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International Socialism, Winter 1966/7


A Correspondent in Ghana

[The ‘New’ Ghana]


From International Socialism, No.27, Winter 1966/67, pp.6-7.
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


A correspondent in Ghana writes: The sorrow expressed by Harley, Commissioner of Police and Deputy Chairman of Ghana’s ruling National Liberation Council, at the news of the South African Prime Minister’s assassination is indicative of the direction the ‘New Ghana’ is taking. Since 24 February last, when the Nkrumah regime was ousted in a near-bloodless coup, Ghana has been fast moving in a rightward direction. Socialists do not have to engage in white-washing the CPP Government to be concerned at current developments in Ghana, and indeed in other parts of West Africa. One of a series of military coups that have taken place in Upper Volta, Togoland, Dahomey, Nigeria and Congo Kinshasa, Ghana’s police/army putsch represents a setback to the advancement of socialism and unity in Africa. Despite the corruption, sycophancy, nepotism, erosion of personal liberties and demagogy of the Nkrumah period, militants on the African continent, however mistaken in their views, looked to Ghana as a beacon, as a force in the front-line in the struggle against neo-colonialism.

Since 24 February, the baby and the bathwater have gone with a vengeance. Though, of course, accurate figures are not available, it is reasonable to surmise that the number of people held in ‘preventive detention’ (previously called ‘preventive custody’) exceeds the number of political opponents incarcerated in Nkrumah’s gaols. Laying the blame for Ghana’s undoubted economic ills at the door of the old regime rather than at that of the main culprits (current world cocoa prices – accounting for two thirds of Ghana’s exports – are one third of the 1957 level, while foreign-owned gold, diamond and bauxite mining firms and trading companies are making record profits), the governing NLC is bent on a policy of retrenchment – unemployment is estimated to treble by the end of 1966. The doors have been flung wide open to European and American capital and a procession of would-be investors are wined and dined at the expense of the Ghanaian workers, while the USA welcomes Ghana into the fold of the ‘free nations’ with PL 480. The unilateral abrogation of long-term contracts with the USSR and Eastern European countries has resulted in rising prices of imported foodstuffs (Ghana is far from self-supporting in food production) as Western goods replace those from the East. With the expulsion of Soviet technicians and advisers, a Russian-bought fishing fleet lies rusting in Tema port while the shortage of fresh and smoked fish becomes acute. State construction and industrial corporations are to be sold off at knock-down prices and Ghana’s emerging middle class is cock-a-hoop. The immediate post-coup euphoria is beginning to fade as the cost of living soars at an ever increasing rate and the date of the promised return to civilian rule is being pushed further back. The regime’s disregard, suspicion and contempt for the views of ordinary people is amply demonstrated by talk of the virtues of a no-party, ‘a-political’ regime and the return to positions of influence of politicians such as Busia who belonged to the discredited elitist United Party.

Despite the flurry of publicity when the return to freedom of the press was announced, recent decrees lay down penalties of £250 and/or one year’s imprisonment for the dissemination of ‘false reports and rumours,’ while, under the much heralded return to the ‘rule of law,’ people can be arrested and held indefinitely without charges preferred against them.

In its relations with other African countries, Ghana is now firmly lined up with the reactionary bloc of Ivory Coast, Senegal, Ethiopia and Malawi, reserving a special hatred for Sekou Touré’s Guinea. Also, the Ghana TUC announced its withdrawal from the AATUF (independent of both the WFTU and ICFTU) in which it was the moving force in the struggle for a united and militant African Labour movement. In its relations with the Soviet Bloc countries, Ghana recently expelled the Cuban Embassy, while relations with China are strained near to breaking point over alleged ‘Red Guard’ incidents at Accra Airport. With the power of the present regime resting uneasily on a combination of the tacit support of a majority of the population and the active support of an efficient military machine, the situation is extremely unstable but it is difficult to see how an effective opposition to the military dictatorship can develop. A return to the programme of the discredited CCP is ruled out, and the development of a politically conscious movement based on the urban working class and pledged to socialist alternatives will be a long and difficult task.

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