BEWARE, ‘GENERALISSIMO’ JOHN MAHAMA! By CAMERON DUODU
The sight of President John Mahama clad in a military uniform has apparently shocked quite a number of people.
l-r: Mobutu Amin and Bokassa Does Mahama want to emulate them?
#And for a very good reason. Few in Ghana remember military rule with any fondness. For however well military rule begins, the end is usually ruinous. It comes with the territory: if you are trained to do things by buga-buga, means you cannot be blamed if you soon come to despise the details that can make civilian rule so tiresome.
People who have experienced military rule do not want to be reminded of it, ever — and it was insensitive of Mr Mahama to don a uniform to remind everyone that he is the “Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces”.
It was also a meaningless gesture. For no matter how much he would like to be regarded by the military as one of their number, they will never do so. Unless you have spent five days unwashed in the jungle participating n strenuous “exercises” or have been put in the guard-room for not shaving or been bawled at by a sergeant-major for failing to “get fell in” smartly enough, you will never be regarded as a soldier by soldiers.
Politically, too, it is fatuous. Civilians who use soldiers to achieve political ends end up, like those who strive to ride tigers, inside the belly of the tiger. Ask Laurent Gbagbo, who, believing that he could rule the Ivory Coast by armed force, is today cooling his heels in the Hague, where both he and his wife can expect to be donated quite a few more months of life under lock and key.
What made Mahama do it? I don’t claim to know for sure! But I am worried about his current state of mind.
And the psychological condition of any head of state needs watching.
Mark this: shortly after his Generalissimo impersonation, Mr Mahama trotted off to the United Nations in New York, and made a speech, parts of which sounded like a throw-back to the days of Dr Kamuzu Banda [of Malawi] Felix Houphouet-Boigny [of the Ivory Coast] Mobutu Seseseko [of Congo/Zaire] or Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa [of the Central African Republic]
Africa, Mahama philosophised, must be allowed to develop “its own form of democracy”.
Ah? Mahama brought back that old-chestnut of a forgotten apology for totalitarian rule?
Just read on:
QUOTE: “There is a lot more that can be done to allow Africans the space to express themselves. Democracy is not a one-size-fit-all system. Different countries are at different stages of the democratic journey. Democracy evolves and cannot be forced. It doesn’t help for bigger powers to go proselytizing democracy. It can have its negative consequences….. The mistake with Africa is that we are seen as a homogeneous unit and treated as such, not taking cognizance that we are a whole continent with different aspirations, cultures, democracies and economic development. UNQUOTE
Well what’s wrong in saying that? Nothing except this: Emperor Bokassa equally hated what he called “foreign-imposed democracy” – so much so that he actually forbade the use of the words “democracy” and “elections.”! He understood “African rule” to mean the unfettered ability to promote himself to the rank of general and then marshal. He raided his diamond vaults to gift the most pricey stones to French heads of state and officials who closed their eyes to his murderous assaults of student protesters and members of opposition parties. In public appearances, he wore specially designed uniforms to accommodate all the pompous “African” medals [designed though in France or Belgium !] and awards that he bestowed upon himself. Model? Idi Amin Dada of Uganda!
As for Dr Banda a major feature of his brand of “African democracy” was [a report on his regime noted] the “ruthless treatment of political opponents….Political dissenters were routinely detained and tortured in Banda’s notoriously horrific prisons. Those less fortunate (usually because they were perceived as more threatening to the regime) were simply made to disappear, often in murders set up to look like road accidents. The most shocking example was [how] Ministers Dick Matenje, Aaron Gadama, and Twaibu Sangala and MP David Chiwanga, [were ruthlessly “accidentalised”. T her] bullet-riddled bodies were found in an overturned car in Mwanza near the Mozambique border in May 1983. The day before, Matenje, then the secretary general of [Banda’s own] party, had introduced a motion in parliament that would have resulted in a modest liberalization of the regime.”
But “African democracy” is too well known an oxymoron for me to burden you with more examples. What I want to alert you to is that in his UN speech President Mahama sarcastically reported that every day, a huge number of radio stations broadcast views from people who claim to know how to do his job better than him!
Was this the sort of speech a serious head of state should make to a UN General Assembly session attended by some of the most important world statesmen? And from a country which had once suffered eleven straight years of dictatorial military rule?
No wonder some Ghanaians are very perturbed by the blurring of lines between the executive and the state institutions deliberately designed by the Constitution to hold executive power in check. Our Parliament, under “Sergeant Doe” [Speaker Doe Ajaho] cannot even debate what the Minority wishes to debate (though that right is clearly a privilege given to the Minority under the rules governing the conduct of parliamentary business.)
Mahama has told the Supreme Court in no uncertain terms that if it acts in a way that displeases the President, he will find ways to negate its actions [as was patently executed in the “Montie 3 contempt pardon case]. And Mahama will get his way in a manner that appears to accord with the provisions of the Constitution, while ignoring the spirit in which they were written.
Mahama has also appointed an Electoral Commission Chair in whom the Opposition detects signs of partisanship.
And by refusing to appoint a substantive Chair of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mahama has ensured that the Commission will give rulings that contain internal contradictions conjured up to favour the President – (the latest decision of CHRAJ – for instance – has been condemned by a former Chair of the CHRAJ, Mr Emile Short, as “problematic”.)
Well, a “Generalissimo” would do all that, wouldn’t he?
Does he expect us to salute him for undermining our democracy or what?