Financial Analyst, Sydney Casely-Hayford, has described as “useless” and “stupid”, respectively, the 1979 and 1981 coups staged by Flt Lt. Jerry Rawlings.
Rawlings’ Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) was the government of Ghana from June 4, 1979 to September 24, 1979. It railroaded its way into power through a bloody takeover that toppled another junta – The Supreme Military Council.
Almost two years after handing over the country to civilian rule, Rawlings returned on December 31, 1981 under the aegis of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) and deposed President Hilla Limann.
Rawlings’ first coup attempt was foiled in May 15, 1979. In total, he orchestrated three coups of which two were successful.
After ruling as a military dictator for close to eleven years under the PNDC regime, Rawlings stood for democratic elections in 1992 and 1996 and won both.
Speaking at an economic symposium organised by the Today Newspaper on the topic: ‘The public wage bill, labour agitations and the falling cedi’ which discussed whether Ghana’s economy was on the brink of collapse, Casely-Hayford, ascribed the country’s current economic woes to the disruption of economic activities by various coups in the past.
He described General I. K. Acheamapong’s coup against Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia’s Government in 1972 as “a total waste of my time in my life”, and said: “Then after that we had the ‘79 coup; an equally useless event. No need for that to happen. Then when we finished, we had the even more stupid event of 1981 coup…that was a waste of our time. Total waste of our time and it disrupted our economy so much to the point that even today as we sit, the reason why we are talking about the falling cedi is because of the lack of confidence we have in the political economy and the way it can be managed and the way it is being managed.”
According to him, “if you haven’t lived the history, it’s difficult, but for those of us who have seen it come and go, those of us who have been in a position where the only thing you could buy in the market was yellow cassava, you couldn’t get any food in the market because Rawlings and his people went to beat the women in Makola, burnt the place down. The Makola women have never recovered since.”
In his view, “what was considered good warehousing and retailing schemes and good distributions mechanisms, we put the whole thing together and called it ‘kalabule’, and the minute we called it ‘kalabule’, we lost the whole essence of what market economies do. So nnow anybody who bought a tin of sardine for 20 pesewas and sold it for 25 pesewas, you were a thief. It’s ‘kalabule’ and so you were arrested. Some people were beaten and left. Some people were taken to the Castle and their heads were shaved with bottles. It was terrible, the atrocities that we have had to endure in this country and I don’t know how we have managed to have carry on like that.”