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Opinions of Sunday, 19 February 2017

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

Who at all invented politics?

K1: Koo, who at all invented politics?

K2: No-one invented it! It was just ‘self-created’. Someone spat on the ground whilst passing another person one day, and the following dialogue occurred:

“Why are you spitting? Do I smell?”

“Have I said anything?”

“You haven’t said anything but your action spoke louder than words.”


“So you’re now calling me a fool on top of everything?”

“I have done nothing of the sort!”

“But only a fool can say nonsensical things?”


“Oh stop it guys!”, he says. “You! You need all the energy you have to weed that farm of yours near the stream. And you – didn’t you just get married? What do you think your new bride will say if you turn up at her house with a swollen cheek – as if you were carrying the deadly disease called mumps? Act your age! Shake hands and go and see about your pressing business!” (TAKEN ABACK BY THE MAN’S INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OF THEIR AFFAIRS, THEY SHAKE HANDS AND PART WAYS. AND FROM THAT DAY ONWARDS, THE STRANGER GAINS THE REPUTATION OF A ‘CONCILIATOR’. PEOPLE LISTEN WHEN HE TALKS. HE SOON BECOMES ‘WELL-KNOWN’; IN OTHER WORDS, A ‘POLITICIAN’).


K1: Ei, Koo, this is heavy anthropological stuff oh!

Nothing of the sort. Just common sense. But why are you taking aim at politicians today? Well, look at what they’re doing in Romania! Romania? I haven’t heard anything from that country since Nicolae Ceausescu was driven out of power in a most spectacular manner in 1989! Well, its politics it is bizarre beyond belief. Do you know what the government there has gone and done? No! It’s passed legislation legalisingbribery! Yes, government officials there can accept a bribe, so long as the amount taken does not exceed the equivalent of US$47,600!

The Romanian government must be mad!

It is – or, at least, its people think it is. As soon as the legislation was passed, the people thronged the streets, calling for the government’s immediate resignation. The government now says it’s withdrawing the law, but the people, having been made fully aware of its intentions, are having none of it. They’ve been carrying out round-the-clock demonstrations, demanding that the government leaves office.

But how did the government come by such a crazy piece of legislation? No less than 1,250 public officials were indicted for corruption in a single year, including the then sitting Prime Minister, and five of his ministers! Charges against the Prime Minister, a Mr Ponta, included forgery, money laundering and acting as an accessory to tax evasion. So his majority party decided to save him by legalising corruption, up to the sum of $47,600!

Certainly, a most ingenious piece of legislation, what?

Yes, chop, but not too much!

I shall watch how the matter is eventually resolved.

We’re having problems here ourselves, are we not?

Did the NPP government agree, or not, to state cars being auctioned cheaply to members of the departing NDC administration? If so, is the NPP quiet about it because NPP people also bought government cars cheaply when the NPP last left office? Why are so many versions currently circulating about what happened or did not happen about the cars? Why can’t the government formally investigate the issue and make an official pronouncement on it?

Maybe the NPP does not, officially, want to embarrass the NDC? But NPP officials of all sorts have been making remarks about the issue? We don’t know whether their statements are authorised or not, and if so, by whom! Today this. Then the NDC “replies”. Tomorrow that.

And again, the NDC responds. Don’t they realise that the more they confuse the public, the more contempt they invite on themselves – all politicians – in the eyes of the pubic? It’s as if they’re only concerned about cars and cars and cars and – very little else.

And then there is the allegation that a minister-designate tried to bribe members of the Appointments Committee to approve of his nomination. How can that make sense, seeing that the minister-designate’s party has a majority on the Appointments Committee? Good thing they’re investigating the matter in public. But whatever the outcome, it’s a lose-lose situation as far as parliament is concerned: if the allegation is substantiated, it will reflect very badly on MPs and ministers (all politicians); and yet if it proves to be a “cooked” lie, again it will reflect very badly on the sort of people we elect as “Honourable” MPs (politicians). So both parties should deal ruthlessly with anyone found to have acted in a manner that deliberately sought to sully the “Honourable” name of parliament as a whole. It goes beyond partisan Hey, did you watch the Trump press conference on Thursday 16, February 2017?

I did. It was more a press execution job than a press conference. Newsman wants to ask a question? Trump won’t let him finish his question. Is the newsman a friend or an enemy? Blast it! Newsmen ask questions to obtain information. Some of the best questions to a president – in the sense that they help him clear up issues that are puzzling the public – are asked not by the president’s friends in the press but by neutrals, and even “unfriendly” newsmen and women.

It is up to the president’s staff to play devil’s advocate by anticipating questions and preparing answers for him on thorny issues –especially those that may annoy him or throw him off-track. The president’s press advisors must never hide public concern over certain issues, from him.

Attacking the Press is the worst thing to do, no matter how “hostile” they may appear to be. For thorny issues don’t just go away because a president has adopted a bullying manner over them.

In 1972 (during the Watergate crisis) President Richard Nixon’s Attorney-General, Mr John Mitchell, warned a Washington Post reporter, Carl Bernstein, that if a forthcoming article Bernstein was working on was published, the Post’s publisher, Katherine Graham, was “gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer!” Guess who survived and who left office in ignominy.