Ghanaians have become used to booms and exhortations during June 4 and December 31, anniversaries. In the beginning, they were truthful. These days, however, Prophet Jeremiah Rawlings is sounding more and more like Obinim. His recent sermon was a strange one. The former President made two central points that must be addressed.
First, he called for the removal of the indemnity clauses of the 4th Republican constitution. He said, "Over the years, the indemnity clauses have emboldened certain characters to abuse their offices and profit themselves. The constitution of the 4th republic was created by us, for us and to serve us and in the light of 25 years, there is an unqualified need to reform or rewrite our constitution."
The call by the former President has rekindled the debate as to whether Mr Rawlings was the unwitting tool of a Machiavellian cabal who hid behind him to rule the country or a street-smart operator, who( apologies to George W) was misunderestimated by enemies and friends alike and is pulling one final con with this call.
In the light of section 37 of the transitional provisions, which states that "Notwithstanding anything in Chapter 25 of this Constitution, Parliament shall have no power to amend this section or sections 34-34 of this schedule ", how can he make such a call? Was he ignorant of the cowardly protections inserted in the middle of the night to protect those who had, under his leadership, stabbed Ghana in the back?
Ghanaians did not need 25 years to realize the unjustness of the indemnity clauses-- we knew they were wrong from the very first day. And since it was to protect people from revolutionary crimes, how could it embolden people to abuse their offices under the 4th republic? The indemnity clauses are not worth the effort to remove them at this time. Indeed, in recent years, it has been nothing more than an excuse for us to look the other way while newer crimes were committed by those protected by the indemnity clauses.
The perpetrators of "Kume Preko" and other similar crimes were not covered by any indemnity clauses-- we just lacked the collective fortitude to hold them to account. The perpetrators of the Mabry and Johnson bribery scandal and the "Donkomi privatizations were not covered by any indemnity clauses-- we just refused to subject them to probity and accountability. The indemnity clauses have nothing to do with our insistence on looking the other way in the face of crime and evil.
Then the former President turned to our ruling class' new habit of blaming the people for the failures of our leaders. Echoing the President and others in the wake of the floods, he said, "Our current sense of self-discipline is at its lowest ebb. Citizens do not feel responsible enough to keep their homes and communities clean. Many of us who lament about flooding during the rainy season are guilty of indiscretions that lead to deadly floods. We dump refuse indiscriminately and wonder why drains choke".
According to experts, the major causes of flooding are urbanization, building in waterways, lack of drainage construction, poor maintenance of drains, lack of drain storage infrastructure, lack of regulations or their lack of enforcement and the amount of rain. Thus the favourite excuse of policy-makers-- indiscriminate refuse is not the major factor. Indeed, to the extent that indiscriminate refuse is a factor, it is aided by the lack of collection and transport of trash by authorities.
It is hard to imagine people who, with clean collection points in their neighbourhood, would prefer to just dump their trash in the streets. The "attitudinal change" mantra is, for the most part, bull. Every day, thousands of Ghanaians leave Ghana for Europe and North America. When they get there, despite their attitudinal defects, these Ghanaians fit in. They do not throw thrash around or commit any of the crimes they commit at home. Might this be due to law enforcement?
The solutions to most of the causes of flooding lie with God and Government-- not the defenceless victims of floods. Government at local and national levels, must prevent building in waterways, build and maintain good drainage systems, build storage for excess water, hold policy-makers accountable and enforce our laws. It is astonishing that despite the dereliction that has led to flooding and deaths, not one government official has resigned or been sacked in the wake of floods in our recent history.
Let's stop blaming the victims of floods for our leadership failures. Probity and accountability should be about leaders, not the innocent masses. God bless Ghana.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy
June 7, 2019