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Opinions of Friday, 6 September 2013

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

Tsatsu is an ant… and an ant stings

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013

Regardless of any other meaning that the word “tsatsu” has for any other ethnic group anywhere in the world, to the Gas of Southern Ghana, an ant is “tsatsu”. And to have a human being called “Tsatsu” must mean much. And an ant stings when provoked. So was it that Tsatsu Tsikata stung the NPP’s star witness at the petition hearing (Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia); he even stung the lead counsel for the petitioners, Philip Addison; and sometimes extended the stinging to some members of the Supreme Court panel, drawing ire among the NPP members that the Court was pampering him.
Now, at the end of it all, Tsatsu has sprung into action again, this time, stinging a member of the 9-member Supreme Court panel, Justice Anin-Yeboah. And all hell has broken loose.
This stinging reveals the first real test of our resolve to ensure peace and oneness in the post-verdict season. Tsatsu has alleged that Justice Anin-Yeboah based his stance on political considerations and antagonism toward the NDC and President Mahama instead of recourse to the law in contributing to the verdict of the Court.
And by so saying, he has nettled many, especially those in the NPP still finding it difficult to come to terms with the reality that the Supreme Court’s verdict shone into their eyes. They are up in arms, tearing Tsatsu apart. The NPP’s General Secretary (Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie) couldn’t take it and ordered Tsatsu to “shut up”. Sam Okudzeto describes Tsatsu’s claim as an “attack” on Justice Anin-Yeboah and that it is “shocking and disappointing”.
An Akufo-Addo ally, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has described Tsatsu’s comments as “illogical and contemptuous”. Former President Kufuor issued a statement in which he condemned Tsatsu’s claim as "unacceptable and unwarranted".
Most Rev Emmanuel Asante (Chairman of the Peace Council) says Tsatsu "stooped so low" in his accusation of Justice Anin-Yeboah. The Ghana Bar Association believes that Tsatsu’s utterances amount to scandalizing the Supreme Court. And many others have their own impressions that don’t favour Tsatsu.
An insignificant character like Ernest Owusu Bempah (Deputy Director of Communication for the National Democratic Party, NDP), went further to describe Tsatsu as “a nation wrecker”.
Others, including lawyers, say Mr. Tsikata’s comments amount to contempt and that he should be hauled before the General Legal Council.
Behind all this deluge of insults against Tsatsu is the fact that his particular performance in the petition hearing was responsible for the favourable verdict for President Mahama. No doubt about that; and by so doing, he is already anathema to these political opponents. Fact is fact!!
And they will now move every mountain to get at him in a disguised retaliation.
I wish all these people descending on Tsatsu were not in the country before Tsatsu made his comments ior that they hadn’t themselves made any adverse statement against the Supreme Court panelists or President Mahama to be able to cast the first stone at Tsatsu.
Rising to Tsatsu’s defence, Kakra Essamuah, a member of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) communications team, said merely criticizing a Supreme Court judge of being politically bias does not amount to scandalizing the court. He added that all those attacking Tsatsu “don't believe in freedom of speech”.
So, this is where we are. All of a sudden, there seems to be a rude awakening that taking on a member of the 9-member panel that heard the NPP’s petition is sacrilegious. That is where my beef lies.
What wrong has Tsatsu done? Is it because he is the first counsel involved in the petition hearing to have aired his opinions on the proceedings so forcefully, isolating Justice Anin-Yeboah for scrutiny? Or the morality behind his rhetorical manouevres (as a lawyer who should have known better not to put a member of the panel on the spot)? Or because of the truth he spoke? Or the implications of his focus on Justice-Anin Yeboah? Or what else? Anything at all that should evoke so much ire in his critics?
What is new about the utterances of Tsatsu in our political dispensation? Have we not already heard worse utterances concerning this Election 2012 and its aftermath not to want to over-extend matters with Tsatsu? Take, for instance, all the sordid utterances from Kennedy Agyapong against Dr. Afari Gyan. When Agyapong equated Dr. Afari Gyan to the devil and invoked curses on him, imploring God to kill him for being the brain behind the NPP’s defeat at the polls, what did the NPP leaders say in reaction? They instantly turned themselves into deaf and dumb people who heard no wrong, saw no wrong, and spoke no wrong!!
How about the unprintable words bandied against Justice Atuguba by members of the NPP who saw him as a stumbling block in their quest for victory at the Supreme Court? Have we also not just heard that NPP members (women) have massed up to invoke curses on the panel of judges? Nothing came from the NPP leaders to prove that they detested hard words and uncouth behaviour.
How about their own General Secretary’s misguided pronouncements that put him in the dock to be humiliated and convicted of criminal contempt of court? Nothing to assuage any doubt about their (dis)passionate approach to issues bordering on personal attacks for political purposes.
So, now that Tsatsu has stung Justice Anin-Yeboah, what is their motivation for jumping on him to the extent of revisiting the past to associate Tsatsu with the dastardly abduction and murder of the three High Court Judges that the Ghana Bar Association has “immortalized” as martyrs and celebrate annually? And to portray Tsatsu as beginning to mastermind a campaign to get rid of Justice Anin-Yeboah?
Interestingly enough, Justice Anin-Yeboah himself has not come out to make any statement in self-defence of anything else. These NPP people are jumping to his defence, which has its own implications.
How do these NPP people regard themselves as against other segments of the Ghanaian citizenry? In the eyes of the law, every citizen should be equal. And as a former Director of State Prosecution (Gyeke Darko) said, the law is no respecter of persons. Certainly, not in the consideration of the NPP people to whom Justice Anin-Yeboah is more important than Justice Atuguba, Dr. Afari Gyan, and all others involved in Election 2012 who have been taken to the cleaners all along.
Take, for instance, the stinging bad-mouthing of President Mahama by Ursula Owusu and others. With so much stinking audacity at the rally organized by the “Let My Vote Count Alliance” at Dome-Kwabenya, Ursula Owusu flayed President Mahama as a thief (using the popular Ga word “julor” for him) to a thunderous applause from the NPP adherents gathered there to undermine the integrity of the Number One Citizen of the land, not because he did anything wrong but just because of what his Fate had done for him, putting him in office as the winner of Election 2012.
In fact, we don’t even want to recount all the instances of misconduct by the NPP people, both high-ranking and the riff-raff whose emotions were being fed with lies and purposeful manipulation by those spearheading the opposition to the Electoral Commission. Everything done by them to undermine the integrity of anybody regarded as an affront to their politics of entitlement is already in the public domain.
But we want to state unequivocally the sickening aspects of this kind of negative politicking going on. Those who think that Tsatsu has overstepped bounds should pause to assess issues properly, going back to the very initial stages of the NPP’s petition hearing. When the NPP’s legal team protested at the panel constituted by the Chief Justice to hear their petition, every eye turned to Justice Atuguba (indeed with hindsight confirmation from Titus Glover’s revelation about what the NPP had up its sleeves in view of the familial connection between Justice Atuguba and his cousin, Dr. Raymond Atuguba, Executive Secretary to President Mahama).
Although not bold enough to put their allegation in writing, vibes from them pointed to only that issue as the substance on which their initial recriminations were based. They backtracked to allow for the proceedings to begin but sustained their disdain and unhealthy politics of ethnicity and intimidation. Let’s say it as it is now so that we can understand why the fuss being made over Tsatsu’s comments on Justice Anin-Yeboah will pale and not continue to be blown out of all reasonable proportions as if Tsatsu has committed any sacrilege. He hasn’t, and any setting of this kind of storm in the NPP’s tea cup will not serve anybody’s purpose.
It has already backfired because ample evidence exists that allegations of political bias aren’t new in the petition hearing process. At the very initial stages when they cropped up, Justice Dotse, for instance, boldly confronted his accusers, telling them that he hadn’t held any post in the NPP in his constituency in Kpandu. Those who knew him discounted his claim as nonsensical and left matters open for the verdict of the Supreme Court to prove right or wrong. And were they not right? Just take a good look at how Justice Dotse voted and you should know why. But he hasn’t been in the spotlight because all that there is to know about him is in the open.
Justice Anin-Yeboah’s name also cropped up as a sympathizer of the NPP, coming from Kufuor’s Atwima Nwabiagya area and sharing a lot in common with the NPP. He was appointed to the Supreme Court by Kufuor in his “court packing” frenzy just to sustain the spirit of the Fast Track Courts designed to try political opponents on a charge of causing financial loss to the state, as Tsatsu rightly put it; and that is why news reports that Kufuor was angry at that aspect of Tsatsu’s comment is not worth my bother. But the overarching point is that Justice Anin-Yeboah’s posturing and manouevres during the proceedings clearly revealed him as pandering to the interests of the petitioners, which Tsatsu has boldly revealed. One is free to accept his allegation or reject it without portraying it as anything sacrilegious.
We want to make it clear at this point that all that has happened so far in connection with Election 2012 should remind us that we either have to face the truth about issues of this sort to be able to smooth the rough edges of our democracy or pretend not to know what the challenges are and waste time and resources fighting useless causes while creating fertile grounds for tension to grow. Ghana deserves better than what has emerged so far and if we are truly interested in moving the country forward, then, we must rise above pettiness to confront the systemic problems. Political bias in public service is dangerous and must be confronted wherever it rears its ugly head.
We know what it can lead to and should work to tackle it instead of behaving as if doing negative politicks with it is the panacea. In the final analysis, it will take much audacity to expose the ills in the system for them to be recognized as such and tackled. Let us stop the hypocrisy now if we want to make any progress in nation building. Tsatsu Tsikata’s utterances might have ruffled feathers, but they are worth considering for what they are. Those miffed at his audacity shouldn’t waste any more time wishing him dead. There is enough to prove him right.
I shall return…
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