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Rawlings Just Does Not Get It!

Thu, 14 May 2009 Source: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw

Yaw Opare-Asamoa


I had the opportunity to read the full text of the speech Rawlings gave in Kumasi to mark the 10th anniversary of the Asantehene. My initial reaction was to acknowledge it as a well-written speech. I don’t know who his speechwriter is, but it sure sounded like something either Victor Gbeho or Prof. Kofi Awoonor would write. Then again it could have been somebody else I don’t know about. Anyhow if that speech had been read by anybody else, besides Rawlings, it would have been a good speech to serve its purpose. But it was delivered by Rawlings and I believe he was the ‘wrong’ person to tackle that topic; especially considering the subject and the ‘half-truths’ and ‘untruths’ that he outlined in the speech. I will explain why. Rawlings still does not get it. I believe in redemption and I know most Ghanaians do too. Ghanaians are easily-forgiving and are ready to let go of the past but certain things need to happen first. Our Lord Jesus assures us of forgiveness and salvation but He demands that we acknowledge our ‘guilt’ and confess. Then when we ask for forgiveness, He promises to forgive us. After the forgiveness, He then expects us to stay away from any of our previous ‘guilty’ deeds and words. This is where I have a problem with Rawlings. He has NEVER gone through this process as regards his so-called revolution and the atrocities that went on during and even after the period. To this day he continues to justify June 4 and 31 December. You cannot seek reconciliation or present yourself as a latter-day-born-again disciple of democracy when you refuse to take FULL responsibility for presiding over a regime that terrorized so many Ghanaians. In deed we still have Ghanaians who went ‘missing’ during that period and still remain missing. Others were chased out of the country and became ‘refugees’ elsewhere. Let me go through a few quotes from his speech.

“I will be the first to express regrets at the excesses of the AFRC and PNDC regimes of which I was the Chairman, but Ghana had to go through a phase where the people had to take control of their destiny through a popular uprising even if it was manifested through the military.” This is vintage Rawlings. That is a classic Rawlings’ apology. Anytime he attempts any ‘apology’ of a sort, it is always about ‘regrets’ ‘what regrets??? Regrets over what?? Excesses?? Is he serious? Is that how he describes all the killings and murders and other atrocities that went on? Excesses?? Try going to God with just ‘regret’ for ‘sinning’ and see whether that alone would be enough to get you forgiven. Rawlings knows better and he needs to do better than that. It is true that some soldiers did their own thing, without his knowledge, but who created the atmosphere for that? Ultimately he is responsible for everything that happened.

“The latent energy from June 4 was transferred into productive energy during the PNDC era. The ten years of the PNDC was an era to end the rot through what we termed housecleaning and instilling a culture of accountability, discipline, and economic resuscitation”. WOW!!! Is he talking about the same PNDC era that we all ‘lived’ (or died) through? Did the PNDC era really stop the rot or did they manage to stop some section of the populace and replace them with another group? I cannot begin to go through everything so I will leave the ‘verdict’ to all those who were old enough to intelligently appreciate what went on at the time.

This third quote, for me, is the most important one for it tells us a lot about Rawlings’ thinking. “The social sense of responsibility and natural justice in that non-constitutional era was so high the JUDICIARY WERE NOT NEEDED TO DO JUSTICE to the people. The self-empowerment had led to a higher quality of justice at no cost – THE COURTS HAD BECOME IRRELEVANT. The spontaneity towards NATURAL JUSTICE gave true meaning to democracy”-emphasis mine. This is unbelievable but then again, it is Rawlings. For me, this is the clearest ‘explanation’ for the murders of the 3 high court judges that anybody has offered so far- They had become irrelevant and were not needed!! And what exactly is ‘natural justice’? Nothing more than ‘vigilante justice’ and that was exactly the kind of justice that we experienced under his Chairmanship. From the start Rawlings, as far as I have known the man, has had a problem matching his words with his deeds. Let’s look at another example from his speech-“Crucially important for the successful management of any democracy is the need for leadership to allow institutions of governance to work effectively without interference. The Commission on Human Rights (CHRAJ), The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and all the institutions of government played their roles effectively. Indeed some members of the NDC government were affected by ADVERSE findings by some of these institutions. Embarrassing, as these may have been it sent a strong message to all that democracy was really at work and elected leaders were not above the law.” Once again, this is not a correct representation of the facts. After those adverse findings that he refers to, he (Rawlings) issued a white paper on the findings and that was the end of it. Does he really think Ghanaians are stupid or that we have such short memories? In as much as I want to move away from the speech, I must confess that I am unable to because the ‘untruths and half-truths’ are too many to ignore. Just one more quote and we will move on. “Ghana once again sunk into a democracy of nepotism, non-accountability, power to the rich and a complete disregard for the feelings of the electorate. More dangerous was the abuse of the security services structure, the hounding and persecution of some services personnel, refusal to follow laid down promotion procedure and a complete politicization of the military. The NPP could not co-exist with institutions with forceful integrity. The security services were not spared and the judiciary took a serious beating as well.” Is Rawlings sure he is not confusing the NPP with the NDC? Complete disregard for the feelings of the electorate? Yes the NPP is not entirely innocent but has anybody forgotten Rawlings of the “mo’su koraa na me ye no more” fame?? Did he mention ‘complete politicization of the military’? Incredible!! The NDC just got back in power and already we have the Col. Damoah saga to deal with. Indiscipline within the military started with the May 5 uprising led by his very self Rawlings, and became endemic throughout the June 4 era. The military is one establishment that does not compromise on discipline and respect for authority. What happens to that structure when junior officers could stage a mutiny and line up senior officers at the stakes to be shot in cold-blood?? If the military is still not in its ‘proper frame’ Rawlings should look no further beyond himself for the reasons/causes.

If he is serious about deepening democracy in Ghana, he should first start by asking Parliament to repeal the Indemnity Clauses he ‘smuggled’ into the constitution. If he truly believes all he said in that speech as regards his legacy, then he should have no use for the Indemnity clauses. He should have nothing to hide; remember probity and accountability?? He cannot cover his ‘behind’ with those clauses and then turn round to demand ‘justice’ for the murders of the Ya Naa and forty others. Yes I want to see the perpetrators of those murders punished, and yes I also want those responsible for all the killings under his ‘chairmanship’ also punished. To those who would argue that the insertion of the Indemnity clauses does not imply guilt, I have this to say: Rawlings and the NDC have accused the NPP of being responsible for the murders of the Ya Naa and others (tacitly or otherwise) for sometime now. So let’s just suppose the NPP, for whatever reason, had, through their majority in Parliament, passed a bill to put to rest forever any attempt to investigate the murders of the Ya Naa and others. What would have been the reaction from Yao Graham’s ‘network’ and the CJA?? Wouldn’t the logical conclusion have been that it is because the NPP had something to hide?? So he, Rawlings, should tell us what he is hiding behind those clauses (or probably he should not even bother since we know already). He cannot dodge forever. If Pinochet and Demjanjuk are being held accountable for their ‘deeds’ from years ago, I am hopeful that it is not all lost. Time would come. He (Rawlings) preached probity and accountability. It’s time for him to put that into practice. He should help us find and prosecute those who murdered the judges; and he should also help prosecute those who murdered the military officers (afterall these happened under his rule). When these outstanding issues are taken care of, then he can come and talk to us about democracy and accountability. Otherwise I would say: We’ve had enough of Rawlings and he should spare us the ‘drama’. He’s intruded in our lives long enough and it’s about time we told him to go sit quietly somewhere and enjoy the ‘fruits of his labour’

Written and submitted on May 12, 2009

Columnist: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw