Opinions Sun, 11 Jan 2009

Ghana and Witch-Hunting Politics

Politics in Ghana has always been about witch hunting and vendetta from as far back as the sixties. Soon after the 1966 coup that toppled Ghana¢s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, instead of moving forward to return the country to a new democratic government and get the nation back on course for development, the coup makers mounted an extensive exercise to arrest, prosecute and imprison as many members of the former administration as possible. The impression they created was that they were ¡cleaning the country from corruption¢. But could they succeed?

Then in 1972, the government of Dr K.A. Busia that replaced the first coup makers was also overthrown just half way into its term of office. Like the first coup makers of 1966, the 1972 coup makers also went on to arrests, prosecute and imprison some members of the second Republic. Then again in 1979, there was another coup against the 1972 coup makers. As usual, the 1979 coup makers who stayed in power for just three months carried out horrendous acts of witch-hunting and vendetta, including the killing of all living coup makers since 1966, all having been done in the name of ¡cleaning¢ Ghana. The short-lived 1979 coup makers handed over power to Dr Hilla Limman, after thinking that the killings and beatings had done the job of ¡cleaning¢. They were wrong.

Like Dr Busia of the Second Republic, Dr Limman was removed in another coup half way through the term of his administration; and as it always happened, some members of his government were rounded up and ¡crucified¢, still in the name of ¡cleaning¢ the nation. Then in January 1993, the military administration changed into a democratically elected government, transferring power from itself to itself. THAT WAS THE ONLY MOMENT IN GHANA¢S HISTORY THAT A NEW ADMINISTRATION DID NOT CARRY OUT WITCH HUNTING AND VENDETTA AGAINST A PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION IT INHERITED.

Then in 2001, the first administration of the Fourth Republic led by President JJ Rawlings was lawfully changed through the ballot box after eight years in government and Mr JA Kufuor became the new President. That was the first time in Ghana¢s long history that a democratically elected government handed over power to another democratically elected government from the opposing side. It was something Ghanaians were proud of and something that should have spurred us on to a brighter democratic future. While it is on global record that the last administration of Mr JA Kufuor did a lot to promote democracy in the country, I DO NOT FEEL THAT HIS GOVERNMENT MADE AN ATTEMPT TO MOVE AWAY FROM THE POLITICS OF WITCH HUNTING AND VENDETTA.

While agreeing that those who misuse their positions or engage in acts of corruption or similar crimes must be made to account, I do feel that the way the last administration went about the whole process makes it suspicious. They may have had no bad motive in bringing some members of the administration before them to account for their acts while in government. I feel, however, that they should have made efforts to differentiate between acts and omissions that had bad motive and those that were based on pure errors of judgement. We should not put in prison officials who make mistakes bordering on ¡errors of judgement¢. Because it appears to ordinary people like me that the last administration failed to draw this distinction, the prosecutions that they made against their predecessors assumed the colour of witch hunting and vendetta, tainted their democratic records and further handed ammunition to their successors to pay them back in their own coin; thus creating grounds for restarting the cycle of witch hunting and retribution.

It is interesting to note, however, that the new President, PROF MILLS, HAS SAID THAT HE WILL NOT ENGAGE IN ACTS OF WITCH HUNTING AND VENDETTA. If Prof Mills could sticks to his word, then he will go down in history as a Ghanaian leader who looked forward and not backward and moved the nation towards developing a future in which we all will feel ashamed to engage in corruption and other acts that undermine and wreck nation building. AS A NATION, WE ARE ALL CORRUP FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS FOR ALL OF US TO CHANGE FROM WHERE WE ARE NOW AND DEVELOP A NEW SENSE OF CLEAN POLITICS, CLEAN PUBLIC SERVICE, AND CLEAN PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT. IT IS A JOB FOR ALL OF US. BUT WE NEED A LEADER WHO BELIEVES IN SUCH A JOB TO LEAD THE CRUSADE.

I don¢t know why, but I have a strange feeling that Prof Mills is a man we can believe in. Will time prove me wrong as it has always done?

danny okyere-darko

Columnist: Okyere-Darko, Danny