Feature Article of Friday, 19 October 2012
Columnist: Owusu, Stephen Atta
Madam Akua Donkor Promises Duty-free Ports in Ghana: Can an Illiterate Woman Make It to the Presidency?
As general elections in Ghana draw near, the various parties are hammering home the vital messages in their manifestos. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) is drumming home, among other things, free education for Senior High School students and the provision of infrastructure with the view to getting rid of schools under trees. The PPP is also of the same opinion. The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) plans to continue the good works of the late Prof. J. E. A. Mills. The message of duty- free ports in Ghana by the presidential candidate of Ghana Freedom Party (GFP), one of the newest parties on the block, Madame Akua Donkor, goes deep into the hearts of Ghanaians but does she have any chance of winning?
Madam Akua Donkor has continuously been accusing the NPP and PPP of stealing her ideas of free, non-paying Senior High School education and she is planning to send the leaders of the parties to court. If it is true that she was the originator of that idea, it is the hope of many that NPP would as well "steal" all the good ideas she has, including duty-free ports. It is unlikely that Madam Akua Donkor will ever win this year's election since her party is a new one and her followers are not so many. If a bigger party could take over her ideas, I believe many will support that party.
Madam Akua Donkor is a sixty year old farmer at Afigya Kwabre in the Ashanti Region. She is contesting this year's elections as a presidential candidate of GFP. For the first time Ghana has a presidential candidate who has never received formal education. She always affirms that the hardships in the country are proof of the fact that better governance could not be provided by the so-called scholars. She adds that it is worthless to put one’s trust and faith in the people who went to the big universities and speak English like the white man but fail the citizens miserably. She admonishes Ghanaians to try her despite her illiteracy because she believes she can perform much better than her learned opponents. A former Assembly member for Heman electoral area in the Afigya Kwabre District, Madam Akua Donkor uses the moon as her political symbol because she says Ghana has been in darkness for far too long due to wrong leadership skills portrayed by the NDC and NPP. She says she is the only leader who can exhibit effective leadership by declaring Ghana a free port and also promoting infrastructure-based free SHS education. This, she believes, will bring the country back into limelight due to her exemplary skills.
The ideas of Madam Akua Donkor have been widely embraced by Ghanaians abroad especially her free port idea. The corruption by the custom officers, the high import duties and stealing going on at the harbour compel Ghanaians abroad to accept the woman presidential candidate. Many Ghanaians abroad have very good intentions. They have the means of appealing to various companies to donate container loads of computers, hospital beds and many other useful items to help schools, villages and towns, orphanages and hospitals in Ghana. However, the gargantuan custom duties they have to pay scare them off. It is clear that this woman would have received a lot of votes if Ghanaians abroad were allowed to vote in the Ghanaian general elections. The continued non-implementation of ROPAL means that Ghanaians abroad who send so much in remittances to Ghana, are being denied their human rights when even prisoners without proper identification are going to be allowed to vote.
It is hard to understand how certain countries in Africa are able to have free ports. Are they so rich that their economies are able to cope without the revenue from import duties? Not far from Ghana, Togo, a country that comes nowhere near Ghana in natural resources and wealth and even depends on Ghana for their electricity needs, is able to provide for her people, a free port where no custom duties are paid. A free port, also called free zone or banded area, is an area of relaxed jurisdiction with respect to the country of location. It is a special custom area or territory with favourable custom regulations, or no custom duties or controls for transhipment. Despite the war in Liberia, the country still maintains a free zone. That is why Akua Donkor has the conviction that free port will be possible in Ghana if she is voted to power. Egypt and Morocco also have free ports. World Inland free zones are planned for five Southern African countries, namely Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania.
Madam Akua Donkor has very good workable ideas despite her illiteracy. She can best be described as the “Iron Lady” of Ghanaian politics. She often says that if a non-English speaking diplomat or statesman visits Ghana, he communicates through an interpreter. Akua Donkor intends to do the same.
She has threatened to place an injunction in court on the recently increased salaries for members of parliament. Salaries for the MPs are set to increase from Ghc3000.00 per month to Ghc7200.00 to be paid retrospectively from 2009!!! This means every MP will take home Ghc43, 470,000. This was the result of the recommendation of Ewurama Addy Commission established by the late president, Prof. Evans Atta Mills at the beginning of his presidency to look into the salaries of MPs.
The Ghana Freedom Party held its delegates’ congress on the 11th of October 2012. The congress was used to outdoor the party, its founder and presidential candidate, Madam Akua Donkor and national executives. For the first time in Ghana, we will have two presidential candidates who are women. They are Mrs. Konadu Agyeman Rawlings and Madame Akua Donkor.
For Akua Donkor to win this year's election, she must join her party to a bigger party like NPP or NDC. However, it is doubtful whether any of these parties will be ready to merge her radical and ambitious programmes into their manifestos. Ghanaians are hoping to have a party which will harness the country's resources towards the betterment of all Ghanaians.
Written by: Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces At Crossroads