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Opinions of Friday, 4 April 2014

Columnist: Hayford Atta-Krufi

The Litany of Rawlings’ corruption - Part II

In the first part of this treatise, O ye discerning reader, I recounted how Rawlings set up GLAHCO to cream off Ghana’s assets in land, hotels and real estates, as well as sell our national industries to himself and his cronies. I also narrated how he used Section 15 of the Divestiture Law (PNDC Law 326) as an Indemnity clause to cover his acts from further investigation. In the same vein he used the same Indemnity Clause in the main 1992 Constitution to cover all his acts of corruption since 4th June 1979.

In this second series, I will deal with Rawlings’ own corruption made possible by weak political systems he personally undermined and the weak institutions he created and supervised. This was the kind of political system that Rawlings created in order to have corruptive influence over Ghanaians and for which made President Obama remarked that “Ghana needs strong institutions and not strong men”

In 1992 we chose a government system of separate legislative, executive and judiciary branches in an attempt to provide independent services that are less prone to corruption due to their independence. This we believed was an answer to the systemic corruption that Ghana had suffered under during the PNDC era. This systemic corruption (or endemic corruption) was primarily due to the weaknesses of the political system which all operated from Rawlings’ Castle. Ghana as a country had been ruled by the will of the gun and individual officials or agents of the government acted with impunity even to the extent of adulterating our judicial system with Public Tribunals and Special Investigation Boards manned by PNDC apologists to investigate PNDC crimes they could not hide any longer such as the murdering of the defenders of the rule of law, the three judges and the retired army officer.

In 2003 the NPP administration set up a South African style National Reconciliation Committee at which witnesses of previous corrupt administrations could come out and spill the beans of truth, without any witch hunt. One of the architects of the December 31, 1981 coup d’état, ex-Corporal Matthew Adabuga, told the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) that the Chairman of the erstwhile Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), Flt-Lt J. J. Rawlings, ordered the killing of the three High Court judges and a retired military officer in 1982. Cpl Adabuga said he was in the office with Capt (rtd) Kojo Tsikata, Sgt Akata Pore and Flt-Lt Rawlings, when Mr Amartey Kwei came to inform them that they had finished the assignment on the judges but “I did not get the message clear then and even after the announcement”. He said Flt-Lt Rawlings popped champagne, after he was informed that the four persons had been murdered. He said Amedeka narrated to him how Mrs Justice Koranteng, one of the murdered judges, got up in flames to chase the killers and was overpowered by Amedeka’s chanting and incantations. According to Cpl Adabuga, he confronted Flt Lt Rawlings after he had been briefed but he “told me it was a state secret”. This act was not only an act of national scandal but the corruption of the highest order. According to Morris, corruption is described as the illegitimate use of public power for personal gains. Rawlings had used state power to eliminate these persons who held information about them. This is a charge of corruption and crime, which but for the Indemnity Clause in the 1992 Constitution he could be sued or criminally tried for.
Rawlings and his government ministers were also involved in state controlled bribery and corruption in a grand style. This grand corruption occurred at the highest levels of government in a way that required significant subversion of the political, legal and economic systems. Such corruption was commonly found in Rawlings’ authoritarian/dictatorial government inadequacy in policing of corruption. This became evident in the case of Mabey and Johnson. Rawlings used front men such as Ato Qarshie, Saddique Bonniface, Amadu Seidu, Edward Lord-Attivor and Dr George Sepah-Yankey to collect bribes on his behalf. These middlemen took the opportunity to take cuts for themselves which were all mentioned during the Mabey and Johnson trial at Southwark Crown Court in UK. Rawlings has never issued any statement public or private on a matter that drew his government’s reputation into huge questions of disrepute. This is not untypical of Rawlings who believes that if he keeps his mouth shut, somehow the NDC propaganda will fight for his name to be kept out of it. Rawlings’ administration benefited from Mabey and Johnson’s largess to the tune of £470,000, it was revealed in court. At least now through the courts of Norway and UK we begin to have some sense of the extent of Rawlings’ bribery and corruption which poor government institutions in Ghana have not been able to uncover.
Another act of corruption which was uncovered in a foreign court was the Drill Ship and Societe Generale. Rawlings did not only steal from the coffers of the state and cheat us out of our assets, he also caused direct financial loss to the state. For twenty years he made decisions out of impunity and caused the nation to pay countless judgment debts which were needless. In October 1996, led by the NDC’s financial genius, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, a close confidant and front man for Rawlings, Ghana undertook a disingenuous hedging contract with a French Commodities Bank, Societé General, which led to a loss of $47 million for Ghana government to pay. As a result of such financial loss to the state through reckless hedging, the NPP government had to sell the GNPC drill ship The DISCOVERER 511 to pay the debt.
Rawlings has continued to use front men who he sees as direct beneficiaries of his 31st December coup and has continued to collect bribes from international and national companies through these persons for his personal gains. These persons were the PNDC appointees who were used all cited corruptive practices for which they were either jailed or mentioned in court corruption cases or proceedings.
In 1982 Rawlings set up the PNDC Accounts Number 48 into which fines from the Citizens Vetting Committee and the Public Tribunals was paid. The account also collected into it other payments which in effect constituted the “Consolidated Fund” under the PNDC under which peoples’ “ill-gotten wealth” were tipped into. Surely Rawlings would not have stood by or looked away for the monies in the accounts to be tipped into someone’s bank accounts. When years later anonymous donors paid for the education of the children of the Rawlings’ Ghanaians should not for one moment think that the PNDC Account 48 had been of no use to Rawlings in later life. Rawlings saved for a rainy day to educate his children in foreign universities and pay for his expensive medical trips abroad. Remember Paul Gyamfi?
In the next piece I will further explain why Rawlings owes Ghanaians an explanation as to how US$7 million cash got missing from a total of US$10 million, secured by the government of Ghana for the refurbishment of Tema Food Processing Factory and why he has never declared his assets.
I shall be back.
Kwesi Atta-Krufi Hayford
London