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Opinions of Thursday, 9 November 2006

Columnist: Mijjimma, Abdul

Innocent Until Proven Guilty


It is very disheartening to read political news from Ghana these days. Gone are days when politicians meet on “talking point” to discuss real issues that will make an impact on the lives of ordinary Ghanaians. It seems the only issue the media is interested in is the cult of Rawlings and Kuffour. What is appalling about is situation is that they kept feeding us the same diet over and over again. Are there any opinion leaders in the country, or it is the case that our opinion leaders themselves are caught in the endless game of politicking with every issues of grave national concern. At a rally in Kumasi, the current President, J.A Kuffour, accused his predecessor J. J. Rawlings of soliciting funds from an oil rich country to overthrow his government without providing an iota of evidence. He went on to claim that his government would deal with the issue effectively. When confronted to substantiate the allegation with facts or evidence neither the president nor his ministers would provide any. They prefer to further sink Ghanaians in to an endless confrontation on this issue. They even refuse to mention the country Rawlings was alleged to have solicited such funds. Nevertheless some NPP empty heads are ready to accept those arguments as the bases to crucify Rawlings for his responds, even though he was the accused.

Under the 1992 constitution that embodies all the laws of Ghana, coup d’etat or it attempt is a first-degree felony punishable by death. Why then should the President and his government decide a political campaign rally to make such grave national security disclosures and not our law courts? Perhaps it is their intention, as has always been, that they prefer to prosecute Rawlings in the court of public opinion rather than the house of justice. If Mr. Rawlings is indeed planning a coup, as the President and Ministers would want us to believe, why not place him under arrest and let him face the full rigors of the Ghanaian judicial and legal system. The accession by Mr. Bartel, the Minister with a communist portfolio, that government will take a decision on the issue after it is satisfied with the intelligence lacks common sense, and is utter nonsense to say the least. Mr. Bartels like many of his kind in the Kuffour led government are paid by tax payers for the sole purposes of spewing government propaganda. If the President and his government are not yet satisfied with the intelligence regarding the coup attempt, what then is the rational behind the Presidential public statements? Are they not compromising the whole intelligence system by making the issue public? Or this is just one of the many Presidential deceptions meant solely for purposes of stirring things up to divert the attention of Ghanaians from the many political quagmires the government had created for itself. If the government will not charge Mr. Rawlings for the first degree felony, if they will not provide us with evidence and the country the so called funds for coup was solicited, then Mr. Rawlings innocent. Because so far no one, not the President or his ministers have proven his guilt. The concept of innocent until proven guilty is not only a matter of law, but also a matter of common sense. In a press conference last week Mr. Bartels claim “Ex-President Rawlings is known in this country as a serial coup-maker involved in three coups, one of which failed...but we all have the history of Rawlings’ second coming which brought in the PNDC era to guide us.” The history Bartels failed to inform Ghanaians is that in 1982 the President and some members of the current administration were a part of a coup maker’s government.

To be precise, Mr. Kuffour was once upon a time the Secretary of local government in the PNDC era. What was the President’s position on coups when he accepted to serve the PNDC? Was his service as the Secretary of Local a vindication of the 1982 coups? Perhaps the president was not smart enough to know he was serving a coup master, or may be it is inadvertently apart of his political opportunism. In 2001 he even accept an award for his service in the local government ministry. I am afraid, Mr. President, you cannot eat your cake and have it. You cannot receive awards for your service in a government and then chastise it when it suits you.

The President and his minister by their fear mongering are causing serious problems to both our politics and economics. Such unsubstantiated statements do not prove toughness on the part government in handling national security issues. Instead, it portrays some form of cowardness on the part of government. It also creates unnecessary tension in the psyche of Ghanaians. The implication of this on our economy is immeasurable. These kinds of fear mongering have the potential of stifling capital flow in the country and affect the much-needed investments in our country. The government should consider the wide implications of their statement before making them. It is so obvious that President Kuffour and his party faithful are always happy when Rawlings’ name is dragged in a mud. It seems they are prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve this objective, even if it demand them to peddle obvious lies to achieve it. How many times have they accused Rawlings of trying to overthrow their government? Since 2001 when Mr. Kuffour was inaugurated as President they have falsely accuse Rawlings of trying to overthrow them at least 5 times. When asked of evident they provided non so far. “HO We are watching him!! Or we are giving close marking” they always say to Ghanaians. Well, if you will not bring any charges against the man in a law court, then I respectively say shut up and keep watching because you are wasting our time on a baseless issue. One wonders the NPP's desperation for such accusations. Perhaps it is meant solely for the purposes of exciting their support base and creating panic among Ghanaians to covertly cover the deep-seated corruption in the Kuffour led government. Since 2004 the Kuffour government has come under intense criticism over charges of corruption against its ministers and other state officials, and the seemly lack of desire on the part of the President to take any serious action on his own party men. In order to fend off the series of charges against the government, they thought they should move from playing defense to offensive position. Giving that there is nothing attack or talk about. Rawlings provides them an easy target because of his very pluralizing nature. Unfortunately, over years Mr. Rawlings has time and time again played into their playbooks, thus allowing them to continuously insult and degrade him.

Sometimes Mr. Rawlings himself instigates some of these craps. In fact he encourages such confrontations from his enemies. One wonders the benefit he derives from such unnecessary confrontations. It is evident that he lacks good political advisors. Rawlings needs some serious advise regarding the conduct of past Presidents, especially in his circumstances. It is certainly not helping him to keep talking about the government everywhere he goes. There are some issues he needs to just ignore by virtue of the fact that he is an Ex-President and also a very pluralizing figer among. Ghanaians. His public statements provide ammunitions for the government to throw all sorts of nonsense at him.

Its time Rawlings realizes that people are building their whole political careers on his shoulders by merely insulting and degrading him. Sometimes it is proper to just let things go, not because one is less patriotic or have nothing to say, but the ramifications of the statements. Rawlings should also realize that without him the NPP has nothing good to tell Ghanaians and without Rawlings Kuffour is surely slam dank President running away from his own shadows each time a scandal erupts from his government. He runs around the world like the Canada goose escaping the harshness of the winter, and attending birthday celebrations of George Bush and Tony Blair garage boys. If I were an advisor to the ex-president this will be my advise to him. After 19 years of public service to the country, it is time to relax and get out of the limelight. Allow Ghanaians to form their own judgments of the government, and such they will come 2006.

Mr. Kuffour should understand that there is an extent to which the exercise of power can be stretched. Political power is not an elastic commodity. Therefore antagonizing his political opponents is not a sure way to preserve his political survival. Because like Rawlings, Kuffour will be an ex-President come 2009. It will not be fair to him for any political party to make political capital out of his acts or statement.

A Lack of courageous people in politics is one of the major problems in Ghana. This is not because we do not have institutions created for the purpose. Constitutional bodies such as the Council of State, National House of Chief, and even the Cabinet are created for the purposes of ensuring that the Presidency receives good and sound advise not only on policy but also on political conduct. However, the nature of the composition of such bodies has reduced them to mere party political hoax. The Council of State for instance is constituted by political appointees, and for that reason the President is denied the opportunity to get advise outside his political circle. Perhaps in the future we should consider amending that aspect of the constitution that allow the president to appoint all members to the Council and make it a permanent body that serve all Presidents. It will provide future Presidents the opportunity to get advise outside their parties. Such amendment will also enrich the system by creating an avenue for experience and prudence over than bickering and partisanship.

Nima, Accra Ghana.

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