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General News of Friday, 31 December 2021

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Year In Review: Major protests that put pressure on government

File Photo: A group of protesters File Photo: A group of protesters

FixTheCountry movement demand improvement in socio-economic development

499 aggrieved law students protest mass failure in entrance exams

Police frustrate demonstrators plans


Globally, protests are seen as a means of voicing out strong opposition to a government initiative.

In Africa and most particularly Ghana, many subscribe to the notion that, “the only language government understands is demonstration [protests] and strike actions”.

As such, 2021 could not have gone by without a group or an association hitting the streets to register their displeasure at something it felt was not right.

Here are some major protests that put pressure on government:

FixTheCountry

Undoubtedly, FixTheCountry wave will be the highlight of protests for the 2021 year ending.

What began as a campaign on social media platforms with the hashtag ‘FixTheCountry’ quickly metamorphosed into a movement which caught up with many particularly the youth.

The participants took pictures of themselves and also shared pictures of deplorable conditions in some parts of the country on social media.

The movement essentially was demanding for better living conditions from the government including provision of job opportunities for all, less corruption and better education.

FixTheCountry put pressure on the government whose pro –supporters such as the Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annor-Dompreh started a counter hashtag “FixYourself”.

However, this did not suffice as he received public backlash. This forced him to beat retreat and later come and apologise for his comments.

Later the government changed its communication on the matter by highlighting some progress it had chalked in some sectors of the economy with a strategy encapsulated in “WeAreFixingGhana”.

Plans by FixTheCountry conveners to stage an actual demonstration was frustrated as the police secured an injunction against it, citing COVID-19 restrictions.

But on August 4, 2021, FixTheCountry protestors hit the streets of Accra after the group had gotten clearance from the court to do so.

Thousands of citizens participated in the demonstration. The movement has gone on to stage a series of demonstration across various parts of the country and continues to remain a thorn in the flesh of government.

Aggrieved 499 law students

The issue of mass failure rate at the law entrance by the Ghana School of Law has long been a persisting canker.
In 2021, only 790 out of 2,824 who sat for the entrance exams passed.

However, 499 aggrieved law students’ insisted they had passed but were failed after the GLC introduced a new grading system without their knowledge.

Determined not to let this one go, 499 aggrieved law students registered their displeasure in statements and press conferences whilst additionally petitioning parliament to intervene in the matter.

Parliament on Friday October 29, 2021, passed a resolution to compel the GLC to admit all the 499 aggrieved law students however the Attorney General, Godfred Dame, in response to the directive said Parliament’s powers are limited as far as admission into the Ghana School of Law is concerned.

While the back and forth was ongoing, the aggrieved law students embarked on a demonstration on October 20, 2021 to demand their admission.

In November, Godfred Dame, wrote to the General Legal Council to grant admission to the 499 students who were denied entry into the Ghana School of Law.

They have subsequently been promised admission in January 2022. This was contained in the 2022 annual budget submitted by the office of the Attorney-General to the Finance Ministry.

Sosu leads FixOurRoads protest in Madina

Madina MP, Francis-Xavier Sosu on October 25,2021, led residents in his area of jurisdiction to protest over the bad nature of roads in the constituency. He lamented the neglect of the maintenance of the roads by the Urban Roads Department and the Municipal Assembly.

The protest however almost led to his arrest as the police attempted accosting him for the blockade of the road and destruction to public property.

Francis-Xavier Sosu hopped into his V8 and the car sped off.

The police have in the aftermath of the incident tried arresting the MP including storming his church to do so-a move which proved futile.

The lawmaker has since been in a spar with the police over the demonstration for which he is currently in Court for.

Meanwhile, Roads and Highways Minister Kwasi Amoako-Atta in November chided persons who protest for their roads to be fixed.

He said "demonstrations don't build roads".

"It is unreasonable for anybody to say that all roads everywhere should be fixed simultaneously. So these demonstrations should stop. Sometimes you get people who are supposed to know better,well-educated people who should advice their colleagues joining demonstrations. Demonstrations don't build roads"Mr. Amoako-Atta stated.

UTAG Strike

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) in August this year embarked on a strike action to compel government to address their worsening condition of service. The strike, which lasted for 2 weeks, forced some institutions to call off their end of semester examinations.

UTAG, after the 2-week strike, suspended it after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with government for a mandatory 30 days negotiation.

However, some months down the line, UTAG accused government of showing bad faith as it failed to honour its side of the bargain.

Ahead of the presentation of the 2022 budget statement, Secretary of Legon branch of UTAG, Professor Ransford Gyampo, urged the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, to factor in UTAG's demands lest they "vacate and reopen no more".

Ahead of 2022, the Legon branch of UTAG has served notice to embark on an indefinite strike beginning January 3,2022.

This is after it had rejected UTAG national decision to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to accept a research allowance of $1,600 payable in 2024 and a proposal for the government to complete a Labour Market Survey report to determine the review of the Interim Market Premium by December 2022 for implementation in 2022.

The Legon branch of UTAG believes it’s national leadership acted ultra vires as member institutions disagreed with the MoA.

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