ADDRESS BY FLT LT JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS, FORMER PRESIDENT AND LEADER OF THE REVOLUTION AT A CADRES FORUM TO COMMEMORATE THE 34TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE JUNE 4 UPRISING MONDAY, JUNE 3, 2013
June 4th, the great day the Armed Forces led this country in a revolt against oppression and corruption. In spite of the many achievements, many setbacks and reversals have also taken place. But for more than a decade now, Ghana appears to have been moving towards an irreversible situation down a tunnel, thanks to Presidents Mills and Kufuor/John II and John III. President Mahama has the responsibility to pull this country out of that tunnel. How well, how far and how soon John IV can achieve that is hard to say.
The international media keep creating the impression that Africa is enjoying an economic upsurge. That is no doubt the case for a tiny minority. The reality for the vast majority is pain and suffering.
Archbishop Tutu very recently made a severe declaration that he will no longer vote for the ANC. The world cannot claim not to know why, nor can we close our minds to the reasons for such a serious indictment. Archbishop Tutu’s declaration speaks to a disease that has gripped most parts of our continent. Since the collapse of the bipolar world and the rise of what has been called the ‘savagery of capitalism’ and the tyrannical use of money, to quote Pope John Paul and Pope Francis, we are suffering the effect of a dislocation between wealth, power and authority.
Not too long ago when the Asantehene called in on me, I quoted another preacher who also made a very serious observation about too much power and too much money being in the hands of a few too many wrong people.
And here in Ghana, we see that Accra the capital is also almost on the verge of losing out to the impunity of foreign domination. While Ghana cannot close it doors to rest of the world, it is important that the relevant institutions and citizens remain vigilant and ensure that every visitor to our country adheres strictly to the laws of our land. If we fail to do so, then in the not too distant future, I truly wonder if the heartbeat of this country will be that of Ghanaians.
Not too long ago, a magazine published a list of Ghanaians who were supposed to be multimillionaires. I was supposed to be the 8th or 9th richest with $50 million. My fellow countrymen, my value as a man of principle and integrity is incalculable. The difference is that in my situation I have never exchanged or sold my conscience or sold my country, my principles, my integrity for money, or destroyed honourable people for money.
Why then will such a false statement about me being a multimillionaire be made? While the statement may be true for most of the others, why add a false statement about Rawlings to that list?
The reason is very simple. There are genuine and hardworking multimillionaires all over the world. But there are also too many criminal multimillionaires who are raping our continent, and Ghana is no exception.
In order to sanitise the concept of being a multimillionaire, distinguished persons whose values are unrelated to money, must be made to also look like multimillionaires in order to make the concept acceptable to people in general.
Being a millionaire, even if ill-acquired, must not be made to look criminal so that such people can enjoy their loot in safety. Therefore if Rawlings is made to appear like a multimillionaire then there is nothing wrong with others also being multimillionaires.
Ghana also has its share of the most vicious and evil-minded millionaires who have been used to destroy not only honourable people but also some of the most economically viable enterprises to feed their selfish greed and sometimes in favour of certain foreign economies.
Countrymen and women, June 4th was about restoring the dignity of the ordinary man and woman and punishing those who openly paraded corruption, those who dispensed favours irregularly and promoted what we used to call ‘bottom power’ in the award of contracts; those who sought to normalise a corrupt way of life in the minds of ordinary people.
In those days, the expressed rage was not by bloodthirsty desperadoes, but ordinary people who wanted decency and a better life for their country and for their families.
If after sanctioning the ultimate punishment of some former leaders — not just to satisfy the popular demand for justice but also to protect the moral fibre of this country — I were to then take advantage of my name and reputation to amass such extraordinary wealth for myself, how could I ever again stand before you on this platform and proclaim the virtues of the June 4th Revolution? How would I plead with you to protect the values of June 4th, to save the country from moral degradation, to protect our children from a future without vision and bold leadership?
Nothing is hidden forever. For instance, I can tell you how the power of attorney from the Bank of Ghana was vested in a top executive of a certain gold mining company, believing that it would be used to protect our precious resource. Little did we know that he was going to use that privilege to enrich himself in foreign banks. It is of course time, that I chronicled some of this history for the nation to know and to understand more fully some of the dark crimes that have been committed against this country.
Countrymen and women, I stand before you here today because I still believe in the values of June 4th, because I still believe in personal sacrifice for the common good, and because now, as much as then, I believe that each one of us can take individual actions that change the course of history. Corruption is not the only way. We don’t have to join the corrupters; collectively they can be exposed.
Tomorrow as we mark June 4th, I ask every man, woman and child in this country to spend a few minutes reflecting on the path the country has travelled since June 4th 1979. Today Ghana is being touted internationally as a success story in Africa, as the world’s next economic tiger. If Ghana is to again become a role model for some other countries in Africa to follow, as it has done already several times in its political history, then let us endeavour to keep our values as a nation intact.
What are the values we espouse? Surely these are the values enshrined in our constitution and embossed in our national anthem. Courageously defending the cause of freedom and of right, cherishing fearless honesty. These are the values that express our honour as a people.
June 4th stood for the restoration of these values. Recently there have been some calls for a new revolution to again restore those values. We do not have to allow the politics of our country to descend to the point where bloodshed and violent revolt become seen as the only means to restore those values. But if we do not clean up our party, restoring power in 2016 will be very difficult.
I take this opportunity to thank the armed forces and security services for the gift of June 4. It is imperative however that the forces remain steadfast, protect and maintain very high standards of discipline required to inspire confidence in the populace.
The scourge of indiscipline that is plaguing our society requires a highly disciplined security service that stays above reproach so it can have the moral authority to maintain law and order and curb the growing lawlessness in society.
Let us demand more from our leaders, including myself, in terms of probity and accountability. Let us protect those values every day in our schools and workplaces by refusing to go along with lying, cheating, thieving and injustice but instead stand up for truth, justice, fairness, respect for each other and love for our beautiful country.
Patriotism is the key to national unity!