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Opinions of Thursday, 26 October 2006

Columnist: Appiah, Ernest Kwame

President Kufuor's Legacy Overshadowed by Scandals

The NPP Government came to power on the back of human right abuses, collapse of Ghana’s educational system, deteriorating health sector and worsening economic conditions during the over twenty years of the Rawlings led P/NDC. In opposition, the NPP assured Ghanaians that among other things they will deliver jobs and respect Ghana’s constitution.

In office, The NPP Government has taken some unpopular policy initiatives such as accessing the HIPC funds. This has allowed Members of Parliament to fund major projects in their constituencies. The government alleges that through prudent macro-economic measures, the country’s economy has been stabilized and Ghana became one of the fastest countries to reach the completion point of the HIPC initiative. Unfortunately, the so called economic stabilization has not resulted in improvement in standard of living as families struggle to survive. This is evidenced from the series of strike actions to demand a better living wage and minimize the suffering of the working class. In a country that has a low manufacturing base, reliance on primary commodities has opened it to the price fluctuations associated with these commodities and despite the urgency placed on President Kufuor’s personal crusade to travel across the globe to attract direct foreign investments, nothing much has been seen in the area of industrialization to lower unemployment levels in the country. But the NPP Government claims that its ability to access the Millennium Challenge Account reflects good governance. This can be disputed giving that good governance should also embrace strong leadership in the fight against corruption.

Since coming to power, the NPP Government that promised zero tolerance on corruption has found itself fighting allegations of corruption, professional misconduct, conflict of interest etc. Let me examine some of these allegations.

(1) Alhaji Bamba Allegations

Alhaji Moctar Musah Bamba(pictured), former MP and former Deputy Minister for Presidential Affairs is alleged to have co-floated a company called ‘Emirates Investments Limited’ that used Presidential letterheads to guarantee private loans. When investigative journalism brought this to light, the NPP Government left Bamba off the hook by not seeking his prosecution.

(2) Professional Misconduct – Kofi Ameyaw Osei

A competent court in Australia found Mr. Kofi Ameyaw Osei, former Deputy Minister for Trade guilty of professional misconduct - improperly inducing a client to invest funds, misleading a client and the Law Society/Bar Association/LSC and failing to advance and protect the interests of his client (Ghanaweb, 27 March 2006 CITATION: New South Wales Bar Association v Osei). The lawyer who spent most of his professional career in the diaspora failed to disclose his court case to the Parliamentary vetting committee. Though a former Consul in Australia, the NPP Government failed to do any proper background checks and appointed Mr. Osei as a Deputy Minister. While he has been sacked from his ministerial position, Mr. Osei is still a Member of Parliament despite his guilty verdict from an Australian court. Does this contravene Chapter 10, article 94 (c) of the 1992 Constitution which states that , “A person shall not be qualified to be a Member of Parliament if he has been convicted for high crime under this Constitution or high treason of for an offense involving the security of the State, fraud, dishonesty or moral turpitude?” Why has the NPP Government and opposition parties not called on Mr. Osei to resign from Parliament?

(3) Perjury, Abuse of Office – Richard Anane

In its report, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) found ex-Minister Richard Anane liable for perjury, abuse of office and conflict of interest in his relationship with one Alexandra O'Brien, an American. While Dr. Anane has the right to challenge the CHRAJ findings in court, President Kufuor should have withdrawn his ministerial nomination when the scandal was disclosed at the Parliamentary vetting committee. The scandal has overshadowed the Minister’s own achievements and painted the NPP as a government only interested in selective prosecution of NDC functionaries.

(4) Absentee MP Amoateng

While not proven guilty of cocaine imports into the USA, MP Amoateng has left his constituency without representation. The NPP Government has not shown leadership by not calling on its member to resign in accordance with Parliamentary protocols and thereby call by- elections.

These and many other scandals within the NPP Government have overshadowed the achievements of the Kufuor administration. However, the NPP may win for an unprecedented third term. The NDC’s internal problems and poor economic and human rights record will continue to bite the party. The defections of some of its members into other political parties also mean that the party will have to struggle it out with the DFP and NPP in its traditional strongholds in the Volta and Northern Regions.
The other good news for the NPP is that some of its Presidential aspirants have seen the need to purge the party and have been campaigning on a platform of strong leadership on corruption. The party’s choice of a scandal-free Presidential Candidate who commands respect and has a strong record in leadership and governance may lift the party to a third term victory. But such a victory will not be easy coming as the diaspora formed Ghana National Party gathers momentum with its fund raising and policy initiatives to clamp down on big government, put corrupt officials to jail and lead by example. The 2008 elections will bring all the strengths and weaknesses of Ghana’s democracy but President Kufuor’s achievements will be overshadowed by scandals unless there is a major improvement in standards of living during his remaining period in office.



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