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Insist on Your Right to Education

Uneducated citizenry is like a pitch any game can be played on it. Illiteracy is what has given the politicians in Ghana the chance to fool so many people for so a long a time.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Multinational Corporations:The New Colonizers in Africa

Before the end of the first colonialism African nations were properties of their colonial masters who did what they could to rape the continent of whatever resource they deem good for the development of their countries and citizens in Europe. Out of nowhere and without any consultation with the people in the continent the Europeans met and divided the continent amongst themselves in what has been termed the scramble for Africa.

Through the scramble France, Britain, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy all went on a looting spree raping Africa of her resources without putting any of the proceeds back for the development of the continent.

When US President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Gambia on January 13th 1943 he was so appalled by the conditions of Gambians so much so that he made this lamentation,

“It's the most horrible thing I have ever seen in my life..... The natives are five thousand years back of us....The British have been there for two hundred years - for every dollar that the British have put into Gambia, they have taken out ten. It's just plain exploitation of those people”. “I must tell Churchill what I found out about his British Gambia today”. “This morning, at about eight-thirty, we drove through Bathurst to the airfield.” “The natives were just getting to work. In rags…glum-looking.…They told us the natives would look happier around noontime, when the sun should have burned off the dew and the chill. I was told the prevailing wages for these men was one and nine. One shilling nine pence. Less than fifty cents.” “An hour?” Elliott asked. “A day! Fifty cents a day! Besides which, they’re given a half-cup of rice. Dirt. Disease. Very high mortality rate. I asked. Life expectancy—you’d never guess what it is. Twenty-six years. Those people are treated worse than the livestock. Their cattle live longer!” US President Franklin D. Roosevelt 1943. Source: The American Heritage.

And the exploitation was not peculiar to only Gambia. Gold Coast (now Ghana), Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Zaire (now DRC), Namibia, South Africa, Congo and Angola all suffered from the same colonial exploitation and underinvestment.

For almost three hundred years the Europeans who were supposedly devout Christians and civilised, irresponsibly looted Africa’s resources and made slaves of the natives without developing the colonies. When the local population protested against the exploitation without a reciprocal investment they were brutally crashed as happened in Congo (now DRC) where King Leopold II of Belgium looted the resources, made slaves, and killed close to ten million of the Congolese.

In 1904 to 1907 the Germans led by Gen. Lotha Von Trotha also committed their first genocide of the 20th Century by killing 90% of the Herero and the Namaqua people of South West Africa (now Namibia) when the people protested against the exploitation of their resources. And the sad stories of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Namibia, Kenya and Angola where people were denied access to land, citizenship and basic rights and had to take up arms before they were granted independence are in many history books.

We know how Nelson Mandela (now a hero in Europe) and a number of freedom fighters endured long prison sentences, torture, exile and deaths in the hands of their devout Christians and civilised European colonisers. The prevailling idea in Europe was that through the scramble for Africa they had bought Africa and had power to do as they wish hence the rape, torture, genocide and the mass killings. While Europeans became richer Africans became poorer.

For example with the loot of Congo’s resources, enslavement, amputations of hands and 10 million deaths, Brussels which now doubles as the capital of the European Union and Belgium was built. When they were given their ‘freedom’ the independent fathers inherited nothing more than empty treasuries. They realised that after more than 300 hundred years of colonial rule their colonial masters have left them with nothing, no money and no infrastructure. This bad situation and their eagerness to improve the lives of their peoples forced them to turn to the IMF and World Bank for assistance and when they went lo and behold the colonial masters were there waiting for them.

The colonisers used their majority votes to dictate to the Bank and IMF on how these former colonies should be helped. (Of the 185 members that make up the IMF, six colonial masters and their allies made up of the United States, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Italy control 42% of the votes). The colonial masters dictated to the IMF and the Bank that for Africans to be helped, they must open their economies to allow European corporations in. This underscores the numerous conditionalities that are associated with loans from these institutions. The conditionalities are nothing more than a smokescreen designed to ensure that Europeans never loose their grip on the resources of the colonies. Some of the conditionalities include instituting secrets memorandums of agreement, subsidies to foreign corporations and massive tax concessions (such as income tax, usage fees, property tax) -the primary source of revenue for “export-oriented” developing countries.

The sad thing is that Africans thought independence would give them respite to develop but this was never to be as the colonial masters used their corporations and intelligence services to deliver vengeance against the people: encouraging and financing civil wars; unashamedly polluting rivers, wells and the soil through their oil and mineral activities; understating their profits and falsifying profit documents; undervaluing their goods, smuggling and theft; false invoicing and non-payment of taxes; kickback to public officials and bribery; over pricing of projects; providing save havens for the looted funds; promoting the sale of guns; overthrowing African leaders; supporting dictatorships; and assassinating those who disagree with them. We know those who instigated the overthrow of Dr. Nkrumah and the tragic assassination of Patrice Lumumba.And we know the support the West gave Mobutu and other tyrants in Africa.In addition to these, the corporations who were forced onto Africa by IMF the Bank, US and Europe have been implicated in a number of cases for corrupting African leaders and stealing trillions of dollars worth of resources.

Global Financial Integrity says, “$900-billion is secreted each year from underdeveloped economies, with an estimated $11.5 trillion currently stashed in havens. More than one quarter of these hubs belong to the UK, while Switzerland washes one-third of global capital flight”. Out of this $900b that is secreted away yearly $150b comes from Africa.

“The idea that Switzerland has a clean economy is a joke; it is a dirt-driven economy,” says Richard Murphy, director of Tax Research LLP. The Swiss Bankers Association claims that four-fifths of the nation supports banking secrecy, which reveals a society deeply embedded in a culture of impunity and exploitation.

The fact is that those who steal must find a way to hide their loot and Switzerland provide the ideal environment for such crimes to take place. And it is not Switzerland alone that does not have a clean economy. Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg can all be described as vampires.

In an article by Khadija Sharife entitled Capital Flight: Gingerbread Havens, Cannibalised Economies she wrote: “The IMF and World Bank tax policies towards the developing world is very lethal especially where the poor are now caught in tax brackets, courtesy of the IMF and World Bank’s structural adjustment programmes (SAP), instituting policies ranging from tax holidays to the privatisation of state services, carving out huge slices of natural capital at corporate auctions. Africa has collectively lost more than $600-billion in capital flight, excluding other mechanisms of flight such as ecological debt (globally estimated at a potential $1.8-trillion per annum), the cost of liberalised trade (just under $300-billion)”. Source:http://www.greenleft.au. Thus with the support and collusion of IMF and the Bank these corporations are paying close to nothing for the resources they take from Africa.

Africa has been labelled the world’s most corrupt region because multinational internal mispricing makes up 60% of capital outflow, with corporations declaring profits in tax havens, as opposed to the country of performance. Corporations declare about 40% of their profits in African countries where they operate and siphon the rest into their save havens accounts in order to avoid paying tax which could be used to eradicate poverty. And this is not the end of the corruption and the day light robbery story.

We know how Elf operated as an arm of the French state supporting dictators, looting the resources and establishing flush fund which was used to bribe African leaders so they will look the other way while Elf loot Africa’s oil and gas.

Nicholas Shaxson, author of Poisoned Wells, wrote of the subject: “Magistrates discovered the money from Elf’s African operations supplied bribes to support French commercial, military and diplomatic goals around the world. In exchange, French troops protected compliant African dictators.” This explains why there are so many corrupt dictators in French-Speaking Africa than anywhere in Africa. Omar Bongo, Eyadema, Mobutu, Lansana Conte, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Blaise Campore, Sassou Nguesso and Iddriss Deby are some of the compliant leaders who were or have been protected by France.

And what happened to the non-compliant African leaders? Your guess is mine. Please find time to read more about Bob Denard, a French who made a career as a mercenary overthrowing African leaders. French author Jean Guisner says: “Denard did nothing that was contrary to French interests - and he allegedly acted in close cooperation with French Intelligence Services”.

In the Elf corruption case Andre Tarallo the real boss of Elf-Afrique' “Told the court in June 2003 that annual cash transfers totalling about £10m were made to Omar Bongo, Gabon's president, while other huge sums were paid to leaders in Angola, Cameroon and Congo-Brazzaville. The multi-million dollar payments were partly paid to ensure the African leaders' continued allegiance to France. In return for protection and sweeteners from Elf's coffers, France used Gabon as a base for military and espionage activities in West Africa”. Source: Guardian, Nov. 2003.

The real deal is that Elf, Shell BP and their counterparts in Europe and America pay bribes to African leaders to induce them to look the other way while they plunder the resources. Ask any Gabonese or Congolese whether they have benefited from the oil and diamonds and the answer will be a big no. What is so tragic is that the people know they have oil, diamonds and see these companies processing them everyday yet do not know where it goes, who buys them and where the proceeds go.

In UK former Prime Minister Tony Blair was accused of selling a device with an ageing technology to Tanzania. “The UK sold a useless air traffic control system to Tanzania in 2001 in a scandalous and squalid deal, the House of Commons was told.” Clare Short an MP said, “The deal was useless and hostile to the interests of Tanzania”. She said, “Barclays Bank had colluded with the government by loaning Tanzania the money, but lying to the World Bank about the type and size of the loan.” Ms Short said “Tanzania could have paid much less for the same equipment which cost them £28m”. Shadow international development secretary Andrew Mitchell said “BAE had used ageing technology and said the system was not adequate and too expensive.” Source: BBCNEWS, Wednesday, 31 January 2007.

And it all happened after they had bought Tanzania officials to look the other way while a device with an ageing technology was sold to the country. BAE colluded with Tony Blair and Barclays Bank to sell a useless commodity at exorbitant price to Tanzania. This is nothing but a continuation of the contempt and impunity in which Europeans have treated Africa before, during and after colonialism. BAE is indirectly saying that Africans do not deserve the latest technology even if they pay cat throat price. It is also a message to Africans that they must develop their own technology and not rely on the generosity of others.

It is no secrete that Shell Oil Company colluded with the corrupt Abacha regime to steal oil, pollute the rivers, wells, creeks and soil and render millions of famers and fishermen in the Niger Delta jobless. Shell “admitted that it inadvertently fed conflict, poverty and corruption through its oil activities in the country. Nigeria contributes to about 10% of Shell's global production and is home to some of its most promising reserves, yet the country is steeped in poverty and conflict”. Source: bbcnews 18 June 2004. So Shell in addition to stealing Nigeria’s oil and polluting rivers, wells and soils also promote corruption, poverty and conflict.

In DRC about five million people have died in a war whose motive is to satisfy the West insatiable appetite for high quality but low price cell phones, laptop computers, play-stations, jewels, diamond and coltan. And who cares about five million deaths in Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin, New York or Washington anyway? Why has the DRC war not ended? Who supplies the rebels their arms and for what and who buys the minerals they mine illegally? Why have Uganda and Rwanda forces crossed several times into DRC? And whose agenda are they pursuing? A report by the UN says it all.

The panel calls for financial restrictions to be levied on 54 individuals and 29 companies it said are involved in the plunder, including four Belgian diamond companies and the Belgian company George Forrest, which is partnered with the U.S.-based OM Group. The individuals named include Rwandan army Chief of Staff James Kabarebe, Congolese Minister of the Presidency Augustin Katumba Mwanke, Ugandan army Chief of Staff James Kazini and Zimbabwean Parliament Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, BBC Online reports (Oct. 21, 2002).

The report also accused 85 South African, European and U.S. multinational corporations – including Anglo American, Barclays Bank, Bayer, De Beers and Cabot Corporation of violating the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's ethical guidelines on conflict zones.

The guidelines they were accused of violating relate to arming Rwanda, Uganda and Congolese rebels and profiting from their illegal looting of Congo’s minerals as the following excerpt shows: “Despite the recent withdrawal of most foreign forces, the exploitation of Congo's resources continues, the report says, with elite networks and criminal groups tied to the military forces of Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe benefiting from micro-conflicts in the D.R.C.” "The elite networks derive financial benefit through a variety of criminal activities, including theft, embezzlement, diversion of public funds, undervaluation of goods, smuggling, false invoicing, non-payment of taxes, kickback to public officials and bribery," and added that such pillaging is responsible for much of the death and malnutrition in eastern D.R.C.” Source:http://www.unwire.org.

And so while millions die in Africa with the complicity of the corporations, Europe and North American citizens with all their hypocrisy enjoy lavish holidays. And when Africans try to reach Europe the citizens say rain in on them, Europe is full no more immigrants. Where do the queens and kings in Europe get the diamonds and gold that they use to show off? Is it not from the blood diamonds from Congo, Sierra Leone and conflict zones in Africa that are smuggled out and sold in Brussels, Zurich, London and New York?

And this is not their only crime. We know how Halliburton established $180m flush fund and bought Nigeria officials to secure a $10b oil contract. We know Acre International of Canada paid $260,000 to secure $8b dam contract in Lesotho. We know Swiss, British, German and French economies and banking institutions have made fortunes by providing save havens for funds looted by Sani Abacha, Mobutu, Omar Bongo, Lansana Conte, Arap Moi and the rest of the dictators in Africa. And it is no secrete Belgium is angry with DRC government for inviting China into the country because they are privy to and beneficiary of all the day light robberies going on in the resource rich but economically impoverished country.

Africans know that these corporations are making fortunes but see no benefits from these fortunes. Ghanaians know gold and diamond are being mined at Obuasi and Akwatia but they do not know where it goes, who buys them and where the proceeds go and the same is true of the oil in Nigeria, Gabon, Cameroon, Algeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea and as for DRC a nation with one-third of world’s natural resources the little I say the better.

This corruption and day light robbery is what has been polished as globalisation which Europe, America, IMF and the Bank want Africa and the third world to join. My question is whose globalisation? Is it the globalisation that only those with blue eyes enjoy or what? If the answer is no then the IMF and the Bank should explain why the world is divided between the “whites haves and the coloured have-nots”. Is this not the second colonialism dressed as globalisation?

Dr. Susan Hawley says it all: “Multinational corporations’ corrupt practices affect the South (i.e. Africa, Asia and Latin America) in many ways. They undermine development and exacerbate inequality and poverty. They disadvantage smaller domestic firms and transfer money that could be put towards poverty eradication into the hands of the rich. They distort decision-making in favour of projects that benefit the few rather than the many. They also increase debt that benefit the company, not the country; bypass local democratic processes; damage the environment; circumvent legislation; and promote weapons sales. Bribes put up the prices of projects. When these projects are paid for with money borrowed internationally, bribery adds to a country's external debt. Ordinary people end up paying this back through cuts in spending on health, education and public services. Often they also have to pay by shouldering the long-term burdens of projects that do not benefit them and which they never requested”. Source: The Corner House, June 2000.

And in all these, the Western media have kept silence. They have not raise a voice against what their governments, intelligence services, corporations and businessmen are doing to Africans. They prefer instead to criticise China for courting the same African leaders Euro-Americans have been protecting for decades. A clear hypocrisy isn’t it? These are the same criticisms King Leopold II levelled against the Arabs who were competing with him for resources and slaves in Congo and we know what Leopold, the 19th century Hitler did in DRC in the name of Christianity and civilisation.

The meaning of their criticism is that with China as a fierce competitor, Africans now have a choice not to go to the World Bank and IMF for conditional loans. They also have a choice to either give their resources to Chinese companies or European and American cartels. It may be the beginning of the end of colonialism, slavery, instabilities, dictatorships, corruption and all the ills that Europeans and Americans have been exporting to Africa. It may be the beginning where Africa’s resources will be bought and payment made to the people and a new chapter that will usher in Africa’s development and close the poverty gap from five thousand years to perhaps one-hundred as observed by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

By Lord Aikins Adusei The Author is a Political Activist and Anti-Corruption Campaigner. He blogs at http://www.iloveafrica2.blogspot.com and can be contacted at politicalthinker1@yahoo.com

Friday, April 24, 2009

How deep is Ghana's Democracy?

In 1992 Ghanaians went to the pools to choose a new present and parliament after 11 years of a PNDC dictatorship.

In 1996 Ghanaians went to the polls again to choose a new president and a new parliament and the process was repeated in 2000 in which the opposition NPP won the election. After the successful 2004 and 2008 elections is it obvious that Ghana is charting a path of democracy. 

But the 2008 elections revealed a deep seated animosities within the NPP and NDC. 

Giving the tension that we saw in 2008 elections and its potential to derail the the constitutional governance that we enjoy, is Ghana's democracy just on the surface? In other words how deep is Ghana's democracy? Can anything be done to prevent the tension we saw in the 2008 elections? 

Why did the NPP lose after 8 years?

The New Patriotic Party won the 2000 presidential and parliamentary elections amid wild jubilations. It was even said in some quarters that National Democratic Congress would not be able to come back to power again. But after just 8 years the NPP narrowly lost to NDC. What went wrong for NPP and what propelled the NDC to win after massively loosing to the NPP in 2000? 

Democracy and Infrastructure Investment is What Ghana Need

    Click for Full Size
    A nation without infrastructure is like a car without fuel and a nation without and democratic governance is the an airplane without a pilot.

    Do you think NDC or NPP care about Ghanaians look at their record? NDC ruled Ghana for 8 years and NPP has also ruled for 8 years. Did any of them help to make Ghana a developed country? Did any of them solve the unemployment problem in Ghana? How about education and health? Look at the roads in Ghana. Do we deserve that? Any person who has been to Europe, Asia or America can say for sure that both major parties have not done much for Ghanaians. 

    Look at the state of Ghana's manufacturing sector. What do we produce? Virtually nothing. What do we do with the cocoa that we produce? We only export the raw beans for peanuts. How about the gold and the diamond and the many minerals we mine? They are exported to Switzerland and Dubai before Ghanaians go there to buy the wedding rings and bracelets to sell to Ghanaians. Computers, cars, mobile phones, fridges are made in Europe, Japan and the US and it is affordable but Ghanaians cannot buy common chocolate even though the vital raw material which is cocoa is made here. And the same is true about gold and diamond. We cannot buy them even though they are mined right here.

    Look at the state of the agricultural sector. How many of our farmers have their own tractors and farming equipments to produce beyond the level of subsistence? Virtually none. Virtually all the important equipments needed to make the agric sector viable and productive have to be imported and how many of our farmers have their own resources to buy even the basic machinery to expand their farms? Although we are in the 21st Century yet our farming practices indicate that we have still not moved beyond the 19th century. This is the more reason why we continue to hunger even though rich soils abound in Ghana. We under utilise our land for lack of political commitment.

    Look at the policies of the two major parties and see if they can even put Ghana on the level of Korea, Taiwan or Hong Kong in the next 20 years. Ghanaian business men are frequenting Dubai and China importing every good you can think of. Investigate to find out how the Chinese and co did it and whether any of the parties can help Ghana do the same. 

    Look at the state of infrastructure in Ghana: roads, harbours, telecommunication, health, education, market and airport. We have neglected the few that Nkrumah built yet we have forgotten that no nation no matter the size of the natural resources that she has can develop without investing in infrastructure. That is why Democratic Republic of Congo has every mineral you can think of yet they are one of the poorest in the world. That is why Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong have developed and that is why President Elect Obama is talking about building US infrastructures because they are the engines that run the economy. You cannot export if you do not have harbours and airports to support it. You cannot attract tourists if you do not have airport, hotels and other infrastructure that support it. You cannot move goods from centres of production to centres of consumption if you do not have roads, rail lines and inland water infrastructure to deliver it. You cannot supply the industries with doctors, architects, bankers, lawyers, planners, engineers, teachers, nurses if you do not have the educational infrastructure to deliver it. And you cannot run an efficient and vibrant economy if you do not have the energy and telecommunication infrastructures in place. Ghana has been experiencing serious disruptions in the energy sector for years and no political party has seen any wisdom to solve. As a result factories are folding up and are laying off workers and we are waiting for nature to help fill Akosombo Dam before we rectify the problem. Can these do nothing approaches to problem solving help our nation? What are we doing with the abundance of sunshine in the country? We have not taken advantage of it, have we? We have sunshine 365 days and we have not tap into solar energy which is cheap and more reliable than hydro. It is another indication of the useless institutions that we have and lip service paid by the various political parties and their leaders to development. Look around yourselves and see if any of the goods you see are made in Ghana I mean the mobile phones, computers, televisions, cars and all the flashy things that Ghanaians are crazing for. It is sad to note that almost all the raw materials needed to build these phones, cars etc are obtained from Ghana and other African countries. 

    How about the state of the housing infrastructure? A visit to any village or town gives the same picture of poor housing and poor quality of public service. People are living in mud/thatched houses with bamboo leaf as roofing sheet with no electricity, potable water and clinics. They live in a subsistence environment without social security, health insurance and are condemned to poverty, desperation and hopelessness. Those living in urban areas are without jobs, without mortgage, and face high utility bills with poor service. They face constant barrage of water and energy disruptions everyday. In every region the situation is not different. On the other hand our MPs, ministers, vice president, the president, their cronies and families live in total luxury with mansions, SUVs, bodyguards, fat salaries, fat bonuses, house servants and they have all the resources of the state at their disposal. Yet they claim to be serving the people. How can it be? 

    And how about our education sector upon which the development of the nation rest? It is nothing to write home about. Isn't it? Look at the world ranking of Universities and see where the first university falls. Can we afford to develop the nation with low quality graduates not to mention the millions of illiterates and semi-literates that roam around the country? Of the about 9,760 Accredited universities in the World, Ghana's prominent universities including University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of 'Science and Technology' only managed to place 5,702 and 6,703 positions respectively in the World University Ranking. Even in Africa, our own backyard they only managed to secure 43rd and 63rd positions respectively.(Source: topuniversities.com) It is abundantly clear that our education system is not producing the architects, engineers, planners, bankers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, social workers, nurses and the scientists that we need in the 21st Century. That is why every major architectural and engineering activity in Ghana is undertaken by foreigners and foreign companies especially from USA, Japan, China, India and Europe. And any nation that depends on foreign expertise for her survival is doom to fail in the long run. The Universities lack well trained lecturers. They lack modern facilities such as state of the art libraries, laboratory simulation facilities, studios, computers, and books. They lack them because we cannot build them; we cannot build them because the curricula have not prepared our students to build them. As a result we have to import the equipments and books from countries that have done their home work well and have invested heavily in education notably in science and technology. In many of our universities, Polytechnics and secondary schools lecturers/teachers are still teaching students the same way the 19th century academic institutions taught forgetting that we are in the 21st century. The same notes given a final year student four years ago are still being given to first year students with no addition and subtraction. Lecturers cannot write books for students because they do not have the resources to carry out research that form the basis of any academic material. 

    Whereas students in advanced countries get their hands on books immediately they are released those in Ghana have to wait 4 years or even more to get the same books. What is more the academic facilities including libraries are in a state too appalling to describe. Not a single of our universities can boast of a million volumes of books in their libraries. Even the few books that they have are so old that information contained in them are useless. Very few books have been published by Ghanaians. Due to this most students have to rely on the notes that lecturers give them. This is state of our universities and the little I say about our Polytechnics and secondary schools the better. Our research institutions have achieved very little because they are underfunded and the researchers do not have the expertise and the facilities to carry out any meaningful research. A case in point is Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) located at New Tafo in the Eastern Region. Despite decades of its existence we still export raw cocoa beans for peanuts. No value has been added to the cocoa. CRIG has not been able to come up with other ways in which to use the beans to benefit Ghanaians despite the mounting evidence that the beans have several potential uses. 

    Apart from the few things Dr. Nkrumah did in his 9 years of administration virtually nothing has been added to it by the various governments who came after him neither the NDC, NPP nor PNC.

    I can continue all day but it is a fact that both the NDC and NPP are bunches of hungry politicians with no concrete economic and social agenda to move Ghana beyond the level of importing used computers, used cars, used televisions, used underwear and any used thing you can think of. What are all these telling you about Ghana, the NPP, and the NDC? Do we have any option not to vote for them? Until we have leaders who have visions and are committed to industrialising Ghana beyond agro raw material production, Ghana will continue to be classified as a developing and poor country and even though we will continue to vote we will continue to wallow in abject poverty.

    However, whoever wins the election should focus his attention on building the infrastructures of the country including education, roads, harbours, airports, health, markets, telecommunication which will serve as the stepping to propel Ghana to industrialise.

    He should have aggressive, solid and sound policies and programmes with a clear cut targets that will transform the nation and push it to the middle income level. My only advice to whoever wins is that if he fails to develop the nation then he should be prepared to be booted out office.

    Ghanaians want employment, they want world class education, they want better health care and sanitation facilities, they want the cycle of poverty defeated, they want corruption fought at every level of government and they want to live in peace.

    The industrialisation of the nation can be done. It can be done because South Korea has made it, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan all have made it. Now Brazil, India and China (the BRIC nations) are on the path to make it. The question is how did they make or are making it? Investment in public infrastructure: telecommunication, technology, roads, airports, harbours and education with emphasise on science and technology. That is what is needed in Ghana.

    His government should embark on large scale public infrastructure which will generate jobs and create the necessary environment for industrial take of. He should know that it is only by industrialising that he will be able to make Ghana the economic power house in Africa. He should revive most of the defunct industries Dr. Nkrumah created so that there will be jobs for Ghanaians. He should develop close economic ties with our neighbours in Africa. He should invest in education, establish exchange programmes for our students, give scholarships to students to study abroad, overhaul the entire education curricula from the universities to primary schools to meet the 21st Century challenges and demands, encourage the Ghanaian intelligentsia abroad to come home by offering them incentives and train and equip our teachers and lecturers so that they can deliver 21st Century education.

    All ministries should be given a mandate to work to achieve results. Accountability in all government ministries should be pursued with vigour. The Auditor General Department should be strengthened It is only by pursuing aggressive economic policies that he can be sure of another victory in 2012. Otherwise his fate is sealed.

    A word to the wise is enough.

    By Lord Aikins Adusei

    Fulfilling Africa’s Economic Dreams

    Part I: Africa Must Achieve Political Stability First Before Economic Development

    The greatest threat to the economic development of Africa is political instability. Political stability is the foundation of economic development; it is the magic bullet and the magnet that holds all other activities in a country together; and provides the avenue for investment, job creation and raise the necessary revenue needed to fight poverty and diseases. Economic development thrives well in atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.

    Since independence many of the countries in Africa have known only wars, coups, dictatorships and violence. This cycle of political instabilities has established the continent as a no go area for investors. Africa scores badly among investors as a place where the risk of investment is high and where businesses are done contrary to norm. Such concerns are largely informed by the anarchy in Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Northern Uganda, Guinea, Mauritania and the dictatorships in Gabon, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe and many other places.

    It is also informed by the violence in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and the tensions in Ivory Coast. Such instabilities, wars and election violence seen in Africa are the major reasons why investors shy away from the continent; capital flight is high and the confidence of those with investment in the continent continue to wane. At the moment about $150b leave the continent annually due in part to the political stalemate in Sudan, Chad, DRC, Niger Delta, Northern Uganda, and the Great Lake Region.

    The chaos, confusion and violence that always characterise elections create an atmosphere that only work to isolate the continent as attractive destination for investment and are the reasons why the continent is seen as the most expensive place in the world to do business. All these instabilities do not help the image of the continent and is a factor why endemic poverty is rampant.

    Therefore to ensure investor confidence, promote and sustain economic development and growth, there should be a complete political stability in the whole of the continent. Without political stability it is impossible to achieve any economic development and fight poverty. It is a fact that you cannot rebuild your house while it is still in flames and so African countries must ensure they get stability first before talking about economic development. How do you construct roads in war zones or build a factory in militarised territories? Political stability is the homework African countries must do in order to achieve economic development. Establishing political stability through democratic processes is the magic bullet needed to defeat poverty.

    To achieve political stability there are a number of tough decisions Africans must make. First the leadership in the continent must realise that instability anywhere is a threat to stability everywhere and cooperation from all the leaders is what is needed to defeat the instabilities. Therefore they must work together and coordinate to eliminate all those factors that act as magnet to engineer and fuel the instabilities.

    Tyrannical rule, civil wars, and military adventurism must give way to democratic governance. It is the only way that can bring stability to the continent and prepare her for the economic development that has eluded her peoples for decades. Political stability is highly compatible with economic development; a disruption of one is a disruption of the other. Democratic governance is the political path Africa must chart if it is to prepare itself for economic development and social progress in this 21st Century and beyond.

    This therefore calls for an end to dictatorial rule in all parts of the continent especially in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Congo, Libya, Egypt and Zimbabwe where few people, their families and cronies have hijacked their countries and taken the people hostage. All undemocratic leaders and tyrants must be made to understand that the days of unchecked and unaccounted power and despotic rule are over. The current situation where Gaddafi, an absolute dictator is calling for a federal Africa is totally unacceptable. The only acceptable way is for all leaders including Gaddafi, Obiang Nguema, and Blaise Campore to make themselves available for elections if they wish to serve the people and I mean serve the people not to be served by the people. All leaders in the continent must be reminded that they do not own their countries and the resources in them. The claim by Mugabe that “Zimbabwe is mine” should be condemned unequivocally.

    The stability also calls for an end to all civil conflicts, military interventions and armed rebellious currently seen in Sudan, Uganda, DRC, Guinea, Mauritania, Chad, Nigeria and Ivory Coast. Use must be made of the few Africa role models in the continent like Joachim Chissano, Kofi Annan and Desmond Tutu to mediate to bring an end to the conflicts in Darfur, Somalia, Northern Uganda, DRC and all the troubled parts of the continent. All parties including individuals and groups with grievances must be encouraged to seek redress from the court instead of rushing to take up arms.

    The leaders must realise that the current state of political unrest in Africa is in nobody’s interest not governments, opposition parties or the people and that is the more reason why democratic reforms must be spearheaded in countries where people have fewer political rights and cannot democratically change their leaders. People must be given the chance to elect their own leaders.

    There should be a level playing field for the ruling governments and opposition parties so as to avoid allegations of vote rigging that are major cause of instabilities and violence in Ivory Coast, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Somalia among others. To ensure this there should be financial support to political parties and all parties must have unrestricted access to the state media. Again election observers must be allowed without any restriction to observe elections and make their own assessments without pressure from any quarters.

    The AU and the sub regional bodies such as ECOWAS, SADC, EADC, COMESA, AMU and ECCA have a major role to play in ensuring the stability. The AU leaders must be reminded that instability anywhere is a threat to stability everywhere. The days where few individuals take over power and do what they like without the AU or sub-regional bodies saying or doing anything must end. Therefore, the Charters of AU and sub regional bodies should be implemented to the letter and all those who violate the charters should be punished severely. All clauses that limit the bodies from criticising or having greater role to play in times of crisis should be removed. 

    The democratic countries in the continent should work closely together and encourage the less democratic ones to adopt reforms with the aim that Africa stands to gain more from being democratic than being under dictatorships and civil conflicts. Therefore all nations must be encouraged to ratify and implement the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) charter.

    In addition each country should have a constitution that caps or stipulates a fixed term of office for political office holders and that fixed term should be adhered to even if a candidate is a messiah. The current situation in Algeria and Tunisia where both presidents have changed the constitution in order to run for a third term of office and in Nigeria where Olusegun Obasanjo tried unsuccessfully to run for a third term is very unfortunate and must be discouraged at all a cost for it is such actions by African rulers that have brought wars, coups and mayhem to however a peaceful people. Such actions only fuel corruption, nepotism, cronyism, abuse of power and mistrust between the ruling and opposition parties and serve as breeding ground for coups, civil unrest and political instabilities.

    Even though the number of armed conflicts has gone down compared to a decade ago, the continent is still prone to instabilities and giving such a political climate, it is obvious that political stability will not be possible without an African Military High Command with powers to respond to crisis, emergencies and to crash any rebellion, arms insurgence that may show its ugly head in the Africa political scene. The establishment of AMHC should however be done on condition that all leaders will submit themselves to the rigour of elections and allow their people to choose whoever they want to lead them without intimidation, threats or whatsoever.

    Tyrannical rule and military regimes are highly incompatible with the establishment AMHC and therefore all effort must be made to ensure that the wishes of the people are respected and that leaders are not forced onto the people unnecessary. Already the Southern Africa Development Community has created what they call SADC Brigade and it is beginning to make impact in the region which is encouraging.

    The Pan-Africa Parliament should be fully resourced to deal with issues affecting the continent more importantly corruption, poverty, environmental degradation and political instabilities. Laws enacted by parliament must be binding on all members and countries that frown on the laws must be severely sanctioned.

    The Africa Court of Justice must be made the highest in the continent with powers to settle disputes between and within countries. It must be a court of last resort in the continent and its ruling must be respected.

    Africans cannot build a just society without a strong media and contribution of civil society organisations. The media, civil society organisations must be allowed to operate freely without fear of intimidation or attack and under no circumstances should a media house, NGO, and CBO be barred from operating in a country. Therefore in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea and in many other countries where the media and NGOs have been banned, the governments involved must be forced by the AU to let them in.

    Western political and business leaders must stop doing business with all the dictators, and coup makers the likes of Bongo, Obiang Nguema, Gaddafi, Mugabe and all those who have used undemocratic means to hold on to power. Sanctions and embargo targeting these leaders (not their people) should be enforced so as to force them to loose their grip on power. Western and Asia defence companies and contractors who illegally and irresponsibly ship arms to the continent to fuel the conflict and create instabilities for their own selfish interests must be identified and barred from doing any business in the continent.

    A democratic Africa free from tyrants, coups, civil wars is the single most important ingredient necessary for attaining economic development because it is an undisputable fact that development thrives in atmosphere of peace and tranquillity not hostilities, instabilities and tyrannical rule. There is no way Gaddafi who doubles as Chairman of AU and head of state of Libya could advice Mugabe or Mwai Kibaki to accept election defeat when he (Gaddafi) has been a dictator for 39 years. There is no way Omar Bongo could advice Obiang Nguema when Bongo is the longest ruling head of state in the world. For Gaddafi and Bongo to offer any genuine advice they must relinquish power and allow free and fair elections to take place. Tyrannical rule, civil wars, and military adventurism must give way to democratic governance. It is the only way that can bring stability to the continent and prepare her for the economic development that has eluded her peoples for decades. Political stability is highly compatible with economic development; a disruption of one is a disruption of the other. This is the political path Africa must chart if it is to prepare itself for economic development and social progress in this 21st Century and beyond.

    By Lord Aikins Adusei

    The Author is a Political Activist and Anti Corruption Campaigner. He blogs at www.iloveafrica2.blogspot.com

    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    Where are Africa’s Political Role Models?

    Since Abraham Lincoln became the role model for President Barack Obama, I wonder which African politician President Obama could have picked as a role model if he had run as a candidate in any African country. Currently there are about 53 presidents and prime ministers whose countries form the Africa Union. It should therefore not be difficult to find role models among such a large contingent of leaders.

    A google search for possible role model candidates led to Mobutu Sese Seku, Sani Abacha, Iddi Amin Dada, Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, Samuel Doe of Liberia, Charles Taylor, Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa of Central Africa, Ibrahim Babangida, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Lansana Conte of Guinea, Museveni- Uganda, Milton Obote of Uganda, Bakili Muluzi, Laurent Kabila, Kwame Nkrumah, Jerry John Rawlings, Blaise Campore, Arap Moi, Hosni Mubarak, Omar Al Bashir, Gaddafi, Omar Bongo, Obiang Nguema, Sassou Nguesso, Eduardo dos Santos, Francois Bozize of Central Africa, Yahya Jammeh of Gambia, Iddriss Deby of Chad, Valentine Strasser of Sierra Leone,  Mwai Kibaki, Mengistu Haile Mariam and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.

    After a careful examination and analysis of their record President Obama may find it difficult to settle for any of the above. The reason is that almost all of them have been accused of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars belonging to their poor countries. Again all of them have demonstrated poor leadership, political immaturity, are insensitive to the plight of the people and have shown no understanding of issues affecting the people including fighting poverty.

    Additionally, nearly all of them established one party dictatorship; killed, imprisoned or exiled their opponents; aggressively destroyed press freedom, freedom of speech and association; banned their opponents from contesting elections; kept their people in perpetual poverty while living opulence and extravagant lifestyles.   

    Furthermore, virtually all of them were or are dictators who have committed human rights abuses against their countrymen including murder, torture and force imprisonment. Besides, almost all of them were or are military or rebel leaders who illegally ceased power through the barrel of the gun and subjected their people to inhuman treatment including torture, extrajudicial killings and murder. Those who came to power through the ballot box have become anti-democrats and the International Criminal Court is seeking to put a number of them on trial for human right abuses and war crimes.

    Moreover, a good number of them have spent decades in power and are unwilling to relinquish it despite their huge failures seen in the form of poverty, diseases, homelessness and wars. Example Omar Bongo of Gabon has ruled for 42 years, Gaddafi of Libya 39 years; Dos Santos and Sassou Nguesso 30 years each; Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea and Robert Mugabe 28 years each, Hosni Mubarak 27 years, Paul Biya of Cameroon 26 years, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda 23 years, Omar Al Bashir of Sudan 20 years, Iddriss Derby of Chad 18 years, Yahya Jammeh of Gambia 14 years.

    What is more, despite years in office none has been able to build a successful economy for their people. Despite receiving hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and grants from the IMF, the World Bank, USA, Japan, China and European nations; and also receiving trillions of dollars in revenue from oil, gas, gold, diamond, timber, copper, coltan not a single one of them was able or has been able to put their economies on the level equal to that of the Asia Tigers or even the smallest economy in the European Union. Out of the 53 countries making the Africa Union only one was invited to take part in the G20 Summit that ended in April 2009. Their failure to eradicate poverty has prompted questions as to whether Africans can ever build a prosperous society devoid of abject poverty, blatant official corruption, mismanagement and tyrannical rule.

    The Who is Who of Africa’s corruption ranking feature Mobutu at the top. He is followed closely by Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Omar Bongo, Eyadema, Hosni Mubarak, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Eduardo Dos Santos, Obiang Nguema, Lansana Conte, Arap Moi, Gaddafi, Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria, Blaise Campore of Burkina Faso, Museveni of Uganda, Paul Biya of Cameroon, Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, Charles Taylor of Liberia, Iddriss Deby of Chad, Bakili Muluzi -Malawi, Frederick Chiluba of Zambia, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Jacob Zuma of South Africa. There are many whose corruption status has not yet been determined. Among them are Joseph Kabila, Paul Kagame, Robert Mugabe, Kenneth Kaunda, Francois Bozize, Yahya Jammeh of Gambia and a host of others.

    Corruption, malfeasance, tyranny, mismanagement, nepotism, cronyism, human rights abuse, incompetence and media censorship run through almost all the countries in Africa.

    Ghana became the first territory south of the Sahara to gain independence in 1957. In 1966 the army ousted Nkrumah who had ushered in a one party state and was on his way to become a dictator. Nkrumah introduced the Prevention Detention Act in which his political opponents were arrested, tortured and imprisoned without trial. Others were murdered and those who had the chance to flee sought asylum in foreign countries. One coup in 1979 and a second one in 1981 brought Jerry Rawlings to power who spared no effort to annihilate his perceived opponents. He ruled till 1992 when he changed his military uniform into civilian and ruled for another 8 years. Jerry Rawlings, the longest ruling tyrant in Ghana killed all the former heads of state by firing squad leaving only Dr. Limann who lived a miserable life till his death. His administration was largely corrupt and marred by nepotism. He is discredited for sowing the seed of tribal animosities in the country especially between the Akans and the Ewes. In 2000 after 19 years in power and under pressure from the West and the people, Rawlings unwillingly handed over power to an opposition government when his party the National Democratic Congress lost the elections to the New Patriotic Party.  The Fourth Republican Constitution drawn up by his regime has a lot of clauses that make him unanswerable to the abuses committed during his regime.

    Since independence in 1960 Gabon had known only two leaders. Leone Mba who was elected president in 1961 and ruled till his death in 1967 and was succeeded by Omar Bongo who has since ruled the oil rich but socially and economically impoverished nation for 42 years. He is widely seen as one of the wealthiest and most corrupt rulers in the world. Bongo was a subject of French police investigation that uncovered that he owned at least 33 luxury properties. In February 2009 his nine bank accounts were frozen by a French court. He was implicated in the trial of former Elf Aquitaine executives for accepting bribes to the tune of $40m annually in exchange for oil concessions. A US Senate report of 1997 accused him of spending $100m annually mainly from his Gabon coffers. A US Senate inquiry in 1999 revealed that the giant Citibank held private accounts for Bongo who transferred US$100 million, into it. French News Papers including Le Monde have uncovered about 59 properties owned by him and his family including one bought in 2007 at the cost of 18.8 million Euros. He was sued by Transparency International for stealing Gabon’s resources.

    Jomo Kenyatta became Kenya’s leader at independence in 1963 and ruled till 1978. As usual Kenyatta’s Kenya Africa National Union (KANU) was made the only official political party which controlled Kenya for four decades. Kenyatta was replaced by Daniel Arap Moi who also ruled till 2002. Moi’s 24 year reign was a dictatorship marred by official corruption and nepotism. He was accused in a report by Kroll International of having banked £1b in foreign banks. He and his family are known to own several properties in Britain and Australia among others. He avoided prosecution for corruption in 2003. Mwai Kibaki who succeeded Moi in 2002 faced a re-election battle which was marred by violence. He has been accused of sheltering Moi and his cronies and not doing enough to fight corruption which cost Kenya at least $1b a year.

    Since independence in 1958 Guinea has known only two leaders Sekou Toure who ruled from independence till his death in 1984 and Lansana Conte who seized power in a coup in the year Sekou Toure died. Conte ruled from1984 till his death in 2008. He is seen as one thee most corrupt leaders ever to have ruled an African state. He has been accused of pocketing 70% of all revenues coming from the sale of bauxite in Guinea. A dictator for a quarter of a century he can only be remembered for bringing poverty, misery, deprivation and cronyism to Guinea. After his death army officers led by Capt. Moussa Camara have also seized power and there is little sign that the poverty stricken country will ever taste democracy.

    The presidency of Equatorial Guinea has been dominated by two men from the same family since independence from Spain in 1968. Mr Obiang Nguema the current president overthrew his uncle, President Francisco Nguema, in 1979, had him tried and executed. Since taking power Obiang Nguema has presided over a corrupt government. He has curtailed rights and freedoms of his people; allows no opposing views and has dealt mercilessly with the media. Human rights abuses in his fiefdom are widespread and head of the opposition is in exile. Many of the 600,000 inhabitants of his country live in poverty despite billions of dollars of revenue from oil. He and five other corrupt leaders were sued by Transparency International over allegations of corruption and embezzlement.

    In Uganda after independence in 1962 and short period of democratic governance the country became a hot bed for coups and counter coups that saw Milton Obote toppled twice; Iddi Amin becoming life president; invasion by Tanzania and a civil war that brought Colonel Yoweri Museveni into power in 1986. Museveni has since ruled till today, he has been in power for 23 years. Like many of his contemporaries his government is very popular in promoting corruption, nepotism and cronyism. Museveni’s government is nothing more than an oligarchy. In Uganda Museveni is the president; his wife Janet Keinembabazi Kataha Museveni is the First Lady, MP and a Minister; his son Major Muhoozi Kainerugaba is an army commander of his elite group and a possible successor of Museveni. Museveni’s younger brother, Caleb Akandwanaho, is senior presidential advisor on defence. His daughter Natasha Karugire is private secretary to the president. He has vehemently resisted all calls to introduce democratic reforms in Uganda.

    In South Africa after the brutal regime of the apartheid government came to an end, Nelson Mandela took over and successfully handed power to Mbeki after just one term in office. However, Mbeki was forced out office in September 2008 after a bitter power struggle with Zuma. Mbeki refused to embark on campaign to curb the menace of HIV/AIDS which killed several people under his watch. Crimes of all categories have increased and it seems the nation is slowly joining the rest of the continent as a poor developing country. Jacob Zuma who is likely to become President is embroiled in corruption allegations and a rape case against him was dismissed by the court. His reputation has been badly damaged by the rape and corruption charges brought against him.

    In Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda ruled from 1964 the year of independence till 1991 a total of 27 years. He embarked on one party rule that barred opposition parties from actively engaging in politics. Despite being a major copper producer, Zambia under Kaunda’s watch slipped from being a potential economic power house into one of the poorest countries in the world. He was accused of corruption by Chiluba’s government and spent a few time in jail. His major contribution was to the independence struggles of South Africa and Zimbabwe but he is most remembered for failing to use the huge mineral wealth to better the lot of Zambians. His successor Fredrick Chiluba is battling corruption allegations and parliament has voted to remove his immunity. A High Court in Britain ruled in 2007 that Chiluba and four of his aides conspired to rob Zambia $46m. The elections that brought Rupiah Banda, the current president into power were decried by the opposition as not free and fair.

    In Tanzania, Julius Nyerere ruled as the sole leader of the country from independence in 1962 till his retirement in 1985. Under his leadership all political parties were outlawed except the Party of the Revolution which happened to be his party. His social and economic programmes (ujamaa) were a total failure he is however credited for deposing Iddi Amin. Since he left office the country has chalked a lot of successes in the field of democracy and governance and the economy is showing signs of growth. Ex-President Benjamin Mkapa who became president in 1995 successfully transferred power to Jakaya Kikwete in 2005 after 10 years as head of government.

    Burkina Faso formerly Upper Volta got her independence from France in 1960. Six years later the army as it has always been were in power. A series of coups in the 1980s saw Thomas Sankara taking over power in 1983 but he too was ousted in 1987 by Blaise Campore who was a close. Campore has since ruled the country as his personal fiefdom he has been in power for 22 years. He is one of the Corrupt Five who were sued by Transparency International for having amassed wealth at the expense his poor people majority of whom live on a dollar a day in this semi-arid country.

    In Tunisia, Ben Ali has changed the constitution of the country in order to run for third term in office. In Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has won a third term after using the rubber stamp parliament to change the constitution of the state. He has been battling fundamentalists who were denied election victory in the 1990s. In Togo, after the assassination of the country’s first elected president in 1963, Gnassingbe Eyadema took power in a bloodless coup in 1967 and ruled till his death in February, 2005 after 38 years as head of state. His son Faure Gnassingbe was quickly installed as president by the army but international outcry resulted in an election in April 2005 which the army said Faure won 66%.

    In Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Chad the norm has been corruption, mismanagement, election violence, torture, dictatorship, murder, imprisonment of political opponents and the use of security forces against the people. In Africa and the rest of the world the names Mobutu Sese Seku, Sani Abacha, Omar Bongo, Denis Nguesso and Dos Santos are synonymous to blatant corruption, nepotism, cronyism, murder, incompetence and mismanagement. The word Kleptocracy was first coined to describe the nature of Mobutu’s government which was nothing but a government of thieves.

    However despite the negativities there are some few shining examples. Botswana, Africa’s most successful economy is also the continent’s only true democratic country where multi-party democracy has been in place since independence in 1966. It is the least corrupt country in Africa and has a good human rights record. It is the only country in the continent where the leaders have used revenue from the natural resources mostly diamond to benefit the people. It is the world's largest producer of diamonds and the trade has transformed it into a middle-income nation. The current president Seretse Khama Ian Khama came to power in 2008.

    Gaining her independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibia has joined the community of democratic nations after Sam Nujoma handed over power to his chosen nominee Hifikepunye Pohamba, after three terms as president. Like Botswana the leadership of Namibia are using revenue from diamond to improve the wellbeing of the people. In Benin an independent candidate won the presidency and in Liberia Johnson Sirleaf, a woman has become president the first in history of the continent.

    Nelson Mandela is the only ex-president to have willingly stepped down as president after just one term in office. He is a Nobel Peace Laureate, a statesman, a freedom fighter and a hero not only in South Africa but also around the world. He has a monument erected in his honour by the government of Britain. Another respected personality in Africa is Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu who is also a Nobel Peace Laureate, a Statesman, peace activist and powerful anti apartheid campaigner.

    The last of the possible role models is Kofi Annan, a former UN Secretary General who has recently being playing a leading role as a peace mediator and a critique of political corruption and anti-democratic governance in Africa. Since Tutu and Annan are not politicians and therefore out of the political equation, Obama will have no choice but to scream with the question, “Where are Africa’s political role models?”

    By Lord Aikins Adusei

    Political Activist and Anti-Corruption Campaigner

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Rawlings is Undermining President Mills’ Authority

    It is very unhelpful for President Mills to say that “If someone will do it for me so be it,” in reference to a visit by Ex-President Rawlings in Brong Ahafo in which he allegedly visited military formations and inspected guard of honour. To say, “If someone will do it for me so be it” when the President has not authorised him to visit military formations and inspect guard of honour is a dangerous act that could undermine the security of our nation and destroy our fledging democracy. I am sure President Mills knows the security implications of allowing someone with a record of coups to visit military installations, inspect a guard of honour, visit military formations, and forcefully enter restricted areas at the airport to take pictures when the president has not authorised him to.

    If someone could freely visit military installations, inspect guard of honour, issue warnings to the president then what does it entails? First it shows a president who is not in control of affairs neither in his party nor the nation. Second, it shows a President whose constitutional power and authority as the commander-in-chief of the army are being undermined daily by the supposed founder of his party and has no idea how to react. Third, it shows a weak and a frustrated president who is unable to tame his party officials and could only bark when his ability to govern is constantly being undermined. It shows a President who is doing all that he can to avoid collusion with his former boss but is constantly being taunted and invited for a fight.

    The recent utterances and actions of Jerry Rawlings coupled with his profile as a serial coup maker, should be a major concern to Mills and all those who subscribe to democracy and rule of law. The activities and behaviour of the former Chairman of AFRC, PNDC and founder of NDC should be a major concern not only President Mills but to our development partners.

    Those who can read negative security signals can testify that what Rawlings is doing now is nothing but a preparation for what will happen in future should he decides to break ranks with Mills. Rawlings is slowly building support in the army and weakening the standing, loyalty and support of the president. He is appearing friendly to the army to boost his popularity while undermining the position of the commander-in-chief.

    What is so serious is the way the army officers welcomed him and allowed him to inspect the guard of honour without asking the most crucial question as to whether Rawlings had authority from the President to inspect the guard of honour and visit the military formations.

    Should the current warnings and criticisms by Rawlings degenerate into power struggle between him and Mills, it is obvious that the army will choose Rawlings because of the support he is building. This is exactly what happened after the AFRC had handed over power to Limann.

    Rawlings has demonstrated ample evidence that he has no patience and stomach for democracy, pragmatism, and politics of inclusion. He has enough record to show that he can easily breakaway from whoever has been his ally. His relationship with the likes of Boakye Gyan, Totobi Quakye, P.V. Obeng, Obed Asamoah should be a reminder that he Rawlings cannot keep a permanent friend. We all know what happened to Limann after he had said Rawlings would not overthrow his government. Rawlings struck less than three years after handing over power and continued as a dictator for another 19 years.

    We are all witnesses or at least some of us are witnesses to his barbaric regimes that saw all but one ex-heads of states killed in cold blood. I need not to remind Ghanaians what will befall its political, business leaders if Rawlings utterances and actions transform into deeds. The truth is that Ghanaians have seen what Rawlings is doing before and paid dearly for tolerating it.

    To avoid the repeat of the AFRC, PNDC and the incursion of the military into the politics of the country, President Mills should not to allow Rawlings the free hand he is currently having in entering unauthorised security areas and taking pictures at the airport, visiting military installations and inspecting a guard of honour when the president has not authorised him to do so. It is also important for President Mills to constantly review the security situation in the country and as a matter of necessity check his own security team to avoid any disloyalty.

    Rawlings will say contrary to popular opinion that he has a diabolical agenda by visiting military installations but we all know that actions speak louder than words and that is true when dealing with Rawlings. As the situation stands today, it is only President Mills who can restrict Rawlings from doing what he is doing and therefore the onus is on the president to either stop him or allow him to undermine his government and eventually overthrow it.

    By Lord Aikins Adusei

    (Political Activist and Anti-Corruption Campaigner)

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