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Opinions of Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Columnist: Oto, Kwadjo

Bribe: Kufuor Took Biggest Chunk -Rejoinder

I read with dismay the above publication on Monday 3rd September 2007 in The Enquirer newspaper of which the paper was trying very hard to link President Kufuor to the scandalous Scancem – GHACEM bribery allegation hanging around the neck of the former First Family, the Rawlings’, but failed miserable.

According to the paper, a top official of Scancem has pinpointed President Kufuor as having taken the largest chunk of the company’s bribery money. The story also went on to say that it was becoming very difficult for the company to convince the then political leadership to guarantee their monopoly. The company then decided to give the largest largess to President Kufuor and NPP (then in opposition). It is the peak of irresponsible journalism for The Enquirer to make such a wide allegation against the No. 1 steward of the land without single evidence being except for insinuations and innuendoes. Who and what is the name of the top official who allegedly spoke to The Enquirer? Doesn’t the man have a name? What shows that the story was not manufactured by the corruption and accountability crusader turned defender to satisfy the financiers of the paper? Common sense will tell you that no company that wants to maintain its monopoly will bribe an opposition party or leader and leave the government of the day that has the power to give them what they want.

In any case, there is no where in the court proceedings in Norway that President Kufuor’s name was mentioned as a benefactor of Scancem’s bribe monies. In the case of Mr. & Mrs. Rawlings, they were categorically mentioned in the Norwegian court proceedings as recipients of bribe monies from Scancem. It is also a known fact that Scancem started paying bribes to the Rawlings’ and their partners in crime as far back as 1980 during the PNDC era and then later, the NDC. It is also not true that the company was having problems maintaining their monopoly. Scancem’s GHACEM gained 100% monopoly and established their authority in the cement industry even before 2000.

According to the court proceedings, the monopoly GHACEM has being enjoying to date was made possible by the bribery system that was established under the leadership of Mr. Rawlings. According to the company, it was the system that made it possible for them to buy the 75% government of Ghana shares in GHACEM. 45% of the shares were sold to Scancem for over US$ 4 million dollars in August, 1992 and the remaining 30% was sold in September 1999 for US$17 million. Why will the company then bribe a party in opposition, for what? That 75% shares gave them 100% monopoly in the cement industry they were looking for.

According to the story, Scancem was behind the ‘Kume Preko and Sieme Preko’ demonstrations. But the irony is that even when the then NDC government was aware that Scancem was supporting such demonstrations against their government, they gave them all the necessary support they needed to monopolize the cement business. Can that be possible under the then Mr. Rawlings regime? In any case, why will Scancem pay money to the then NDC government to maintain their monopoly and at the same time donate money to support a demonstration against the same government in power that has given the company the total monopoly that they were enjoying in the cement industry? In fact, Scancem international conceded in the Norwegian court that it was those bribe monies they paid to the then NDC government in Ghana that made them dominant in the cement industry in Ghana. Scancem international also admitted in court that the party they were referring to is the party in power since it was that party that could give them influence to dominate the cement industry and not the party in opposition.

The Enquirer’s Story also intimated that monies were given to NPP and the then candidate Kufuor to ensure that Diamond Cement do not infiltrate the monopoly GHACEM was enjoying when they come to power. If that is the case, one would have expected that when President took over power, he would have institute measures to cripple Diamond Cement. After almost seven years in President Kufuor’s administration nothing of that sort has been done but on the contrary, Diamond Cement has been giving the necessary assistance to grow as a government that supports private sector development.

To defy the allegations of the paper, the NPP government led by President Kufuor has been encouraging individuals to get into the cement business by importing cement into the country. In fact, we have also been told that the NPP government is considering reducing the percentage on cement importation to serve as motivation to enter into the cement business as a way to break the monopoly of GHACEM.

If the President and the NPP government have done all these to ensure the cement price are not hype by GHACEM, why will anybody say that the President has been recipient of bribe monies to guarantee the monopoly of GHACEM? In any case, Diamond cement came to Ghana, 3rd August, 1998 and registered with Ghana Investment Promotion on 11th February, 2000. How can Scancem/GHACEM supported a 1995 ‘Kume Preko’ demonstration to help NPP annex power from NDC to prevent Diamond Cement from breaking through their monopoly when Diamond Cement was no where near existence in Ghana during 1995?

It is very sad how crusaders of probity and accountability will turn round to defend somebody in a corruption case when this same person has executed and displaced a lot full blooded Ghanaians for just on the mere suspicion that they were corrupt. What The Enquirer paper should know is that no matter how hard they try to link President Kufuor to the bribery scandal, it will not work since he has not been mentioned in any court proceedings. If they have the evidence they should bring it up and stop hiding behind the so called unnamed ghost Scancem official.



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