Our politics is driven by greed – Archbishop Akwesi Sarpong
By: Daniel Nonor
When the Most Rev. Peter K. Sarpong, Archbishop Emeritus of Kumasi, at an inaugural lecture attempted a diagnosis and verdict on the health of the country’s democratic development and it’s faring on issues of truth and integrity, it was a drink deep or taste not affair.
In the opinion of the near octogenarian, politics in Ghana was dictated by greedy and selfish individuals, whose preoccupation was to milk the state dry, and arrogate to themselves ill-acquired properties at the expense of the poor.
“Our politics is too much dictated by the vices of greed, selfishness and pride. Often, our leaders are never satisfied with their ill-acquired property; they are looking only for what benefits them or those dear to them; and they arrogantly attribute the blessings of the nation to themselves.”
The dwindling values in the country’s body politic, according to Rev. Sarpong, constitute a recipe for disaster, and one which could spell doom for the country’s teething democracy.
“With these dreadful and catastrophic dis-values dominating our political life, the answer to the question, as to how Ghana is faring in the democratic development, must unfortunately, be that the situation is, to say the least, intolerable. Intimidation that breeds tension is surely not what democracy aims at.”
Most Rev. Peter K Sarpong made these observations at the at the freedom power lectures, held at the Coconut Groove Hotel in Accra yesterday. He spoke on the subject, “Truth, integrity and democratic development: how Ghana is faring.”
Again, Rev Sarpong likened the type of peace politicians claim to have brought, to that which exists between the cat and the mouse; the one which has the mouse lying tranquilly in the stomach of the cat.
“But, is that peace? No, it is violence of the worst type,” he opined.
To him, peace was no peace, unless it flowed from, and was based on justice, and certainly not the absence of war. Anything thing less than this, he said, breeds greed, ethnocentrism, selfishness, and pride, distorting this ordering of things in society.
Alas , “there is no doubt that money, power, prestige and false solidarity (professional, religious, ethnic, political, cultural, social, etc.) have been allowed to eat their lethal way into the fabric of our party democratic development and rendered the attempts to rectify the situation a mere charade …”
Touching on varied topics in his delivery, Rev. Sarpong touched on the responsibilities of citizens and their contributions to the political debate.
To him, no citizen can and should run away from the duty of, at least, making suggestions to those who officially manage their affairs.
“If we refuse to do at least that, then we are saying by our attitude that politics is so easy that everybody can do it, or it is so inconsequential that it does not matter who does it!!”
However, he was of the opinion that any individual who decides to actively partake in politics must first do a genuine self assessment to ascertain if the journey to be taken will result in the general good of the people, and not one which is self seeking.
To him, Ghanaians want their leaders to be fair-minded and consistent, clear, even-handed, and judicious.
“They want their political leaders, in the name of God, to sniff favouritism, nepotism, ethnocentrism, and what a temptation that is – to favour the wealthy, attractive, happy, healthy, affirming; nice-looking who make us feel wonderful! That is a great temptation for the political leader.”
He also decried the phenomena of the use of macho men and propaganda, which had gained root in the country’s body politic.
“Does the phenomenon of democracy of macho men not debunk the idea of our having democracy? Does it not give credence to the opinion of those, including myself, who argue that party politics, especially as practised in Africa and other emerging democracies, is a caricature of what true democracy might mean?
“The phenomenon of propaganda which we appear to have uncritically accepted is no less harmful than the democracy of macho men. It operates under the guise of legitimacy to poison the political climate…”
He also called for a paradigm shift from party politics, but said Ghana must strive to maintain the positive elements in the democratic system.
“In place of party politics, I urge that we develop a political system that combines the best in our traditional system of governance, and the best in modern democracy. We have enough human intellectual resources to be able to evolve such a democratic system, devoid of unscrupulous macho men, shameful propaganda, and unnecessary tensions, leading to hostility, enmity and sometimes death. In such a system, the sobriety, the sagaciousness and the political acumen of our forefathers would be made to temper the tyrannical absurdity, the cunning deception, and the incredible intolerance that have become part and parcel of our democratic experience.”
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