Jerry Rawlings: A Threat to Ghana's Democracy?

Published on 16th February 2010

Rawlings: Troubling Ghana's political waters?
Ever since President John Atta Mills came to power a year ago, the founder of his ruling National Democratic Party (NDC), ex-President Jerry Rawlings, has been either insulting, threatening or undermining him consistently. Rawlings believes that he is Master and Mills some sort of a brainless slave.


Rawlings has been troubling the infant Ghanaian democracy so much so that even his own NDC is being endangered by him, occasionally throwing Mills, who had earlier being his Vice President, off-course.


Rawlings says that Mills and his associates are “greedy bastards” and “undisciplined,” comparing them to dogs that have to be tamed. He attacked President Mills on August 24 in Kumasi, in a speech to the fringe youth wind (United Cadres Front) of the NDC, saying: the Atta Mills-led government lacks the “revolutionary spirit to govern the country.” He further portrayed Mills as inefficient and should be removed and continued that “if things did not change immediately for the better, then some of them in the party (NDC) would advise themselves; and that the Atta Mills government should “adopt his (Rawlings’) dynamic leadership style.”


What a menace from Rawlings who is supposed to show higher maturity as ex-President John Kufour has being doing! The reality is, Mills is no Jerry Rawlings. Mills and his associates are more disciplined, enlightened and well-mannered than Rawlings who wishes Ghana was on flames because he isn’t in charge.


By birth and natural orientation, Mills is different. Mills has PHD in law and is a former university professor while Rawlings has “O” Level and is a former military pilot. Mills is more emotionally balanced, thoughtful and reasonable: Rawlings, unbalanced and thoughtless, is an emotional bedlam that has blocked his reasoning.


Ruling an African state is complicated, especially if you have somebody like Rawlings constantly pouring his emotional and misguided venoms into the political process. With its histories, cultures and complexes, ruling an African state that has been asphyxiated by the like of Rawlings needs high thoughtfulness drawn from the culture and history of the state, fuller grasp of the nuances wheeling the state and immense balances, as Botswana shows.


In Rawlings’ democratic world, there is no rule of law, freedoms or human rights, a situation that characterized his almost 20 years rule. In Rawlings’ almost 20 years in power, there were widespread executions, harassments, threats, exiling, deaths, abductions, fear, and all that characterized a dark Stalinist state.


Rising to the poisoned atmosphere a la Edmund Burke and Albert Einstein, the increasingly enlightened Ghanaian mass media that suffered terribly under the Rawlings regimes revealed how Rawlings harbours violent and diabolical intentions. The Editor-in-Chief of The New Crusading Guide, Malik Baako, described Rawlings as a “walking contradiction,” “hypocrisy personified” and a “licensed irritant.” The Editor-in-chief of The Enquirer, Raymond Archer, has said that if he were NDC member and “Rawlings talked down on him,” he would either “talk back” or “resign from the NDC.” Earlier, Kwesi Pratt, editor of Insight, in response to Rawlings’ puerile outburst, said that “Again, Rawlings said, that Prez Mills is slow in arresting and prosecuting former government officials in the NPP Administration. But is that how citizens are arrested? That you are not charged with any offence, not tried by the courts, and yet imprisoned?”


More disturbing to Ghana’s fledging democracy is Rawlings threatening that “he is allowing the sitting President some time but that he might run out of tolerance.” Who is Rawlings to say that in the backdrop of over 23 million Ghanaians and high-powered Kings and Queens like Asantehene Osei Tutu 11, Agbogbomefia Torgbui Afede Asor XIV, and Okyehene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin?  If he runs out of patience, what can he do? Will he attempt a coup d’état or fight Ghanaians?  Ghana belongs to all Ghanaians. Disagreeing with someone does not warrant issuing of threats.


To know why Africa despite its vast wealth and riches is still entangled in material and psychological despair, just look at Rawlings. Rawlings came to the Ghanaian political scene in a turbulent era of coups detat carnivals, one-party fete, and no-party jamboree. Rawlings’ behaviour is a reminder of what Africa had being through some thirty years ago where the continent was blown into pieces, with self-styled demi-gods: Macías Nguema, Samuel Doe, Idi Amin, Jean-Bedel Bokassa and Mobutu Sese Seko striding the African political scene. Rawlings is all these inhuman figures wrapped into one.


Under all these heartless personalities, Africa’s progress was deteriorating as its Southeast Asian and Latin American counterparts were strategizing on how to prosper. Even Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, despite his soaring human rights violations uplifted Chile into reasonable degree of prosperity. Ghana is at the rank of 135th out of 177 of the UN Human Development Index (UNHDI, 2008/2009 Report) that measures the wellbeing of countries world wide, most of these abysmal situations under Rawlings’ watch. Chile is today a First World country, ranked 40th out of 177 of UNHDI Report of 2008/2009.


Hard development facts aside, Rawlings’ egocentrism emanates from certain ridiculous Ghanaian cultural believes that have been projected onto the development process. Rawlings, with an exaggerated superstitious view of himself, thinks he is God sent and he behaves accordingly, playing on Ghanaians’ entrenched negative superstitions in an atmosphere of low intellectual current and some wrong-headed musicians touting Rawlings as having Jesus Christ characteristics.


For almost 20 years that Rawlings had a grip on Ghana, there was corresponding groundswell of campaigns to return Ghana to democracy – against the backdrop of coup and assassinations attempts and invasions. Fear and threats ruled supreme and a culture of silence characterized Ghanaians psychology – anybody could be killed just like that. Under immense pressure to democratize, Rawlings, in line with Africa’s Big Man syndrome, repeatedly said, “To whom.” But that’s Africa; anybody can be President no matter what.


Why should Rawlings, at 61 years, repeatedly be a danger to Ghana’s democracy? The reason is he harbours coup detats and returns to power despite his denials. Paradoxically, how does one fathom the sense that this is man who claim (though wrongly) that he is father of democracy and simultaneously work to undermine it? He claims (though wrongly) that he brought security to Ghana but yet schemes to bring insecurity. Has Rawlings got a mirror that reflects his disturbing behaviour for him to see himself? Does he listen to his NDC about his dreadful behaviour? Why have Ghanaians tolerated him for far too long?


Such strange behaviour raises questions whether Rawlings suffers from a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. As part of Ghana’s democratic enlargement, the main opposition New Patriotic Party should use Rawlings’ threats as democratic fodder to defeat the ruling NDC in 2012.

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