Read ex-President Jerry Rawlings's written address at the 39th June 4 anniversary celebration in Accra below.
ADDRESS BY H.E. FLT LT JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS AT THE 39TH ANNIVERSARY DURBAR OF THE JUNE 4 UPRISING
MONDAY JUNE 4, 2018
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for braving the odds to converge here. Mondays are busy working days and your presence here defines what you stand for and confirms your commitment to the values we celebrate today.
Thirty-nine years ago today the people of Ghana rose up against a decade that led to the country’s decay, brought it to its knees and led to Ghana being described as a collapsed state.
Many do not remember that the whole country was crying for an end to the decadence that had engulfed the country. Many do not remember that though the uprising was led by the ranks and junior officers, it was successful because the mass of the people was spiritually supportive in ensuring that June 4 happened, to give the country a new lease of life.
June 4, 1979 and 31st December 1981 were not about individuals or a small group of people. They came about as a result of a deterioration of all that Ghana stood for. The freedom and justice that we so proudly tout as our national motto had been lost on us. The ‘house-cleaning’ exercise that occurred in 1979 led to many sacrifices. Sacrifices that today some choose to distort for their selfish political ends.
I speak of the history of June 4 because it stood for the restoration of the values of freedom and justice, probity and accountability, transparency and integrity and a dedication to the truth.
Unfortunately, we have consistently distorted the history of June 4 and 31st December mainly for parochial reasons. There is no doubt that our political rivals and a few of our original comrades have played their part in the distortion by authoring books and telling stories that deliberately lie about the circumstances that led to the eruption. However, a great deal of the distortion of facts concerning the history that eventually gave birth to our party the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has come from our own, from within.
Some people with deeply malicious motives within our party have over the past 12 years especially, consistently spewed falsehood about our own history and attempted to downplay the story of June 4. Indeed, many of these personalities have shamelessly disassociated themselves from our history in a bid to create the impression that it is a blot on the image of the party. It is that suicidal tendency that has brought us to where we are today.
Today, the social democratic credentials that gave birth to the party are lost on many of us. Our party has almost become a clone of what the other side used to be. Elitism and gross display of affluence have almost engulfed us and as I stated in 2017, we are still at the crossroads.
Ladies and gentlemen, June 4 represents a force that cannot be erased. June 4 is not about the semantics of probity, accountability, freedom, justice, truth and integrity. It is about a unified force and power that can move mountains. It is a force that defies negativity and revolves on a fulcrum of ordinary people’s power. It was the energy that led to the eruption of 1979. That energy was like the force of a gas explosion ignited by the gross disrespect and abuse of people to the point where the bottled up anger exploded in full force and took no prisoners.
As our party attempts to pick up the pieces of what led to our deplorable loss in 2016 we have once again decided to employ the same tactics that led to us losing power. Some are still sponsored to denigrate those who are bold to speak the truth. Some aspiring candidates are abused by some national executives who are supposed to be non-aligned at least publicly, elections at the grassroots are fraught with complaints of varying degrees and we are still pursuing an agenda that further alienates us from the core values of why we exist.
Ironically the party that was seen as elitist and detached from the grassroots rather associated itself with the grassroots to win the last elections while we chose the elitist route and lost miserably.
The NDC needs to rise up from the ashes of 2016. But for us to be able to take the first steps to a resurgence, we have to be ready to defend and practice the social democratic principles that define who we are supposed to be. We cannot continue to celebrate opulence and mediocrity and count ourselves as a viable alternative to the current government.
When we make reference to unity, it should not be a parochial agenda aimed at marketing some individuals. The unity drive should be all-encompassing, driven by the passion and desire to repair the cracks that led to 2016. A unity drive should not further widen the cracks and alienate many of the valuable talent we have in the party that can help to elevate it back to the heights that our rivals were envious of. Potential candidates deserve to be treated with respect and equity. Our backbone were the grassroots, the youth and millions of women out there who were given the opportunity to serve their country in diverse ways thanks to the efforts and painful sacrifices of many of our comrades including Nana Konadu Agyeman.
The survival of the NDC is not hinged on individuals. It is not hinged on Jerry Rawlings. It is hinged on the core values that the theme for today refers to. If we do not re-embrace the values and continue to pay lip service to it but practice the exact opposite, we will deceive ourselves into further embarrassing defeats.
Our rivals in government have their own challenges. Doubts have been raised about transparency in the issuance of certain contracts, questions have been raised about the size of government and its potential effect to the national purse, there are concerns about the commitment to anti-corruption as attempts are made by one or two individuals to counter potentially damaging undercover investigations.
Ladies and gentlemen, when we had the chance we made an outcast of one our own, allowing our rivals to recognize his true worth and offer him such a sensitive national anti-corruption role. What does that make of us?
In spite of all these issues let us as a party not overlook the challenges plaguing our party. If we forget to clean our house well and spend our energies only attacking our rivals it will not portend anything positive for our future.
I call on the youth of our party to strive to be different. I urge you to educate yourselves about the core values of the party. Those values are not about Rawlings. Men and women sacrificed their lives to give meaning to these values. Our youth are the future of the party, the future of the values of what we stand for. Our youth have to rise above factionalism created by some to perpetuate their own agenda. Factionalism and intolerance of potential rivals will lead to disunity instead of the unity we clamour for.
Ladies and gentlemen, when we speak of factionalism let me repeat here as I conclude, that Jerry John Rawlings is not a faction and will never be. Love me or hate me, but for our party to survive, the core values of what I stand for have to be respected and embraced. I am what I am because of those values. And the NDC rose to national relevance due to those values. Re-organizing towards those core values is the best bet towards our resurgence.
Thank you and God bless us all.
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