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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 November 1999

Columnist: Ayittey, George Dr.

Lost And Doomed At 40

by Dr. George Ayittey [ayittey@american.edu]

"Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion -- when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing -- when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favours -- when you see that men get richer by graft and pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you -- when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice -- you may know that your society is doomed."

-- American philosopher, Ayn Rand (cited in The Wall Street Journal, July 5, 1995; p.A9).

March 6 is Ghana's independence and freedom day. What's there to celebrate? you might ask. Freedom from what? Are you free? Is P.V. Obeng free to resign and move freely about? How about Tony Aidoo, Vincent Assiseh, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan? Now, if those in the NDC are not that free, how much more about those who are outside?

Nigerians here in the U.S. stopped celebrating their independence day on October 1 because the situation has deteriorated so rapidly in Nigeria that many eat once a day. As Linus U.J. Thomas-Ogboji, a Nigerian scholar, lamented: Nigeria, the comatose giant of Africa, may go down in history as the biggest country ever to go directly from colonial subjugation to complete collapse, without an intervening period of successful self-rule. So much promise, so much waste; such a disappointment. Such a shame. Makes you sick (African News Weekly, May 26, 1995; p.6).

Ghanaians would soon stop celebrating their independence day too. The economy is in tatters. The rate of economic growth is down to 3.5 percent (1995); inflation running at 40 percent; unemployment hovers at 30 percent; the cedi in a free fall (at 1750 cedis to the dollar compared to 2.75 cedis to the dollar when Rawlings took over in 1981); the rate of interest at the bank was at an astronomical 50 per cent. Both the health and educational systems are in shambles. Corruption is rampant, documented by the 1993, 1994 and 1995 Auditor General's Reports, as well as the CHRAJ Report (1995). None of the thieves were punished. And not content with looting the country, they are now stealing elections too. Scrofolous thieves. Look at them.

The cost of living has become unbearable. Eating two meals a day is becoming a problem. Imagine chicken costing 20,000 cedis. Electricity rates, water rates, school fees are all murderous. Unemployment is pervasive. Take a look at the face of the ordinary Ghanaian on the streets. The glum expression tells of their suffering. Only a few are "enjoying," running riot in their pacheros. You don't need a Ph.D. to predict that this is a recipe for a social explosion, if present trends continue. "To entertain graft, opulence and corruption in the midst of mass poverty for four more years would be a veritable recipe for political instability," wrote Kwasi Sam in Free Press (Jan 27-30, 1997; p.7).

When Ghana gained its independence in 1957, it stood at the same level of development as South Korea. Both countries had income per capita of $200. At independence, there was greater hope forGhana. The country's economic potential was enormous: rich endowments of minerals (gold, diamonds,bauxite, manganese); cash crops (cocoa, coffee, kola nuts); and timber. In addition, Ghana had a well-educated population, a relatively larger professional and educated class than many other African countries.But today, 40 years later, South Korea's income per capita is ten times that of Ghana: $4,900 versus $450. In 40 years, all that we managed to do was to double our per capita income from $200 to $450. If our income per capita doubles every 40 years, then it will take us 120 years for our income per capita to reach $3600 (three 40 years). Of course, South Korea's would not stay static at $4,900 while we catch up. The NDC government says with its "Vision 20/20," Ghana will reach "middle income" status (income per capita of around $5,000) by the year 2020. It must be insane. Why have the hopes and dreams of independence been cruelly shattered?

The problem Ghana faces is identical to that faced by other African countries. African governments have not realized this because they themselves are the problem. What you have in Ghana and other African countries is a "mafia state" -- a government hijacked by gangsters, con artists and bandits. They have subverted every key institution (the judiciary, banking, military, press, etc.) to serve their own interests. The underlying ethic of the mafia African state is self-aggrandizement and self-perpetuation in power. The state sector has become the arena for private wealth accumulation. Access to political power guarantees fabulous wealth. The richest persons in Africa are heads of state and ministers.
This mafia African "state" operates by its own internal logic: Policy objectives are geared toward retention of power, not to help the poor or promote economic growth. The secrets of economic growth are known: rule of law, private property rights, pro-market, pro-trade, investment in human capital, mobilization of savings, creating a conducive environment for investment, etc. But they are anathema to the ruling bandits. If pressured, they would adopt only the cosmetic "reforms" that ensure continued flow of Western aid or simply sabotage them.
Of course there is "rule of law" or "constitutional rule." But the "law" or the "constitution" was written by the vampire elites themselves. Foreign investment? They believe in that too by investing their booty in foreign countries. Bureaucratic inefficiency and red tape? No problem. Ghana has established the National Institutional Renewal Programme to "assist public sector institutions to review their missions and objectives, policies, programmes, targets, inputs and outputs." Capitalism? Yes, but only for themselves. If you became too rich on your own you could be perceived as "a political threat" and your businesses could be destroyed by arsonists or capricious regulations and dictats.


William Asante complained bitterly:
Last Sunday Feb 9, 1997, 6 commandos stormed my residence in my absence and made away with my silver BMW 518 series registered GR 1436 B. My 19-year old daughter who attempted to resist them was pushed to the floor. The event took place around 8:00 pm. I had 5,000 pounds sterling, 2 Ghanaian passports (one for my self and the other for my daughter) and other documents lodged in the car. They left behind a letter asking me to follow up to the Castle and ask for one Prosper Senior, for whatever only God knows. Is it lawful for commandos to enter someone's premises and take away his property without his prior consent? We must be living in the jungle really (Free Press, Feb 12-18, 1997; p.2).

What keeps Africans poor is their powerlessness to remove predatory governments or force existing ones to adopt the right policies in a peaceful way. As a last resort, they may rise up to overthrow their governments with destructive consequences: Liberia, Somalia, Rwanda, etc. But then again, the next batch of rats are no better. The evolution of this monstrous, predatory African state began innocently by accident, not by design. For Ghana, the key year was 1960. Gradually and surreptitiously, all economic and political power came to be concentrated in the hands of the state and ultimately in the hands of one man. Unchecked powers that were subsequently abused by the head of state to enrich himself, his cronies and to brutalize perceived "enemies."

The period immediately following independence, 1957 to 1960, may be characterized as "The Era of Orderly Growth." Economic expansion for the entire period was in excess of 5 percent annually. With the population growing at 3 percent, there was a marked improvement in living standards. Prices were relatively stable, with the rate of inflation averaging less than 3 percent per year. That was the time when the "Mammy lorries" were charging three pence (or "tro" in Ga), which gave these vehicles their nickname "tro-tros." One cedi, back then, could last for days! The turning point came in 1960 and for 23 years (1960-83) Ghana's economy went into a tailspin.

The year, 1960, began with the declaration of Ghana as a Republic, which effectively terminated the functions of the British Governor-General. He could no longer exercise a veto power over legislation in Ghana. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and his Convention People's Party (CPP) enjoyed an overwhelming parliamentary majority. They subsequently used this majority to subvert the Constitution, outlaw the opposition, declare Ghana a "one-party state," and Nkrumah "president-for-life." Enormous powers were conferred upon one individual by gaping sycophants with absolutely no checks or balances whatsoever. The media was taken over by Nkrumah and gagged. Those who opposed Nkrumah were jailed under the Preventive Detention Act of 1958. Obetsebi Lamptey was one such who perished in detention.

A 5-Year Development Plan was launched in 1960 and, with it, Nkrumah's massive drive to transform Ghana's economy. Socialism was the guiding ideology, which he understood as increasing the participation of the state in the productive and distributive sectors. State participation, as a domestic policy, was to be pursued toward "the complete ownership of the economy by the state." Private enterprise was not to be tolerated: "We would be hampering our advance of socialism if we were to encourage the growth of Ghanaian private capitalists in our midst," Nkrumah said.

The state was to spearhead development and enormous powers were conferred upon the state. A plethora of instruments were employed to assure state participation and regulation of the economy. Numerous state enterprises were set up and a paraphenalia of legislative controls instituted: on impots (import licensing), capital transfers, on industry, minimum wages, on the rights and powers of trade unions, or prices, on rents and on interest rates. In addition, the development strategy adopted by Nkrumah was industrialization. "Industry rather than agriculture is the means by which rapid improvement of Africa's living standards is possible," Nkrumah asserted.
But the state-interventionist machinery and the attendant maze of bureaucratic controls strangulated the economy and resulted in serious dislocations, distortions and incalculable damage to the economy. The controls effectively destroyed the productive base of the economy by killing off private production incentives. Huge resources were transferred from a highly productive and efficient private sector to a grossly inefficient and unproductive state sector. The economy suffered while ineptitude, incompetency, inefficiency and treacherous waste in the state sector became recurrent vices.
Any commodity whose price is fixed at an artificially-low level by the government quickly disappears from the market. This is an economic fact. Price controls create commodity shortages; they don't make goods more available. And commodity shortages create incentives for people to purchase the items at government- controlled prices and resell on the black market to reap huge profits -- a practice known as "kalabule." The only effective solution is to remove the controls, not tighten them.
Not surprisingly, the controls and regulations instituted by the Nkrumah regime bred corruption and malpractices. Ministers discovered quickly that they could exploit the labryinth of controls to enrich themselves. The administration of import licence was the most notorious, where gross malpractices in the grant of licences were exposed by various commissions of enquiry: Akainyah (1963); Abrahams (1965); Ollennu (1966); and Gaise (1975). Import licensing was supposed to limit imports and thereby help conserve foreign exchange. But with the payment of a bribe -- usually 10 percent of the value -- importers could import anything, sending imports out of control. With Ghana's foreign exchange reserves exhausted, Nkrumah resorted to high-cost suppliers' credit to keep his industrialization drive alive. By 1966, Ghana's foreign debt had reached $858 million.

Nkrumah's emphasis on industrialization led to the neglect of agriculture and food prices began to rise. When the importance of agriculture was belatedly recognized, Nkrumah set up the State Farms Corporation in 1963. But it barely produced enough food to feed its own workers, let alone the nation. The Abrahams Report (1065) concluded that, "The State Farm Corporation had not produced foodstuffs in sufficient quantities to justify their capital and investment" (p.23; para.63). After only two years of operation, the corporation racked up losses totalling 18 million cedis.
The performance of the other state enterprises (SEs) was hopeless. The government estimated that, at the end of 1966, their actual manufacturing output was only one-fifth of the single-shift capacity of installed plant. In one case, the Paper Bag Division of the Paper Conversion Corporation at Takoradi, the rate of capacity utilization was as low as 3.5 percent. In March 1966, as many as 13 of the 17 fishing vessels of the State Fishing Corporation were tied up at home and abroad for want of repairs or attention. In 1966, only 4 of the 64 SEs were paying their way. The rest were accumulating losses which were covered with government subventions. That enlarged budget deficits, which were financed simply by printing money. That, coupled with declining food production, fuelled inflation. Economic growth turned negative in 1965 and in 1966, Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup.

Of course, this does not mean everything Nkrumah did was a failure. Only an imbecile would claim that everything Nkrumah, Rawlings -- or for that matter any other Ghanaian head of state -- did was "bad." Nkrumah won independence for Ghana at great personal sacrifice. His vision of Pan-Africanism is as much relevant today as it was in the 1950s and yet to be achieved. The Akosombo Dam, Tema Harbour and the Accra-Tema Motorway still stand as towering achievements to his credit. But Nkrumah had his flaws too -- just like Rawlings. In fact, fallibility is a human condition, despite such epithets as "The Messiah" and "The Guide" African leaders heaped upon themselves.

Some of Nkrumah's failings were his overemphasis on industry and his abiding faith in the potency of the state as the initiator of development. The state does not solve but creates problems. His investment thrust, however salutary the goal, was not productive. His state enterprises were hapahazardly acquired and scandalously inefficient. Worse, his socialist experiment was a miserable fiasco, just as it failed in Benin, Congo, Guinea, Tanzania, Zambia and other African countries. The ideology was alien and this fact must be stated in very strong terms and drummed into the heads of Africa's intellectuals.

Socialiam, as an economic ideology, entails some government ownership of the means of production, the imposition of state controls on the economy and the operation of state enterprises. These were never -- I repeat, never -- part of indigenous African heritage. African chiefs do not fix prices on village market. Bargaining has always been the rule. Nor do chiefs run "state enterprises." Neither do they declare their villages to be "one-party states" and themselves "chiefs-for-life." Chiefs were chosen to rule. In traditional Africa, no jackass, waving a bazooka, just got up and imposed himself on his people. African elites must be told in no uncertain terms that Africa has always had its own ideology before the colonialists set foot on the continent. And the African people are simply fed up with being used as guinea pigs in foreign ideological experiments: The Americans, Chinese, Russians, French or even Martians "do it this way so we must also do it that way."

More insidiously, the "socialism" that was actually practiced in Ghana was a peculiar form of "Mercedes-Benz socialism." While Nkrumah preached "socialism," some of his ministers were importing Mercedes Benzes and gold beds into Ghana. In 1962, a member of Ghana's parliament, B.E. Kusi, excotiated these so-called socialists: Many children go about in the streets because they cannot get accomodation in secondary schools, while those ministers who are in charge of the money send their children to international schools and to university. Most of them ride in Mercedes Benz 220s and yet call themselves socialists. This is very bad.

The greatest tragedy of all, however, was that successive governments did not have the foresight and wisdom to dismantle the statist interventionist behemoth set up by Nkrumah. Instead, they each retained and strengthened it. For the next 17 years (1966-83), Ghana kept the same defective statist economic system; only the drivers changed. It was the Busia administration which made feeble efforts to reform the system. He pared the size of the bloated civil service ("Apollo 568") but he was overthrown in a coup in 1972. The incoming Acheampong regime expanded the scope of state interventionism. More SEs were established and by 1983 the total number had grown to 240. More prices were brought under government control. Even by 1970, "nearly 6,000 prices relating to more than 700 product groups were controlled" (World Development Report, World Bank, 1987; p.114). Naturally, the problems (corruption, gross inefficiency, wastes) got worse.

In 1978, for example, a whole shipload of Ghana's cocoa vanished from the high seas -- diverted, sold and the proceeds pocketed by corrupt officials. The Chief Executive of Ghana's Cocoa Marketing Board, Cmdr. J. Addo, was charged with "wanton and felonious dissipation of public funds, abuse of office and gross mismanagement." He was said to have "attempted fraud involving the illegal transfer of 39 million cedis in foreign exchange and obtained pecuniary advantage under the color of his office and through wilful indiscretion lost 104,075 pounds sterling to the Government" (West Africa, Sept 24, 1979; p. 1776).

In 1979, while the government was announcing that no new licences would be given to import new cars, a government-owned R.T. Briscoe was taking delivery of 30 brand new models of Daimler Mercedes Benz. Said the Daily Graphic (Jan 25, 1979) in an irate editorial: "The Ministry of Trade must answer a few questions on the rationale for giving licences to individuals and organizations to buy Mercedes Benz cars which, by all standards in every corner of the world, are considered to be luxurious vehicles, when we could not even give the people of this country goods for Christmas?"

Food was becoming scarce and Ghana was resorting to imports. In 1979, the production of local staples was half the output in 1974 (Economic Survey of Ghana, 1977-80, Table 2.2). The SEs could not fill the shortfall. "The State Meat Factory at Bolgatanga was closed for nine months; yet employees were paid in full for the entire period" (West Africa, 1981; p.2884). And "For 14 months, from Nov 1978 to Jan 1980, the State Jute Bag Factory was closed due to the shortage of imported raw materials. Yet the 1,000 workers of the factory received full pay for the entire period of closure" (Punch, Kumasi, Aug 14, 1981; p.8).

Though the controls and regulations were stifling economic growth, they were retained because they benefitted the tiny elite class. It was the elites and their wives who purchased goods at government- controlled prices. It was the elites who imported gold beds and Mercedes Benzes. But it was the sweat and toil of the peasants that earned the foreign exchange. In Dec 1981, Flt. Lte. John Rawlings made a second coming, declared a "Holy War" on "Kalabule," and vowed to right the injustices long perpetrated against the common peasant. His heart was at the right place but his head was somewhere else. The PNDC did not realize that it was the STATE itself which was the problem. They sought to solve the problem through even MORE STRINGENT STATE CONTROLS: Price Control Tribunals, arrest of traders, burning down of markets, border closures, threats to execute smugglers by firing squad. In 1983, the economy sank to its nadir. Income per capita dropped from $410 in 1981 to $345 in 1983. Inflation was running at 123 percent. Bread disappeared completely from the market and people began wearing the "Rawlings collar." About I million Ghanaians fled to Nigeria.

Said Amoafo Yaw in a letter to the Daily Graphic (February 17, 1982): "I am writing this letter or article to explain the fundamental issues which have led to the presented suffering of Ghanaians . . . In this country, much noise is being made about exploitation of the people . . . But as far as I am concerned, it is the STATE, as the Chief Vanguard, and her so-called Public Servants, Civil Servants which actually exploit others in the country . . . The money used in buying the cars for government officials, the cement for building estates and other government bungalows which workers obtain loans to buy them, the rice workers eat in their staff canteens, the soap, toothpaste, textile cloth which workers buy under the present distribution system all come from the farmers' cocoa and coffee money..

This STATE-MONOPOLY CAPITALISM has been going on since the days of the colonial masters and even our own governments after independence have continued the system even up to the time this letter or article is written . . . The farmers realizing this naked exploitation, decided unconsciously that they would no longer increase cocoa and coffee production; they would not increase food production and any other items which the state depends on for foreign exchange. In effect, there would be no surplus for the State to exploit" (p.3).
Remember that our African society operates like a vehicle -- an amalgamation of systems: ignition system, fuel system, electrical system, cooling system, transmission, etc. The systems in our society constantly malfunction and breakdown: the political system, the educational system, banking system, university system, civil service, etc. Each system operates with a motley of obsolete, discarded parts scrounged from foreign junk-yards and operates on borrowed ideology. The "no party politics" system at the district level in Ghana and Uganda is borrowed from Cuba and multi-party politics borrowed from the West. No party politics, incidentally, is an euphimism for continued military rule. The military is the only institution which is apolitical and organized. Therefore if no others are allowed to organize for political purposes, the military will ALWAYS dominate and come up on top. It's like saying the president of an African country must have a Ph.D. Guess who will have the natural advantage -- university professors and scholars. But banish that thought. Were a Ph.D. to be required, they will go and purchase it. The late Samuel Doe bought one. Rawlings got two -- double qualifications. And why not? After all, he is "J.J." So two Ph.Ds.

But the possession of a Ph.D. does not ncessarily make one a good president. There have been numerous holders of Ph.D.s who have ruined their African countries in the post-colonial period. Give me a choice between a Makola woman and somebody with a Ph.D. and I will vote for the Makola woman anytime. Yes, she may lack formal education but many of these women have more common sense than some of us with all our Ph.Ds. There is a huge difference between book knowledge and common sense you know. Going back to the general description of our African society, the systems are composed of a motley of borrowed parts. In the fuel system, the carburettor was a gift from Norway and the fuel filter was donated by Austria. The battery came from Jupiter. The tires came from Britain and China are mismatched: The left rear one is a size "16" snow tire while the rest are of size "14," one of which is flat. A headlight is broken and the electrical system is dysfunctional: Turn the ignition switch and the wipers fall off. The engine sputters and belches thick smoke that pollutes the entire country. The brakes are out of order.

Clutching the wheel is an egocentric, who insists he -- and he alone -- must be the driver till Kingdom come because the vehicle is his own personal property. "President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya has vowed to rule for another one hundred years," (The African Observer, Oct 12-25, 1995; p.7). Aboard are his ministers, cronies, tribesmen, mistresses, sycophants and other patronage junkies, who, in turn, have brought along their relatives, tribesmen and friends. A goat, stolen from the people, has been tied to the rear bumper for a later feast. You may pour in super high-octane rocket jet-fuel (thanks to the Americans and the World Bank), install a brand new battery, shock absorbers or emission control devices to cut down on the pollution. You may even change the driver (through democratic elections). But this vehicle or society is going nowhere fast. In fact, if it moves, if at all, it will land in an economic ditch.

For the vehicle or society to move forward, you must fix each defective system. In fact, we never did this after independence. All we did was to change the driver of the vehicle (through military coups and elections). No reform of the institutions occurred and therefore the rot festered and the systems continued to deteriorate. And get this: Without institutional reform, Ghana's progress will still be retarded, regardless of who wins future elections. Institutional reform is crucial for our prosperity.

On reform, there are some "educated" Ghanaians who make pronouncements that betray their woeful lack of common sense. They boast about how they can make the whole Ghanaian society progress when they have no clue how to make the parts work well. How can you make the vehicle as whole run better when you don't know to fix the small parts or systems? Or how can you win the major war if you can't fight the small battles? Here are some common sense principles on institutional reform.

  • 1. One person alone can't reform or fix all the systems. He may be proficient in the workings of one system but may lack the operational knowledge of other systems. In fact, the person who insists that he can only make a contribution to Ghana's progress by becoming the next president is least qualified for the job. Hundreds of people have contributed to the advancement of world civilization without being the presidents of their respective countries. If you want to make a contribution, take an institution, a system or profession and reform it.
  • 2. ACH INSTITUTION OR PROFESSION MUST REFORM ITSELF -- BY THOSE WITHIN THAT INSTITUTION ITSELF!! You don't mismatch professions by asking soldiers to fix the political system because soldiers are trained to defend the territorial integrity of the country. Nor would you ask a medical doctor to fix your judiciary system. For 13 bloody years, we asked a lawyer, Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, to fix and run our economic system. What happened? Or look at the university system which was reformed by the military. The moral is this: Reform your own profession or let somebody else from another profession do it for you and make a mess of it.
  • 3. For each institution, system or profession to work efficiently, it must have its own rules and regulations, which those who work in that system or institution must obey at all times. These rules are called a CODE OF CONDUCT; for example, the civil service code, the military code, the academic code, student code, etc. In any school system, cheating is not tolerated and any student caught cheating during exams could be expelled. Similarly in academia, plagiarism is not tolerated. A professor caught plagiarizing the work of other could be dismissed. Enforce these codes. We are constantly wailing over our inefficient civil service system -- deliberate tardiness, absenteeism, embezzlement, wastes, favoritism, tribalism, etc. In the past, some recklessly incompetent soldiers tried to solve the problem by drilling a few tardy government workers. Rather foolish. All they had to do was to ENFORCE the existing Civil Service Code. We look like idiots, running around chanting "transparency," "probity," "accountability," "integrity," etc. when these are exactly the same goals enshrined in the Civil Service Code that sits right under our noses. Had we enforced the damn Code, the World Bank wouldn't be in the country preaching "transparency" and "accountability" to us. If a code sounds foreign to you, remember that we have codes in our traditional systems too. Codified behavior is often called customs or customary ways of doing things. One of our social codes is to show respect to elders. Another is not to offer anything with your left hand. Whether you are the son of the president or chief, or you come from the Ga or Ewe tribe, you treat any elder with respect. And when you are giving something to someone, you don't use your left hand, whether that person is an Ewe or Dagomba is immaterial. Similarly, as a civil servant, you provide professional service to a citizen, whether that he or she is the son of the president, belongs to the NPP party or hails from the Hausa tribe or not.
  • 4. The purpose of the code is establish professionalism or professional conduct. Any organization or institution which deals with the public at large must have a code that is non-partisan (apolitical) and non-discriminatory. For example, as a teacher, you pass a student, not because he is from your tribe, but on the basis of merit. Similarly, as a civil servant, you report to work on time and process applications without bias or favor. If you are at GBC, Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times, you give equal coverage to the opposition views too because you are a civil servant, and as such, you must treat all Ghanaian citizens the same, whether they are in the government or in the opposition. Opposition people pay taxes too, damn it.
  • 5. Disciplinary action must be taken against violations of the code for all to see. For example, in the teaching profession it is unethical and unacceptable for a teacher to have sexual relations with students. The function of a teacher/lecturer is to impart knowledge and bring light where there is darkness. Not to prey on female students or add more darkness. An infraction of this code should result in the expulsion of the teacher. Codes also demand obeying the laws of the land. Those who flout the Code are disciplined, expelled from the profession or punished. For example, civil servants, ministers, soldiers or professors who embezzle public funds are handed over to the police for prosecution.
Let us now apply these principles to clean up the rot in the system. First of all, it is not the duty of President Rawlings or the Government to solve that problem. The government can't solve all problems. Sometimes we don't think of the implications of calling upon the government to solve our problems. Such calls open the door to wanton government interference in our private lives and encroachment upon our civil liberties. And more importantly, governments don't solve problems; they aggravate them! If governments solve problems, how come we are in such dire straits in Africa? The truth of the matter is, in most African countries, the government is the problem. Asked how to solve Zaire's problems, Amina Ramadou, a peasant woman, replied: "We sent three sacks of angry bees to the governor and the president, and some ants which really bite," she suggested. "Maybe they eat the government and solve our problems." She does not have a Ph.D. but she sure has plenty of common sense.

A reformist crusade must be taken to all institutions and professions: the military, the civil service, the universities, teachers association, banking, House of Chiefs, etc. START THIS REFORM RIGHT NOW! Remember in the runup to the "Kume Preko -- Mabre" demonstration, "the fanatical posturing of chiefs in Sunyani, led by their Omanhene, Nana Bosoma Osor Nkrawin II, who made a mockery of themselves and threw all respect and honour to the wind, when they unwittingly pronounced Sunyani as the "darling region of the NDC," and "a no go" area for the Alliance For Change?" (Free Press Editorial, Sept 27-Oct 3, 1995; p.6).

In order that chiefs, as fathers of their people, maintained their honour, dignity and reverence, as well as the sanctity of the institution, the Constitution of the Fourth Republic had precluded them from the roughs and tumbles of partisan politics. As impartial players, chiefs are enjoined to treat all their people equally as their flock, no matter their political inclinations. While some chiefs strove to live by these tenets, many others in Brong Ahafo turned themselves brazenly into NDC party fanatics.

What the Brong-Ahafo chiefs, like many other sycophants and self-seekers forget, however, is that by selling their conscience, they sacrifice the freedom of their people, to be condemned to eternal suffering in the murderous, corrupt and inefficient regime of the NDC. And, in doing so, they sacrifice also their own respect and honour, and those of their institution for the interest of Rawlings. May the curse of their ancestors be upon them! (Free Press Editorial, Sept 27-Oct 3, 1995; p.6).

No! Destool such sycophantic chiefs at once! Now! The House of Chiefs too need to be cleaned up. Chiefs should never involve themselves in national politics and desecrate that sacred institution of chieftaincy. A chief should realize that his subjects may be pro-NDC and pro-NPP. Therefore, he should remain politically neutral. He should not be seen campaigning for either the NDC or the NPP. Chiefs who violate this code should be destooled immediately. Elsewhere, demand to see the code or constitution of your organization or profession and have it enforced. Where none exists, demand to have one drawn up. Such codes should eschew tribalism and emphasize professionalism and merit. People in the army should be promoted, not because they are Ashanti, Ewe or Hausa but solely because they have earned their promotion by merit and professional standards.

The military must clean up its act too. Here is what Major (retired) M.K. Sawyer wrote in Free Press (Sept 8-14, 1995): As an Ex-Serviceman, I become very annoyed whenever I read in the newspapers that the Commandos have beten, shot or molested someone somewhere in the country. My long experience in the Ghana Armed Forces during which I was exposed to some of the leading Armed Forces institutions in Britain, the USA, the former USSR and India has taught me that Commandos are an elite unit within the Armed Forces. They are made up of men selected from withing the Armed Forces because they are found to have extra qualities over and above the normally high standards required in the armed Forces and are given other training which put them on a higher level above the rest. They take their operational orders from the Armed Forces and not from outside it. They carry out operations of particularly dangerous nature which demand extra courage, determination, fortitude and level- headedness, sometimes well behind enemy lines . . . Real commandos do not go about beating, shooting and molesting their countrymen. They operate within the Armed Forces and not outside it. As part of the Armed Forces, they help protect their country against external aggression and not operate as the prvate army of their Head of state. What we have here is an institution whose inmates are trained as fake terrorists and are used as such by the powers that be against their own brothers and sisters (p.2).

How can the Army Forces allow this situation to happen? Not only the existence of the Commandos outside the military chain of command but the Similarly, the Civil Service will have to reform itself. Civil servants should remain apolitical, showing no favors to any one political party. They are there to serve the people, who may belong to different parties. Civil servants who show favoritism to the NPP should be disciplined just as hard as those openly support the NDC. We also know high government officials have been embezzling money. We set up a CHRAJ Commission and then throw out its recommendations. We should have our heads examined. And then we herd ministers and deputy ministers like goats to Burma Camp to drill them? Ridiculous. Why not sack those ministers who do not measure up?

Those who sincerely want to save Ghana -- and for that matter, Africa -- should treat this issue with utmost seriousness and urgency. Because people who lack of professional integrity are easily corruptible. Many people know of the rot in their professional organizations because some sycophantic members act unprofessionally and easily succumb to bribery and corruption. But instead of collectively expelling such scoundrels from their midst, they keep quiet either out of fear or unconcern. But that helps nobody because the bad apples bring shame and disrepute to the entire profession. The professions in Ghana whose images have been badly tarnished are the military, the civil service and the university lecturers. These professions need to clean up their acts. Reward and punishment is an ancient human behaviour modification rule. Children or workers who are honest, diligent and faithful are rewarded, while those who are lazy, unprincipled and unreliable are punished. The rot in these professions has festered due to the simple fact that the sell-outs, disreputables and scoundrels are never punished. Instead, they are welcomed back into the fold to continue the damage. This should change, now.

University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) should define Faculty Code of Ethics and professors such as Dr. Kwesi Botchwey and Dr. Afari-Gyan, should be permanently be debarred from teaching in any of Ghana universities. Dr. Afari-Gyan, the Electoral Commissioner, has become a disgrace to the university and the teaching profession. An Electoral Commissioner who does not know the population of Ghana and lecturer who cannot define who is an "alien" has no place on any campus. Intellectual collaborators and prostitutes should be punished to serve notice to the others that sycophancy doesn't pay. The other professions must also do the same: the legal profession, the banking profession, the journalistic profession, the medical profession, the civil service profession, the political profession (political parties) and even the military profession. Any member of these professions who does not uphold professional integrity and ethics should be decertified or expelled. For example, a lawyer or judge who blatantly flouts the canons of law should be de-licenced and expelled from the Bar Association. Similarly, any soldier who breaches the military code of discipline should be court-marshaled and discharged with dishonor.

Those in the opposition who preach democracy must practise in their own organizations. Any politician who acts autocratically, as if the party belongs to him -- and him alone -- should be expelled at once! Nobody -- absolutely nobody -- has the God-ordained right to be the leader of a political party. Some egocentrics in the opposition need to be told this. The leader, or the presidential candidate, of a political party is chosen democratically -- by the rank and file. Anyone who seeks to impose himself on the party should be thrown out immediately. Issues such as dictatorial tendencies must be addressed by the political party itself, not by the military. All professions, political parties, associations and groups must enjoin their members to uphold constitutional and democracratic rule. Therefore, no member of any such group will serve an unconstitutional and illegal military regime. It should not be left to the individual to decide but debarred by collective action. Those who violate this injunction, such as judges who swear in coup leaders, should be decertified and expelled from the Bar Association. Similarly professors, civil servants and medical doctors. The choice before us is crystal clear: Either we reform our institutions ourselves or sit there like children and wait for the World Bank, IMF, and other external agencies to come and tell us what to do, despite all our "education." Or we may let someone else from a different profession reform ours and make a mess of it. Like the Sierra Leonian proverb says: "The moon shines so brightly but it is still dark in some places."


The author, a native of Ghana, is an Associate Professor of Economics at The American University and president of The Free Africa Foundation, both in Washington, DC. His new book, Why Africa Is Disintegrating, will be published by St. Martin's Press this summer