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Thursday, 4 July 2013

Ghana: a Shining Democracy Without Accountability




Inauguration of President Mahama, President of Ghana

By Honourable Saka

Here in Ghana, if the Supreme Court can sit for several hours a day and several months in a year to determine which candidate(s) won the general elections, but NO court in the country finds it useful to hold these same politicians accountable for their failure to fulfill their campaign promises despite having all their annual budgets expenditure approved by the parliament to enable them fulfill their campaign promises, then I think we have an illusion of justice in the country as long as accountability is concerned. 

The last time I checked, the Coat of Arms which is the official seal of the government of Ghana, suggested that the motto of the Republic of Ghana still remains “Freedom and Justice”.

Yet I am yet to see the day for which politicians will be brought to justice for woefully failing to deliver on their campaign promises to the electorate. If a contractor can be arrested for failing to deliver certain goods and services for which he has been paid, why can’t our politicians face the same fate when they fail to deliver after receiving all the loans in our name? Are the politicians above the laws of the land? Where is justice?

Why Ghana's Democracy is a Failure
It is a common ritual to see our finance ministers presenting annual budget statements to parliament at the beginning of every year, seeking approval for such huge moneys to be approved for the fulfilment of their campaign promises to the people of Ghana. Yet at the end of the year when they fail to fulfil the said promises, nobody holds the politicians accountable for the failure of the government to fulfil the promises for which such huge moneys were approved. What is even annoying is that at the beginning of the next year, the same minister will have the audacity to present a much bigger budget before the parliament house seeking approval.

When are the courts ever going to hold these politicians accountable for their failure to on their promises? 
Recent Unfulfilled Promises, the Budget Statements
·         In the 2012 Budget Statement, the following promises were made to the people of Ghana:
A.    Energy Sector:
“120. The construction of LPG satellite storage depots at Kumasi, Savelugu and Mami Water will commence while the storage capacity for LPG at Tema and Takoradi will be expanded.
121. For the implementation of these programmes and activities, the ministry of energy has been allocated an amount of GH¢657,132,393.00” (Paragraph 120 -121).

As I type this piece, only God knows where the said money went, since no single one of the above-mentioned projects to show for. People in the Kumasi Metropolis have been struggling with water shortage and unreliable electricity for months. So where is the money? Why is the media not asking questions?
B.     Transport, Roads & Highways (2012 Budget Statement cont’d)
Paragraph 126 – 129, as presented by the minister of finance reads:
“Madam Speaker,
126. The Accra-Nsawam and Kumasi-Ejisu railway lines will be rehabilitated to increase sub-urban rail service. In addition, the reconstruction of the Western Corridor Railway Line will commence under the China Development Bank (CDB) Facility.
127. The Takoradi Port Expansion Project and the Multi-Modal Transport Project that links the Tema Port by rail to the Volta Lake and coastal fishing harbours and landing sites will be undertaken.
128. A total of 54,084km of routine and periodic maintenance works will be undertaken while 250km of spot improvement works will be done.
129. Madam Speaker, in fulfilment of its pledge to complete key road infrastructure around the country, Government will in 2012 complete the construction of the following major highways commonly referred to as the “Gang of Six”: Achimota-Ofankor, Dansoman highway, La-Teshie expansion project, Tetteh-Quarshie-Pantang and Nsawam By-pass (Accra bound). Construction works on Sunyani Road (Komfo-Anokye to Abuakwa) and Kwafokrom to Apedwa Roads will continue”.

Therefore where are those railway projects in Kumasi? Has the existing, appalling Accra-Nsawam and Kumasi-Ejisu railway lines ever seen any renovation or expansion in recent years? Are there any railways under-construction in Kumasi for that matter? Having voted a huge amount of money for the said Kumasi-Ejisu railway lines, I am still not aware of any projects recently commissioned in Kumasi to that effect.
The continues failure on the part of our politicians to deliver on their promises to the people, should provide a reasonable justification on the urgent need to criminalized unfulfilled promises especially the ones for which government moneys have duly been allocated. 
·         A Look at 2011 Budget Statement 
Transport: (Paragraph 170-172)
Madam Speaker…
170. “Ghana’s existing rail network is confined mostly to the southern part of the country which is economically more advanced and has a higher population density. Nonetheless, the current rail network is characterized by old tracks and rotten coaches, and inadequate railway terminals, stations and platforms.
171. Madam Speaker, Government will source funds to rehabilitate and/or totally re-build and modernize the rail sector.
172. Madam Speaker, the recently commissioned Accra-Tema  railway line will be extended from the Tema harbour area to Tema Community 1 to improve the suburban railway system”.
After 3 year (year 2010) of presenting the status of the railways to parliament, only God knows the level of “modernization” and or “re-building” that has taken place in our railway infrastructure especially in Kumasi and Nsawam.

It is very sad that while those in Germany, China, Japan and Britain can modernize and re-build their railway infrastructure within a period of 1 year, here in Ghana, the process is taking a whole generation to materialize, despite having all the gold, diamond, cocoa, oil & gas and being the ‘model’ of African ‘democracy’.
After all, our media is obsessed with ‘democracy’ and political ‘elections’ to the extent that we have no time to scrutinize the promises of infrastructural project that never came to pass.

Unfortunately, nobody ever goes to court to hold politicians accountable on failed political promises. What a shame.

Conclusion
I am appealing to the President of Ghana, to introduce a bill to parliament to criminalize the act of failing to fulfill campaign promises to the people of Ghana. At least if the MPs fail to pass such a bill, the president will be on record as the only president who showed some commitment to the fight against corruption, making effort to criminalize the fake promises made by government officials and prospective MPs.

I am also urging the true Honourable Members of Parliament to put a bill before the house, to criminalize the act of failing to fulfill campaign promises. This will be seen as their own small way of helping the country curb corruption and incompetence.

Finally, I am appealing to Chief Justice her Lordship, Georgina Wood and the Constitutional Review Commission to consider including a clause in our constitution to criminalize political incompetence and the failure to fulfill campaign promises in the country.

If this is done, I believe the people of Ghana will begin to receive real benefits from the vast resources which are often mismanaged by unscrupulous politicians and heads of the civil service.  
The rest of African can thus have something good to learn from Ghana as a true model of African democracy and good governance. 

Honourable Saka (honourablesaka@yahoo.co.uk)
The writer  is a Pan-African Analyst.


Friday, 14 June 2013

How Could Japan Offer $32billion In Aid To Africa?



Japan promises $32billion in aid to Africa

By Honourable Saka

Here in 2013, if Japan can donate even $50m to Africa after the Fukushima disaster, then African leaders as a whole must bow down their heads in shame! As far as I am concerned, the recent and current African leaders have failed their people and I feel so disappointed about that.

In fact the development in Japan clearly shows that African leaders have been wasting our precious time for far too long! I feel so ashamed that instead of weeping for the 50 years of failure, leaders rather chose to celebrate 50yrs of “success” in Addis Ababa.

What is wrong with Africa? When are we in Africa going to have visionary leaders like those in Japan, India, Brazil, China, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and others? 

Japan and Fukushima Crises
It was barely two years ago since Japan was hit hard by the Fukushima disaster. The world watched with great pity and sorrow, the extent to which a whole country was almost washed out of the surface of the earth. 

According to many economic forecasters and other political analysts, after the disaster the Japanese economy became too hopeless to the extent that any short term policies designed with the intention to transform the country within a decade would have been a day-dreaming exercise. The country had suffered to a magnitude that there was no way she could survive such economic turmoil any time soon.  

Yet, it is very surprising that in less than 2 years after this Fukushima, coupled with its financial tsunami, the country managed to survive. Obviously, this couldn’t have been without visionary leadership, selflessness, hard work and commitment to true leadership principles. 

Thanks to selflessness and true leadership. Today the Japanese economy is booming so much such that the government is now in a position to  donate huge sums of money to the tune of $32billion to African leaders, who are shamelessly queuing up to collect the said aid behind closed doors. This is despite African leaders collectively declaring at the just-ended AU summit on the need to be bold and shun aid once and for all.

What is wrong with Africa? And when are we in Africa going to have visionary leaders like those in Japan, India, South Korea, Singapore and others? 

A few days ago (May 27) when African leaders gathered in Addis Ababa to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the OAU (now called African Union), while reading their speeches at the time, many of the leaders suggested that the time was right for Africa to be bold and reject all forms of foreign aid. Leaders rather urged themselves to demand fair trade instead. African leaders made all sorts of impressions that the continent is now bracing itself for a new sense of economic revolution devoid of foreign aid of any kind.

To refresh our memories on the words of our excellencies, here are a few statements some of them made at the just-ended AU summit: 

1. President John Mahama (Ghana): the time is right for the AU to develop a funding mechanism with the goal of weaning itself from the heavy donor support.
2. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma AU C’ssion Chairperson: It can’t be business as usual. We can’t continue to depend on foreign aid. Yes, outside help is crucial and greatly appreciated, but we must also look at ways of making ourselves independent.

Unfortunately, 2 days after making these powerful and impressive speeches, the president of Ghana then flew to France where he lobbied for French aid. From there, he then flew to Japan where he again lobbied for Japanese aid. As if that is not enough, the Japanese government then pledged to give the entire African leaders, a total of $32billion dollars in aid for the next 5 years- a development which clearly indicates that these same African leaders have no intention to stand by exactly what they preached during the 50th celebration ceremony in Addis Ababa. 

For this reason, Granfadaa' Ayitomeka, a Pan-Africanist who spoke on Radio Ghana’s Current Affairs Programme, stated that the entire AU Summit was a wasteful exercise. He called on leaders of the AU to conduct referenda in their countries as to how the ordinary citizen wants to handle the problem of neo-colonialism which has reared its ugly heads everywhere in Africa, making in impossible for the African child to benefit from Africa’s abundant resources.

What lessons are these leaders teaching the younger generation? Can the African people truly have any confidence in the words of our leaders? Can the world ever take African leaders serious when they issue statements? 

When President Mahama travelled to Japan, the people of Ghana were expecting that he would have held serious discussions with the Japanese side, asking more questions about how the Asian country managed to emerge out of the Fukushima crisis with a much stronger economy in less than 2 years.

Ideally, Africans expected the president of Ghana and his African colleagues to have asked for all the strong economic policies and the measures which the Japanese counterpart put in place and ultimately made it possible for the government to generate all these money's within such a short period to the point where they're in a better position to give financial aid to Africa once again. 

If Japan could do it in the midst of such crises, why can't our leaders do it here in Africa? 
And why do we Africans get mesmerized and awed by the strength of other to support us while we do not strive to build our own strength? African leaders of today must bow down their heads in shame! Japan is a clear example of how bad has been without visionary leadership.

I have or the past few years expressed strong doubts about the ability of the continent to achieve economic independence in the next foreseeable future for as long as the thick colonial borders, tough visa restrictions on freedom of movement and the lack of confidence in the African products are concerned. Currently, there are simply too many trade agreements which have been signed by African leaders which are not working due to foreign influences based on colonial legacies.

Africa must consider the issue of industrialization, intra-African trade and the free movement of goods and services very serious.  It is time for African leaders should listen to their people about the issue of importation of foreign goods which are killing the local industry.

Certainly, a country like Japan could not have survived without a strong commitment to industrialization and exportation of commercial products. They couldn’t have developed by merely holding begging bowls, looking at some other nations to come and “save” them just as we in Africa have been doing for the past 50years of our so-called independence.

How long should Africa continue to be the supplier of raw materials and the dumping grounds of imported goods?

Action is seriously needed from African leaders to see to the swift industrialization of the continent. We have had enough of the speeches and the lectures.

H.E Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda recently stated, if we admire the strength of others such as the USA, China, Japan and Brazil, let us build our own strength now. 
Time to launch Africa’s industrial revolution and to remove all those colonial chains (border and visa restrictions) which are hampering our development is now. Tomorrow may be too late.
The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.
The second-best time is now.
                                                       -African proverb.

A word to the wise is enough.

Honourable Saka
The writer is a Pan-African analyst, anti-corruption campaigner and the founder of the Project Pan-Africa (PPA), an organization established to unlock the minds of the African youth to take Africa’s destiny into their hands.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Why Are African Professors Becoming Politicians?



 
H.E. John Evans Atta Mills (late), former president of Ghana
By Honourable Saka

Recently, when one critically examines the kind of political figures dominating African politics, there is no doubt that majority of them were once serving as university lecturers/professors who finally had a change of mind and ventured into politics as a means of earning a ‘better’ living. I must however admit that this trend is not only an African development but very common phenomenon in the developed world. 


It is an established fact that even Barack Obama, the president of the United States of America, became a politician after several years of working as a university lecturer/professor.

The list of all professors who ended up as politicians is too tall for me to enumerate. In Ghana alone, one can cite a tall list of such ‘political professors’.

For instance, before he became the vice president in January 1997 and president of Ghana in 2009, Professor John Atta Mills had been teaching law at the University of Ghana for many years. It was discovered that his salary as a lecturer was NOT very good. Today, thanks to President Mills, though he managed to increase the salary of the teachers by a very high margin (the Single Spine Salary Structure), the amount is too tiny when compared with that of the politicians today. 

Then in 2008, Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa, a strong medical professor and academician, attempted to venture into politics with the hope of becoming Ghana’s president through the Convention People's Party’s ticket (CPP), the political party founded by Kwame Nkrumah in the early 50s.

Also, Professor Michael Quay of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had to abandon working as academic proffer, in order to nurture his political ambitions. He thus served as an MP, a minister of state and later as a deputy speaker of Ghana's parliament.

Professor Frimpong Boateng, Africa's finest heart surgeon, almost abandoned his calling in the medical field and his academic responsibilities, all in pursuit of political ambitions. If he had managed to win the elections, that could have been the end for all the young doctors who were studying under his tutorship and probably the end of all those patients who needed the services of Ghana's ONLY heart surgeon for their survival.

Today, there are still many professors serving as MPs, ministers and ambassadors while our local universities and research institutions run short of professors. Countless others can be found in the rest of Africa most especially in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Uganda, among others.

But why are many of the professors gradually abandoning their calling in the classroom for politics at a time when the tertiary institutions need them most? The answer is not far-fetched.

The so-called ‘democracy’ is booming in Africa, especially here in Ghana. Most importantly, in Africa, politics is currently the highest paid job! There is no doubt about that. Just check the affluent lifestyle of the politicians who contending with American hip-hop stars and European footballers who have been flaunting their wealth everywhere.

Imagine a whole professor, who manages to teach some ‘small boys’ to become graduates in 4 year. Then just after 2 years, these small boys become MPs/ministers, get paid $10,000 per month, ride Toyota land cruisers, the V8 type of cars with free fuel, live in mansions, travel abroad on diplomatic passports, and have all the other under benefit. Why do you think the professors will want to remain in the classroom when they consider themselves more knowledgeable and hardworking than these politicians?

For instance, while teachers in Kenya are paid a meager salary of about $250 per months, Kenyan MPs earn a basic salary of $6,000 per month excluding other bonuses such as free accommodation, expensive official vehicles, fuel allowance among others, totaling over $500,000 per MP per year in real revenue. As if that is not enough, the politicians embark on numerous overseas trips for holidays, all paid by the taxpayer. No wonder even retired MPs are demanding diplomatic passports as their birth right in Kenya, Ghana and many places in Africa.

As if that is not enough, these MPs (in Kenya) who recently found themselves in parliament barely two months ago, have just voted to increase their salaries to $10,000/month per MP ($120,000/yr) at a time when the average worker in Kenya earns merely $1,600 a year. This is after MPs in the previous parliament awarded themselves a $107,000 retirement bonus in of the last sessions before the just-ended elections.

What is the justification for demanding this ridiculous pay? These politicians claim they're working hard. 

Meanwhile, when the health minister is sick, he catches the next available flight to Europe for his medical treatment; leaving the poor taxpayers to die in horrible hospitals in Kenya. Even in Ghana and Nigeria, when our MPs, the senators and the president are sick they all fly to Europe and America to seek medical treatment at ridiculously inflated prices while pregnant women lay on the bare floors in the collapsing local hospitals.

Here in Ghana, the recent out-going MPs cashed $150,000 each as their ex-gratia whiles those remaining in the parliament house took home $100,000 each. This does not include the huge amounts of moneys/aid which some of them looted while in office.

Why Business Is Booming In Ghana Politics
Immediately after taking the oath of office in January 2013, each Ghanaian MP cashed $25,000 as accommodate allowance. Seven (7) days later, they were awarded another $50,000 each to buy state of the art vehicles: land cruisers Prados, Toyota Tundra, Range Rovers, depending on individual preferences.

Apart from their monthly salary of $3,200 MPs in Ghana receive free fuel, unlimited mobile phone calls; other bonuses including $30,000 monthly allowances paid into their account (consolidated fund), which ought to be used for "emergencies".

Although the consolidated fund is intended to cater for the needs of their constituents and other developmental projects (roads, hospitals, classroom blocks, libraries etc.), the reality is that in Ghana, most MPs spend such monies with their girlfriends; others keep a huge percentage of the consolidated fund as the main source of funding their political campaigns during the next elections.

Ghana MPs usually abandon all developmental projects and wait until the election season finally kicks off. It is until then that little attempt it made to initiate a few road projects, only to be abandoned later as soon as the elections are over. 

Meanwhile the minority (in Ghana) had been boycotting parliament, for many weeks, despite claiming all their salaries, bonuses and all personal entitlements. 

If these politicians are not wicked, then probably I don't know the true definition of wickedness. 

Today, because the MPs are enjoying so much wealth and power, even professors are abandoning their calling in the classroom for politics. The attitude of our politicians suggests that politics in now a lucrative business! It is probably a business which is booming far better than oil & gas and perhaps even the cocaine business itself.

No wonder politics is all that our media talks about every day and night. Even on weekends, our local media doesn’t spare us those election and political debates, especially on issues bothering on the welfare of the political elites and why their salaries must be increased. Meanwhile medical doctors and nurses have been threatening to go on strike if their salaries are not paid in the coming months while politicians keep wasting all the taxpayers’ money.

But one question which is not being asked by the media panelists is this:

"Why is politics dominating our lives as a people?"

The answer, at least in part, is that Politics in Africa is the highest paid industry. With corruption taking place unchecked and unpunished, the best place to be is the political arena. It is here that access to the money is greatest, stealing is easiest and the quantity of the bounty is greatest!  

Conclusion
We, as a people, need to rethink the meaning of political leadership especially. With regard to the many challenges we face as a people, it will be very useful if political leaders is designed and implemented as a service to a people rather than having a political system which is all about a few people amassing wealth for their families.

True leadership is the Servant Leadership type like the one epitomized by Jesus Christ. Unfortunately we in Africa have allowed crooks and thieves to masquerade as “leaders” while we stand by as they plunder our land and render the lives of millions impoverished. We can do better than that!

We have to find ways to demand that corruption gets severely punished. Until then, political office will remain too "lucrative" to invite the reforms necessary to get the right people at the helm of affairs.

It is time for our professors to rather come out with practical solutions to Africa’s political crises, rather than merely seeking to join the bandwagon of the politicians as a means to enrich themselves and worsen Africa's economic challenges.

Honourable Saka
The writer is a Pan-African analyst, anti-corruption campaigner and the founder of the Project Pan-Africa (PPA), an organization established to unlock the minds of the African people to reclaim their destinies. E-mail: honourablesaka@yahoo.co.uk