By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Whether by his own design or through an accident of Fate, former President Rawlings is really ill-at-ease—and with his wife in tow, he is suffering the pang!
We are told that he spoke “in a characteristic passionate manner” at the 33rd anniversary celebration of the June 4 Uprising in Aflao, Volta Region, saying that “the NDC has run itself into a ditch and cannot beat their opponents NPP in the upcoming elections if the ideals of the June 4 uprisings have been abandoned” (Myjoyonline, June 3, 2012).
Two questions immediately emerge: The NDC has run itself into a ditch, leaving the Rawlingses unscathed? How did that happen? One might ask further: Being the blind leading a blind party, can the party alone fall into the ditch without them?
Rawlings and those thinking like him may think that the NDC has fallen into the ditch and can’t defeat its arch rival the NPP at Election 2012. To me, however, that’s not the issue at stake as far as the ongoing internal wranglings or the party’s electoral fate is concerned. So weighed down by the negative politics going on within it, the NDC’s future viability may be at stake; but there is more to this problem.
The real issue is that it is the Rawlingses who have fallen into the ditch, dragging the party along with them. Indeed, from all that has been going on ever since they decided to lock horns with President Mills and all those not in favour of their political excesses, one can tell that their political edifice has fallen apart and its centre cannot hold anymore. That is what they fear now and are hiding behind this “ditch” metaphor to portray.
The long and short of Rawlings’s “booming” is that he is part of the problem for the party. The NDC’s place in the ditch has long been created and secured by Rawlings the very moment he decided to set himself and his office up as a parallel administration to undermine the legal authority that the Ghanaian electorate mandated to rule the country after the 2008 general elections.
Wrongly setting himself up as the paragon of purity and saintliness in Ghanaian politics, Rawlings has refused to listen to reason and hasn’t deemed it fit to abandon the collision course on which he has pushed himself all this while. The question, then, is: Can the NDC be in the ditch without him? He is right in there too, if he cares to know, and won’t redeem himself just because he thinks it is only the part that is buried down there. He can’t extricate his fate from that of the party.
If the party loses the upcoming elections to the NPP, it will have two options: to remain in that ditch with the Rawlingses or to lend itself to rebuilding. The latter will be as arduous a task as to spell the party’s doom all the more because those not in the Rawlings camp will definitely find their way out to join other parties.
An emaciated NDC at this level can’t command any respect or support from an electorate that is privy to the machinations of the Rawlingses to bring the party to its knees. And for how long will Nature look on for the Rawlingses to rebuild such a party? It is a bad omen for them.
Probably, they might have seen the writing on the wall; hence, their inability to form and announce a new political party as some observers had anticipated. For as long as they push the NDC further into the ditch, so will their own plight worsen. Behaving for us to know how their own fate is tied to the NDC, they need to know that they are stuck in the ditch as well. The only option they have to redeem themselves is not to continue to dig in but to work for their own salvation with fear and trembling.
They have only one option at this time, which is to recant and retrace their footsteps to the very point of bifurcation from where they strayed into the political ditch. Then, they can start all over again, making peace with all those who matter in the party.
Doing so will regain for them the goodwill and respect that they have lost. But considering matters closely, it seems they can’t choose this path. They are so full of their own self-righteousness that they won’t budge to any entreaties to make peace. Such characters will be more motivated to continue on the path of self-destruction than heed good counsel to hasten slowly.
What are the ideals of June 4 that they are talking about? Nothing but the old, tired, and worn-out mantra of “probity and accountability” that has become nothing but a smokescreen behind which they hide to foment trouble. Let’s assume that such principles are even tenable under our democratic dispensation and that one should expect them to be upheld as the rules of the game to be applied. Can Rawlings and his wife tell the whole world that they will pass their own test?
Many happenings concerning their lifestyle and deeds raise serious questions about them. Here are just two instances to remind them of their shortcomings. In the Kufuor government’s handling of matters concerning Rawlings’ “gratuity,” we heard complaints from Rawlings that the government had once deposited about 665 million Cedis into his account without explaining to him where that money was coming from.
As is usual of him to court public sympathy, Rawlings loudly presented the matter as an attempt to bribe him and acted for the whole world to see the “saint” in him. But do you know what happened thereafter?
Rawlings withdrew all that money for use on the quiet. No one heard any complaint from him anymore. Is this a mark of sincerity from someone blowing the horn on probity and accountability?
Again, let’s consider the divestiture of state-owned enterprises by the Agbodo Divestiture Implementation Committee and the circumstances under which the Nsawam Cannery ended up in the hands of Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings and her 31st December Women’s Movement. If there was nothing fishy in this matter, why would Nana Konadu and all the others associated with the divestiture of this enterprise be put before court on charges related to corruption and malfeasance?
But for the political interference from Kufuor, the case would have been successfully prosecuted to put Nana Konadu where she rightfully belonged—in the cooler. Had that happened, she and her husband would have known better how to approach anything they perceive as infringing the June 4 principles of probity and accountability.
We want to place it on record here that attempts by Rawlings to stamp out corruption in Ghana were cosmetic and motivated by hatred for those perceived as successful in private business or using their political connections to make it in life.
The activities of the Citizens’ Vetting Committee in the heady days of the December 31, 1981, putsch revealed the extent to which such successful people were targeted and stringently dealt with, resulting in the prosecution and jailing of some by the Public Tribunals, the confiscation of assets at random, and the deprivation of many others of their hard-won economic independence and lives.
We are even not talking about the trumped-up charges that led to the shooting to death of former Army Generals and many others in the 100 days of the AFRC who were subjected to a so-called “unprecedented revolutionary action.” In the mad rush to fight bribery and corruption, Rawlings forgot that such a vice couldn’t be fought with the tool at his disposal—pure hatred and physical punishment to be inflicted on suspected culprits. Such an approach left its ugly scars on the body politic but didn’t solve the problem.
The inescapable point is that while Rawlings was fighting those targeted as economic saboteurs or corrupt people in business, happenings in his own government indicated the extent to which bribery and corruption had taken hold of his appointees. And he stood by, stupefied by the scourge.
Major Adutu, then Chairman of the Citizens’ Vetting Committee, for instance, was bitten by that virus of bribery and corruption. The findings of the CHRAJ against some of the Rawlings appointees such as Col. Emmanuel Osei-Wusu, P.V. Obeng, Isaac K. Adjei-Maafo, and Ibrahim Adam (presumably all of whom were staunch apostles of probity and accountability) revealed to us the rot in the Rawlings government itself; but who had the power to lift any finger against them? How did Rawlings tackle them to prove that his government was indeed firmly planted on probity and accountability?
You see, the very principles that the Rawlingses are touting here-and-there as being violated under the Kufuor or Mills governments got violated long ago while the Grand Master himself was in charge of affairs.
Corruption in Ghana can’t be done away with overnight or on the spur-of-the-moment as Rawlings is wont to do. Neither can it be fought with mere political posturing or shouting of empty and worn-out slogans.
Being an endemic problem, bribery and corruption can’t be fought with cosmetic but brutal measures as Rawlings sought to do when he was in power. That is why it has persisted and even fossilized to date. It can be fought by better means which none of those in authority, including Rawlings himself, has the strength of character to devise.
The vice can’t be fought with a “strongman” mentality or through half-hearted and arm-twisting attempts, no matter how drastic such measures might be. If they could be solved that way, the killing of the former military generals in 1979 and the long prison sentences handed down to others would have deterred Ghanaians from indulging in them. But they haven’t, which means that the real solution lies elsewhere.
The most potent means lies in the institutions of state, especially the law-enforcement agencies and the willingness of the citizenry to collaborate with them. In Ghana, where the government is more interested in weakening those institutions than retooling and strengthening them to solve problems, who will be so myopic as to think that in their present state, they can tackle such heavy responsibilities as entrusted to them?
It is not as if such institutions and the people working therein are immune to the vice. It is common knowledge that bribery and corruption is the second name of all those state institutions, especially the Ghana Police Service, the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies. Who shuns bribery and corruption in such institutions? And in this squalor, which of these institutions can fight the very vice that clothes it?
The Rawlingses might be happy to have lived to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the June 4 Uprising but it is a celebration that foreshadows a sad end to their political lives. It is a harbinger for them to seriously ponder to know how to make amends. It is not too late for them to stretch out their arms to be lifted from the ditch before they lose steam and resign themselves to a sad fate.
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