By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) is warning of a revolution in Ghana if government fails to address the growing workers agitations and protests across the country. Isaac Bayor (Coordinator of the Network) told Joy News that while the revolution may not take the form of the Arab Spring, the powers-that-be must not underestimate the widespread agitations in the country. He added that elements who may have other aspirations could infiltrate these demonstrations to cause mayhem in the country. (See: http://myjoyonline.com/news/2014/July-22nd/workers-demonstrations-wanep-warns-of-revolution-in-ghana-if.php).
I like this part of the WANEP Coordinator’s observation: “elements who may have other aspirations could infiltrate these demonstrations to cause mayhem in the country”. Is causing mayhem tantamount to the REVOLUTION that WANEP is forewarning the government (and Ghanaians, generally) about? A revolution in a democracy? For whom to take over the rein of government? A scary but manageable premonition?
Folks, we have already read deeper meanings into the ongoing agitations in the country to suggest that they are catalyzed by many factors and being masterminded by diverse interest and pressure groups for various purposes. Organized labour has genuine concerns but if its street demonstrations are turned into “political trump-cards” to be played by those desperate for the political power that eluded them at the general elections, the situation could become explosive. These agitations must be placed in context and analyzed for their entailments.
From the labour front, it is understandable that the government’s failure to solve the economic problems, coupled with the high tariffs on utility services, hikes in the prices of petroleum products and transport fares with the resultant high cost of food, provides a genuine cause for open demonstration of anger and frustration by workers. On top of that, wages and salaries haven’t matched the intermittent and wanton increases in the prices of goods and services, even though other measures including high taxes have combined to worsen living conditions. However patient and tolerant the workers may be, their balloon of patience will definitely burst at a point. What is planned for Thursday is the culmination; and it threatens to add to the government’s woes.
Behind these agitations at the labour front are political interests too. We are already aware of threats by opponents of the Mahama-led administration to make the cou9ntry ungovernable after they had lost the 2012 general elections and futilely attempted forcing the political river to flow upstream. I am talking about the NPP and its agenda of frustrating the government. Its leaders and followers have done and said a lot to reinforce that threat.
The Ashanti Regional Chairman of the party (a so-called Chairman Wontumi) brazenly said that he would do all in his power to foment the Ghanaian version of the “Arab Spring” that would kick President Mahama out of office. Subtle and brazen acts have been done to that effect but to no avail.
Picking the pieces, surrogates of the NPP (the Alliance for Accountable Governance, AFAG), for instance, have also been waging their own kind of war against the government, making weird allegations and creating disaffection for the government.
Those members of the clergy who have turned themselves into politicians in cassock have also added a new complexion to the agitations, using their pulpit to undermine the government and cause public disaffection for it. The Rev. Owusu Bempah and the Methodist Priest of Obuasi (Bosomtwe) are leading the pack, bad-mouthing the government and reinforcing whatever is put out there by the known political opponents.
The group calling itself “Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance (CGRG)” and claiming to be non-political and non-partisan is also thickening the open challenge to the government, instituting a “Red Friday” and an “OccupyFlagstaffHouse” presence in cyberspace, even as it intensifies its mobilization of support for its cause to undercut the government.
In all that these groups are doing, they seem to be united by one common factor: to push the government to the wall, hoping that it will either deploy the security apparatus to attempt clamping down on them so they can move to the next stage of their agitations or that it will be scared by the affront to it and introduce measures to solve the economic problems. Of course, everyone expects the government to solve problems so Ghanaians can live decent lives. However, there is more to the open agitations going on.
Only a pathological fool will close his mind to these happenings, narrow everything down to a mere expression of frustration at the situation in the country, or dismiss them as the workings of petty troublemakers. There is a high probability that these street demonstrations can degenerate into total anarchy, which will feed into the political agenda of those anti-Mahama politicians wishing to see the back of the NDC. In sum, then, it can be inferred from the manner in which these strike actions and street demonstrations are erupting that they are not merely spontaneous reactions to the economic situation but careful planned and coordinated efforts to achieve a political goal.
That is why the government has to sit up. From what has transpired so far, it is clear that sentiments are “hot” and bitter and that any miscalculated move by the authorities could backfire. As we have seen already from the nasty comment made by a staff member of the United States Embassy in Accra to President Mahama’s message on Twitter, there is cause to pause for sober reflection. That retort from the cyberspace of the US Embassy is a wake-up call for President Mahama to redirect his attention to other areas, especially nationwide broadcasts to air his views on issues bothering Ghanaians.
Let me prophesy here that the US Embassy faux pas has definitely turned the searchlight on his use of social media and opened the floodgates for worse comments to be made in the near future by those opposing and bad-mouthing him all over the place. They will cash in and retort horribly to anything coming from him henceforth. That is the more reason for him to redirect his energy to better ways of directly communicating with the people. Will he see things as some of us are doing?
If these agitations and street demonstrations spill over, they could feed into the agenda of the politicians desperately seeking political power but who have no patience to do so through the ballot box. In a democracy, such tendencies are misplaced. And a democracy that doesn’t solve problems to improve the living standards of the people is not worth sustaining. Is that where we are in Ghana today?
I shall return…