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Opinions of Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

The tormentation of Jerry Rawlings

By Kofi Akosah-Sarpong

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”– Edmund Burke, British philosopher and statesman

“The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don't do anything about it.” – Albert Einstein, German-American physicist

Ever since President John Atta Mills came to power a year ago, the founder of his ruling National Democratic Party (NDC), ex-President Jerry Rawlings, has been either insulting, threatening or undermining him consistently. It reveals Rawlings’ unpeacefulness, weak moral foundation, and a man drenched in self-destruction. This has come about because Rawlings believes superstitiously that he is a master and Mills some sort of a brainless slave, who has to be talked down upon. The NDC, an off-short of military juntas that has re-christened itself social democrat, is ostensibly owned by the emotionally unstable Rawlings.

Rawlings, who has false impression of himself as a perfect being as had been the like of the disastrous Samuel Doe (Liberia), Macías Nguema (Equatorial Guinea), Idi Amin (Uganda), Jean-Bedel Bokassa (The Central Africa Republic) and Mobutu Sese Seko (The Democratic Republic of Congo), latest assault against Mills and his associates, says they are “greedy bastards” and “indiscipline,” comparing them to dogs that have to be tamed. This isn’t true. But as much as everyone knows Rawlings is one of the most indiscipline Ghanaians and it is shocking he is not in jail but still walking about disturbing Ghanaians while others are in jail. It is very sad that such a low human being, a clear psychiatric case, became a Head of State. But that’s Africa where anybody could be President no matter their character.

By nature a tyrant and primitive, Rawlings has been troubling the infant Ghanaian democracy so much so that even his own NDC is being endangered by him, occasionally throwing Mills, who had earlier being his Vice President, off-course.

In a build up to Rawlings’ undemocratic behaviours, he attacked (not in the sense of matured criticism as a matter of civility but as a way of undermining the democratic system) President Mills, on August 24 in Kumasi, in a speech to the fringe youth wind (United Cadres Front) of the NDC, saying: the Atta Mills-led government lacks the “revolutionary spirit to govern the country” in a military coup attempt tone; that President Atta Mills is “dull” and “slow” to the extent of portraying Mills as inefficient and should be removed; that “if things did not change immediately for the better, then some of them in the party (NDC) would advise themselves; and that the Atta Mills government should “adopt his (Rawlings’) dynamic leadership style,” among others.

What a menace from Rawlings who is supposed to show higher maturity as ex-President John Kufour have being doing! The reality is Mills is no Jerry Rawlings, and Mills and his associates are more disciplined, more enlightened and well-mannered than Rawlings, a crude-minded buzzard who wishes Ghana was on flames because he isn’t in charge. By birth and natural orientation Mills has different style of doing things and all leaders govern differently, and so Mills cannot govern like Rawlings. Mills has PHD in law and a former university professor, Rawlings has “O” Level and a former military pilot. Mills is more emotionally balanced, thoughtful and more reasonable, Rawlings, unbalanced and thoughtless, is an emotional bedlam that has blocked his reasoning.

Ruling an African state is complicated, especially if you have somebody like Rawlings constantly pouring his emotional and misguided venoms into the political process. With its histories, cultures and complexes, ruling an Africa state that has been asphyxiated by the like of Rawlings did not need any rush but high thoughtfulness drawn from the culture and history of the state, fuller grasp of the nuances wheeling the state and immense balances, as Botswana shows.

In Rawlings’ democratic world there is no rule of law or freedoms or human rights, a situation that characterized his almost 20 years rule. And like people traditionally suspected of being witches, you grab people you suspected of being corrupt or have committed an offence and either kill them, lynch them, demean them, dehumanize them, maim them, or banish them arbitrarily. In Rawlings’ almost 20 years in power, there were widespread executions, harassments, threats, exiling, deaths, people vanishing, abductions, fear, and all that characterized a dark Stalinist state.

Rising to the poisoned atmosphere a la Edmund Burke and Albert Einstein, the increasingly enlightened Ghanaian mass media that suffered terribly under the Rawlings regimes revealed how evil Rawlings is, a person who harbours violent and diabolical intentions. The Editor-in-Chief of The New Crusading Guide, Malik Baako, has described Rawlings as a “walking contradiction,” “hypocrisy personified” and a “licensed irritant.” The Editor-in-chief of The Enquirer, Raymond Archer, has said that if he were NDC member and “Rawlings talked down on him,” he would either “talk back” or “resign from the NDC.” Earlier, Kwesi Pratt, editor of Insight, in response to Rawlings’ puerile outburst, said that “Again, Rawlings said, that Prez Mills is slow in arresting and prosecuting former government officials in the NPP Administration. But is that how citizens are arrested? That you are not charged with any offence, not tried by the courts, and yet imprisoned?”

More disturbing to Ghana’s fledging democracy is Rawlings threatening that “he is allowing the sitting President some time but that he might run out of tolerance.” Who is Rawlings to say that in the backdrop of over 23 million Ghanaians and high-powered Kings and Queens like Asantehene Osei Tutu 11, Agbogbomefia Torgbui Afede Asor XIV, and Okyehene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin? Why all these sadistic statements from a man in the same party with President Mills? Again, Pratt spoke Ghanaians mind when he said in reaction to Rawlings threats, “If he runs out of patience, what can he do, will he attempt a coup d’état or will he fight Ghanaians? He should give us a break. The time has come for us to let him know that Ghana belongs to all of us and we won’t allow this kind of narcissism anymore … If you don’t share the same opinion or agree with someone, why, that is okay, Does that call for issuing threats?”

Rawlings’ idiocy and the danger of Africa’s sickening Big Man syndrome? To know why Africa despite its vast wealth and riches is still entangled in material and psychological despair, just look at Rawlings. Rawlings came to the Ghanaian political scene in a turbulent era of coups detat carnivals, one-party fete, and no-party jamboree. Rawlings’ behaviour is a reminder of what Africa had being through some thirty years ago where the continent was blown into pieces, with self-styled demi-gods Macías Nguema, Samuel Doe, Idi Amin, Jean-Bedel Bokassa and Mobutu Sese Seko striding the African political scene. Rawlings is all these inhuman figures wrapped into one.

Under all these heartless personalities, Africa’s progress was deteriorating with no human rights, freedoms, democracy, and the rule of law. In all these mayhem, Southeast Asian and Latin American leaders, despite their paternalistic postures, were strategizing about how to prosper. Even Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, despite his soaring human rights violations, as has been Rawlings, uplifted Chile into reasonable degree of prosperity. Ghana is at the rank of 135th out of 177 of the UN Human Development Index (UNHDI, 2008/2009 Report) that measures the wellbeing of countries world wide, most of these abysmal situations under Rawlings’ watch. Chile is today a First World country, ranked 40th out of 177 of UNHDI Report of 2008/2009.

Hard development facts aside, Rawlings’ egocentrism emanate from certain ridiculous Ghanaian cultural believes that have been projected onto the development process. Rawlings, with an exaggerated superstitious view of himself, thinks he is God sent and he behaves accordingly, playing on Ghanaians’ entrenched negative superstitions in an atmosphere of low intellectual current and some wrong-headed musicians touting Rawlings as having Jesus Christ characteristics.

For almost 20 years Rawlings had systematic grip on Ghana and for almost 20 years there was corresponding groundswell of campaigns to return Ghana to democracy – against the backdrop of coup and assassinations attempts and invasions. In all these, accountability, freedoms, the rule of law, democracy and human rights were limited. Fear and threats ruled supreme and a culture of silence characterized Ghanaians psychology – anybody could be killed just like that. Under immense pressure to democratize, Rawlings, in line with Africa’s Big Man syndrome, repeatedly said, “To whom.” This arrogant, shocking statement from a filthy, marijuana-smoking, juju-marabout-minded, semi-literate, who doesn’t know Ghana, believes of all the almost 23 million Ghanaians only he must rule. But that’s Africa; anybody can be President no matter what.

Why should Rawlings, at 61 years, repeatedly be a danger to Ghana’s democracy? The reason is he harbours coup detats and returns to power despite his denials. Paradoxically, how does one fathom the sense that this is man who claim (though wrongly) that he is father of democracy and simultaneously work to undermine it? This is a man who claim (though wrongly) that he brought security to Ghana but yet scheme to bring insecurity? Has Rawlings got a mirror that reflects his disturbing behaviour for him to see himself? Is he advised by his family about his worsening public conduct? Does he listen to his NDC about his dreadful behaviour? Why has Ghanaians tolerated him for far too long?

It is strange to see a former President talk and behave like Rawlings, especially in the volatile African environment. Such strange behaviour raises questions whether Rawlings suffers from epilepsy, “a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures.” In Rawlings, any time there is unprovoked seizures; he pours threats that send fear, chaos, images of death, similes of disorder of yesteryears, and democratic stasis across Ghana.

As part of Ghana’s democratic enlargement and as part of rehabilitating Ghana’s years of the Big Man syndrome, disasters and authoritarianism, the main opposition New Patriotic Party should use Rawlings’ threatening behaviour as democratic fodder to defeat the ruling NDC in 2012.