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04.10.2017 Feature Article

‘Mr President Withdraw Your Finger’: Where Was The President’s Finger?

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Remember the saying, ‘your freedom ends where one’s nose begins’?

South Africa President Jacob Gedleyyihlekisa Zuma couldn’t keep his finger to himself. His finger had trespassed like a strayed bullet. And what was the outcome? He was called to order. Sarcastically, the Speaker of Parliament prevailed upon him to withdraw his wayward finger (so to speak) and he’d it graciously amid laughter in the august House.

The good news is in South Africa there was no brawl or trading of blows amongst members as it did happen in Uganda’s Parliament recently. Who told you democracy isn’t good and cool? It’s arguably the best form of government. Thus, in case you didn’t know democracy has the finest goodies and it is the best place to shop. Why?

Because it protects the interest of citizens, promotes equality, and allows a little chance of revolution. It also prevents monopoly of authority among others. In my view, democracy can make you laugh and it can make you cry. It can make you rich and it can make you poor. It‘s the power to make you and has the power to break you. In other words, it can bring you fame and it can shame you too. But all in all, I think it’s the best form of government though sometimes it displays its bully-pulpit trait or syndrome.

Trump’s Gaffe
I suppose the whole world saw that aspect at the just ended 72nd United Nations General Assembly that took place in the US. President Donald John Trump during his address to member nations said the US will ‘totally destroy ‘North Korea.’ Mr. Trump scorned NK leader by calling him ‘little Rocket Man’. And guess what democracy does best---it gives free speech or freedom of expression to the little people and big people as well. It means the strong can speak his mind likewise the weak.

So, hours later, North Korea President Kim Jong Un also responded. He called Mr. Trump’ mentally deranged dotard.” An old-fashioned term for a befuddled old fool and threatened to test another hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

The current development plus trading of war words from the two leaders have heightened speculation that there could be a possible confrontation sometime soon. But I beg to differ. They’re all but a ‘damp squib’. Nothing‘s going to happen... By that I mean there will be no war until there’s a false claim that there are WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction) stockpiled somewhere or elsewhere around the globe. Basically, that’s what could trigger a Third World War. In 1994 Clinton administration planned a military incursion against North Korea, in the end diplomacy triumphed. So let’s continue to use diplomacy, in all our engagements at the global stage.

Be reminded a war with North Korea wouldn’t be with North Korea alone. It would invite other global super powers—Russia and China. Hence, let no one assume that it would be a chicken feed—something to finish up, with a snap of finger. Not at all, if it happens it would be cataclysmic. It’d be a war which would see no winner—the world would lose. There will be no peace and harmony. And there will be no love, no mercy, there’ll be no compassion. Everyone will be seen as an enemy. Where will be trust? Where will be joy? Our pursuit of happiness would be derailed. There will be no unity and prosperity?

Therefore, let’s tone down our rhetoric because it does us no good. It rather ignites panic and fear.

Back to Mr. Zuma’s finger: Where exactly was JZ’s (as he’s affectionately called) finger, was it on a trigger? Not really but it seemed to have aimed at someone at the Chamber. I think she was one of the renegade MP’s that sought Mr. Zuma’s removal from office.

Yes, he’d touched a wrong nerve. The MP he supposedly took aim at wouldn’t take the president’s action lightly. An act she described as an affront to her culture. Probably, she began by saying this: ‘Madam Speaker’ but the footage now trending on the social media didn’t capture that.

“..The president is pointing his finger to me. And in my culture and in my understanding that’s disrespectful and I will not tolerate that by any person whether being a president of a country or whatsoever. I will not tolerate it,” the MP reiterated.

The Speaker then asked the President to withdraw his finger.

. “Yes. I withdraw my finger. I’ve withdrawn my fingers,” Mr. Zuma said repeatedly.

I remember sometime in August this year Mr. Zuma narrowly survived a motion of no confidence against him in Parliament. But the man survived... The August episode was his sixth after months of growing agitation over allegations of corruption and tumbling.

Uganda Parliament
The landlocked nation in East Africa grabbed the world’s attention last week. Uganda‘s Parliament House was reduced to a boxing arena if you like. Clashes erupted like a volcano. The riots were over a motion to end a constitutional limit on Yoweri Museveni’s age effectively allowing the 73 year-old president to extend his 31 years in power.

But the lawmakers wouldn’t take any of that, hence the scuffle. Reports say at least five of the legislators received hospital treatment for injuries sustained in the brawl. Museveni is one of Africa’s longest leaders.

And why was Mugabe attacked?
The attack on the Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is very unfortunate. It’s a shame and needs to be condemned in no uncertain terms. And I think those that masterminded it must bow their heads in shame. I also condemn the attack on the journalist. But why should a speech by a country’s president at the UN General Assembly invite an attack from the host nation?

Is this the first time America has had its president come under verbal attack or criticised? Former president George W Bush was criticised by former Iranian president-Ahmadinejad and Venezuela former president Hugo Rafael Chavez. “The Devil was here,” Chavez said.

This incident should have happen in a rogue state not in the Free World, which espouses free speech and human rights. Apparently, Mr. Mugabe’s acerbic speech at the UN General Assembly had ruffled furthers.

Gordon Offin-Amaniampong
Gordon Offin-Amaniampong, © 2017

The author has 461 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: GordonOffinAmaniampong

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