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Opinions of Saturday, 6 August 2011

Columnist: Darko, Otchere

Ghana’s Democracy At What Price?


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Should democracy, civil liberty, human rights, etc, be stretched to the point where they pose a threat to the core pillars of the very civilisation that the concepts are intended to safeguard?

By Otchere Darko

[Introductory Clarification: This writer, who has used the simple name of “Otchere Darko” as his official name for nearly five decades now, attended the School of Administration of University of Ghana and finally left its campus in September 1977, {the year that students embarked on the UNIGOV demonstration}. This writer has never before, or after September 1977 been a student of the Ghana Law School. Up to the end of 1981, he worked as a senior public servant for one of the mainstream ministries in Ghana. He does not currently work, and has never worked for the Danquah Institute. He is just one of hundreds {and possibly thousands} of Ghanaians who use the name “Otchere Darko”, either alone or in combination with other names. Being a centrist, semi-liberalist, pragmatist and an ardent advocate of inter-ethnic unity and cooperation, the writer’s political views are diametrically opposed to those held by current Ghanaian parties that promote extreme political views and, therefore, he cannot be a member of any of the political parties currently registered in Ghana. *Readers of this article or any of his other writings should, please, take note of this introductory clarification that has been necessitated by readers who never get the time or the patience to read his self-introduction, which until today, was always at the bottom of all his articles. Putting this self-introduction in front, instead of at the bottom of this article, aims at guiding readers to avoid the tendency for some readers to erroneously blame, and sometimes even insult another user of this same name, “Otchere Darko”, which some spell in a more vernacular way as “Okyere Darko”, while other users hyphenate in whatever spelling-form they choose, so that theirs become one single compound name. *Thank you, for reading this introduction; and hopefully, you will not rush to blame or insult another person for something he has not done.]

The Price of Democracy: *I look at American democracy that, ironically, prides itself as the “best in the world”; and I judge it through the prism of the recent Republican-Democrat Congressional wrangling that has had the potential to re-plunge our weak global economy into another deep trough. *I look at religious extremists all over the world, including Muslim extremists who think that they have a right to tie bombs to their waists to kill thousands of innocent people together with themselves in the name of “jihad”, or for reasons of “destroying infidels”..... just as Al Qaeda operatives do; and also including Christian extremists who think that they can exercise their “human rights” by planting bombs, or by shooting to kill thousands of innocent people in the name of saving Christianity or other forms of Western culture..... just as the recent Norwegian who killed Seventy-Seven innocent people did. *I look at human right advocates who argue, among other reasons, that consenting adult people should be free to indulge in same-sex relationships, because “it is their human rights to do so”, despite being aware of the fact that ‘sane adults’ who may want to walk through public streets completely naked are not allowed to pursue those rights, mindful that such pursuit of one’s human rights may ‘offend’ on-looking ‘normal members’ of the public, and also despite being further aware of the fact that homosexuality has the same potential to ‘offend’ on-looking ‘normal members’ of the public, just as walking naked on public streets has the potential to offend on-looking ‘normal members’ of the public. *I look at all these and other characteristics of society today, in what has become known as ‘modern civilisation’, and then I wonder whether our much cherished concepts and values like “democracy”, “civil liberty” “liberalism”, “human rights”, etc, have not been pushed too far to be able to support the very pillars and foundation of civilisation that they purport to create and which has taken humankind several thousands of years to build and preserve in order to protect humanity and ensure the continuity of life and nature. *Yet, strangely people justify these ‘viral democratic offshoots’ that have their individual capabilities to ruin their originator and conferrer, democracy.

I criticise events like “the June 4th Tiananmen Square massacre” of several Chinese protesters by the Chinese government. I criticise the massacre of thousands of protesters in Egypt, Libya, Syria and other Arab countries of North Africa and the Middle East by their various governments. I criticise the stifling of several political rights of people in various parts of the world who seek self-determination and the right to enjoy the normal decent life that all other people elsewhere in the world take for granted. But I also question our system of ‘static democracy’ that works like a robot programmed to act in one specific way and fitted with no conscience to adjust to ‘reasoning’..... for example, our system of democracy that allows two dominant opposing parties to deliberately seek to ‘destroy’ their opponents, so as to safeguard their own political interests, without bearing in mind the general wellbeing and collective needs of the aggregate population and the country that the two opposing sides serve. *The way Republicans and Democrats in America push party politics and discussions to ‘the brink’, especially during the last and most important congressional discussion of America’s current debt crisis which is holding to ransom a weak global economy that leans heavily on America for economic leadership, does not give credit to American democracy. *In the United Kingdom too, the way “Prime Minister’s Questions Time” proceeds in Parliament between members of the governing parties and the opposition resembles two medieval warring armies facing each other nose-to-nose, and making hot and provocative verbal exchanges that form the prelude to the actual ‘clinging of swords’ for battle in primitive ancient warfare. *In Ghana, the constant linking of the name of Nana Akufo-Addo with cocaine by members of NDC and their supporting papers who claim that they have evidence to incriminate the NPP flagbearer, but who up this day have failed to submit such evidence to the Security agencies to enable them to investigate and effect the arrest and prosecution of Nana Akufo-Addo....... which failure to submit casts doubt on the validity of such allegations against the NPP flagbearer, is an example of what party politics as an instrument of democracy is doing to harm the smooth functioning of the same democratic system, of which it is part. *Similarly, the reciprocal insults that are hurled at the President and members of his government by members of the opposition NPP, including the recent innuendo that inferred that the “President is bisexual”, when every Ghanaians knows this to be untrue, is another example of what party politics in Ghana is doing under the umbrella of democracy to undermine the same concept that gave birth to it. *The recent questioning of Ghana by some Westerners over the call by a Ghanaian Minister for the arrest of homosexuals caught practising in Ghana is a classic example of Western political hypocrisy, because such questioning of the Minister’s call is incongruent to the rule of law which Westerners preach...... because “homosexual practices” are “illegal” and “criminal” under Ghanaian laws. Should Westerners tell Ghanaians which Ghanaian laws should be enforced and which ones should not be?

It is time Ghana re-examined some of the modern concepts and ideas that that have infiltrated our lives and culture, so that we can streamline them to suit our Ghanaian circumstances. Our politicians must stop practising any aspect of democracy that is confrontational and inimical to good governance, such as the politically motivated “pull-him-down” party politics, [PHD], which is widely used in America and Britain by parties to undermine their political opponents, though they do so under ‘strict cover’ in those advanced countries. Our democracy can be practised differently, by evolving a system that creates participatory and mutually beneficial partisan relationships between governing and opposition parties, such that those in opposition become seen as “side-mirrors” for governing parties, through whom the art of governing can be perfected, rather than seeing opposition members as “enemies” that need to be ‘devilled’ and ‘destroyed’..... negative political developments that make the concept of political opposition in Ghana inglorious, ignominious and painful. Ghana should also put pressure on the United Nations Organisation to re-examine and redefine the “UN Charter on Human Rights”, with a view to clarifying which of those rights should be subject to, and affected by cultural differences of member nations. Just as an American judge does not, and cannot be forced to wear in court the multi-century-old British judicial wig that has become an international symbol of justice, so also should Ghanaians not be forced by any country to embrace any international ‘idea’ or ‘practice’ that has no Ghanaian domestic constitution and acceptability, such as the practice of having “anal sex” or any other form of homosexual practice that is seen by Ghanaians to be “unnatural”, “foreign” and “repugnant” to general Ghanaian values, taste and culture.

Source: Otchere Darko, (Personal Political Views).

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