This morning, a friend sent me a soundbite. On it I heard a leading member of Occupy Ghana, Mr. Ace Ankomah, say a lot of stuff. Apparently, he’s only a lead vocalist in the choir that’s been singing the same verse since yesterday when this otherwise not-too-important issue came up.
The issue under discussion is whether one Mr. George Andah, a leading Occupier (we’re not sure if he still is), did something inappropriate by putting himself up on the ticket of the opposition NPP to contest the Ewutu Senya West constituency seat.
According to Ace, a criticism of George’s conduct as inappropriate and a subsequent comparison of Occupy Ghana to the now-dozing Committee for Joint Action (CJA) could only be a product of “warped logic”.
I think it’s the other way round – an inability to see the impropriety in George’s conduct and using him as evidence to support the claim that Occupy Ghana is just another CJA in the making, rather, is a product of “warped logic”.
This is not a criminal matter. Strictly speaking, it is not even a legal matter. However, the point I wish to make will better be made using a bit of criminal jurisprudence.
Offences are usually categorised according to the nature of their elements. For example, there is a category of offences called Sexual Offences, the basis of which is sexual acts. This category of offence include rape, indecent assault, unnatural carnal knowledge, etc. There’s a different category of offences which relates to the safety and protection of the living human body. This category includes assault, kidnapping, abduction, etc. This category is called Offences against the Person.
There’s yet another category called Offences Involving Dishonesty. The key element here, of course, is honesty (or want of it). Dishonesty is hinged on the understanding that it is not good to abuse another person’s trust in you.
The beginning point of understanding dishonesty is the hallowed acknowledgement that no person is under an obligation to rest his trust in another, and that no person is entitled to another’s trust as of right. However, a person, say Mr. A, may conduct his affairs in relation to another, say Miss B, in a manner that will lead Miss B to repose her trust in him. In such a case, Mr. A will not be considered as a person who has behaved appropriately, if he abuses the trust of Miss B. Further, Mr. A may, as a result of this breach of trust, earn some benefits; or Miss B may, as a result of Mr A’s breach of her trust, make some losses. In such a situation, we say that Mr. A has been dishonest. He has led Miss B to vest him with her trust only for him to deliberately violate that trust.
Accordingly, stealing, fraud, false pretence, etc. are offences involving dishonesty. A critical look at these items will show that they’re also indices of corruption if they involve a public officer, either as the active party or as the passive party.
So, you see, when we accuse the public officer of corruption, what we’re actually saying is that she’s involved herself, either actively or passively, in a dishonest practice the result of which is a private gain to her or a public loss to us. In other words, we’re actually saying that the public officer has abused our trust in her.
At this point, it may be clear that a huge portion of our problems with the politician is rooted deeply in this important element – dishonesty. Consequently, whether you think that Mr. Woyome is guilty or that his prosecutors, the A-G, deliberately let him (and his other conspirators) off the hook, you’re saying the same thing – they’re both dishonest. They all pretended to be what they’re not and have caused us, the public, huge losses.
Occupy Ghana’s Strength
If Occupy Ghana ever had any strength, it is their claim that they’re a group of neutral persons whose only objective is to seek the good of all of us; it is their posture of purism, non-partisanship and developmental philosophism; it is their claim that they’re this very new group of “middle-class” men and women with no ill-will against government or affection for the opposition. And, to prove this image to the public, they had to physically remove known party members from within their ranks during their July 1 march.
As if that wasn’t enough, any innocuous attempt by anyone to suggest, even remotely, that the membership of the group is more multi-partisan than non-partisan was always met with fierce denial amidst tirades and name-calling. By this sustained defensive conduct, the group (or a part of it) has succeeded in wooing the unsuspecting corridor of the public into their fold. You usually see them in red stuff on Fridays and all.
At least now it is becoming increasingly clear that Occupy Ghana consists of something other than what they have made the unsuspecting public to believe. Persons of all shades, from fingered or exposed fraudsters, through to diehard party foot-soldiers, are all found at the frontline of Occupy Ghana.
Now the Point
Indeed, there’s nothing wrong with a person exercising her political rights to join a political party and contest on its ticked. There’s, equally, nothing inappropriate about forming or joining a civil society group whose aim is to put government on its toes for the betterment of all. In fact, it is not even inappropriate if the group’s sole aim is to bring down a certain government. Such conducts are needed for a stronger democracy. But that is not the point here.
The point here, as it appears to me, involves a question of honesty or lack of it. That is, wooing the trust of people by assuming a purist, non-partisan posture when, in fact, your palms, feet and face are heavily coloured with the colours of a particular party. That, I think, is pretence. That, I believe, is deception. That, I know, does not speak well of someone who has gained popularity, partly, through unbridled criticism of dishonesty in public offices; and, particularly, of someone who claims to be the new thing in town. That’s the logic.
And if you still think this logic is distorted, try answering this question: would we be having this discussion if George was contesting the seat as an independent candidate?