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Opinions of Sunday, 5 June 2011

Columnist: Owusu-Ansah, Emmanuel Sarpong

June 4th and the Relevance of Rawlings: A Rejoinder

June 4th Revolution and the Relevance of J J Rawlings: A Rejoinder

By Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu-Ansah (Black Power)

After reading the article, ‘June 4th Revolution and The Relevance of J J Rawlings’, written by Fela O Fela on Ghanaweb, I have considered it useful to present a critique of the author’s argument, objectively identifying its strengths and weaknesses. We find ourselves in a society where sympathisers of one political party will go to any length to defend the indefensible and/or support the unsupportable actions of their party, and where followers of rival political parties will find fault with almost every argument or activity of their principal rivals. One will thus not be far from right if they state that for most if not all NDC (Rawlings’ faction) sympathisers Fela’s article is a masterpiece, but for die-hard NPP supporters it is nothing but garbage. As a nonaligned citizen of the great nation, Ghana, I am presenting a very neutral analysis of the above-mentioned article published yesterday on Ghanaweb, focusing specifically on the writer’s views on the 4th June 1979 and the 1981 revolutions. Remember, my objective is not to analyse the performances of previous and current regimes; hence I refuse to comment on any highlighted achievements or failures of political administrations.

The article laments that people who vehemently supported the June 4th uprising are now calling for the crucifixion of its instigators, because the former (the grumbling people) are now enjoying good harvest apparently made possible by the revolution. Is this argument plausible? Certainly not! I doubt if significant numbers of the citizens of a nation would complain if individuals or groups who overthrow a supposedly super corrupt government with the intension of liberating the populace from dictatorship and poverty, live up to expectation by uprooting or alleviating corruption and poverty. So if people are bitter about the June 4th revolution and its masterminds, then they are grumbling probably because it failed to deliver it promises and rather made a mockery of the populace; especially when they consider the huge number of lives that were lost as a result of the coup. The article seems to admit that the revolution has benefited only a small group of people; a group that it refers to as ‘tag-alongs and beneficiaries or opportunists who were plugged from obscurity to be granted a pedestal in the political stage’. If this is the case, then those who are now expressing resentment over the June 4th uprising (the origin of P/NDC) do have a case and are in fact vindicated by the author’s own statement.

The author also appears to suggest in the second paragraph of the article that the views (whether reasonable or unreasonable) of the founder of a political party or leader should be succumbed to without question. Doesn’t he think this undermines the principle of democracy, and drags our nation back to the apparently dictatorial regime that the June 4th uprising sought to dismantle? He is however spot on in mentioning that leaders (precisely legally recognised leaders) should be respected and not be desecrated. Is the NDC flag bearer who led the party to victory being accorded the respect and honour that a democratically elected leader deserves by the NDC party members? He (the author) clearly is not happy that some NDC Party echelons are ‘condemning and desecrating the … founder and leader of the … political movement that gave them prominence in Ghana’s political history’. Yet he seems to have no problems with those party members persistently and pointlessly ‘condemning and desecrating’ the incumbent leader of the NDC Party and the nation as a whole. So who does he recognize as the leader of the NDC Party? Is it Mr Rawlings the founder, or Professor Mills the president of the nation?

The author in no ambiguous terms rightly expresses his dislike for coup d’états or series of military interventions as they do not ‘spell any form of security or social stability’, but only bring about ‘incredible level of desperation and destitution … economic doldrums … under-development … retrogression … social and economic degeneration’ (I would have given him A+ if he had not contradicted this beautiful point). Surprisingly and quietly ridiculously however, he immediately contradicts his apparent aversion to the staging of coups (or military interventions) by hailing the two coups involving or led by Mr Rawlings which according to him, ‘brought a clear departure from the abominable norms of the times’ and did away with the ‘life-threatening level of corruption and mismanagement of [the] nation’s affairs’.

By admitting that the consequences of a chain of coups are corruption, retrogression, economic predicament and poverty, the author is categorically pronouncing that there was absolutely no need for the June 4, 1979 and the 1981coup d’états in the first place since they were only going to aggravate the long stretch of instability, retrogression and socio-economic wretchedness associated with coups. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a good coup d’état; hence I find the writers claim that the coups led by Mr Rawlings were acceptable and good, quite absurd and sheepish. What exactly makes the 4th June 1979 coup different in “importance” from those carried out by the NLC, NRC and the SMC?

He argues that prior to the 4th June 1979 revolution, ‘progressive developmental projects of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’ had been abandoned, factories and institutions had collapsed, transportation infrastructure was non-existent (hence ‘an hour’s journey-- took almost a whole DAY, if not more…)’, ‘Kalabule’ (persistent hoarding of goods or general merchandises in order to induce inflation so merchants could sell at cut-throat prices) was the order of the day, and high rates of tax evasion was indisputable. The big question is: was the June 4th uprising and the regimes that immediately followed able to solve those problems as promised? To what extent were the problems solved if the answer is in the affirmative?

The author contends that the peace Ghana is presently enjoying is the legacy of the 4th June 1979 and the 1981 revolutions. Is that true? If it really is, in what way did those two coups contribute to the peaceful atmosphere in the country? Doesn’t he believe that the harmony and the many peaceful elections that Ghana is enjoying are down to the generally peaceful and tolerating nature of Ghanaians despite our various tribal/ethnic differences?

Corruption or kalabule in Ghana according to the writer was created by what he calls ‘the Danquah-Busia-Dombo neo-colonial’ administration. Is this assertion justifiable? I thought corruption existed in Ghana long before Danquah-Busia’s administration; and that a regime that comes to power through the use of arms is likely to be much more corrupt than a democratically endorsed government, as the former usually discredits the principle of probity and accountability.

According to him, ‘… there is no doubt that Ghana was a lawless nation before that fateful day....people lived in absolute fear/horror. So, when JJ stood up and demonstrated his ready-to-die-for-mother-Ghana galantry/valor that the masses never thought existed any longer, they hailed him …’ and that ‘… the Rawlings Revolutions gave birth to or, at least, laid the solid foundation for Ghana’s democracy and current political stability and its relative economic progress.’ No objective Ghanaian would deny the fact that Mr Rawlings did some good things for Ghana as head of the AFRC/PNDC regimes. But the big question is: Did he use the right means to achieve those good deeds?

In ethics or Bioethics, there is a very essential moral rule referred to as ‘The Principle of Double Effect’, first expanded by Thomas Aquinas. It emphasizes that to validly perform an act that could produce two contradictory effects – a good effect and a bad effect, four conditions must be satisfied:

1. the act to be done must be good in itself or at least indifferent

2. the good effect and not the bad effect should be intended; in other words, the intention of the agent must be the achieving of only the good outcome

3. the good effect must not be produced by means of the evil effect; thus, one should not use the bad effect as the means by which the good outcome is achieved

4. there should be a proportionately grave reason for permitting the evil effect – i.e. the good effect must outweigh the bad or be at least equivalent in importance or magnitude to the bad effect (Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II, Q. 64, art. 7)

A violation of any one of the four rules listed above renders an act unacceptable irrespective of how good the outcome of that act would be or turns out to be. Disappointingly, almost all the four rules were breached by the so-called June 4th revolutionists, rendering their action hugely morally impermissible, and any pros or achievements of the resulting regimes worthless.

Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu-Ansah (aka Black Power) is a lecturer and an investigative journalist in London, UK. He is the author of ‘Fourth Phase of Enslavement: unveiling the plight of African immigrants in the West’