Ghanas Many Problems: The Promise of Humanism 2

Posted: October 2, 2014 at 1:45 am


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Feature Article of Thursday, 2 October 2014

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis

The level of assumptive reasoning propping up our body of arguments boils down to a simple factual reality: A sitting president who has legal knowledge of being prosecuted or impeached upon serving his tenure and sentenced to prison if found guilty by a competent court could not make light of his public conduct. Apparently as it is we are not saying this on the authority of the layered mechanics of interpretation, though, given our lack of formal jurisdiction over matters of constitutional niceties. We thereby plead ignorance of the taxing temperament of constitutional annotation. However, it is the dilemmatic repercussions of the Indemnity Clause for holding occupants of the highest seat in the land accountable for egregious public misconducts detrimental to national security and economic stability that grates on our quizzical conscience. Thus the Indemnity Clause cripples an important aspect of moral philosophy upon which the sucklings tiny lips, which we shall call equality before the law, feeds. Apropos, must we always put the complex problem of constitutional inequities squarely at the feet of leadership?

Not necessarily.

Leadership is extension of families, marriages, communities, nation-states, continents, or such. And the community in question has a moral responsibility to ensure the behavior of every member of its constitution conforms, either through unspoken signals or through constitutional instruments, to the moral and ethical values of group dynamics. This tacitly or constitutionally agreed-upon concordance must uphold the virtues of mutual respectability and mans innate impulse for individual, or collective, survival. Moreover, if the Indemnity Clause enjoys unflinching constitutional imprimatur and if it fits the rugged articulation of moral self-defense in protection of a few, who is there to say the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) cannot similarly benefit from the institutional benevolence of constitutional accommodation? Unfortunately neither the NPP nor the NDC has demonstrated any commendable height of leadership on this critical matter. The same goes for lack of leadership on the epidemic of Ebola. As it were the political and moral cost of leadership failure to society is enormous, if incalculable, indeed.

Let us try to see the bigger picture. We have the opinion that Ghanas National Reconciliation Commission, an institution patterned after South Africas Truth and Reconciliation Commission, did a good job to prevent the specter of mutual revenge taking hold of public psychology in the lead-up to the Forth Republic. But Soyinka has categorically faulted South Africas Truth and Reconciliation Commission for letting go of men and women who committed crimes against humanity by merely testifying before the Commission and showing remorse. He believes the kind gesture extended to respondents has the tendency to breed impunity in the new South Africa (See his book The Burden of Memory, the Muse of Forgiveness). However, regarding Ghanas, we argue that it will be morally sacrilegious or sensitively hypocritical on the part of any individual to ascribe the aggregate happenings that eventually led to the formation of Ghanas Commission to individual personalities, since the June 4, 1979 Revolution had the full backing of popular sovereignty.

However, we cannot underestimate the force of Soyinkas moral arguments in light of the culture of impunity that has evolved in Ghana. It should interest us to know that this contention may or may not have anything to do with the violence that accompanied the Revolution, given the indebtedness of the latter to the putschism that topped Kwame Nkrumah and to those between. We could stretch the argument to say that Ghanas National Reconciliation Commission, like South Africas Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was raised on a strong moral foundation of humanism, which Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu otherwise labeled Ubuntu. Besides, American-trained intellectuals like Dr. Vincent Kwabena Damuah (later Osofo Okomfo Damuah), founder of the Afrikania Mission, joined the ranks of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), bringing along their humanistic baggage. What did the Revolution achieve in the long run? That is for history and posterity to answer!

The question is: Can humanism co-exist with the corrupt practices of religion and politics? This is not an idle or soluble question. Undoubtedly, the question is philosophically tied to the social marriage between leadership priorities and the prerogatives of community dynamics in the knowledge that leadership failure cannot be easily decoupled from the imposed prerogatives of community dynamics. The moral disconnect between the two, leadership priorities and prerogatives of community dynamics, feeds the embers of mutual repulsion and mutual suspicions. Overall, this is not healthy for Ghanas internal stability and temperamental organization. It also does not reflect well on the integrity of society when a sitting president, a corrupt one at that, is legally mandated to terminate the services of subordinate public officials who run afoul of public trust and constitutional expectations, whilst his train of malfeasances enjoys full protection under the motoric dictatorship of constitutionalism. We make this bold assertion in the light of the constitutional implications of the Indemnity Clause.

Indeed equality before the law is an essential concept. On the other hand, the concept requires the prodding of practical affirmation, not theoretical groping, to establish a moral presence of institutional attestation. It constitutes an exemplar of moral irony when Ghanaian courts impose steep penalties on petty criminals while professional white-color criminals receive lenient pats on their chubby cheeks from milking the state to the tune of millions of dollars. Social gullibility and institutional weakness are partly to blame for the moral problematic of leadership elitism. In fact, the hostile stench of institutional weakness and social gullibility, coupled with the raving spirit and letter of constitutional dictatorship, are responsible for the elitist distance setting ruler and the ruled apart, ruler against the ruled, and so on. The open cracks lodged in elitist distance, an exclusive club for white-color criminals, mostly politicians, are fertile grounds for growing the social seeds of corruption.

Nevertheless, the immortal story of corruption and social inequity is an exceedingly tall, obese, and labyrinthine one. Humanism is thus up against a formidable foe. It still beats the prying imagination of conscientious men and women to see Ghanaian politicians, like their counterparts elsewhere, endlessly engaged in the intoxicating sins of white-color criminality despite the enormous perquisites that accrue from their political responsibilities. Thus, taming the malignancy of corruption will require conscious moments of continuous radical opposition. We employ the word taming in close congress with the moral fight against corruption because corruption, we acknowledge, is ineradicable. It is suppressible at best. Let us face facts. Thus, the kind of fight that must be mounted against the height of entrenchment to which corruption has attained in Ghanaian society could not be simply explained away through cosmetic apologetics. Humanism and public opinion have a difficult task ahead of them.

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Ghanas Many Problems: The Promise of Humanism 2

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October 2nd, 2014 at 1:45 am