… Kum Yen Preko Demonstrators Reveal
Yesterday’s demonstration by political parties, professional groups and trade unions, brought out some interesting, but serious issues of interest to Ghanaians, especially tax related.
It emerged during the protest that the Luxury Cars tax slapped on vehicles with high engine capacity by Akufo-Addo government, has affected toilet trucks.
One of the drivers was forced to abandon his daily activities of pulling human excreta from homes and public toilets to take part in yesterday’s demonstration driving his truck alongside other commercial vehicle drivers some of whom also had issues with both the luxury cars tax and the prices of petrol and petroleum products in the country.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, had in July last slapped taxes on cars with engine capacity of 3.0 litres and above. They are attracting between GHS1000 and GHS2000.
Interestingly, expensive Range Rover and some Toyota Land Cruisers, which are classified as luxury vehicle are not affected by the luxury car tax passed in because there are most below 2.5 engine capacities, hence exempted.
The inconsistencies in the classification of the vehicles seen as luxury, has been part of the complaints of both car owners and garage operators, with calls on government to withdraw the tax.
Indeed, some of the complainants had wanted to take part in the demonstration yesterday until a last minute meeting and assurance from Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta to review the tax in his midyear budget which is slated for July 31, 2019.
The demonstration dubbed “Kum yɛnprɛko” saw thousands of members of the Coalition for Social Justice in the streets of Accraregistering their displeasure over what they termed as ‘severe hardship’ in the country under Akufo-Addo administration.
The protesters asked President Akufo-Addo, to act immediately by stopping the various forms of lawlessness and attacks on the media.
Groups participating in the demonstration include the Minority caucus in Parliament, the Greater Accra Market Women Association, the Concerned Drivers Union, True Drivers Union, Free Media Vanguard, Coalition for National Sovereignty, Disgruntled Menzgold Customers and the Unpaid Customers of Gold Coast Fund Management.
These groups among other things, raising concerns about what they term as the general state of insecurity in the country, attacks against press freedom and economic hardships, among others.
One of the demonstrators said, “Ghanaians are tired with the current administration and the only way we can send the strong signals is to demonstrate because when we say something they don’t listen.”
Another protestor said, “we are here to tell Akufo-Addo that if he can’t govern the country, we should resign before 2020 because Ghanaians have had enough of his incompetence.”
Ahead of the demonstration, the participants converged at the Obra Spot waiting for directions for their route.
Lead Organiser of the demonstration, Bernard Mornah, told the media the demonstration has been triggered by hardships in the country coupled with attacks on the media.“The crowd is mammoth, you cannot even get a place to put your legs,” said one reporter on the grounds.
One of the organizers, the National Communication Officer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Sammy Gyamfi, has said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) made utopian promises ahead of the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections which could hoodwink even dwarfs, and those promises were only meant to deceive Ghanaians to vote for the NPP.
He told the demonstrators that, “They promised you One District-One Factory, One Village-One Dam, US$1m per constituency, and several others. Let me ask you: have you received your dams and factories?”
He added: “Dr Bawumia spoke a lot about the performance of the cedi under the NDC but what has he done as the Vice-President? Nothing.
“Ghanaians have sold their coloured televisions for a black-and-white TV by voting against the NDC and they have all regretted.”
At the same demonstration organised by the Coalition for Social Justice, the Women Organiser of NDC, Dr Hanna Bissiw, described the Akufo-Addo government as a “corrupt” and “wicked” administration which has cowed journalists and stolen media freedom in Ghana.
Dr.Bissiw, told the media that the meanness of the Akufo-Addo government, has entrenched insecurity and fear among journalists, whom, she claimed, can no longer speak and work in freedom.
“We’re protesting against the hardship, the insecurity in our country, the thievery in our country, the corruption in our country, the cluelessness of the government we have in place”, she told the reporter.
“Now, when you say the president is corrupt or the government is corrupt, you guys [media] say it’s an allegation.
“Your media freedom has been stolen, so, now you people are even afraid to get the very opinion of Ghanaians.
“I want to remind you that per the president’s stolen speech at his inauguration day, he said we should be citizens and not spectators. So, the media, start working as citizens; stop the ‘fear fear’ things.
“This is a corrupt government, this is a wicked government, this is a mean government, that’s why taxes are high: there’s toilet tax, borla tax. Today, markets are collapsing, today the education system is down, the security in this country is also no more. What we are saying is that we want our security back, and you the press, you’re those who inform us, we want your freedom back”, she demanded.
Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwawho took part in the protest which also saw people registering their displeasure in what they say is growing intolerance and bad governance being witnessed under President Akufo-Addo’s administration said that “The total disregard for the views of the masses, the massive corruptions, the CDD report, and 9.6 billion cedis has been lost. All of these myriads of bad governance, incompetence, corruption, ineptitude, intolerance and attacks on dissent and free expression is why I am here to join the Kum Ye Preko demonstration,”
“Clearly, it is bad. This has been a disaster of a government and we will not wait to the end of 2020. Look at what they tried to do with the new parliamentary chamber and playing hanky-panky with us.We must show this government that the people of this country will rise up and protest against misrule, bad governance, intolerance and total ineptitude,” he told Starr News Sefanam Agbogbli who was marching with the demonstrators.
Lead Organiser of the demonstration, Bernard Mornah told the media the demonstration had been triggered by the hardships in the country coupled with attacks on the media, the latest was the arrest and alleged torture of Deputy Editor of online news portal, MordenGhana, Emmanuel Ajarfor Abugri and his colleague by operatives of Ghana’s National Security setup.
“Today, all these abuses are happening under his watch and the man isn’t even speaking to the issues. That’s what is most shocking and amazing. It is bizarre that all these things are happening and the president will not find the time, he will not stop globetrotting and address these major security concerns,” Ghana’s former Deputy Interior Minister James Agalga cried out.
General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) John Asiedu Nketia said the party joined the demonstration partly because of the abuses on journalists.
“Democracy is about freedom of speech and we have a democracy where even the right to speak now is being sole-sourced. Somebody decides which radio station should operate and which shouldn’t operate. Somebody decides what media personnel should say and what will land them into trouble if they said so. So, we think that the state of our democracy is deteriorating and we must wake up,” he said.
Another demonstrator told GhOne TV that: “Look at the unprecedented situation the media is going through, journalists being killed and others having to run away and hide in certain countries. I have lived in this country for a while and I have not seen this before that a media man will go and hide somewhere. We are living in unprecedented times.”
Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, National Chairman of the NDC, who spoke at protest asked the Akufo-Addo-led government to confess to miserably failing and clear off for a more competent government to rule if they are overwhelmed.
According to him, the current government has failed to fulfill their campaign promises, including the pledge to fix ‘dumsor’.
He said it’s time for Ghanaians to give a clear message to government that ‘enough is enough’ especially because they have failed to show interest and sensitivity to people in this country.”
“Nana Addo is not showing any interest and sensitivity to the people of this country. He promised that he will protect the purse of this country and let us see the reckless spending that are going on. He is gallivanting all around chartering aircraft when the good people of this country, even common water to drink has become a problem. We are still experiencing ‘dumsor’, unemployment is on the rise and several other things,” he said
“We want to send a clear signal that the time has come for Ghanaians to be citizens as he indeed indicated we are not just going to be spectators but to be active citizens and send a clear message to the Akufo-Addo/ Bawumia government that enough is enough and that is why you are seeing the people pouring into the streets. “
“… If they cannot rule, if they cannot exercise the mandate that the good people of this country has given them they should just clear off for a more competent and humane government to take over the affairs of this country, he added.
The MP for Sagnarigu A.B.A Fuseini, who took part in the demonstration insists Ghanaians are surely going to vote out the Akufo-Addo-led government due to the recent hardship and insecurity in the country in the 2020 general elections.
According to him, Nana Addo, has failed Ghanaians in many ways and has been ‘rejected’ by citizens.
He said, “Today’s demonstration is to tell the President, Nana Akufo-Addo that Ghanaians have rejected him and rejected him flat and by the grace of Allah come December 7th 2020 he will be uprooted like cassava.”
The MP went on to add that Ghanaians are facing so much hardship that they no longer enjoy the liberties that they took for granted during former President Mahama’s administration.
“Look at the level of armed robbery, kidnapping, killings under this government in the face of excruciating hardship where Ghanaians cannot even afford a square meal a day. This was a government that has promised so much to the people of this country. Now, look at the gap between the promise and delivery; zero,” he bemoaned.
According to A.B.A Fuseni, Akufo-Addo’s government is the most nepotistic government in the history of the country “where family members and cronies and friends are eating up the resources of the country and the vast majority are condemned to live a life of poverty. This is totally unacceptable”.
On Monday, former President John Mahama, declared his support for the March on Facebook, but did not take part in the demonstration.
“Our country is on the downward trend, with an unbearable increase in the cost of living; the citizenry doesn’t feel safe and yet Government continues to oppress and intimidate the people including journalists.
“This state of affairs is a threat to our democracy especially as the moral society remain unconcerned and surprisingly silent on the developments in our country, Ghana, adding “I welcome, endorse and I encourage all to step out tomorrow and join the #Kumy3npr3ko demonstration organized by the Coalition for Social Justice.
“There is a lot of pent-up anger among Ghanaians and it’s beginning to manifest even among the security services. This manifestation gives all the allied groups participating in it, the opportunity to vent. It is in our country’s interest that we speak out and demonstrate our disapproval of the Akufo-Addo style of leadership, which has visited unprecedented hardships on Ghanaians,” he wrote.