Business in Ghana

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Remembering Dictators. Critical News, 1st February 2015

Posted by Business in Ghana on February 1, 2015

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

My world futured back to the past on Legon campus over the weekend when I went to buy a book or two. My life, now consumed with large spats of power down-time, interspersed with benevolent electricity supply from VRA’s Kirk Koffie and his subordinates, I ventured to find Dr. Obed Asamoah’s book on the political history of Ghana (1950-2013), catch up on modern history and occupy my time when I cannot do any work because I am locked in a pretentious modern society, where I think I live in a civilized country but have no water and no control over noisy neighbors who fill my naturally ventilated open-window bedroom with smoke at five O’clock in the morning.

Legon bookshop killed my spirit. I swear I recognized some of the books from my days there in 1974. The layout has not changed, the categories of books are still the same and even the man who sits in the lifeguard chair, keeping an eye on potential student thieves was an aging version of the same one I knew then. He just has a glaucoma look in his eyes and if he can see anyone very well, I wonder if he can get off the high chair to arrest them.

I think the University dons must sit up. On a campus where there are many more banks per real estate kilometer than anywhere I know, you can’t even buy a book with a bankcard. Can’t even buy a CD-rom book, a tablet or even a book reader. Seems modernity overlooked them when it arrived because they had probably closed for the 2pm day on a Saturday.

I am so disappointed that our highest institution of learning just does not get it. Not even sure you can access a website of books in store. They still write prices of books in pencil and sign off. How do you still do this in a computerised world? And they had advertised they would be closed for stocktaking. In days when you stock take in real time. Bueei!

Anyway, I got my ghc250 Obed book, using savings from my dumsor units, which I have accumulated at end of January. An indirect benefit from incompetence.

I was appalled to hear from VRA communications man Sam Fletcher that we should “wait and see” how things will turn around by 2017. We were talking on The Big Issue on Saturday morning on Citifm, trying to reason how we will have 5,000MW of energy by the end of 2016 as told by “The Great Promissory” and holder of the Order of “Cross of Dumsor”.

Clearly, VRA has a plan, but fact of the matter; we will not see an end to this dumsor even in 2017 by any stretch of the imagination. All theories aside, my contention is because we never implement anything on time, I consider all this technical pontificating a total waste of time.

I am looking for a solar solution and if I was part of this government I would strategise to get all domestic homes off the grid as soon as possible. I spoke about this last week. We have photovoltaic light, we have water, we have wind. All you need is technology and others more sensible than we have already solved that.

What remains is policy derivation and implementation. And if we want the white man to come and write that for us as well, there is a World Bank facility for that under the aegis of capacity building.

I thought Parliamentary majority leader Alban Bagbin had lost all credibility on the corruption matter after he accused his fellows in the Chamber that they were corrupt, but got a reprieve when he feigned a fainting spasm on the floor.

Now he rises to tell us all that we should not politicize corruption and Ghanaian culture is to blame for all that thievery.

I can’t understand what to do or say to our Parliamentarians. They don’t support local business when the need is there, they tuck illegal cedis away beyond the reach of citizens, vote on party lines for anything that is put in front of them, then turn around to blame the people of this country when things are not right.

Where is the Freedom of Information Act? What has happened to ROPAA? What has happened to all their authority under Section 130(3) of the Constitution? When will they call the Minister of Finance to task and how long before they call VRA, GRIDCO, BUI and ECG heads to come and state clearly when the “dumsor” will end?

Then when a group of mindful citizens start action to haul Institutional heads to court in order to do what Parliament is paid to do, you get unbridled insults from nincompoops parading as government spokespersons.

Then they postpone opening Parliament on the grounds that some of them are attending duties outside Accra. Citizens have no means to obtain parliamentary redress in this country; else we would have sanctioned a few. Can you wait till 2016?

You know how we are sympathetic to adults who cry and lament disasters when they are caught dipping their fingers in illegal “tuo zaafi”.

But reading Obed’s book, threw my mind so many decades back and how different things could have been if intelligentsia in Ghana had found grit to challenge Kwame Nkrumah’s constitutional dictatorship.

I see the pattern evolving in modern Ghana, but in a more diabolical way; still the same mistakes we did back then.

The tendency now; Government rushes to Parliament knowing they have a majority to pass emergency laws and legitimize what they know is illegal. And again, Parliament refuses to pass laws that they do not see will benefit their government or laws that will give citizens better authority over their decisions. It has become a form of dictatorship.

Page 44 of Obed’s book. In order to eliminate what the then opposition saw as a constitutional check on dictatorship, Nkrumah removed restrictions to constitutional amendments, tabled a motion in the National Assembly in the form of the Constitution (Repeal of Restrictions) Bill, 1958 to repeal sections 32,33 and 35 of the Ghana Order-in-Council of 1957; sections which specified special procedures of four out of five members of the regional Assemblies and houses of chiefs, to be followed by passage of a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.

His new bill required only a simple majority of the National Assembly, which majority he always got when the opposition boycotted the vote. The CPP had an unbeatable majority in the Assembly after rigging extensively and this corrupt maneuver paved the way for a one party state and entrenched corruption in Nkrumah’s Ghana.

I was only four years old then, but had been enrolled with super IQ into the “Oxford Historians” long distance program, studying constitutional issues on Africa. (I am lying oh, I beg for a little humor within “dumsor”).

In February 1959 the National Assembly abolished regional assemblies by adopting a law to that effect. Now the CPP could virtually pass any law they chose and deemed fit. The basis of the Preventive Detention Act.

And the slide into dictatorship gathered pace, while the opposition in frustration thought the best way to challenge the unstoppable bandwagon was boycotts. Made Nkrumah even stronger to do as he pleased.

Dictatorship, in its worst constitutional form. And we go and elect another such and make him the lead in the Africa Union; a ninety-one year old Robert Mugabe who tutored at the feet of Nkrumahists at the bankrupt Ideological Institute.

President Mahama says he is responsible for “dumsor”. I say he is not, but if he wants to own the biggest policy failure in recent memory on his shoulders, I am willing to accept his resignation. No probs.

Black Stars are on this afternoon. This piece goes out before the match so I am predicting a one nil win. Don’t we just need the inspiration?

Ghana, Aha a ye din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

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