Panafrican News Agency

Ghana: Media report workers’ demonstrations, anniversary of late president Mills

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – The Ghanaian media this week reported a series of demonstrations to protest against the never-ending economic challenges, the second anniversary of the death of President John Evans Atta Mills and a controversial tweet by the US embassy in Accra.

“Workers demand action now to fix economy”, was the headline of the state-owned Graphic as the demonstrations rocked the country on Thursday.

It said thousands of workers took to the streets of the national capital, Accra, and all regional capitals on Thursday to protest against the harsh economic conditions.

It said the workers, who were joined along the way by market women, students and drivers, chanted, danced and blew vuvuzelas to show their anger at the current economic conditions.

Clad in red shirts with red armbands, they carried placards with various inscriptions drawing attention to the economic and social challenges and demanding action to solve them.

It said the demonstrations were largely peaceful. In Accra, about 800 police personnel were deployed at various intersections along the route.

The secretary general of the Trades Union Congress, Mr. Kofi Asamoah, presented a petition to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu.

The petition said: “The protestations are necessary in order to draw the attention of the government to the dire economic and social conditions facing the majority of citizens and the need for urgent measures to alleviate the hardships.”

The state-owned Ghanaian Times reported the event under the headline “Nationwide demos!”

The story said organised labour on Thursday staged a massive demonstration through the principal streets of Accra in protest against what they described as harsh economic conditions in the country.

It said amidst brass band music and blowing of vuvuzelas, the demonstrators were heavily guarded by about 800 police and other security personnel.

The Times said Mr. Asamoah read a petition on behalf of organised labour which expressed concern about the fast depreciating local currency, the cedi, and urged the government to do something about it.

He also raised a number of concerns such as the folding up of businesses, high cost of living and doing business, high interest and inflation rates and unemployment.

Earlier on Monday, the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union staged a demonstration in Tema, the industrial city some 25 kms east of Accra, while some communities in Accra also marched in protest against the poor condition of roads in their areas.

The Graphic story on those demonstrations was under the headline “Demonstrations rock Accra, Tema.”

It said two workers groups and six communities in the Greater Accra region on Monday staged separate demonstrations against what they termed as poor economic conditions in the country.

While the two groups – the railway workers in Accra and the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) in Tema – protested against poor conditions of service and high cost of living, the six communities, near Ablekuma in Accra, took to the streets to express their frustrations to the government over the deplorable nature of their roads.

The organiser of the Unionised Workshop of the Railway Workers Union, Mr. Kwesi Mbiah, said the action of the railway workers was a way of making their concerns known to the government.

In Tema, members of the ICU took to the streets as a way of exerting pressure on the government to deal with the economic decline.

The Ghanaian Times in their story under the headline “ICU rocks Tema with demo”, reported that about 1,000 workers belonging to the ICU on Monday took part in a peaceful demonstration in the industrial city of Tema against the harsh economic situation in the country.

The general secretary of the ICU, Mr. Solomon Kotei, in a petition to the government through the Metropolitan Chief Executive of Tema, Mr. Isaac Odamtten, said that for some time now, the economy had been left in shambles.

It said some of the causative factors could be attributed to bad and unworkable monetary and fiscal policies which only tended to look for ad hoc rather than permanent solutions to the problems.

“Atta Mils remembered”, was the headline of the Graphic on the second anniversary of the passing of President Mills.

It said a solemn, non-denominational service was held in Accra on Thursday to mark the occasion.

President John Dramani Mahama, vice president Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, former president Jerry John Rawlings, Mills' widow, Naadu, family members, many dignitaries from the government and some political parties and people from all walks of life attended.

It said the officiating clergyman, Rev. Nii Amoo Darko, paid tribute to President Mills for being “a man of peace” even when he lived as “the most insulted President in the history of the country”.

He said the fact that President Mills took the insults in his stride testified to his God-fearing traits.

“President Mills loved God and his country. President Mills bore the fruits of the spirit of love, kindness and forgiveness.”

The Ghanaian Times reported the story under the headline “Ex-Pres Atta Mills remembered”.

The Graphic, in a story under the headline “US Embassy tweet courts controversy”, reported that on 17 July, President Mahama, in typical fashion, used social media to communicate the need for Ghanaians to make sacrifices in these challenging times, as there was light at the end of the tunnel.

He tweeted on his site @JD Mahama, "As a people, we have had to make sacrifices. I wish to assure you that the results of these sacrifices would begin to show very soon."

The Graphic said shortly after, a response came from the US Embassy’s official handle, which stated, “And what sacrifices are you making? Don't tell me that pay cut."

This was in apparent reference to the 10 per cent pay cut by the President and his ministers to serve as an example of the sacrifices members of the Executive were making towards efforts at overcoming the economic challenges facing the country.

“The tweet from the US Embassy elicited fierce responses and condemnation from some state officials, who felt the Embassy was unduly interfering in the politics of the country and showing disrespect to the President,” the Graphic reported.

It said the Embassy came up with an apology and shifted blame onto one of its officials for the blunder.

It tweeted: “The earlier errant tweet was a private message mistakenly sent out on our account. The views expressed in no way reflect the views of the United States Government or the US Embassy.”

“We have apologised to the President and we offer an apology to the Ghanaian people."

The Graphic said Ms Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who felt the US Embassy was only trying to find lame excuses for the rude tweet, asked why the Embassy wanted to extricate itself from a tweet coming from its official account.
-0- PANA MA/VAO 26July2014