I write to you in the name of what unites us, rather than our divisions.
I write to you knowing that though we are United in our poverty as working-class people, we are divided in our strength by the partisan vehicles you have chosen to place your faith in. Because of this, our conversations haven’t always been fluid and our intentions often doubted.
While you consider the NDC and the NPP as vehicles for your liberation, I fear that political parties quickly become disconnected from their base and often take you for granted. You know this yourself. And that’s your lived reality. Because we believe that no matter the political party a person votes for, they should first vote for themselves when their interests are threatened, our approach is to draw you out of your partisan shells so we can talk about something that threatens our very livelihoods as working-class people.
It is our earnest strategy to ensure that as soon as any Government wins power, we working class must first choose ourselves and need to come together in order to become the official watchdog of the Government. That we should together as comrades sit in perpetual vigilance against tyranny and the abuse of power. The tyranny that is often targeted at us the poor, the economically vulnerable and those of us without political connections or godfathers.
That is how our founding fathers and mothers intended for us the citizens to play our part in our democracy. And it is the only beacon that can guide our democracy to a better Ghana. A new Ghana where citizens are treated with decency and respect. Where Ghanaian lives matter, no matter how poor.
At this time, I have not come to ask you to withdraw your allegiances to the NDC or the NPP; nor do I feel competent to do so.
I have only come so we have a conversation as persons who often get the raw deal. Because even as we elect these people, they are Lords over us and not our servants. And while you and I may cry over the E-Levy, and they may pretend to cry with us, they do so from the comfort of their V8s; with the fuel coupons; Article 71 conditions of service that allow them to fly to Dubai when they have a little fever; and periodic ex-gratia payments calculated in the millions of cedis.
The E-Levy does not know Party card, and so I am hopeful that this conversation concerns us all equally.
Now, pardon my obsession with the E-Levy and refusal to be distracted by a football match yesterday. It’s not because I do not understand that football is the true game of working class people. But since I slept thinking of the E-Levy; dreamt about it And Woke up drafting aspects of our legal challenge against the E-Levy, please permit a fellow comrade a few minutes to bore you from the long rumblings of my insomnia.
In any event, considering that my boisterous opposition to the Evil Levy was the pretext the Emperor’s regime needed to show me where power lies, by locking me up in unlawful detention for 35 days, I think, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that I strongly detest the Evil Levy and the harm it portends for Ghanaians.
Also, from my association with FixTheCountry, I have come to understand that you, like me, the real people of Ghana strongly reject a tax that will definitely impoverish Ghanaians in a time of economic hardship, worsen social and income inequality by even making the gap between the poor and rich elements of our society wider; and is likely to lead to further loss of jobs directly and indirectly. Your jobs! Your poverty!
If you are wondering why I am writing to you and not to the Government or your leadership, then please know this:
- Yes, the E-Levy is this Government’s initiative. Not a single Ghanaian doubts that. But you in the rank and file of the NPP and NDC are as baffled as I am as to why this crop of leaders has chosen to bring this Evil to bear on Ghanaians.
- I have chosen to address myself to you as those who should have been but were not even present in that room. You who send representatives to that room but have no real control over them. In fact, they represent everyone but you. They are only your representatives in myth rather than in fact.
I know that some of what I am going to say maybe hard for some to hear. But I spent 35 days in jail not so that I can be shyer in speaking the truth, but that I may be bolder in my honesty. Those of our leaders from the independence generation, who were jailed like me, also came out and not only led the fight for our independence; but also based on their jailhouse experience, decided to write in our national anthem that what we need as Ghanaians is « fearless honesty ».
Now I have decided not to speak to those who actually voted for that Evil Levy; or to those who who despite having the chance walked out when it mattered most and are now urging us to trust them that they have a plan. A plan that will entail them needing a little help from a Supreme Court which is always eager in its enthusiasm to betray the people.
I have decided to write to you because I want you to ask questions of your leaders. Questions that you haven’t previously sufficiently asked of them. Because if they are your leaders, then surely you are entitled to ask them difficult questions. That’s the essence of a democracy that those who lead you must serve you. Do they?
But first, comrades, because you have allowed partisanship to distract you, and convince you that you are in fact enemies when you are actually poor together, let me address your differences; and also show you how even in those differences you can help individually to defeat the Evil Levy.
First, let me speak to the NDC Rank and File.
- Those of you my fellow comrades on the opposition side believe that this is a Government that was incompetent from the start, that rode to power on the platform of deception and voter intimidation. You believe that this was a corruption-driven project at birth. I understand why you see this Government through that light. This is after all the only Government where our finance minister and his deputy earn millions of Ghana cedis everytime Ghana borrows money. This is afterall the only Government in our Republic’s history where the President was described by the head of the very anti corruption body he set up as being « the mother serpent of corruption ». You have come to expect nothing from this Government except lies, thievery and abuse of power; and I cannot say that I fault that perspective.
- Now hear this. Perhaps there are so many other Ghanaians who having lost faith in what you consider to be a lame-duck thievocracy, wanted to look to the NDC for a glimmer of leadership. Many hoped that the NDC would govern from the opposition and demonstrate a preparedness to be different from your baggage of yesteryears. In a political climate much known for its deal-cutting culture and political connivance, you know many Ghanaians (including politically neutral folks like myself) looked to and hoped that the NDC would be become the vanguard of the People’s opposition to a government you view to be made up of Ali Baba and his many thieves. Ghanaians wanted to believe that the NDC will not sell them out, as your own MPs confessed had happened during the vetting of Ministers (both in 2017 and 2021).
- You may wonder as some of your party have whether I am competent to ask you these questions myself; considering that when the NDC reached out for #FixTheCountry to join their demonstration, we asked them for certain concessions first, which were not met and for which reason we couldn’t stand together as brothers in arms.
- However if you recall, #FixTheCountry for the first time in our Democracy picketed at Parliament on the eve of the Government’s attempt to push through the budget. We stayed there till the dead of the night past 11pm; we stood in the rain till the dead of the night from 6am in the morning. This we did against the entire budget and the E-Levy. May it never be said that we were not boisterous in our opposition. Infact, even after that demonstration, and after the NDC voted against the President’s budget, I publicly celebrated the opposition and congratulated NDC MPs on my Facebook page. When some days later, one of the groups mobilizing with us left our #FixTheCountry platform in order to prepare for elections; my post commending the Minority for listening to the voices of #FixTheCountry protestors was cited as evidence that I was not suffficiently invested in dismantling the status quo.
- Further, if you would recall, #FixTheCountry did not reject the proposal to demonstrate against the E-Levy when the NDC reached out. We told them that, we believed that there was a strong appetite accross the country to opppose the E-Levy and that to ensure that we bring out a crowd larger than Kume-Preko at its height ever saw, we need to bring everyone on board and create a real national coalition. Not just NDC and three others. We worried that so many Ghanaians tend to prefer more nationalistic mobilizations rather than partisan ones; so it was important that we unite all the opposition parties; all civil society, youth and organized labour groups. We saw a real opportunity to express a vote of No Confidence in this Government from the Streets. That was our proposal.
- Unfortunately, even though several NDC members agreed with us; George Opare Addo’ your National Youth Organizer told us that he was facing internal elections and he couldnt wait to do that coalition. In fact by the time he reached out to us, it was a few days away from the demonstration and he had already notified the police and agreed on a route and date. We felt like appendages to an individual’s ambition to hold on to his internal party seat. We did not believe that the real driving force behind it was to send a powerful message to the Government. You may disagree with why we did that, but you cannot fault our consistency in preferring a broader and more inclusive coalition.
- So with that out of the way, let me ask you honestly, do you think it is proper for those Ghanaians (including you) who have given us the gift of a hung Parliament by voting massively for the NDC, to ask questions about the NDC’s strategy to resist the Evil Levy? Do you think it is proper to have valid concerns and to express those concerns? Or do you think, knowing that people expect the NDC to stand with them now, that people should shut the fuck upbecause they ddnt give you the presidency?
- I think you agree with me that voters are entitled to interrogate the alternative and assure themselves that the alternative is actually now prepared to be their friend, even if in the past they have doubted it. Now If it is not out of bounds to ask questions, then I have a few questions that have been bugging my mind since yesterday. I only need to understand these things so I can also know how to challenge the E-Levy for the benefit of all Ghanaians.
These are questions I want you to ask your leaders who serve you.
- If the Minority Leadership say that they did not have 137 members in Parliament; at What point did they go from 137 to 136. Because it is a fact that the Hansard recorded the Assin North MP as being Present.
- I have heard people claim that the Assin North MP had gone to the Supreme Court; what did he go and do there? The Supreme Court issue was a Civil case and not a criminal one. His presence was not required. His lawyers alone could have gone.
- The Assin North MP was only required to be present for the criminal trial. He went there early in the morning and that matter was adjourned to the 29th of April. So he was whisked immediately to Parliament. Let’s be honest. At what point did he leave just before a crucial vote; and why? (See again question 2).
- Even though the President was in Tamale inaugurating an interchange, his Roads Minister was in Parliament. The President intentionally invited opposition MPs to join him on the inauguration, knowing that it will reduce your numbers and his party will force thruough the vote in your absence. You saw through that ruse. So why (if he truly left) did the Assin North MP leave; and if so at what exact point.
- Was the sick Chieftaincy Minister in Parliament; and if so why did no one see him on the floor?
- If you claim that your walk out was a strategy, did you inform the Speaker that you will walk out in order to trigger a failure of quorum?
- If you had that plan all along, why did Bagbin put the question despite knowing that there was no quorum? Won’t it be simpler for the question to fail on the floor, in Parliament, than give the President this evil levy and hope to go and challenge later in the Supreme Court?
- Who made that decision; and at what point? And why was it never communicated as you did all the other times you raised the question of quorum?
- Considering that you know that by Parliamentary rules, you needed one MP to remain in the chamber who will raise the question of quorum, why did you all walk out? Seeing that the Chieftiancy Minister was not in the Chamber at the time, the NPP had only 135 MPs and 1 fomena Mp (136) so the presence of one Member to raise the question of quorum would have been possible because there would have been 137 members, which is less than half of members.
I understand that not all of you, my fellow comrades are well versed in the law and in Parliamentary procedure. But please ask them these questions and when they provide answers, come back and let’s dissect their answers together.
I know that just because we are poor and disenfranchised, it does not mean that we are not discerning. So please use your discernment and do not swallow everything hook line and sinker.
Let me now turn to my Comrades who are on the Government side.
I know that so many of you were disappointed by what you considered to be the substandard governance of Mahama. You named him incompetent and were annoyed by his decisions to not raise the public debt ceiling even if he was considered a dead goat.
You saw in that insensitivity to your plight. You were annoyed by the propaganda even as your lives became burdened by debts, a failing currency and degenerating power cuts. Your business struggled and your faith in the then President’s ability to guide us through those times plummeted.
You saw in Nana Addo and Bawumia persons who spoke tough and who promised liberation. They sold you the promise land. And promised they knew which path led to economic liberation, not only for themselves but for us all. They promised to arrest corruption; the cedi and the arrogance of power.
There was nothing not to be attracted by. We wanted Ghanaian to become better and for our lives to improve. We wanted a better future for our children and we wanted a clear plan that guarantees that. We were not naive. We did not believe the claim that in 18 months Ghana would look just like Dubai. But atleast we hoped for a project that looked like were on course.
No one can say that you did not have Ghana at heart when you bought that project, as you should.
- By your own estimations where are we now?
- They say we should blame COVID. Fair. Now you know how Covid has impoverished you; can you point to one single Government Appointee whose life has become worse too because of COVID?
Just one. How many of them haven’t built 32 Appartements and now own 3 cars? Are you in a better work life?
- How many of their businesses has failed in COVID? Or have they become richer?
- Will E-Levy hurt them as much as it will hurt you?
- Which of your MPs held Townhall meetings in their constituency to ask you what you want them to do regarding the Evil Levy? Do they truly represent you and seek your opinion?
- Why did your Government proceed with this Levy despite all the times you told them this levy is wrong and will kill you?
- How many of you have decent paying jobs?
- How many of you have to call and keep begging MPs, ministers, and political appointees to send you some money?
- How many of you drive V8s and get free fuel
- If you were to huddle together, hold a press conference asking your President to veto the Bill, will he do it? Does he listen to you? Does he regard you or respect you? Do your opinions matter to him?
I only ask for these questions my fellow comrades so that we may unite on the things that threaten our livelihoods irrespective of our parties.
Our elders say, if you want to travel fast travel alone; but if you want to travel far, travel together.
Can we travel together when our lives are at risk and our children’s future uncertain?
I will end the first part of my letter here. Soon I will send the second part.
In the name of the People, for whom we fight.
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