Feature Article of Saturday, 8 September 2012
Columnist: Fordjour, Asante
...and the US-China Competition in Africa
The OmanbaPa Research Group
We have had the opportunity of confirming live- and here, with our own ears and eyes on Youtube- what Peacefm reporter Nana Yaa Konadu, had told her Hotfmonline UK listeners on Sunday, 02 September 2012. This is in relation to the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) Special Convocation of 30th August 2012, at Baba Yara Sports Stadium, in Kumase, Asante- the said political backbone of the main opposition political party: the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Nana Yaa’s observation which she said came at the time of mourning the passing of her grandma at the “Garden City”, over that weekend, obviously, is not the official position of PeaceFM, yet could not have been more fairer and balanced like this: If the overwhelming warm reception given to the president and the new NDC flag-bearer, his teeming entourage, not forgetting the multitude of crowds that John and his disciples fed with exhortations, politics and history, on mountains and rooftops of Asanteman, have anything to do with the 07 December 2012 stocktaking, then the “Great Asante”- shall surely fall.
But Nana Yaa Konadu’s political pessimism is not overly unthinkable. Many things come to mind when the Ghanaian electorate enters the polling booth to cast his/her vote which was why probably, notwithstanding the huge crowds that triumphantly invaded Baba Yara Stadium, sole-candidate Mahama, failed to secure the 100% votes cast. So General-Secretary Asiedu-Nketia, nervously, pegged the Asante, behind the Volta and the North, as electoral regions that will hopefully, confer the presidency on John Mahama, come the 7 January 2013.
As a backslider compañero, you might have also had your differing opinions and reservations about both Cuban and Russian Revolutions and indeed about Chairman Mao, not forgetting the dreams of Martin Luther King Jnr. Thus John cannot represent two faces. This is because unlike Dankwa-Busia Dombo property-owning democracy, Mills failed to blend Rawlings-Mills ideology. He opted rather, unsuccessfully, to build on the wooden bridges of Nkrumahism, which Rawlings, declined to trek on because they were indeed rotten planks?
Well, this is a debatable political reality that John The Joshua, must face if he really meant it when he recently quoted Dr Kwame Nkrumah in his maiden address to the country as saying: “We face neither East nor West; We face forward.” But what did President Mahama wish to convey with this quotation in a period of state mourning which witnessed cohesion and international diplomacy? The truth may be found below but not in the context of the event.
“When it comes to the practice of peace and unity, we Ghanaians have always been exemplary. Whether we support Hearts of Oak or Asante Kotoko, when it’s time for the Black Stars to play, we are indivisible. When other nations descended into ethnic rivalries and warfare, we Ghanaians worked and laughed, ate and lived together without regard to ethnic background...Our growing democracy deserves more from us than that[why our differences have to divide us or turn us into adversaries especially not our political differences?] And my fellow citizens, our country, whose independence and stability has been hard-earned, deserves more from us and from its politics than that,” he said.
Yes- in terms of peace and security, Ghana has a better laugh, over its neighbouring countries such as Togo, Ivory Coast, Bourkina Faso or Nigeria. But individually, ask some communities in Bawku, Tamale, Cheriponi, Atiwa, Akwatia, Abobloshie and more recently, in Odododioodio and Hoehoe. You may also add district or municipal chief executives and police officers, who had unjustifiably, been victims of fellow countrymen or women in a broad-day light.
This might be false but consider why it has to take the personal directive of the then Vice-President John Mahama, in the provision of street-lights in some farming communities in the Volta Region to avert what former President Rawlings described in his august speech at the Baba Yara Sport Stadium, as “senseless killings of innocent women”? This is perhaps, one of the countless unprecedented and unreported security dilemmas that some Ghanaians suffered under Mills’ inactions. Yet Ex-President Rawlings, this time around, had been unfortunately, economical and not honest or frank enough with his audience.
This is in respect of when and where Chairman Rawlings, eventually, had the sympathy of John Mahama- the then vice-president and chairman of the police council. But Rawlings is yet to tell the Ghanaian about the actual human obstacles- barriers, rivers and bridges that he was unable to cross and how long he had to endure before he was able to break the political encirclement around John Mahama. Were these frustrations created before or after the passing of Mills? Unlike the 2011 Sunyani Congress, where John registered his protest against Rawlings’ political bid for his wife with the Tales of the Three Northern Birds:Taka, Tika and Gangale, Mahama, has shelved his response to future.
But the reader might have inferred that under the Mills’ presidency, you ought to have known a political strongman at the top for your personal security needs. What then, did happen to the father-for-all policy? I am hesitant at this point to discuss the Marxist-Leninist theory about parliamentary democracy. In Lenin’s Booklet State and Revolution (1917), he defines the state as ‘an instrument of the ruling class’ and as a ‘machine for the repression of one class by another’.
I don’t think this is the parliamentary democracy that Ghana is set to build. We certainly also strive not for the China’s communist-at-home and capitalist- abroad ideology or thread with the hypocrisy of Non-Aligned. Yes, Philipp Gieg, political scientist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, points out, that the fundamental tenet of China's Africa policy is that unlike the West, China will say we will not interfere in the way you run your country and that US is also not beyond reproach as it judges all nations by the same yardstick?
In support of this argument the Deutsche Welle quotes the German political scientist as saying that in Ethiopia, the opposition is persecuted and media freedoms are suppressed. Yet it is a strategic partner in the battle against terrorism in the Middle East and Somalia. “The US therefore cannot afford to be too severe in its criticism of Ethiopia,” Gieg said. In the words of Deutsche Welle, military aid to Rwanda, though, has been cut because the Rwandan government is allegedly backing rebels in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This as Gieg puts it, shows that the US applies double standards.
During her 11-day tour of Africa, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton- who joined Ghana shoulder-to-shoulder with the bereaved President John Mahama, both at the Independence Square for the final tributes and burial rites of Ex-President John Evans Atta Mills; and later visited him at the Castle, Osu, Accra, urged African Governments to look for reliable partners. Washington, Deutsche Welle quotes Mrs Clinton as saying, was determined to campaign on behalf of human rights and democracy in Africa, even though it would have been easier and far more profitable for US, just to focus on the continent's natural resources?
The Secretary of State, who conveyed this message in her opened tour in Senegal, emphasized that not every partner shared these priorities. In the words of Deutsche Welle, the veiled reference to China, could scarcely be overlooked and for this reason, the Chinese news agency Xinhua promptly accused Hillary Clinton of trying to drive a wedge between Africa [and in our present case, Ghana] and China, which, it said, currently enjoys a friendly, equitable relationship? According to the DW report, both China and the US agree that Africa [and here Ghana] has potential for growth and both wish to profit from it.
Mrs Clinton describes trade and investment as important pillars in the US' Africa strategy. Yet DW observes that Chinese economic activity in almost every country on the continent is clearly visible. So where is President John Mahama’s political direction? John cannot afford to pretend that all was well under Mills and therefore; no political patchwork is urgently required and still expects uninterrupted approval and exhortations from Rawlings and the public.
John Mahama is aware, Nkrumah employed “We face neither East nor West...” in an era of Cold War and its East-West ideological pretentions that subverted human and infrastructural development in most colonial and the so-called third world countries. This prompted the formation of what was to be known and called Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), founded in Belgrade in 1961. NAM is credited to Yugoslavia’s president, Josip Broz Tito; Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno; Egypt's second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser; Ghana’s first president Dr Kwame Nkrumah; and Jawaharlal Nehru- India’s first Prime Minister.
According to Ma’Aroof Mohammad Khalid (1 January 1987), the phrase Non-Aligned, was first used to represent the doctrine by Indian diplomat and statesman V.K. Krishna Menon in 1953, at the United Nations. But in a speech given during the Havana Declaration of 1979, the then President of Cuba- Fidel Castro, said that the purpose of the organization is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics.”
The 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, Tehran, 26–31 August 2012, puts the movement’s membership, including Ghana, to 120 and 17 observer countries. Ghana’s foreign policy consideration since independence- 6th March 1957, it appears, had been non-aligned. In this context, President Mahama’s reference might have been affirmation of the status quo, to the international guest mourners. Otherwise, John’s chain falls off its hooks. The President said this immediately before the “We face neither East nor West; We face forward”:
“Given our ability to negotiate a potentially challenging but seamless political transition through the sterling performance of our democratic institutions- our Judiciary, Parliament, the Security services and a vibrant and largely responsible media –I am fully confident that greater success is within Ghana’s grasp and we shall continue to be a beacon of hope and pride to Africa and the world.” This was followed with “My Brothers and Sisters, I want to thank you, once again, for the support that many of you gave to me, as President, during this difficult time... Let us all continue to say our prayers for Professor Mills...”
Thus the context in which the quotation was used appears not to rhyme together. But John Mahama is a historian and communications expert. So he might have probably drafted the script himself and if not, might have scanned through it and surely affirmed his satisfaction about its political underscores. Granted that “We face neither East nor West; We face forward”, means Ghana’s foreign policy direction, the strength and reliability of its democratic institutions, the question that remains unanswered is whether Ghana had been really non-aligned and if so, whether the policy of neutrality had been indeed of beneficial to its citizens.
Many are those who describe Mrs Clinton’s advice to African leaders as thinly disguised criticism or diplomatic swipe at China as nothing more than just self promotion for Washington. So the same might be told if we were to subject the triumphal nomination and eventual victory of John Mahama, on 30 August 2012, under sledgehammer or bulldozer? The US Secretary of State talks about reliability of politics and business. But history appears not to be on the side of Africa, the US, China and the rest of the world. We may consider the Congo War, the overthrow of Nkrumah, Allende of Chile and Saddam Hussein of Iraq?
In military warfare, can 0.5% rebellious friendly troops not be a terrifying self-inflicting squad than a brigade of enemy forces we know? “John The Joshua” is relatively young and has been honestly commissioned with 99.5% able battalion to restore justice and integrity to a ruined kingdom that he is the grand prince. How he does it, true, lays the future stability of his dominions and his throne.
Researched and Compiled By Asante Fordjour
JusticeGhana.com/The OmanbaPa Research Group