Feature Article of Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Last year, the whole of Arab region was engulfed in civil unrest because a metropolitan city boss lost all sensitivity to the plight of ordinary people. One insensitive decision, one oppressive move and one wicked act of a city official fired up a whole nation and nations leading to the death of thousands.
It imprints deeply and boldly into the minds of policy makers, MMDA’s one simple principle: “A sensible, sensitive leader never uses sticks and stones on his own people for the heart of the people is the heart of the matter in governance”
In Ghana today, one such tyrant and secondary-school bully roams free: Mr. Alfred Vanderpuije, the Chief executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA). We call on him to as a matter of urgency, resign from his position to pave way for fresh ideas, human-centered leadership and healing in a grieving metropolis.
1. He has failed on his own promises Mr Alfred Vanderpuije, a Ghanaian USA based school administrator was confirmed by an 89-member assembly in the metropolis. In his own acceptance speech he stated that he was looking forward for effective strategies to tackle numerous problems facing the capital. He promised to demonstrate responsible and humane leadership.
Today, three years down the line, using his own words as a standard of assessment, our AMA boss has failed to demonstrate responsible and human leadership of the assembly and of the metropolis.AMA boss, who has ruthlessly and heartlessly thrown thousands of women and Children onto the streets, making them homeless, jobless and incapable of furthering their education, or providing for their needs. He must resign.
He does not understand his job. The mission of the AMA as presented on its own website states clearly that the AMA is poised ‘to raise the standard of living of people in the city especially the poor, the vulnerable and excluded by providing and maintaining basic services and facilities in the areas of health, education, sanitation and other social amenities”. Yet consistently, it is the poor, vulnerable and marginalised that have had to bear the brunt of abusive, violent, and brutal regime.He must resign
2. He follows his predecessor in displaying a lack of fresh, innovative and forward-looking ideas in managing the problems within the metropolis. Over the past 20years the policy of force, intimidation and state-sponsored violence against her citizens has done little to solve the problem of hawking, shelters and squatters. It is a wonder AMA boss continues to pursue this dead-end policy of beating, molesting, exploiting his own people.He must resign.
Severe human rights abuses For an American trained administrator, it would appear obvious that respect for fundamental human rights of especially those who cannot defend it (i.e. the poor) would guide his relationship with ordinary Ghanaians. Yet under his regime, the city authorities have committed serious and irreversible human rights abuses on market women at central business district, Makola, circle etc.
· On the 20th April, 2011, at Circle opposite the Ghana Telecom Office one Ebenezer Obeng, a seller of second hands shoes had one tooth violently removed and one ear chopped off by the AMA Task Force.
· The Accra Mail reports that a pregnant woman was crushed to death when she run into the path of a passing vehicle while running away from a chasing pack of AMA task force personnel intent on arresting her for selling on the streets.
· On the 23rd January, 2012 a section of your Rapid Response Unit of the AMA in a scuffle with one Yaw Sekyere resulted in him being bludgeoned with a shovel in an attempt to force the victim to pay a bribe to your Taskforce - he refused
· This same Taskforce attacked one Benjamin Apadu - Boateng 22 years hustling to survive nearly met his untimely death due to the brutality of AMA Task Force had it not been the intervention of God. He was hit on the head with a pavement block . His crime - The Taskforce had asked that he pays unknown specified toll by the assembly which he refused.
The AMA boss puts bye-laws ahead of the human rights of the people he serves in Accra.He must resign
He is out of touch with the plight of ordinary Ghanaians. The problem of hawking in this country is an immediate creation of government policies. When government sells State-owned enterprises, at least 100 hawkers are created. When government signs an obnoxious policy like EPA, and other IMF, World bank policies it creates several more and when a government over-liberalises her market for every kind of item or material from toothpick to biscuit, it creates several more hawkers. These are the people who have to sell these damped goods until government begins to reverse this trend of selling everything with a Ghanaian name and liberalising our market and begin to set-up need-based industries, hawking and hawkers will continue. But this AMA Boss does not seem to understand this situation. He still believes that these vulnerable people are there because they want to. That government owes them no explanation for failed promises, failed policies, and its abandoned pledge to care, protect and provide for her citizens. It is this wrong understanding of the problems of the city that is creating his insensitive thug- rule, physical, mental, and sexual exploitation of vulnerable orphans-turned hawkers. And this is why we are convinced that Vanderpuije must go.
He has lost the confidence of significant sectors of Accra. Our call for his resignation follows previous calls by market women represented by various pressure groups such as Market Women Association of Ghana [MAWAG]. His reign has seen him in constant quarrels with even legitimate market and shop owners, we identify with many Ghanaians living in Accra who have lost confidence in his administration.He must resign He has misplaced his priorities
Instead of fighting poverty, he is fighting the poor. Instead of fighting sanitation problems he is fighting sane people. Instead of fighting exploitation, he fights the exploited. Instead of fighting corruption, he is fighting the constitution. Instead of protecting the vulnerable, he hides under bye-laws to violate his people.He must resign He is an impediment to the cause of justice.
Not one single member of his wicked, abusive, and oppressive taskforce has been investigated and punished for excessive use of public force. Today, there are hawkers maimed for life because of these thugs. Yet not a single arrest has been made. No compensation has ever been paid to any victim of his narrow policies, open thievery of his henchmen and barbaric treatment of Ghanaian citizens.He must resign
He has breached not only the laws of Ghana, but international protocol on shelter.
As stipulated in the International law on housing, preferably on the Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR), which Ghana Government is a party to, the country is obliged to respect and follow a procedure before undertaking any eviction whether occupants of a land have legitimately or illegitimately taken over or trespassed. As part of the obligation before an eviction takes place the following must be considered;
· Engaging the affected persons of an impending eviction to be fully informed about the exercise to prepare their minds and as well agree to the intended action · An alternative means of livelihood to be provided through compensation or relocation · Undertake a proper displacement assessment to know how many people will be affected and who will be involved ( children, women etc), In default of the above, any move to remove people from their homes is a breach of the above mentioned international Convention which clearly constitutes a violation of affected people’s rights. He must resign
Today in Ghana, we have a home for refugees from war-torn countries but no home for our people in peace-loving Ghana. Whiles Fulani herdsmen oppress our colleagues up Northern, a Ghanaian oppresses his own down south. Our AMA boss is an Accra Fulani leader.He must resign
There are people in our society who will never get their voices heard, not because they do not speak but because no one is listening. We in the CPP Youth are determined to be the voice of this group who have suffered for so long and work so hard just to erk out the barest minimum to survive.He must resign We call for the setting up of a grievances & offences committee to look into the plight of these marginalised Ghanaians and explore ways of compensating for their loss. We also call for a review of the bye-laws of the assembly to empower it with a human element and a realistic view of poverty in Ghana today.