Mahama's National Security Advisor, Brigadier-General Joseph Nunoo-Mensah, last Saturday muddied the waters deeply, by calling workers ingrates and ordering those who find the 'climate change' too hot to endure, to pack bag and baggage and emigrate to cooler climes.

Assailed on all fronts by various labour groups angered by his perceived unprovoked attack on their patriotism, General Nunoo-Mensah, not only defiantly refused to apologise on Tuesday, but, in characteristic military fashion, went on the offensive, and in one breadth accused the opposition New Patriotic Party of being saboteurs, and implied that the striking workers were dim-witted.

Sequel to the General's last weekend's outburst, the NPP had, in a statement, called on him to resign his post as National Security Advisor to the President, or be sacked by President Mahama.  His claim that the NPP was behind the strikes was his response to a party on whose platform he once stood as a candidate.

It has been reported that President Mahama was present at the classroom block commissioning, where General Nunoo Mensah accused workers of showing no gratitude for the government's implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure, which had tripled their salaries, and that the assemblage laughed it off, presumably, including the President.

Maybe President Mahama is similarly amused by General Nunoo-Mensah's latest antics? If he is, The Chronicle would like to inform him that it is a mistake, and he needs to sober up immediately.

Though most reasonable Ghanaians would dismiss the allegation that the NPP was sponsoring the strikes as mere political talk, they also know that politicians are opportunists, and would manipulate any situation to their advantage, if given half a chance.

If indeed, the NPP is meddling with workers' emotions, it is to be expected of them as politicians. The NDC would do the same if the roles were reversed tomorrow.

The important thing though, Mr. President, is not to give your opponent the opportunity to mess one up. But, this is precisely what General Nunoo-Mensah is happily doing in a basketful, if not tankfull.

Just look at what the NPP made of Nunoo-Mensah's allegation. Former Communications Director Nana Akomea did not even bother to deny the allegation, but used the opportunity to remind workers that the General had called them fools.

'He is making his case worse. It is a huge insult to all the doctors, nurses and others, that they don't have a mind of their own, and they need the NPP to come and tell them they are suffering. That is a huge insult,' Nana Akomea needled.

Though we wish for a less turbulent polity, The Chronicle, on this occasion, cannot blame the NPP for making good use of its opportunities. Any other political party would have done the same.

On the other hand, we would urge President Mahama to focus his mind on how soon he would become bold enough take the bitterest pill of his tenure: the across-the-board cutting of the salaries of Article 71 employees of state, which is said to comprise almost half of the 70 per cent that public sector workers currently swallow out of our tax revenues.

The Chronicle believes that such selfless demonstration of patriotism at the highest levels would, locally, appease workers to accept the killer tariffs, and internationally convince our multi-donor partners who have withheld their funding, and the rating agencies, that are making our loans cost more, that we are seriously addressing the thickening red line on our balance sheet. Any thawing on both fronts would significantly reduce Ghana's current hypertension.

A word to the wise …

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