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Opinions of Saturday, 21 November 2009

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

Chiluba’s Trial and Lessons for the NDC

A few days ago, I was wandering from one website to the other to quench my thirst for news, especially those that have to do with my dear continent – Africa. News here is all about the NDC and NPP but if you go beyond the borders of Ghana, you are likely to find so many wonders of the world. There was this story on the BBC’s website captioned, “Chiluba trial 'cost Zambia $13m.'” I was shocked by the headline. Why one earth should such a poor nation spend money, which is huge enough to change the destinies of many towns and communities, in trial of a former leader? My real shock was however to come later when I read the story about the trial of the former shortest African head of state, who has a good taste for clothing.

The story read: “Zambian President Rupia Banda has said the government spent $13m (£7.8m) prosecuting President Frederick Chiluba.

The former president was accused of embezzling $500,000 of public funds. Speaking at a rally, President Banda said the money would have been far better spent on schools, medicines and hospitals.”

Had President Rupia Banda not known this? If someone is accused of embezzling $500,000 and $13 million dollars is spent on prosecuting him, then I think those who spent that much in the prosecution are equally guilty of causing financial loss to the state.

While I do not support the idea that the rot by previous administrations should be covered, I think what newly elected governments should do is to think about their mandate to the people first.

When the NPP took over power some eight years ago, the NDC became the worst government ever to rule a nation on this planet. The demonization of the Rawlings-led administration went beyond the borders of Ghana and Africa. When the NDC also took office early this year, the vilification of the previous administration started as if it were part of their campaign promise to Ghanaians and the end to it is nowhere in sight.

My advice for the NDC is short and simple. The mere fact that Ghanaians voted the NPP out of office is enough indication that they were fed up with the rot and arrogance. It is good to “set the records straight” but that was not part of the campaign promises made to Ghanaians. If there were no problems that needed a different government to solve, then Ghanaians would have allowed the NPP to stay on.

It is obvious that the NDC cannot fulfill all their campaign promises. This does not mean that they lied to Ghanaians. I have been a student leader right from the primary school up to date and one lesson I have learnt is that there is always a wide difference what one intends to do and the real situation one inherits. One may make very genuine promises but the realities on the ground would not permit even angels to deliver on such promises. In such a situation, the truth becomes bitter but it must be told.

Unexpected debts must be inherited in good faith. Leaders are problem solvers and must not keep repeating the problems they are supposed to be solving. Like, Frederick Chiluba’s trial, the cost of constantly complaining about the NPP’s mess may outweigh the solutions. After almost a year in office, what we need now are the real solutions to the mess. If there were no problems to be solved, there would not be the need to pay people to occupy ministerial and other offices.

After saying that the NDC had not achieved anything, the NPP in its latter days judged its performance against that of the NDC. Come 2012 the NDC will do just that.

If you really want to show how much you have achieved in life, do you use an outright failure as your standard of measurement?

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni [] The writer is the SRC President of the Ghana Institute of Journalism. Read more of his works on