The workers’ demonstration and its aftermath

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

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Thursday, July 24, 2014

So, the nationwide demonstrations by organized labour and other interest/pressure groups are either over in some regional capital towns or ongoing in others. Nothing violent has occurred, at least, from reports.

While the demonstrations were going on, President Mahama and his Vice (Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur) joined Ministers of state, hundreds of Ghanaians, wife (Naadu Mills) and family members of the late President John Evans Atta Mills to mark the second anniversary of his passing. Former President Rawlings, Parliamentarians as well as members of the ruling National Democratic Congress were in attendance.

Conspicuously missing were members of the opposition parties. The short ceremony was climaxed by a wreath laying ceremony at the Asomdwe Park near the Independence Square in Accra. Honouring the dead and not caring for the living, someone may ask?

The demonstrations were in protest at the high cost of living following the worsening economic problems facing the country. The demonstrators were to present petitions to the authorities in the ten regional capital towns. What did the demonstrators ask for?

We can tell from the messages couched in the placards: “President Mahama do something before we all die”; “Mun ge gyi” (“We are suffering”); “Middle income country, low income workers”; “High interest rate is killing Ghanaian industries”; “Wipe off indiscipline and corruption”; “Suffering in the land of our birth”; "Stop looting, increase our salaries”; “Is our government suffering from Acquired Intelligence Deficiency Syndrome?"; and many more.

Here are some undisguised demands as reported in the news, followed by my personal comments:

• Organised Labour in Ho have asked President John Dramani Mahama to step down following the inability of his administration to tackle present economic challenges.

Huh? President Mahama to step down for whom to take over the administration of the country? Someone in the government already being accused of incompetence or a new face from within the governing party? Or a new political organization altogether given the mandate? By which means? Not until December 2016 when elections are held will such a demand make sense!! So, this demand is wayward. An irritation that won’t solve the workers’ existential problems!

• In Kumasi, the agitators—most of whom are businessmen and women—are discouraged at government's apparent inability to tackle challenges facing the economy resulting in their devastating effects on the people. They say they are unable to keep to their budget as prices of basic items keep increasing almost on daily basis, making it difficult for them to make savings on their income.

Businessmen and women? I thought that organized labour (workers on government’s payroll) were to be the demonstrators. Well, in times like these, anything goes; not so?

• In Cape Coast, the demonstrators wanted President Mahama to take decisive action to curb corruption in his administration as well as bring looters of the state coffers to book. They also criticized the executive for “lacking creative ideas to govern the country”.

At least, calling for decisive action to curb corruption and punishing anybody stealing public funds is laudable. I can’t say so for the part on “lacking creative ideas to govern the country”; that is, if “creative ideas” even means anything concrete in political terms. Does the Constitution not guide governance? How about the NDC’s own manifesto?

Meantime, the NPP MP for Assin-Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, has asked workers across the country to hoot at the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Kofi Asamoah, for calling for a nationwide demonstration against the government.

Speaking on Adom FM/Asempa FM’s “Burning Issues” with Afia Pokua, Ken Agyapong said the TUC boss has no moral right to lead a nationwide demonstration. Here are some scathing comments he made about Kofi Asamoah:

• Kofi Asamoah is a corrupt person and does not have proper standing and integrity to lead a demonstration. He said that the TUC Boss was a member of the SSNIT Board, which signed the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz, and he must rather apologize to Ghanaians.

• “Kofi Asamoah is part of the problems in the country and must be beaten by workers when he appears at the demonstration grounds”.

• He described Kofi Asamoah as a disgrace to Ghanaian workers, saying “he has been at the forefront of most corrupt practices in the country.”

• He described Kofi Asamoah as a “hypocrite” and an “intellectually dishonest person” who has sold his conscience.

Ken Agyapong, therefore called on workers to boycott the demonstration in protest against Kofi Asamoah. “Workers should not take Kofi Asamoah serious. He is selfish, corrupt and has not got the welfare of workers in the country at heart. He is in bed with the government and thinks he can fool Ghanaians,” Agyapong alleged.

(See: http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2014/July-24th/hoot-at-kofi-asamoah-kennedy-agyapong.php)

Well, folks, this is where we are. The TUC leader condemned the government and called for this demonstration only for him to be taken to the cleaners this way. When pots begin calling kettles black, we (the observers) have a lot to cheer about. Cheers, then… Hip---hip---hip: Hurray!!!!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.