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Opinions of Thursday, 21 April 2011

Columnist: Ahiabor, Kwame

The Rawlings’ and their crabs in a barrel mentality

It has been interesting to sit back and listen to the personal attacks from Rawlings and his wife at President Mills for over 2 years. Rawlings always makes the excuse that he is not interested in power because he has had it for over 18 years. Whether it is Ghaddafi, Mubarak, Gbagbo or Rawlings the thought process amongst them is the same. Somewhere inside Rawlings’ head, he believes he is the only one with solutions to Ghana’s problems and since the Ghanaian constitution will not allow a president to hold office for more than eight years he campaigned for President Mills thinking he would be a puppet. I must confess, in all of this, the person I really feel sorry for is Spio Gabrah because he was the heir apparent until Nana Konadu decided she was actually the better choice. What has been the Rawlings’ main beef with President Mills? President Mills is too slow in prosecuting member of the Kuffour Administration. You would think with the executions and imprisonment of corrupt government official after the June 4th and December 31st coups, corruption in government will be a thing of the past and yet we still have to hear from Rawlings about corrupt officials. After 18 years in office if Rawlings could not put measures in place to deal with issues of corruption in government, I believe he needs to stop using that as his mantra. He is beginning to sound like a broken record. To hear Rawlings talk about ‘Freedom and Justice’ and ‘Probity and Accountability’ when there was also evidence of corruption and injustice in his government is very cynical to say the least. In the grand scheme of things what did those executions and imprisonment do for Ghana? After being in office for over 18 years, I want the Rawlings’ to give me better solutions to solving corruption in government instead of telling me those people belong in jail. In Rawlings eyes, Kuffour was corrupt and Mills government is filled with power drunk team B players who are not prosecuting the corruption of Kuffour’s government.

J.J.’s list of allegations against President Mills seems to be like a moving target. It changes from day to day. At the beginning of Mills’ tenure, it was the issue of his team B. Can you imagine Bill Clinton calling Obama’s cabinet Team B? Then it was the issue of prosecuting members of Kuffour’s government, and then my all time favorite was at a lecture to celebrate the December 31st movement. Rawlings remarked that President Mills was not in control of his government and went on to talk about an instance where Professor Awoonor Williams supposedly employed someone without the knowledge of President Mills. I must say my initial reaction when I read a transcript of the speech was that it was a fabrication by a newspaper or maybe it was a Wiki leaks transcript because I could not believe that a former president could say that publicly. Recently, after inspecting the burnt structures of the NDC office in Tamale, Rawlings implied that the burning of the office was a result of Mills’ inability to prosecute members of the Kuffour government. As an ex-president and a party founder, how can he condone a criminal offense like arson? Most people would have used that as an opportunity to calm tensions and explain the way the judiciary works to the youth. Nana Konadu's jabs at President Mills are no different. She recently criticized him for not keeping his promise of appointing more women in his government. As the VP of the NDC, isn’t that a criticism the NPP or CPP should be making?

In 1983, when Rawlings was confused about whether to align Ghana with the Eastern bloc or to the Western bloc, we got hit by one of the worst droughts in our nation’s history and he quickly decided to turn to the IMF/World Bank. We were made to believe that if we went through the “Structural Adjustment Program” and the “Economic Recovery Program”, we would be able to become somewhat economically independent. The trade liberalization policies of the PNDC pretty much wiped out any competitive advantage our factories and industries had against foreign made goods. Today, thanks to the policies of Rawlings, an engineering graduate from KNUST is better off starting a career as an importer rather than working in our factories. So what has changed? The only thing that changed was the name of the loans. The World Bank/IMF loans are now called Poverty Alleviation loans and our children are forever going to be indebted to Western donors while we continue to pay out huge sums of tax free money to ex-presidents like Rawlings to tell us how corrupt every government besides his was and is. Should we really go into how the military under Rawlings handled the Konkomba /Nanumba conflict? Or how ECOMOG under a General he appointed botched the capture of Samuel Doe? Should we talk about the first time VAT was launched and how much inflation and confusion it caused that it had to be scrapped? How about the over 400 state owned institutions including 25% of Ashanti Goldfields and the Nsawam Cannery, awarded to his wife’s movement, that were sold? What about the way our local road contractors were always passed up for the favorite Construction Pioneers (CP)? You know, the Rawlings era had some highlights but it also had some dark and ugly low points and we don’t want to revisit those days. The truth of the matter is Rawlings is no Kwame Nkrumah and definitely not Lee Kuan Yew. So to constantly hear him talk down to us or yell at us because he and his wife are the only righteous couple in Ghana is laughable. As Ghanaians, we cannot put the blame squarely on Rawlings. We helped create this monster. We have held him to a different standard. We have treated Rawlings like the preacher of a mega church and have adopted the attitude of “do as Rawlings says and not as he does”. He continues to receive an ex-gratia equal to that of ex-president Kuffour and he continues to be paid handsomely for speaking engagements outside the country however most of us consider him as a regular Joe and not as the elitist that he is. Taxpayers will have to fund a new residence for the former first couple after their former residence burnt down. For someone who claims to be so concerned with the ordinary man or woman, I will plead with the Rawlings’ to take out a home owner’s insurance policy this time around.

The NDC primaries are not too far off. Rawlings has gotten an early Christmas present from the National Executives of his party and he can finally publicly endorse his wife. With all the enmity between the former first couple and the likes of Tsikatas, Awoonor Williams and the Ahwois one has to wonder why all these former friends and advisors have colluded and conspired to discredit the former president or might there be one constant in all these broken friendship? As an Ewe, I ask myself, what has Rawlings done for the Anlo area lately? Is it the sea defense wall that came towards the tail end of his presidency or is it the road to Keta and Afloa that had to be built to enable the construction of that poorly built sea defense wall? And if Rawlings, a native son, didn’t do much for the area, why should I expect Nana Konadu to do any more for the area? Secondly, as a Ghanaian, how can I continue to take any of Rawlings’ endorsements seriously? He endorsed the late Arkaah as his Vice President only to drop him in his second term. Then he endorsed Atta Mills for President and now he had changed his mind again. The resolve of the former First Couple to take President Mills down at all cost even if it means the NDC going into opposition is rather startling. Rawlings and his supporters need to be careful what they wish for, because they might just get it in Nana Addo.