The Rawlings coup that overthrew the Liman government in Ghana on 31 December 1981 was in several senses unique. It gave rise to a spectacular experiment in ‘people’s power’ and a level of spontaneous mass mobilisation not seen since the early day of the independence struggle. Throughout the country ‘defence committees’ and other organs of ‘popular power’ sprang up. Students closed down schools in order to bring in the cocoa crop, artisans and machinery, working people and unemployed, supported by patriotic soldiers and police, attacked ‘kalabule’ (profiteering) and formed price-control and anti-hoarding committees. Even more important the coup gave rise to a strong but unorganised syndicalist tendency among the Workers’ Defence Committees. A number of state-owned factories were taken over, management was expelled, and ‘interimanagement committees’ of workers installed. These ‘factory revolutions’ culminated in the celebrated takeover of the Ghana Textile Printing (GTP), a joint-venture between the State and the United Africa Company, during 1982. In May that year the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) which had taken power after the coup, declared a ‘National Democratic Revolution’, the objectives of which were anti-imperialist struggle and the struggle for democracy on the basis of a broad progressive front.
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