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Opinions of Sunday, 14 March 2004

Columnist: Asibey, Akwasi

Refining Political Discourse in Our Country

Last week, a leading member of the New Democratic Party (NDC) was reported to have made an uncharitable comment about the president of the republic that got a lot of airplay. Unwittingly, this troublemaker succeeded in undermining his party?s presidential candidate. The vast majority of the people, who called in to radio talk shows, were more interested in discussing the unguarded comment than to talk about the message delivered by Professor Atta-Mills at the so called public forum.

Surprisingly the party, whose presidential candidate, wants to project himself as a ?prince of peace? (asomdwe), is yet to make a formal apology to the president. By studiously avoiding to publicly condemn the inane remarks by their own, the party is sending the wrong message. And the message is that it endorses mudslinging as a legitimate means to achieve political power.

Some of us are not at all surprised. The NDC has a track record of instigating trouble for political gain. For years, it has made it a habit of exploiting young people at risk in deprived and marginalised communities in and around Accra. These young people, who can barely read or write, need help to enable them to become good and responsible citizens.

They pump them with drugs and cheap alcohol and give them placards with highly inflammatory language. The most recent example was when some hoodlums were given placards that read: ?touch Rawlings and Ghana will burn?.

What these young people at risk need are remedial programmes to rehabilitate them. They need to be given some training so that they can acquire employable skills. But alas, some NDC politicians see them as cannon fodder to be used and discarded.

Meanwhile, those who recruit them have their sons and daughters in top schools in the country and even abroad, securing a solid foundation for them. In effect, they are equipping their children to face the world with confidence unlike the young people at risk in Nima and elsewhere in the country.

Such actions make their call for social justice hollow and insincere. International experience has firmly shown that a real social democratic party empowers the most disadvantaged segment of society and not profit from their misery!

Whether the use of foul language tumbles out of the mouth of a party hack or young people at risk, the message we want to convey is that it should never be part of the country?s political lexicon.

Politicians who think that if they mount a political platform or go on a radio talk show is an invitation to say what they want must think again. They undermine their own integrity and sense of purpose. They demonstrate lack of self-control and can easily wilt under pressure and resort to cheap political antics. Such behaviour might earn them a few brownie points with the masses or with their supporters but it surely undermines their credibility among their peers and within the international community.

The developed world is tired of cleaning up our mess!

Also, it is important to note that no political party has a monopoly over dirty tricks campaign and tactics. If the opponents decide to fight back, it will not be pretty. Those who are in doubt should stretch their necks a little bit further across our borders. If they did, they would realise that once a political conflict is ignited, it becomes unstoppable.

So far, the president has taken the high road. He has demonstrated that he is a statesman and not a street fighter. He has given dignity to the office of the president.

We thank him for displaying a high sense of political acumen and maturity.

The NDC must reciprocate by purging the goons within its rank who are determined to create confusion in the country?s body politic. If they fail to do so, they will not be taken seriously. Indeed they will be known merely as talented liars and opportunists!


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.