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So, what happens after tomorrow's demonstration?

Sat, 26 Jul 2014 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Folks, I am waiting patiently to see how tomorrow dawns for the organizers of the demonstration to move on with their one-day nationwide demonstration in protest at the situation at their workplaces and the country, generally, as the economic problems persist. A preview should create a good context for us to slot in future happenings, even as we continue to monitor the situation.

Organized labour (whatever that means) is playing the frontline role in this street protest, joined by professionals in the Ghana Medical Association and other identifiable interest or pressure groups, some known for their political manouevres even if they attempt to throw dust into our eyes to create the impression that they are apolitical and non-partisan.

The latest to announce its decision to join the street demonstration is the Ghana Private Road Transport Union GPRTU): "Commercial drivers under the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) have been directed to park their cars at home in solidarity with the nationwide demonstration by organized labour tomorrow. General Secretary of the GPRTU, Robert Adjei Brenya later confirmed the directive in an interview with Joy News on Wednesday. He explained the drivers too have been affected by the dire economic situation in the country" (See: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=318202).

We can tell that the demonstration will involve just anybody who has an axe to grind with the government. Thus, the umbrella organization (organized labour in the Trades Union Congress) is only creating the opportunity for those who bear any kind of grudge at all against the government to join the street demonstration in this match of baring teeth. We know that if an animal doesn’t want to bite you, it won’t bare its teeth at you. But is biting the solution to the problems against which the demonstration has been organized?

Clearly, those gearing up to participate in the demonstration are not only workers on government payroll but others in private business, including the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA). We have been told that doctors at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital were cajoling patients to join the demonstration.

Certainly, the anti-Mahama elements in the clergy won't be left out. They have already been doing their homework and blowing hot air against President Mahama. Is it Rev. Owusu Bempah, the Methodist Priest of Obuasi (Bosomtwe) or this one:

"Head of Adansi Baptist Association of Ghana has attributed the current socio-economic challenges in the country to what he says is President John Mahama's inability to take firm decisions. According to Rev. Alex Brenya Korankye, “it seems there is no leader in this country so everyone is doing whatever they like”?

The organizers of the demonstration have rejected appeals to rescind their decision; and from the look of things, tomorrow will open a new chapter in labour agitations, reminiscent of the orchestrated mass protests against the Acheampong regime in 1977 and 1978 that eventually led to the fall of Kutu Acheampong on July 9, 1978.

Today's political climate is, however, different, assuming that we want to respect the democracy that has sustained this 4th Republic since January 7, 1993.

I expect tomorrow's demonstration to proceed as planned; and there will be a lot said and done to suggest that the government is insensitive and incompetent. Placards will announce loudly the sentiments of the demonstrators. I hope the Police and other security agents will be up to the task and ensure that the demonstration begins, runs, and ends peacefully.

I also expect that media houses critical of the Mahama-led administration will give maximum coverage to the event and look for substance with which to ratchet up their propaganda. They will fall head-over-heels in love with the demonstrators and even look for dung where no cow would graze for as long as it will give them the much-needed impetus to continue painting the government black—or even blacker than it really is.

Discerning minds can foresee the implications, which is why the government has to advise itself and ensure that it remains firm in controlling affairs so as not to jeopardize its own life or create room for unscrupulous elements to attempt rocking the boat all the more. Indeed, the government has no other option but to solve problems. Only then will it have the moral justification to exist and be relied on. If it doesn’t, it will not take long for things to fall apart. Our democracy deserves better.

At the end of the demonstration, what next? Will the government be well shaken by the event to redouble its efforts to solve problems or laugh it off as one of those empty shows of power that can be counter-balanced with some in-house dining, wining, and wenching sessions with the workers' leaders to win them over, after all?

Or will President Mahama and his team be scared stiff by what will unfold to fear their own shadows and move quickly to implement efficacious policies? Will the government use tomorrow's street demonstration as a wake-up call and act on the Senchi Consensus and redeem its image? Or will it be the self-same Ghanaian posturing: "Ehuru a ebe dwo" ("Whatever simmers will eventually settle down")?

More importantly, will the leaders of organized labour and the demonstrators use their own action as a moment to pause and reflect on larger level issues to know that the problems that they are complaining about and taking to the streets in consequence can be addressed if they put their shoulders to the wheel to raise productivity? Or that they have a lot to do to help the government turn the situation positively around?

Or that they are a part of the problems that they are demonstrating against (given the rot that exists at the workplace in terms of bad work ethics, plain immorality in terms of theft of property, connivance with unscrupulous elements to steal public funds under dubious circumstances, truancy, and other negative attitudes to work—counting the hour and not what they can do within the hour)?

Will there be an epiphany tomorrow to help the demonstrators see themselves in the mirror and recant, turn a new leaf to offer concrete input for solving national problems or waiting at the fringes as arm-chair critics to take on the government as they will do tomorrow?

Or will the workers' leaders tie this kind of demonstration to the politically motivated one set in motion by the NPP in its demonstration in Kumasi ("Ya Ye Den?"), which we were told would be replicated in the remaining 9 regions of the country two weeks thereafter, Tamale as their next destination? It's long past the two weeks and nothing has been done again. Instead, a group calling itself "Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance (CGRG)”, which is made up of known faces identifiable with the NPP, has taken the mantle and set itself an agenda to do the hatchet job.

In any case, if tomorrow’s street demonstration is a precursor to many others to follow for as long as the economic situation doesn't improve, no one needs any diviner's insight to know the cumulative effect on the country. In that sense, then, will these people be contributing their quota toward nation-building or nation-destruction? I don't know.

In sum, though, one question sticks out like a sore thumb: Will there be anything new after tomorrow's street demonstration? I wait for the answer!!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.