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Opinions of Monday, 27 March 2006

Columnist: Appiah, Manny

Incompetent & Corrupt MPs, Reg. Ministers & DCEs

RURAL UNEMPLOYMENT, AND COCOA FARMERS ? A CASE OF IMCOMPETENT AND CORRUPT Mps, REGIONAL MINISTERS, AND Dces

The man was Dr. Apraku, Honorable MP of Akomadan or should I say the dishonorable Member from Akomadan? The place was the floor of Ghana Parliament House in the dying days of P/NDC and the height Kume Preko street marches. Our outspoken MP, spitting fire and brimstone, said that over 80% (eight out of ten) of new investments and industries coming into Ghana were forced by the NDC government to settle in the Accra-Tema metropolis. Before his appointment as the Peer Review chief, this same man was in charge of the Ghana Free Zone Enclave of Tema.

Why is Dr. Apraku taking the first swing from this writer? My answer is simply he demonstrates what is wrong with Ghanaians, especially those in leadership positions; Big mouth while outside the eighteen yard box or on the popular stand but little action while inside the government.

Let us examine a couple of NPP and President Kuffour?s self-indictment for the past few months.

Taking POLITICS into the GUTTERS (AND FILTH)

Our Vice President has taken on another task in addition to being the Discipline sheriff, to help communities to clean their gutters and environment. This hands-on approach or leadership by example seems glorious on the surface. However, a critical look at the whole mess creation leads to one thing: Lack of leadership and accountabilities in every facet of our society. There is reward everywhere in Ghana for NO WORK DONE but there are no consequences for incompetence, corruption, and lack of leadership.

His Excellency Mr. Vice President should ask one question before descending into the gutters of Nima or Aboabo. Who is responsible for managing public areas and properties of Ghana government such as ?GUTTERS?? Why should these people still have jobs if it calls for the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana to come from his ?High Horse? to clean the gutters that AMA or KMA is paying individual or company to clean? What is ?broken? in the management of waste and resources? Not many of my readers know that Ghana Education Service allocate funding for Preventive Maintenance (PM) for all schools including elementary, JSS and SSS. Can anybody tell us when was the last time your secondary school embarked on any Preventive Maintenance? Where did the money go, Mr. Headmaster or Ms. Head Teacher?

Things were terrible before 2001 that many schools were without desk and chairs. When Team Kuffour took over, as usual with NPP government, throw money at the problems and all will be well. In 2001, about one million desk and chairs were supplied to both first and second cycle institutions in the country. 5 years later, about 20% of these desks and chairs are being used as fuel sources for the plantain frying lady under the mango tree.

FAIR TRIAL AND JUSTICE RESIDES IN ACCRA

The Attorney General in his smart suit told a section of the press that ?he had ordered the case of Baby Adwoa to be transferred to Accra?. His reason is that Baby Adwoa could get justice in Accra. What a not too smart statement. In Ghana you can get justice only in ACCRA. WOW AG Ayi Koi! Baby Adwoa is the little 7 year old girl who was raped by her grandfather in the Ahafo Ano North District of Ashanti Region.

The district capital of Mankranso has a magistrate court while Kumasi is only 20 miles away. Are we still living in Rawlings world of ?report to Gonda barracks without fail?? Why only Accra? This is because of incompetence, corruption, and the useless law enforcement and judiciary system in the country. Our judiciary system in the rural areas smacks of the old wild west of the prairies where the police, judge, jury, and prosecutor was the same person. You can not get justice in Ashanti Region unless either the defendant or plaintiff out-bribes the other. The system is too much infected by the likes of Magistrate Essel Mensahs and Inspector Arthurs.

As much as I would not like blame the AG for single-handedly moving the case to Accra without any input from the magistrate in the district where the crime was committed, the AG gives away the rotten state of judicial services in our rural areas. Out of incompetence, greed, corruption or otherwise, the Mankranso or Kumasi magistrate court could have adjourned the case millions of time until Baby Adwoa turns into Grandma Adwoa. Is there any person actively over seeing these magistrate courts? What happened to the supervising judge with power to discipline judges and magistrates?

I read in a local newspaper that there was a 37 year old case pending before a Kumasi court. This is a dispute over the ownership of a house in Kumasi. Just last week news of case that was 17 years old also resurfaced at a Kumasi Court. A Kumasi court could not dispose of such a case within 37 days simply because pronouncing judgments would mean the party who paid the largest bribe will lose the case therefore let the case ?hang? and plays the parties into ?GO-COME PALAVAR?. This is justice in Kumasi. The question is how many cases are over one year old pending before a Kumasi court and what has been done to reduce such a caseload? Isn?t this part of the AG?s job? Why is he still at post? Can the Minister of Justice answer us?

These irresponsible magistrates and judges with their conniving wig-wearing lawyers refuse to respect the people. They refuse to think about the financial cost to these people leaving their businesses and farms to assemble before Essel Mensah?s courtroom every week or month. These judges and magistrates do not care about the cost to Ghana?s economy. Is this why the AG ordered the case of rape case to Accra?

THIRD WORD vs. DEVELOPED WORLD; RURAL GHANA vs. ACCRA-TEMA

Please read below Ghana Chronicles, March 13, 2005 article on new investor into cocoa processing.

Cargill To Invest $50 Million In Cocoa Processing (3/13/2006)

Cargill Inc, a major food and cocoa processing company in the USA, is to set up a cocoa-processing factory in the country. The company is expected to make an initial investment of about $50 million. An eight-member delegation from the company which was in the country at the weekend visited the Ghana Free Zone Enclave at Tema and inspected some developed lands, ready for acquisition.

The delegation led by Mr Warren Stanley also inspected Sites Cocoa Warehouse, the Barry Calibaut Chocolate factory, Red Sea Housing, the Tema Port and International Land Development Company (ILDC).

Mr Kojo Aduhene, Chief Executive of the ILDC, conducted the delegation round the sites and proposed the construction of a warehousing facility with conveyors to facilitate the carting of raw materials to the factory.

The third world is up in arms against the developed world on the very thing that Ghana government is doing to our rural farmers especially cocoa farmers. In Ghana too, the farmers at Ahafo, Kyebi, Tafo, Wassa and others rural area produce the raw material to be processed at Accra-Tema. These same farmers send their children to Accra ?Tema as truck pushers and homeless victims. In defense of the advance countries; the technological advancement and the immediate market for processed raw materials as well as end users are in the developed world. Ghana policy and investment managers can not say the same for Accra-Tema as against Sunyani. Proximity to the harbor is the only advantage that Accra ?Tema has over Sunyani, Koforidua, or Kumasi. On the other hand these regional centers could boast of their proximity to the raw materials. Labor is readily available at both locations in skilled and non-skilled trades.

Hohoe or Sunyani Polytechnics produce enough skilled trade labor to support any manufacturing in the world considering the support of KNUST graduates available everywhere in Ghana. Utilities and facilities are readily available at Sunyani and I can point to old State Transport Corporation station area in Sunyani as well as the Food and Forestry areas of Sunyani. In Kumasi, I also point to with confidence; the Cadbury factory, Shoe Factory area, as well as Ahinsan Industrial area. The same thing could be said about Ho, Tamale, and Akim Tafo.

The raw material has to be transported from the interior to any factory in Accra-Tema metro area. If the factory was situated close to the source of raw materials, the finished product will have to be transported. So either way, something is transported. Let us factor in the bulk factor of the processed cocoa and the raw cocoa beans during transportation. The issue here is whether there will be a large influx of truck pushers, shoe-shine boys and kaya yei from Mpintimpi to Accra if the factories to process raw cocoa into finished product were situated there. Think about the evils of urban migration and its antecedent on social performance of any society.

The million dollar questions are; has any Regional Minister or DCE or MCE made a case to any of the companies coming to Ghana to invest in their district? Could S.K. Boafo of Ashanti Region make a presentation to Cargill on the benefits to the company if it locates the cocoa processing outfit in Tepa instead of Tema? Could the Brong Ahafo minister offer Cargill some tax incentives to locate the factory in Achirensua? And does S Boafo have what it takes to meet and made a case to the officials from Cargill?

Many of us have come to the sad conclusion that S. K. Boafo is the worst regional minister/commissioner/secretary ever to head any Regional Office at Kumasi. It beats common sense that our President insists on maintaining the Fa Ma Nyame, Yer Ye Akomkyin, Dwantua Minister, and the chieftaincy poster boy in Kumasi. It is unbelievable that Team Kuffour and NPP continue to keep such a non-performer, and those who have moved back the clock of progress in Ashanti Region at the helms of affairs in Kumasi.

This is a sad commentary. It is no secret that S.A. Boafo has proved to be worthless and useless in his capacity as Ashanti Regional Minister and had done more harm to the people of this part of Ghana than you can quantify. The release of the Food and Agriculture Ministry land across (opposite) the Campus of Winneba University College at Abuakwa on Kumasi ? Sunyani Road to the greedy and corrupt chiefs is a straight self indictment. Not a single child in the villages and hamlets surrounding this prime property benefited from the auction of this real estate. What kind of leadership is that? To serve only the Chiefs and Odikros of Ashanti to the detriment of 6 million people?

NEWMONT SURFACE GOLD MINNING ?AND the Tragedy at Kenyasi

This is a lesson in how lack of education, greed and short-term gain can conspire to render a town?s people helpless and useless. A few years ago, surface deposits of gold ore were found in sufficient quantities around the Kenyasi area in the B/A region in Ghana. A study was conducted by a foreign mining firm to determine the extent of the deposits and the viability of commercial operations in the area.

The rivers in this area have long been known to ?galamsey? operators as a source of gold dust and there is even evidence of mining as far back as the 17th century.

The findings of the assay were that large deposits of ore were to be found. In the haste to try and create an impression of being able to attract investors, and for political expediency in addition to the royalties, the government granted concessions and permits to Newmont mining to begin surface-mining operations at Kenyasi. This was without consulting the people of Kenyasi area about the impact on their lives or to give the EPA the tools to enforce the laws as per the EPA mandate. Having taken their cut of large stuffed brown envelopes and numerous gifts the next step was to move the residents of Kenyasi off their land. This is where the chiefs come in.

Kenyasi Omanhene and his chiefs are not educated. The Omanhene lives in Kumasi. To be able to portray himself as a successful person in Ghana, he needs a few accoutrements: a BMW X5 or Mercedes M class, a Toyota Landcruiser, a large house in Kumasi and Accra, and a few stores for his girlfriends. Since he cannot afford to get any of these items through his own abilities and effort, any chance to flog off Kenyasi land or mining rights would be eagerly sought.

However, there was a slight problem. Many of the lands around Kenyasi are farmlands. The farmers have leases granted by the Omanhene, and many of these leases were still in force. These farms provide a source of income and food for Kenyasi area residents, who number about 5,000 - 8,000. Newmont saw a hole in Ghanaian law and came up with a solution that they will compensate any farmer for their troubles and build them a resettlement village, in return for the transfer of the remainder of their lease to them. To sweeten the deal, the pay will be based on the number of planted food crops counted on the farmers land. Now you can imagine someone in Kenyasi who can barely make enough to feed his wife and children, being offered ?50 million for his 10 acre cocoa farm. The fact that the farm has been in operation for probably 50 years and is a steady income and an asset to the farmer, immediately disappears in a blur, replaced with images of taxis, Urvans buses, and big houses in Kumasi and Accra which are suddenly within reach as a result of ?50 Million. Suddenly, every young farmer with dreams of travel overseas can now afford to pay the connection man his $5000 for the chance to clean toilets, wash dishes and empty trash cans in Western Europe or North America. To increase the payout, farmers were clandestinely planting weeds at night and claiming they were crops. Even firewood was planted, covered with mounds and called yam. Some even made ?100 million. Some of the newly rich citizens of Kenyasi moved to Kumasi and Accra.

Pretty soon, stories of those who had been conned and cleaned out by connection men, armed robbers and shysters started filtering back to Kenyasi. Then they realized the disaster they had brought on themselves: they now had no food or water.

Surface mining involves cutting all plants, trees and crops, scooping up the topsoil, washing most of it away until a few sandy grains remain, sifting the gold from this sand and repeating this scoop by scoop. Usually this involves a shovel and a pan, but big-time pimps like Newmont use large construction equipment which can scoop the equivalent of 1000 shovels in 5 seconds. Since time is important, before the dumb Negroes change their mind and hand the money back, they did not allow harvesting once the farmer signed his life on the dotted line. Perfectly good Coco yams, plantain, vegetables, cocoa and rice were all mown down like Obed Asamoah supporters at Koforidua NDC congress. After all, who needs food when you have ?50 million in your pocket? Go to Kumasi and eat fried rice and chicken imported from who knows where. Who needs polluted river water for drinking when you can buy Voltic at ?6000 a bottle, schnapps and Guinness with your payoff in the city?

CONCLUSION

Are we managing our problems or our problems managing us? Too many people have written and spoken about the devil at Tema port and CEPS for the last 10 years. Has anything been done about it? Many people have spoken against the corrupt nature of our police men turned beggars on our byways and highways. Has Ghana Police Force prosecuted any policeman for bribery? Our stinking judiciary system is begging for computers, but not simple procedures, standard of operation, and methods that could dispose of cases in a timely fashion? Nope! Neither the NPP government nor Attorney General Ayikoi is ready to offer leadership other than talk and talk. Whole communities of about 1 million people have been displaced by surface mining and the economy of these areas are decimated because of irresponsible mining concessions agreement reached at Accra with Newmont and other companies in the name of Ghana and Investment without the children, women, and the old people in these communities benefiting in any form or shape from such investment. The corrupt nature of our ministries in Accra and their lack of knowledge are the culprit. Where do we go from here?

by Manny Appiah and T.A Kesey

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.