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Sliding gradually towards the precipice

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Sun, 21 Aug 2016 Source: Cornelius Vito

Ghanaians believe and with some measure of justification that we are a bastion of democracy and this has given rise to a sense of bravado when we compare ourselves with other countries on this part of the globe.

We think we are not like those weak democracies or failed states or dictatorships in other parts of Africa. Having successfully conducted party democratic elections for more than two decades without any upheaval, that has made us the beacon that Ghanaians all boast about.

Just like a new vehicle on a well-tarred road over speeding could lead to an accident when least expected if such over speeding turns to recklessness in handling the steer and failing to observe road signs, relying only on the smoothness of the road.

At any one time, there are various topical issues that have occupied the concern of journalists, social commentators and the ordinary citizenry to the extent that the current topical issues about the Muntie trio, the Electoral Register exhibition or even a presidential gift of a Benz car are not very special in a sense. They have come at their time and will pass into oblivion.

My concern is with the growing attitude that is gradually engulfing all of us immersing ourselves in the discussion of those topics sometimes with a visible predilection to provoking others. Gradually, the other side of the Ghanaian, that good-natured and patient citizen, making positive contributions to discussions whether on radio or television or at a seminar or business forum is giving way to a negative self-assertiveness that is made worse by some who would like to score political points at every turn.

It will not be in anybody’s interest if we should score political points or even win an election in an atmosphere of acrimony that could plunge the nation into chaos after the election has been conducted and completed. Elections have usually been successfully conducted and completed and yet nations have erupted in violence and anarchy, leading to civil wars. Thus the scoring of political points without any heed to the peace and sanity of the nation is a selfish and short-sighted approach to the political game.

The Muntie trio

Legal brains have exhausted all the issues surrounding the custodial sentence of the three panellists but whether we agree with such legal arguments or not, our attitude ought to be measured in our reactions. Some people have blamed the Supreme Court for fomenting an atmosphere of discord by the custodial sentence, with some arguing that four months is too long and others rejecting the idea of a custodial sentence.

In all this, it is a pity that some have even gone as far as to suggest that the Court merely acted in its own interest to protect the lives of its members and some lawyers feel that another court in the hierarchy of the superior courts should have dealt with the contempt charge against the three. It should not be forgotten, however, that the Supreme Court has that power legitimately to cite for contempt, any one they consider acting in any manner that scandalises the Court. Vide Article 126 (2). In the wake of the scandals that hit the bench, especially the High Court last year, it will be a great pity for Ghanaians to use this contempt issue to condemn the Supreme Court and make derogatory remarks about it and its members because Ghana has only one judiciary. It is all the more because of the unfortunate reports and revelations that hit the High Court that we should collectively support the Supreme Court but not spite them.

The separation of powers must be maintained and the judiciary is that bulwark that can guarantee the safety of the individual citizen since both the executive and the legislature are clearly often motivated by partisan interest. Even the fourth estate of the realm has sometimes been actuated by those partisan interests.

Presidential gift

The President is currently before the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to answer petitions concerning the gift of a vehicle at a time that some Ghanaian citizens are collecting signatures and want the President to issue a Presidential pardon to absolve the Muntie trio. The President is being heckled. Heckling per se is not bad or wrong and all manner of persons, including the Chinese or American President are heckled. It, however, depends on the manner of the heckling and the circumstances. I would wish the President is spared this relentless push by those collecting names to show the massive support they have which justifies the call for the Presidential pardon.

I believe the President will resist the call because his precipitate action in these volatile times could trigger the slide down the precipice at a rate of no return.

Columnist: Cornelius Vito