Press statement by the Social Justice Movement of Ghana (SJMG)

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Communique Issued by the Social Justice Movement of Ghana (SJMG) on the  commemoration of the 59th Republic Day

The 24th February 1966 coup d’état: The beginning of Ghana’s socio-economic decline

Exactly 55 years ago today, military/cum police conspirators coordinated and financed by the CIA and British Intelligence carried out a successful overthrow of Ghana’s first President Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah {and the Convention People’s Party (CPP) government} whilst he was on his way through China to Hanoi, Vietnam. The Times (London) said a day after the coup d’état of 24 February 1966, Ghana had “swung back to reliance on the West.” It is now clear to all Ghanaians what reliance on the West has meant for the country.

At the political level, Ghana is described by the West as a beacon of democracy in Africa because we have had, since 1992, the NPP and the NDC passing the baton of government between themselves with the common denominator being the reliance on the West. For the ordinary citizens, it has been a grim and sad experience with very little to show for in terms of their well-being. Neither the NPP nor the NDC have done anything about our reliance on the West whilst they continue to pay lip service to development. Politics has become a money-making business completely out of reach of ordinary people with ministerial positions sold out to the biggest financiers. Ordinary citizens, feeling so marginalised, also scramble for the crumbs that fall-out from the political process when votes are routinely bought during elections. The December 7th elections and the recently held Council of State Elections bear testimony to this.

At the economic level, the World Bank and the IMF regularly release economic data which primarily aim to give the people of Ghana hope but these rarely reflect ordinary people’s lives experiences. According to Bank of Ghana information, Ghana’s total debt as of November 2020 stands at $50.2 billion (external debt is $24.4 billion} of which $10.8 billion was added since the end of 2019. Every single Ghanaian – from a baby to the oldest person – owes about $1,696 (about GHs9,800) but with high levels of unemployment it is clear that the debt burden is unbearable. The major sectors of our economy, the extractive sector (gold, diamond, manganese, bauxite, etc.) are auctioned to the highest bidder as the Agyaapa deal proposed to do. Our factories have been abandoned and cheap imports are the order of the day.

At the social level, the level of crime prevailing in the country today is frightening. From the north to the south, armed criminals are on the rampage. Our hospitals are in a sorry state (except for the extremely rich who can afford private health care) with mothers having to give birth on the bare floor in government hospitals. And when you add the reckless destruction of our environment and water bodies by illegal gold mining (Galamsey), promoted actively directly and indirectly by political office holders, then it is obvious that the country is heading towards a calamity.

On the occasion of the coup d’état on 24th February 1966, it is prudent that the people of Ghana and the youth in particular reflect on why we are where we are today. Major industrial and technological enterprises that Nkrumah had set up were sold to foreign companies and those that were not considered viable were abandoned. Silos, that the Nkrumah government had built as storage facilities for our agricultural products, were left to rot and decay. The policy of import-export substitution industries was abandoned so also was Nkrumah’s dream of a United Africa. It is only 55 years after Nkrumah’s overthrow that has the Africa Union has established the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) and Action Plan for boosting continental trade.

The 24th of February 1966 coup is Ghana’s day of shame because it reversed a clearly well thought out plan to develop the country, unite Africa, end the pillage of Africa’s resources, and ensure that the black person is the master of his/her own destiny. Successive governments have maintained the domination of our economy by foreign interests. The CPP government’s commitment to the industrial development of Ghana is now a forlorn dream. It is not surprising that high unemployment is the nightmare that meets graduates leaving school. Nkrumah’s policy of rapid expansion of educational infrastructure, compulsory basic education and the emphasis on science, technology as well as sports and culture were aimed at producing a well-rounded Ghanaian labour force. The investment in education contributed to the vast expertise of Ghanaians which is now globally recognised. Our health services were expanded and free at the level of delivery. Nkrumah passed the Women’s Political Representation and Affirmative Action, and women were encouraged and supported to serve in the highest organs of government including the National Parliament. The Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute and the Young Pioneers Movement were meant to generate a progressive and nationalistic orientation among Ghanaians.

It is important to acknowledge that in every bold initiative such as was envisaged by Nkrumah and targeted to benefit the majority of citizens, there are always winners and losers. Sections of the feudal aristocracy (chiefs) and privileged classes saw themselves as losers. The dominance of the masses (Veranda boys and girls) in political life and state control of strategic sections of the economy did not sit well with those with vested interests in the status quo. Attempts to assassinate Nkrumah were numerous, ruthless, and daring. An ideological propaganda war combined with widespread dissemination of lies were all coordinated and aimed at weakening and making the government unpopular. There were incidents of corruption brought to the government attention, but Nkrumah took steps to stop the practice. As far back as June 13, 1955, he confronted the issue in his capacity as Prime Minister when he stated in parliament “I have never ceased to condemn bribery and corruption and I have warned that anybody, no matter his rank or office in the party, who shall be found indulging in these vices shall be immediately exposed and punished. We cannot say this about the subsequent ruling elites who have been running Ghana since the overthrow of Nkrumah. They have usurped the state and have exhibited the worst forms of glaring corruption and nepotism.

On the 55th anniversary of Ghana’s day of shame, the youth and people of Ghana must not despair. They should rather look back at their historical legacy and acknowledge that the time has come for Nkrumah’s vision to be realised as the Africa Union has attempted to do albeit in bits and pieces. It is now quite clear that the destiny of the youth and those yet unborn cannot be entrusted to the NPP or NDC. Just look at the recent hullabaloo with the recent Election Petition and the decisions of the Supreme Court. Even if among the political elite there is not even at attempt to appear to promote justice, how do we imagine that ordinary people will ever get justice from our judicial system. History teaches us that Democracies Die when those elected on a democratic platform turn round to use so called democratic processes to stifle democracygo to court. And they do this through appointments, control of news media, the judiciary and in fact all facets of national life. The people of Ghana must not allow dictatorship to return through the backdoor. *

We must organize more than ever but organize differently. We must make sacrifices among ourselves rather than behave like the very political elite we criticise – go into politics for your share of the national cake – because it is the route to disaster. We must build a political movement that belongs to the people and for the people. And in a small way, that is what the Social Justice Movement of Ghana is aiming to do. We want you to join us and organize across the country by setting up branches where you live or work. We are also working with other progressive organisations through the Progressive Alliance for Ghana (PAG) to build a mass democratic party to provide a genuine alternative to the decadence that we have today. We have to work together with all progressive forces, individuals, women’s groups, and those representing people with disabilities, the trade unions and in fact the entire fabric of Ghanaian society to bring about meaningful change. The youth have to take a stand and realise that Ghana belongs to them and must mobilise more than ever before to bring about a just and humane society.

Let us secure our future by coming together in a mass movement to provide an alternative to the NPP/NDC. Together we shall succeed.

Long Live Ghana, Long live the ideals of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah

Issued this day, 24th February 2021

Signed by:

Richard Asueme                Yen Nyeya              Nicholas Atampugre                    Phanuel Ayawli

0543705476                      0200133091            0244784955                      0208850004

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