Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Editor-in-Chief of the Insight newspaper, has extolled the respective contributions of Lawyer Akoto Ampaw and Dr Charles Wereko-Bobby, some of the members of the group Alliance for Change, in the run-up to the mammoth anti-government protests, “Kume Preko” in 1995.
Pratt Jnr. told Paul Adom-Otchere on Good Evening Ghana (GEG) last Thursday that, the private legal practitioner, Akoto Ampaw and Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby were known for writing statements for the group, Alliance for Change.
He described Akoto Ampaw as someone with a “super brain” with huge “intellectual capacity”.
“To be honest with you, most of our statements was (sic) crafted by Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobbey. Akoto Ampaw also played a key role in putting together statements. I have worked with many people, but of all the people I have worked with, Akoto Ampaw is a super-brain, his intellectual capacity is huge.”
“Akoto Ampaw managed to combine real activism with his intellectual work,” the journalist added.
Kwesi Pratt Jnr. also wondered if Wereko-Brobbey aka Tarzan, sleeps at all.
“Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby was the workhorse of the movement. He will work non-stop. Sometimes I wondered whether he slept. Charles Wereko-Brobbey didn’t move out that much.”
The leadership of Alliance for Change led over 100,000 Ghanaians to embark on perhaps, the greatest demonstrations in the annals of the country’s political history post the Fourth Republic, also known as ‘Kume Preko’, to wit, ‘You may as well kill me’.
This was a rare protest against the Jerry John Rawlings administration in the city of Accra on May 11, 1995, as the demonstrators opposed the introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT) corruption and hardship, with chants of “Kume Preko”.
The demonstration was initially billed as a peaceful protest but quickly became violent when some persons shot live bullets into the crowd resulting in the deaths of four persons, some of whom were not part of the protests including a lad.
The demonstrations also took place in Kumasi and Takoradi with additional slogans “wiemi preko” and “siemi preko”, loosely translated “finish murdering me quickly because my hardship is unbearable” and “bury me quickly”.
The organisers were Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current head of state; Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobbey, energy expert; Kwesi Pratt Jnr., journalist; Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe, politician; and Kweku Baako Jnr., journalist.
Others were Akoto Ampaw, attorney; Victor Newman, current Director of Research at the Jubilee House; Kwaku Opoku, politician; Napoleon Abdulai, politician; and Stanley Agyiri Blankson, who later became mayor of Accra.
Nobody has been tried, nor has any state compensation been paid to anyone.
And even when the current president was attorney-general for three years, he always dodged the opportunity to address the matter when he was expected to say something about trials, especially during the anniversaries.
Now he has been president for three years plus, and he even supervises a higher VAT rate.
The protestors wanted the initial VAT rate of 15 per cent totally scrapped for the status quo ante – the sales tax – to remain.
The Rawlings Administration claimed they needed the tax to finance the growing demand for education for the increasing population.
Since a lot of traders did not know how to calculate the VAT, and the threshold of collection covered the informal sector as well, prices rose on an almost weekly basis, a general hardship which also made the demonstrations successful because the tax had an immediate impact on every home.
The government scrapped the tax, put Ekow Spio-Garbrah forward as the key spokesperson, embarked on an almost year-long public education, and reintroduced VAT at 12.5 per cent.
The current VAT rate is 17.5 per cent.