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Politics of Monday, 12 October 2015

Source: Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Arthur K: Opposition not making the case for Mahama's defeat yet

Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Read Arthur Kobina Kennedy’s latest article in which he says President Mahama failed to impress in his recent interview on Conflict Zone while the opposition, unfortunately, is not making the case for his defeat.

PRESIDENT MAHAMA ON “CONFLICT ZONE”

Recently, in Berlin, President Mahama sat down with Tim Sebastian, the host of the influential program, “CONFLICT ZONE”.

It was, to put it mildly, an uncomfortable experience for the President. They discussed the following topics:

--- The Africa Union and its obligations to the ICC

--- The Right to Information Bill

--- Corruption in Ghana

--- The Economy

--- Energy

The President’s performance brought back memories of a similar program on “Hard Talk”, involving Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP Presidential candidate, before the 2012 election.

It begs the question of why Ghanaian politicians can avoid answering important questions for long periods while dealing with the Ghanaian media BUT cannot do the same with foreign media. Why can’t our journalists get our leaders to answer important questions? Is the problem lack of competence or confidence OR the lack of integrity?

On the AU, Tim asked the President why the AU would set up an African court and exempt all sitting Presidents and top officials of Africa. The President went off on a tangent to discuss how the AU had a difference of opinion with the ICC and how Kenyatta had been elected to govern and the ICC wanted to try him for crimes against humanity. The President left the unfortunate impression that getting elected absolved Uhuru Kenyatta of any crime he may have committed.

He also claimed, falsely, that the ICC was targeting African leaders exclusively. In his words, “Africa feels targeted”. When asked whether it would be more honest for Africa to withdraw from the ICC and the Rome Accords, he insisted the ICC still had a role to play in bringing justice to Africa. He could also not assert before the host whether in his capacity as ECOWAS Chair, he ever raised the issue of Human Rights with Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh.

On the “Right to Information Law”, the President insisted that there was a vigorous and free Press in Ghana and that the bill, which had languished for ten long years was being fast-tracked by his government! That was hilarious! As Tim explained, the inability of the media to obtain information from government limited its ability to report and also hampered the fight against corruption.

Against the President’s assertion that his government was fighting corruption, Tim pointed out that the Anti-Corruption tribunal set up by the Chief Justice had not tried a single case and that the respected IEA had stated that in the public sector, ”the culture of impunity to embezzle has taken root.” The fluidity with which Tim discussed this issue left one with the uncomfortable feeling that he was better informed than the President about corruption in Ghana. It would have been interesting if the interview had been after the “Anas Tapes”.

On the economy, Tim dismissed the President’s claims about the NDC economic stewardship by citing a poll that had 56% of Ghanaian respondents saying the NDC had handled the economy badly and the Center for Policy Analysis which claimed in a survey that investor confidence had fallen 13 percentage points in one year. Then he added the industrial unrest and the continuing promises to fix “Dumso”. The President lamely argued that electricity demand was increasing due the growth in our economy and that our “power loss is cumulative”. This was not a convincing “JM TOASO” case koraa!!

Adding the return to HIPC, the high interest rates on the bond markets and the general feeling that this government is struggling one wonders why the NDC is even competitive in 2016.

They should not be. A united opposition, focused on the pain of Ghanaians and asking Ghanaians insistently –“ARE YOU BETTER OFF THAN YOU WERE in 2008?”-- should win 2016 one touch.

The President did not make a good case for his re-election on the program. Unfortunately, the opposition is not making the case for his defeat --- yet.

Arthur Kobina Kennedy Irmo, South Carolina 10th October, 2015

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