Criticism can sometimes be very bitter especially when you happened to be at the receiving end. Every human being when criticized feels the pain and there is often the urge, almost instinctive, to defend oneself irrespective of how genuine the criticism may be.
An opinion of thought sees criticism as a necessary tool for self development and transformation whiles another thought sees it as an attack or a tool of attack on a persons reputation, sometimes without any basis.
Back to the real issue under discussion as to whether criticism should be private or public; opinions differ on the subject.(My position on this subject is a public knowledge). The proponents of private criticism have advanced the argument that, publicly criticizing a person or an individual, subjects that person to unnecessary public ridicule as this method may not achieve the expected result of transforming that person, but will rather toughen the person probably to prove a point of being right. While this argument may sound right superficially, applying it on wholesale basis is problematic.
A question that has often been asked about how effective this applies when ,say, a public officer or a government appointee with his mandate clearly defined, both official and unofficial, barricade him/herself with artificial barriers with several charlatans who only care for their bellies at the expense of the larger populace.
With such a person how can a private criticism gets him/her to change his/her ways in line with what is expected of him? Especially when their actions or inactions is directly or indirectly linked to the fortunes of the group this individual is coming from? Do you adopt the method of waiting for disaster to happen before you complain?
Or you publicly complain(criticize) for that person to wake up from his/her slumber and deal with any oversight there may be? Without sounding too political in this write up, a glaring example of why good intentioned public criticism should be encouraged by all of us is the humiliating defeat of the NDC in the 2016 general elections. Their embarrassing defeat teaches us one important lesson in life, Never wait for the ship to sink before you complain about what should have been done to save it from sinking.
Many were those within their rank who believed that their government had been highjacked by the wife and siblings of President John Mahama, some of them complained silently( and they were silently ignored) but those who publicly criticized how the government was being run were tagged and forced into submission all in the name of protecting the image of the party without addressing the underlying problem. The result of deliberately being blind to some nagging issues irrespective of how trivial it was to an ordinary man was their abysmal performance.
These observations notwithstanding, My experience as a political watcher and an active political participant has taught me some lessons in opening your mouth too wide, it is usually suicidal to criticize an individual(with power) especially when you are likely to step on toes and some toes when stepped on has a deadly effect with far reaching consequence.
To a young politician who aspires for higher office within a party and government in the near future, you have an option, you either shut up and allow the system to rectify it own inadequacies or you talk and your political future is sabotaged or truncated prematurely. This is the dilemma of a young politician.
But an option of silence also has a long term negative effect, greedy and self-centered individuals with power have a free ride. They corrupt the system and leave a mess that would have to be cleaned by those after them. It is more like helping raise a building from scratch with all the sacrifices only to standby and allow another person out of sheer lack of control or indiscipline to bring the whole building crashing but you are told to shut up and watch on all in the name of protecting the public image of those who put up the building. It doesn’t make sense.
I conclude by saying that, public criticism is good and must be encouraged within our political system( a kind of CSO within the political party system) only if it is not meant to destroy but to put people in authority on their toes to deliver and not be complacent.
You are free to contribute your opinion on this topic. NB: All grammatical and typo errors are mine alone…cheers!!! MK
Author: Moro Kabore/NPP Communication Secretary and Aspiring Deputy Regional Secretary, Ashanti Region