Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


Justification for military intervention

I would like to refer to the letter of Mr. Thomas Broni (Ex-MP of the Third Republic, Talking Drums, Sept. 3, 1984) which raised some points of pertinent political views. However, his justification of the 1966 coup against the late President Nkrumah was an irresponsible political assertion. It was not the business of soldiers but rather the duty of Ghanaians led by the opposition politicians to fight against the introduction of one party system in Ghana.

In fact, apart from some brave and principled opposition politicians, who risked their lives to challenge the one- party system, many of them just kept quiet or joined the chorus for opportunistic reasons, thus weakening the efforts of the brave ones. Furthermore, the CPP was in the tendency of sooner or later splitting into various factions, thereby facilitating the return to pluralism in the country.

In spite of this, the introduction of the one-party system, was one of the greatest political mistakes of the CPP, since President Nkrumah stood the chance of winning all elections he would have contested with the opposition parties; after all the nature of Ghanaians as lovers of freedom and debate would not also have permitted this system to function in the long-run.

However, a different situation arises when soldiers by virtue of being entrusted with guns bought by the people and charged with the sole purpose of defending the country when it enters into a military conflict with a foreign nation, rather turn these guns against their own people by overthrow- ing the government the people them- selves have freely elected.

The military regime formed therefore becomes illegal because apart from the fact that the soldiers staged the coup to seek their personal interests, they also have not been mandated at all to rule. The people therefore, have to exercise their natural duty to drive away these soldiers to the barracks where they belong, except when the soldiers realize their mistake and return the country to the status quo: the restoration of the constitution they have overthrown.

Perhaps if Mr. Broni would dive a little bit into the history of military dictatorship, he would soon realize how dangerous it is to justify the military coup which first plunged Ghana into political turmoil, thus halting the gradual political and economic development of the country. This makes the call by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Peter K. Sarpong (of Kumasi and Vice-President of the Catholic Conference) for a representative government in Ghana highly com- mendable since over 90% of Ghanaians do not support this military regime. It is only the government which has been freely elected by the people that can better tackle the various problems facing the country and rekindle the confidence of Ghanaians in their country.

Let therefore, Rawlings/Tsikata and cousins know that while Ghanaians have still not forgotten their empty promises after usurping power three years ago, the best service they can do to Ghana is to restore the constitution which they overthrew and return to the barracks so that Ghanaians can, once again, freely elect the government they want.

Perhaps, it would be necessary here to remind them of the recent African dictators like Idi Amin and Bokassa together with non-African ones like Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and not forgetting Gen. Galtieri of Argentina of as recent as 1982, who also once considering themselves as very powerful and the most righteous in their societies refused to heed to the call to restore the freedom and the fundamental rights of their people to elect their respective governments they wished through the ballot box.

Today, they all have not been forgiven for the atrocities they committed, not only against their own people but also against mankind as a whole, even though most of these dictators have found places in their graves long ago.

Kwadwo Antepim
University of Cologne, West Germany

Speaking with forked tongue

Please allow space for my comments on your story, "The Short Reign of an Unusual Minister." President Samuel Doe of Liberia keeps telling the world how committed he is to preparing his country for multi- party democracy and yet he sacks Information Minister Alhaji Kromah for speaking against dictatorship. Surely, Doe must have something else in mind, not democracy. Your account of the affair plus stories carried by the New York Times and West Africa show that the erstwhile Information Minister is an aggressive and bold defender of democracy in Africa. Indeed I thought Alhaji Kromah was an "unusual" minister when I heard his interviews with the BBC while I was in Lagos several months past. He was a complete departure from the boring and sad performances of some of our African officials interviewed on international airwaves.

Charles W. Owusu,
Jamaica, New York

The irony of social justice

It would be helpful today to consider some aspects of Flight-Lieutenant Rawlings’ speech (now that we hear his speeches are being compiled into a booklet for Ghanaians to study!) soon after he overthrew Dr Limann on December 31, 1981. Among other things, Rawlings accused the Limann administration of being insensitive to the plight of ordinary Ghanaians. He then promised Ghanaians that he would ensure "social justice", "participatory democracy" and "economic stability". Three years on, and events in the country have proved this promise a complete farce.

The springing up of so many foreign exchange shops is particularly surprising. How many Ghanaians have got foreign currency with which to buy these goods? Does this not defeat the very concept of social justice? Equally surprising is the Rawlings government's decision that it can no longer bear the cost of feeding university students and that at the appropriate time, parents and guardians will be asked to shoulder this responsibility. Once again my question is how many ordinary workers and peasant farmers can bear the responsibility of financing their wards' university education? Or in these days of "social justice", has higher education become a privilege only for the rich?

Flt-Lt. Rawlings should keep to his promise of ensuring a just society for all. And in line with this, the PNDC government must bear the full cost of feeding the students of all the country's three universities. It cannot shirk this responsibility and at the same time continue to wantonly dissipate the wealth of the country on useless ventures.

George Amo, London

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