Ghana: Where is the moral high ground for Rawlings?

By IndepthAfrica
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Oct 15th, 2012
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By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

The ugly noise that Rawlings continues to make about his so-called principles of “probity and accountability”—which is the motivation for his persistent undermining of his successors—is more than annoying.

According to him, everybody in Ghana is corrupt except him and his wife. As he continues to fight against the interests of the very party that he toiled to nurture into a formidable force in Ghanaian politics, Rawlings casts a huge doubt on his own integrity, more so as he bases all considerations on his claim of corruption.

And he worsens his credibility problem by constantly annoying Ghanaians with incessant references to the so-called principles of probity and accountability as the hallmark of his politicking—and the yardstick by which he has continued to judge all governments except his own.

As he continues to muddy the political waters, we want to remind him that whatever lapses he is complaining of are the direct upshot of his own failures and inadequacies as a leader. Our thesis is that if for all the nearly 20 years that Rawlings ruled Ghana he had done the right thing, bribery and corruption would have been rooted out and not patronized to become our major national canker.

But he couldn’t do so and corruption flourished under his watch to be become a national plague. His failures fertilized the grounds for corruption to bloom. Why should he be the first to cast the stone, then?

If Rawlings had been honest, he would have known better how to behave. Now that he has found his wife’s NDP as a tool with which to fight the NDC, we need not go far to know how the tide will flow for him. Apparently, those he has surrounded himself with aren’t saints either.

Dr. Josiah Aryeh failed the simplest tests of all, putting at naught the principles of probity and accountability when he stooped so low as to be bribed with 3,000 Dollars by the NPP to betray the NDC’s cause, losing his place in the NDC. Today, he is the National Chairman of the NDP, earning Rawlings’ respect.

Our ears are full of his allegations against Kufuor and his appointees and those led by ex-President Mills and now in the hands of John Dramani Mahama.

It is not difficult to guess how Rawlings is torn apart by a recollection of the past and a difficult future lying ahead of him, viewed against the present circumstance in which he lives. Such a person is suffering all kinds of pangs and isn’t at peace with himself and all others he sees in his paranoid state as his enemies, especially those in the NDC administration that he has qualified as “evil dwarfs” or “greedy bastards.”

Truth be told, these “greedy bastards” are the products of Rawlings’ own administration. They worked with and for him in all the almost 20 years that he ruled the country. They did assignments that he gave them and virtually learnt the ropes of governance under him.

So, having been groomed by him, what are they doing today that we cannot trace to the intricacies of the grooming that Rawlings gave them?

There is nothing happening in Ghana today that didn’t happen when Rawlings was in power, taking out the “strongman mentality” with which Rawlings superintended over national affairs.

So, where did the line become distorted for Rawlings to see corruption in governments succeeding him that didn’t happen under his own watch?

If corruption is the measure for testing the efficacy of Rawlings’ so-called principles of “probity and accountability,” there is no gainsaying the fact that he himself has had no moral justification all these years that he has been in the limelight.

Under him, corruption was rife, despite the draconian measures that he took to punish supposed corrupt personalities. The excesses that characterized his administration’s use of brute force to fight corruption led to lives being snuffed out and many prominent citizens losing their businesses and sense of humanity. The impact of such “unprecedented revolutionary action” is still evident in many departments of personal and national lives.

But corruption is still as pervasive as it was under the watchful eyes of Rawlings and his band of revolutionaries. Truth be told, these apostles of probity and accountability were themselves soiling their hands and reputation while finding clever ways to shield themselves against public scrutiny and justice.

No one has been able to question the PNDC Account 48 that Rawlings’ AFRC said it had created into which were to be lodged huge sums of money forcibly extorted from business enterprises and people cowed into submission.  Nor has Rawlings been able to account for the 50-Cedi notes that his PNDC collected from Ghanaians for the operation of the “People’s Shop.”

Above all else, many clear acts of bribery and corruption against major players in the Rawlings government were investigated by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and adverse findings made against them. What did Rawlings do to confirm his adherence to the principles of probity and accountability in those cases? He stoutly defended his appointees—labeling them as men of integrity—which emboldened them to defy the CHRAJ’s findings and go away with their ill-gotten wealth.

Many other instances attest to our claim that Rawlings’ pontification of uprightness—which is the basis for all the goring he does of everybody else—is a mere smokescreen behind which he hides to pursue his sinister political agenda.

If, indeed, he and his wife were that much upright, why would his government encourage the divestiture of state property for the benefit of those close to them? If Nana Konadu’s 31st December Women’s Movement had competed with other bidders and genuinely acquired the Nsawam Cannery or the cocoa-processing factory at Tema being run by them, would the Kufuor government have taken action against her?

We insist at this stage that any denunciation of the current members of government—or even the Kufuor administration—of being corrupt is a throwback on Rawlings himself. It is not difficult to fathom it as a sad reflection of his abject failure as a leader who stamped his animalistic authority on the country for nearly 20 years but couldn’t tackle the very problem that is at the center of his political rhetoric.

The overarching question is: If in all those 20 years Rawlings had succeeded in tackling corruption and making it unappealing, would the vice have spread and stabilized in public office?

Although he is quick to pointing gossipping fingers at others, he is ill-at-ease to be told that he is part of the problem. His short-sightedness and fixation on the “strongman mentality” blinded him to the fact that corruption cannot be successfully fought without the requisite state institutions.

What did Rawlings do to strengthen the arms of these institutions? Nothing to make them viable and potent enough to fight corruption. So, when he left office with his “strongman mentality,” what did he leave behind to fight the vice? Nothing. And as the Greeks have it, nothing comes from nothing.

Knowing Rawlings for who and what he is, there is no doubt in my mind that he will continue to blame others and look for opportunities to mount rooftops to pontificate on issues for which he is morally deficient.

His inability to tackle corruption decisively paved the way for what we’ve had so far in this 4th Republic.

The fear of retribution may be why none seems to be tackling corruption. Perhaps, what frightened Kufuor into curtailing the trial of Nana Konadu and five others for their part in the divestiture of the former Nsawam Cannery and other acts of malfeasance for which they should have been duly prosecuted and jailed.

But Kufuor cunningly let her off the hook, fearing what might happen to him in the hands of an NDC government after the 2008 elections. Had Kufuor not intervened this way, Nana Konadu would have suffered the Fate that she deserved—and we would have been spared all this nuisance from her and her husband.

The motivation behind Kufuor’s intervention seems to be re-appearing in the case of Rawlings too, apprehensive or gravely worried at what an Akufo-Addo government might dish out to him for his role in human rights abuses and others that the NPP has not hesitated in raising dust over.

Of course, functionaries of the NPP are the most vehement in calling for the repeal of the 1992 Constitution and removal of the Indemnity Clause just to get at Rawlings. He knows full well that Akufo-Addo might be behind such agitations and taking a sneak peek into the immediate future, he seems not to like what he sees.

An Akufo-Addo NPP government will definitely take the battle to him and, the coward that he is, he has become sober enough to be afraid of his own shadow; hence, his appeal for protection for NDC functionaries (himself as top most) under such a government.

The persistence of corruption in Ghana is the direct upshot of Rawlings’ failures as Ghana’s leader with the longest tenure. He should spare us his tantrums and wait for the day of reckoning.

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