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Opinions Thu, 15 Apr 2004

Poisoned Political Atmosphere? Blame Ghanaian Pundits.

Taking potshots at political opponents is a time-honored tradition. For most part, it is done in good faith with the undisguised intent of scoring political points or dislodging a rival from a coveted position of power. However, if criticism takes on added dimensions....degenerates into invective and ad hominem attacks ... then there is cause for concern.

Yes, I am troubled by the lack of civility in the national political debate, even though others have brushed it off as the usual politicking that precedes a general election. Accentuated by the bitter rivalry between the NPP and NDC and incendiary statements by troubadours of trouble in both parties, the atmosphere is indeed poisoned. And it is the nation that suffers.

What we are witnessing is an orgy of hyperpartisanship. The consistency of animus is frightening, It is unhealthy and dangerous to our democracy no what how you look at it. The sad reality is that there is no end in sight to the mudslinging. and both sides look every bit the itinerant hypocrites.

One casualty of this puerile sniping is voters' confidence in the political system. It leaves ordinary Ghanaians wondering if these politicians have their priorities right. The common refrain is: do our political representatives realize the enormous challenges facing the country? Are they fiddling while the fortunes of Ghana dwindle precipitously? But this grandstanding...the outlandish claims...."we are the better party" and counterclaims ..."they are looting the national coffers" ... by the NPP and NDC isn't in the least unexpected.....

With their eyes set on the ultimate political prize, both parties have dug in deep, steadfastly refusing to budge, even under relentless attacks from the other side. Each party lashes out as much as it takes. Though the President, John Kufuor, is the target of some withering vitriolic, he has managed admirably to stay above the rancor.

The same can't be said of the former President, Jerry Rawlings...alpha of the NDC ...he hasn't exactly been taciturn. His public fulmination raised eyebrows. And his recent excoriation of Kufuour invariably engendered hostile comments from the other side.

Pro NPP Ghanaian pundits were quick to fire salvos at the former president ... describing him variously as feckless, a hot head, a loose canon and a megalomaniacal demagogue, yet others...NDC sympathizers see in him a resourceful sounding board for the opposition, and an avatar of NDC values.

But, seriously, why should we be alarmed at Rawlings diatribes? He is only doing what others did to him when he was in Osu Castle. Calls for him to clam up are preposterous and smack of pettiness. With time, his star will fade, and like others before him, he will slither into obscurity without much fanfare.

I hesitate to pin the incivility squarely on the NPP and NDC. A segment of the population, one that prides itself on its proximity to the corridors of power, and its perceived ability to influence official policy, is just as culpable. You don't have to look far to see who I am referring to: you hear on the radio, see them on television and read their newspaper columns. Yes, Ghanaian opinioninstas...opinion peddlers, columnists, and commentators, that is who.

Beside being vociferous, loud and full of blather, they have time and time again shown their real colors by intentionally stoking the partisan flames that are slowly engulfing the already charged political atmosphere. These are radicals who don't know when to hold back their venom. Yet, they claim to be doing Ghana a great public service. What hogwash!!

Someone ought to tell these sniveling blubber mouths to tone down the rhetoric for the supreme interest of the country.


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

Columnist: Yahaya, Moses Kofi