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Opinions of Saturday, 1 November 2003

Columnist: Asibey, Akwasi

Dishonourable High Maintenance Ala Adjetey Must Go: A Rejoinder

I read Kwame Appiah-Yeboah’s article (READ) with keen interest. However, I have a problem with his choice of language as well as with the analysis and presentation of facts.

On the language, the writer could have made his points without referring to the Speaker, who is the third most important person in the realm of political ranking in Ghana, as 'dishonourable'.

We should try as much as we can to show respect for office holders even if we disagree with them. This aspect of political discourse in Ghana really borders me. It seems we interpret the concept of political freedom rather too literally.

The second point is about his facts. I thought the Speaker come out to dispute the issue about the Mercedes Benz. Are we absolutely sure the Speaker rejected an E-Class Mercedes Benz for an S-Class model?

The author should not castigate the Speaker for seeking medical treatment overseas. It has been a long practice with African elites in all spheres of life and not politicians alone.

It is an indictment on our own psyche as a people. We do not seem to trust our own specialists so please we should not single out the Speaker for blame.

Does the author know that at one point both the President and the Vice President of Kenya were in a London hospital receiving medical treatment? Subsequently, the Vice President returned and spent almost two months in the same hospital but later died.

The Speaker may not have elegantly put the case about the remuneration of parliamentarians but the fact of the matter is that Ghanaian parliamentarians are poorly paid, compared to their African counterparts. We should not ask our political leaders to make sacrifices that we are not willing to make ourselves. The US$300 equivalent that they are paid per month is really not enough. Granted that it is in line with the capacity of our economy, we should not underestimate their concerns. If we want democratic governance to survive in Ghana and, especially if we want to attract talented people into politics, we ought to review the current salary structure and the incentive package for our parliamentarians and even ministers.

We ought to know that not every Ghanaian wants to leave the shores of our country as some of us have done to better ourselves. So we must be understanding and considerate when we reach for our keyboards to write on issues at home. We should not expect those at home to make sacrifices that we ourselves are unwilling to make!


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