Feature Article of Sunday, 16 September 2007
Columnist: Bensah, Emmanuel. K.
The news from Thursday?s edition of Statesman newspaper that the government would go ahead with Stanbic's unsolicited takeover of Ghana's Agricultural Development Bank has made me a very sad man--and it's filled me with rage.
South Africa is a country that has huge potential to be a positive force on the African continent, given its financial clout, yet choses to use this power and clout to perpetuate its viscerally-exploitative tendencies.
Let's face it: 100% takeovers by a firm of another African country's key sector bank has hardly ever been, and never will be altruistic.
The saddest thing is that South Africa--a country whose pretensions to Pan-African unity are as spurious as the Black Economic Empowerment programme the country seeks to use to give one the impression that it is no longer under the purview of the West. It's attitude is a farce--and wrong.
I have one South African friend, and so if I am accused of being racist, I duly apologise, but I trust she will understand my visceral disgust with the geopolitics of her country that I am against--and not her.
A recent discussion on 97.3 CITI-FM?s ?Question of Law ? programme last Saturday revealed two things worthy of food for thought. The first is that Stanbic Bank Ghana is, legally, a ?Ghanaian entity?, because it is supposed to ascribe to Ghana?s rules and regulations. It can be argued therefore that the solicited bid is, theoretically, acceptable as it does not originate from a ?foreigner?.
Secondly, one of the country?s well-respected lawyers, David Annan, maintained that the Millenium Development Account funds (from the United States) of $547m will be channeled through the ADB. Small wonder, then, that there is keen interest even from Rabobank, the Netherlands?as well as Stanbic. It can be argued that control over those funds could do wonders to the bank?s liquidity and capital!
Agitation over the sale of ADB to Stanbic has found expression through the demonstration that started in Tema on Thursday (morning). At the time of writing, it is unclear whether the petition has yet been given to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, but what is clear is that government cannot pretend to have missed this demonstration! ?Ruffled? and ?feathers? seriously come to mind.
The question, then, is: would I have felt this way of Nigerians had come to take over ADB? First of all, I do not believe that Nigerians--for all the "fears" they generate, would have contemplated such a heinous move, and, no, I probably wouldn't have felt so enraged, given that they are of West African stock, but not the South Africans.
I do not believe they are people-centred, because the country has a superficial veneer of prosperity generated by Blacks, when, in reality, it is the white minority that is pulling the strings--yet again.
In my view, the country has become a malevolent exemplification of a modern and amoral (financial) Realpolitik that seeks to exploit Black Africa, and perpetuate the very financial apartheid Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah fought ferociously against to free that country from the shackles of imperialism.
All that said, on a more practical level, if you are interested in saving the bank, there is a petition you can sign right here on the social networking tool of FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5684085333
Please sign in your numbers and let's free Ghana from the grips of rapacious capital masquerading as purveyors of foreign direct investment to make Ghana the gateway of West Africa.
STANBIC's mendacity must stop! ADB is NOT for sale!