Former President John Dramani Mahama has observed that he is one of the most harassed presidents in the Fourth Republic relative to agitations by organized labour groups.
Mahama served as president between 2013 and 2017 having come into office six months prior following the death of his then boss, president John Evans Atta-Mills.
During a public lecture on December 9, 2022 at the Academic City University College in Accra, he spoke about how difficult his tenure had been which culminated in his use of the now famous political jargon ‘dead goat syndrome.’
The 2020 flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) said he had faced so much harassment from organized labour between 2013 and 2015 that he had become immune to their threats.
He explained that it was for that reason that in 2015, he ‘diagnosed’ himself with a condition known as the ‘dead goat syndrome.’
Mahama was at the time facing possible protest over fuel price hikes due to government’s deregulation policy and he was sure that organized labour was going to come after him, hence the use of the idiomatic expression which became a popular refrain used by the then opposition.
“I was one of the most harassed Presidents by Organised Labour. That is what led to the dead goat syndrome… because when you kill a goat, you cannot frighten it with the knife again,” he explained.
“I am the only government in the Fourth Republic where all organised labour came together and went on strike and shut down the country ….,” he added.
Mahama’s dead goat syndrome comment
The then-president Mahama warned that he would not be shaken by the threat of strikes from labour unions as the country approached the 2016 Election.
“I have seen more demonstrations and strikes in my first two years. I don’t think it can get worse. It is said that when you kill a goat, and you frighten it with a knife, it doesn’t fear the knife because it is dead already.
“I have a dead goat syndrome,” he said on March 11, 2015, while speaking to members of the Ghanaian community in Botswana.