Former President John Dramani Mahama is back. He’s on the Judiciary’s back this time. The former President has launched a stinging attack not only on Ghana’s judicial system, but also on the Chief Justice, as he always does. He has taken the Chief Justice to task, implying that he is the leader of a failed organization that needs to be saved. This adds to what appears to be the Former President’s recent sustained attacks on state institutions.
Mr. Mahama attacked the EC boss, Mrs. Jean Mensa, on Kumasi-based New Mercury FM during his ‘Thank You’ tour in the Ashanti Region in 2021, without provocation, saying the commission refused to accept the NDC’s post-2020 electoral reform proposals. In what appears to be a derogatory and demeaning remark from the former president, she attacked the head of the Electoral Commission.
“Since this woman was appointed, it feels like she is on a warpath with the NDC. This EC Chairperson has said the NDC is the biggest threat to the country,” he claimed without mentioning where the EC boss made the purported statement against his party.
He then asked rhetorically “Do you think such a person can ensure neutrality between parties? It is obvious they (EC) have a certain prejudice against NDC. Whenever we suggest anything, they rubbish
Such has been the Former President’s attitude toward the Electoral Commission, the very body tasked with overseeing elections in the country, and one that he looks to to declare him President if he finds favor with the electorate in the 2024 election, which he is lacing his boots to contest.
As a result, it is not surprising to hear the Former President attack the judiciary without remorse. It’s becoming his specialty. Attacking state institutions and their leaders without evidence Footsoldiers, like a pedestrian commentator, jumping on the bandwagon to go on an attack spree. The former president has not only been pedestrian, but he has taken over his party communicators’ work, which may be failing him miserably.
The Former President is said to have made these remarks during a conference of Party Lawyers.
“Recently, so badly has the image of our judiciary deteriorated that many of our citizenry openly make mockery of our justice system and of our justices. The phrase ‘go to court’ is these days met with derisive laughter instead of hope that one will truly get justice if he went to the court.”
Is this why the Former President tacitly ‘urged’ his supporters to take to the streets after the 2020 election and lost his Supreme Court case? Was the Supreme Court image intact when he won the New Patriotic Party’s election petition in 2013? Is he just a bitter loser who can’t get over his heartbreak? If the former president is interested, his comments are undermining his character and feeding into the minds of his supporters.
He added is him statement at the conference that “If people are not poking fun about politics and inducement being used to sway the hand of justice in the Lower Courts then it is poking fun and making statements about the 7:0 of the unanimous FC, verdicts which mostly involve cases of a political nature in our Supreme court, this is an unfortunate but serious development.
So, does the Former President, by repeating these remarks at the NDC lawyers’ conference, believe in it as well, or did he just make the point to appease his support base? Is he feeding his supporters’ fears by portraying himself as a strong man? Perhaps the Former President will benefit greatly from leading his followers down the path that builds rather than the path that destroys. His actions have only contributed to a perception that pits the NDC against the judiciary. With the baggage of history not on the NDC’s side against the Judiciary, this may be a road to avoid.
Other parts of his statement reads as follows “It is scary because it threatens the peace and stability of our democracy and we must quickly correct this fast spreading notion. If care is not taken, we will get to a state where people will have no qualms about taking the law into their own hands because they do not have the confidence that they can get any justice in the system.
“Unfortunately, we have no hope that the current leadership of our judiciary can lead such a process of change, we can only hope that the new Chief Justice will lead the process to repair the broken image that our judiciary has acquired over the last few years.”
This is truly terrifying. With Ghana’s democracy spiraling downwards into a “two-party state,” such remarks by the former president do not bode well for the country’s growth and cohesion. Such statements are concerning for the 30 year democracy that we have enjoyed. It is risky for the Former President to suggest that judges who are supposed to rule according to law and arguments advanced by lawyers are supposed to sway rulings in favor of a party simply to create fairness and equity.
Is the Former President unaware that cases are decided based on the arguments presented and what the law says? In the face of separation of powers and institutional independence, I find these attacks on the judiciary to be disingenuous, condescending, and without merit. The mere fact that you present a case to the court does not imply that you deserve to win.
Is the sustained attack by the NDC leadership an organized agenda to demonize the judiciary, feeding into the public perception of a grand scheme of political mission? If that is the case, it is a weak agenda because, aside from convincing the party base and possibly bolstering party lawyers to feel aggrieved whenever a decision does not go in their favor, it gives them an avenue to attack Judges without any cause.
Perhaps the Former President and the NDC party leadership should reflect on why they are underperforming rather than projecting their failure onto state institutions and demeaning them in order to gain public sympathy. They are most likely to gain sympathy from their party’s base, which is to be expected.
Perhaps the party lacks ‘strong’ lawyers, or they consistently present weak arguments. Has the party considered their performance, or will they continue to act like a ‘only child’ who always cries for everything?
Shifting Goal Post and Blame Game?
The National Democratic Congress and the former President have blamed the Electoral Commission and the Supreme Court for the failure to win the 2020 presidential election. I’m sure they’ll take advantage of every opportunity. The best institution in Ghana when they win power is the Electoral Commission. Perhaps there is an antidote to the opposition’s tendency to attack the electoral commission. While the electoral commission cannot be perfect, the former president’s pious attitude is concerning.
If you ask the former president and the NDC what their electoral score were in 2016 and 2020, they will not give you a number or percentage. Nonetheless, they went to court to challenge the Electoral Commissioner’s announcement. The NDC has been unable to collate their election results, at least not satisfactorily, on two consecutive occasions, yet they claim victory in each election without any basis.
The general election in 2024 is about two years away, and it will be fiercely contested by the usual NPP and NDC. With the NPP nearly finished with internal elections, all eyes will be on the NDC, which has yet to elect national officers. The election for national executives is already heating up, with the General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, and Chairman Ofosu Ampofo vying for the position of National Chairman.
Perhaps the NDC’s flagbearer for the 2024 election is not in doubt; despite his image, he comes across as the best person to lead the largest opposition party. After leading the party to two consecutive successful defeats, the adrenaline is pumping and you may want to reclaim power, but not by undermining state institutions.
Dragging state institutions through the mud in the process does not purify them, but rather feeds the feeble minds that resort to insults and demeaning the institutions.
Overall, it should not be lost on the former president that attacking state institutions and leaders, even if done for the better, does not guarantee the victory he seeks in his future flagbearer and presidential ambition.
By: Kennedy Opoku who is a Ghanaian Journalist and the Deputy Editor of TheGhanaianVoice.Com. Kennedy holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies (Journalism major) from the Ghana Institute of Journalism.