09.03.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL: The President's Speechwriters

By Chronicle
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Presidential addresses, at all times and especially on national day celebrations, must be speeches that the entire populace could identify with and accept as their own.

In other words, the President's address must capture the visions and aspirations of our people.

When President Kufuor, in his March 6 Independence Anniversary address started talking about the roles of the three arms of government, and civil society, in ensuring the growth of our democracy, many Ghanaians could identify with that.

However, it was surprising that the President went beyond that to ascribe to the Executive, of which he is the head, a responsibility that is clearly at variance with the type of representative government that our Constitution guarantees.

Separation of powers in a democracy is what ensures checks and balances in the body politic. Even though this concept is undermined by the Constitutional provision of appointing majority of ministers of state from Parliament, which leads to a merger of some legislators with the executive, the Constitution guarantees the independence of each arm.

The independence of the Judiciary is stated in Article 125 (1) on the judicial power of Ghana, that: 'Justice emanates from the people and shall be administered in the name of the Republic by the Judiciary which shall be independent and subject only to this Constitution.'

It was therefore very strange to hear the President pronouncing the Executive as the Coordinator of the affairs of the three arms of government. That statement by the president could undermine the confidence that people have in both the Legislature and the Judiciary, and lead to government being perhaps unjustifiably accused of manipulating these other very important arms of government.

As the President himself stated, "if confidence in the judicial system falters, the nation's democracy suffers."

We do not believe the President does not recognize the independence of the three arms of the state. What he read about the executive's role, as coordinator, does not reflect the text of the Constitution, let alone its spirit.

On an occasion like the Independence Anniversary, it would also have been just proper that we acknowledged the efforts of the founders of our nation, in wrestling political sovereignty from the colonialists. Sadly enough, this acknowledgment was missing from the President's address. We must endeavour not to gloss over important matters such as this.

Just as all of us would want to be remembered for the parts we are playing in the history of this nation, we must also acknowledge those who trod this path before us. It is in this regard that we do not only inspire people to aspire to live and die for this country, but also assure them that generations to come would forever remember their sacrifices.

A country that does not honour its heroes is not worth dying for.

The President's speechwriters are placed in a very unique position, and they must let the President's speeches project the collective aspirations of Ghanaians, rather than let it raise eyebrows.

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