Don’t silence dissent – Prof Gyampo to religious leaders

Prof. Ransford Gyampo

A Professor at the University of Ghana, Ransford Yaw Gyampo, has taken on the country’s religious leaders who appear to have a concern with dissentients of government policies and programmes.

He states that dissent is healthy for the survival of multi-part democracy and development.

Prof Gyampo’s opinion was expressed in a write-up on Saturday, September 4 in the wake of comments made by the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Right Reverend Professor Joseph Obiri Yeboah Mante, to the effect that those who are against government’s Agenda 111 – building 111 district and regional hospitals – are witches.

Rt. Rev. Prof. Yeboah Mante had told a gathering at the commissioning of the Assin Praso Presby Hospital in the Central Region on Friday that many Ghanaians have allowed politics to dominate their lives to an extent that they see everything wrong with what their opponents do.

“If someone says he is coming to construct 111 hospitals and you are angry about it, you are a witch. For the pastors who want to exorcise witchcraft, deal with those critics,” he said.

But Prof Gyampo indicates that “dissent is not sinful”.

“It is therefore absolutely unacceptable and undemocratic for revered people of God to use their religious influence to attempt to silence dissent,” he wrote.

“It cannot work in a democracy and when overly pushed, religious reverence may suffer needless partisan and more importantly, societal disrespect. We do not have to get there. Our revered men and women of God must comment on public policies and on matters of partisan politics, in a manner that does not frustrate dissent through harsh judgemental invectives and vituperations.”

Find his full write-up below:

Several great projects have been initiated by the various regimes that have governed Ghana since 1992. But many of such projects have still not been completed and some have been abandoned because of the very bogus and disingenuous practice of policy discontinuity that continue to frustrate our efforts at development.

President Akufo Addo’s Agenda 111 is undoubtedly a commendable initiative that may help to tackle our health needs if completed. But the fact remains that there are some hospitals that were commenced by the previous regime whose completion have either been stalled, delayed or abandoned. Kufuor commenced the affordable housing projects but the NDC that took over from him, under Prof Mills also commenced their own affordable housing project, abandoning the ones initiated by Kufuor. Rawlings purchased the Isuzu Galloper vehicles parked at the Institute of Local Government Studies, which were never used and allowed to rot by the regimes that took over from him.

Agenda 111 may be one of the things President Akufo Addo may want to do for Ghana as part of his legacies. But given our history of policy discontinuities, it is well within the right of any Ghanaian to raise questions, particularly about whether the project may be completed before the President completes his second term. There is nothing sinful and demonic, both religiously and politically about this.

Respectfully, I still hold the view that at this epoch of our development, building a national cathedral, should not be our priority. We may do so later, but not when our hospitals have become death traps and people with kidney diseases are dying because they cannot afford the cost of dialysis. Regardless of what our revered men of God say in support of the cathedral, this is my view and indeed, the view of many other Ghanaians, that must never be stifled by any religious propaganda.

There is no way religion can be used to silence voices of dissent in any democracy. Dissent is not sinful. It is healthy for the survival of multiparty democracy and development. He who is cutting a path would not know if his back is crooked. Through constructive dissent, (not cynicism) pitfalls of projects and governmental actions are exposed for introspection and redress.

It is therefore absolutely unacceptable and undemocratic for revered people of God to use their religious influence to attempt to silence dissent. It cannot work in a democracy and when overly pushed, religious reverence may suffer needless partisan and more importantly, societal disrespect We do not have to get there. Our revered men and women of God must comment on public policies and on matters of partisan politics, in a manner that does not frustrate dissent through harsh judgemental invectives and vituperations.

We all cannot be forced to think alike. Society crumbles the day dissent is ousted. So, let the government be focused on what it wants to do and let those who want to dissent, freely do so. Should there be wisdom in dissent, it must be taken on board. Should there be nothing sensible in dissent, it should remain as dissent, in the spirit of democracy.

Yaw Gyampo
A31, Prabiw Street
PAV Ansah Street
Saltpond
&
Suro Nipa House
Kubease
Larteh-Akuapim

By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh|3news.com|Ghana