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Opinions Thu, 4 Jul 2013

Ghana must rediscover its revolutionary nationalist spirit!

Ghana is the latest nation to join the gold-for-oil trade

Compatriots,

Ghana' economy is deplorable. Our total annual export earnings is less than US$15b. This is less than a single western Trans-national Corporation (TNC) like Mercedes makes! But instead of our NDC 'government' and our boycotting NPP 'opposition' MPs concentrating to transform our nation into a science-and-technology, industrialised economy, they rather waste public space talking about inane, frivolous issues:

"EC registered 449 overseas voters not 705 - Dr. Prempeh...NPP to boycott State of the Nation address...EC to investigate attempts to sign pink sheets...TUC condemns fuel price increases...I rejected Mahama's ministerial post - PC Appiah Ofori...Stop condemning Rev Owusu Bempah – Ms Aboagye." The NDC-NPP plunged into yet another round of belligerent grievance in the Election Petition in the Supreme Court, silences our spirit of revolutionary nationalism. This article appeals to Ghanaians/Africans to rediscover, reignite our revolutionary nationalist spirit. We must nationalise our key economic sectors to begin the real business of political leadership and economic, social and cultural nation-building!

ECONOMIC FACTS

"Ghana's total merchandise exports amounted to US$13.5 billion in 2012, recording a growth of 5.7 percent while total merchandise imports totaled US$17.7 billion in 2012, representing an increase of 12.1 percent over the 2011 figure. These developments resulted in a trade deficit of US$4.2 billion in 2012 compared to US$3.1 billion in 2011. Of the exports, gold exports were US$5.6 billion, cocoa beans and products, US$2.8 billion and crude oil exports US$3 billion.

"Non-oil imports grew by 13.9 percent to US$14.4 billion while oil imports grew moderately by 5 percent to US$3.3. billion. The current account deficit was estimated at US$4.9 billion in 2012 compared to US$3.5 billion in 2011 driven mainly by a deterioration in the trade balance. The country's capital and financial account recorded lower net inflows of US$3.1 billion in 2012 compared to US$4.5 billion in 2011. This was explained by a 67.5 percent decline in capital transfers and a 27 percent decline in the financial account. In 2012, there were net outflows in short-term capital of US$1.4 billion. However, portfolio investments (net) increased from US$117 million in 2011 to US$1.1 billion in 2012.

"The overall balance of payments therefore recorded a deficit of US$1.2 billion in 2012 reversing the surplus of US$546:5 million in 2011. Also, gross international reserves (GIR) at the end of 2012 was US$5.4 billion (3 months import cover) compared to US$5.5 billion in 2011. The GIR rose to US$5.5 billion (3.1 months import cover) at the end of January 2013. Private inward transfers through the banks amounted to US$18.7 billion in 2012, representing a 4.9 percent growth over 2011.

"Out of the total, US$1.8 billion accrued to individuals, compared to US$1.9 billion in 2011. Stability was restored in the foreign exchange market during the second half of 2012, following increased volatility in the first half year. The cedi depreciated by 17.2 percent between January and June but remained broadly stable during the second half, depreciating by only 0.3 percent. The cumulative depreciation for the year therefore was 17.5 percent compared to 5 percent depreciation in 2011.

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"In real effective terms, both trade and foreign exchange weighted exchange rate developments reflected cumulative depreciation rates of 14.3 percent and 18.4 percent respectively." (by Business News, Monday 18 February 2013, Source: Daily Guide Trade Records $4.2 billion deficit (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=265216).

CRITICAL ECONOMIC HISTORY

Under the IMF/World Bank's Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), Ghana has been hoodwinked to sell off its priced industrial and commodity export sectors. The fancy name the IMF calls this idiocy is, 'Divestiture'. Under the noses of our good Ghanaian people, our gold is now controlled by Anglo-Ashanti Gold. This, of course, begs the question, ‘Has Ghana really done that well by selling off its gold, oil, cocoa and diamond, and key industries (since Dec. 1983) to the west?’ Have we really?

All our key industries and export commodities are now controlled by western Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) with IMF/W. Bank/CIA/MI5 protection. They just give us HIPIC and a little peanut money to ‘balance’ our budget. What cheek! When Pres. Mills attempted to buy majority shares into our OWN oil industry, the Americans sent a large entourage of about 40 personnel to lean on him heavy. He kept mum after that. Now we are traumatised and so squeamish we even forget to collect our tax dues from the oil industry! Even the IMF is puzzled!

And what do our media and politicians (NDC/NPP and others) do? Voter ID this, oversees voters that…’Rev Owusu Bempah’ that…Meanwhile our oil, gold, diamonds, etc, are being fast depleted. My, am I the only critic in Ghana that sees this or what? Why isn't everybody angry about this? Eh? Just examine how the west rhetorically toys with us when they talk about debt relief:

"In 2005, to help accelerate progress toward the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the HIPC Initiative was supplemented by the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). The MDRI allows for 100 percent relief on eligible debts by three multilateral institutions—the IMF, the World Bank, and the African Development Fund (AfDF)—for countries completing the HIPC Initiative process. In 2007, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) also decided to provide additional (“beyond HIPC”) debt relief to the five HIPCs in the Western Hemisphere. (Debt Relief Under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, December 15, 2011, http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/hipc.htm).

"Even though the government, and by extension, the people of Ghana have a 23.5% stake in the Jubilee oil fields the brutal truth is that the Americans in the form of Kosmos Energy have the lion's share. This was clearly evident when Kosmos Energy wanted to sell its stake in the Jubilee fields to another American company Exxon. They were able to do this by going over the backs of the Government of Ghana with no consideration for our national interest and thought that they could just railroad through the government" (Who owns Ghana's oil?, KMC Communications, http://kpebumediacomms.com/GhanaOilOwnership.aspx).

(Also read: Mining industry of Ghana, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining_industry_of_Ghana; Ghana - The Economy, Mongabay, http://www.mongabay.com/reference/country_studies/ghana/ECONOMY.html; Green Gold versus Black Gold in Ghana, By Patrick Smith, http://www.theafricareport.com/index.php/news-analysis/green-gold-versus-black-gold-in-ghana-50175686.html; Ghana: Country Brief, World Bank, http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/AFRICAEXT/GHANAEXTN/0,,menuPK:351962~pagePK:141132~piPK:141107~theSitePK:351952,00.html; South Africa of the Sahara 2004, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=jj4J-AXGDaQC&pg=PA500&lpg=PA500&dq=ownership+of+ghana%27s+gold+and+oil&source=bl&ots=JIobw9mjAs&sig=zzFcsm6uD0fCy9OVwKUawS6ACOE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=QpRtT-icJonj8QOInJi_DQ&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=ownership%20of%20ghana's%20gold%20and%20oil&f=false).

SO WHAT IS THE WAY FORWARD?

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As constant as the Northern Star, I have often suggested that our leaders boldly RENATIONALISE the commanding heights of our economy. Why? Because the massive fiscal benefits of Nationalisation will enable Ghana fund an ambitious 10-15 year Development and Modernisation Programme (DMP).

This DMP must build on and even surpass what Dr. Nkrumah did in the 1960s. It must pursue scientific and technological advancement. It must MOBILISE all Ghanaians - without prejudice or bias of age, ethnicity or gender – into hardwork to accomplish the objectives of the DMP.

The resultant fruits of our hardwork must be invested in the provision of: quality food and material goods; prevalent educational provisions in science/technology, arts and philosophy; Social Enterprises (profit-making but offering affordable products and services), industries and jobs; housing (capability of building millions of homes); national infrastructure like roads, public amenities, etc. It is only after NATIONALISATION that any government in Ghana can successfully provide free JHS/SHS. Anything short of this amounts to tail-chasing!

The CIA/MI5, and other such insidious western agencies that toppled Dr. Nkrumah’s socialist regime in 1966, also accomplished a major propaganda coup by suppressing radical opinion in Ghana. They guided the NLC military junta to burn Dr. Nkrumah’s books; pulled down his statues and icons in order to excoriate his ideas and memory; created public intimidation; and jailed or killed die-hard CPP cadres in their effort to suppress forever the ideology of Nkrumahism. We have been cowed since.

Thus a lot of Ghanaians/Africans automatically equate socialism with negativities such as queuing up for bread, extra-judicial oppressions, social fear, lack of democracy, etc. My answer to these senseless neo-colonial assumptions is simple. If it were so, why do Ghanaians/Africans stream to Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong (China) to trade? Why is China much richer than the US? Why does the US own it trillions of US$ in balance of trade debts? Why are the Chinese free to stream to Ghana to indulge in gold-rush (‘galamsey’)?

No. The secret to China’s economic magic lies exactly in their judicious planned-economy in concert with minimal private capitalism. I suggest the quickest road to a science and technology based industrialisation in Ghana/Africa, is through Nationalising our key economic sectors to generate the fiscal means to fund a 10-15 year Development and Modernisation Programme (DMP). The benefits of Nationalisation set at store above, are reasonable:

1) Dr Nkrumah envisioned and nationalised Ghana's key export commodities and industrial sectors in the 1960s. What are we waiting for?

2) There are international precedents for Nationalisation. Venezuela, China, USA, UK, Germany, France, Spain. Examples: Stock Exchanges in these countries, ports and harbours (the USA famously debarred Dubai from buying into its ports and harbours. It claimed it is a "strategic industry". Western states used taxpayer’s money to shore up their financial institutions (hitherto the bastions of capitalism). Many Cuban, Russian, Korean, Libyan firms are state and private enterprise sponsored. So are Japanese firms like Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Matstushita:

“In the face of opposition to tax hikes, the Japanese government is mulling selling shares in state-controlled companies including Japan Post Holdings Co. to defray some of the costs of post-quake reconstruction.” (Sept. 8, 2011, 11:50 a.m. EDT, Japan eyes sale of shares in state-owned companies; http://www.marketwatch.com/story/japan-eyes-sale-of-shares-in-state-owned-companies-2011-09-08).

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Also chew on this quote: “Today, many policy-makers doubt the private sector model is always best. Just think of the financial crisis when taxes kept private corporations afloat. Meanwhile, state-owned enterprises (SOE) can offer stability in a volatile world. Yet governments need to reshape them to better suit the times.” {Citizen today, December 2010, State-owned enterprises http://www.ey.com/GL/en/Industries/Government---Public-Sector/Citizen-today--December-2010---State-owned-enterprises}

3) The military industrial complex in the USA, UK and most EU countries are state owned. A lot of western nuclear power plants are state owned.

4) Nationalisation is a potentially powerful electoral gold dust that remains to be gold-rushed in Ghana/Africa. The main NPP-NDC neocolonial parties are shitty-scared of bucking the IMF-World Bank SAP trap. Because they are lazy, they do not want to get their hands dirty to toil to transform Ghana. (Apparently their 10% in western banks, hospital check-ups and grand homes in the west guarantee them everlasting financial sustenance).

5) The CPP and other smaller parties have nothing to lose but their tiny national political bases. They must thus rally the electorate behind them in an all-or-nothing political gamble to win votes. They must undermine the political status quo. This will win the masses to their fold. Nationalisation will be the cutting edge of their re-entry into political leadership in Ghana.

6) NATIONALISATION offers abundant possibilities for a creative, innovative, stimulating, interesting, mobilising political-economic campaign that would transform Ghana into a developed modernised economy.

7) But the trouble with Nationalisation, is that Ghana/Africa’s intellectuals - the very people whom the state educated to research, interrogate, inform and explicate national development - are squeamish and compromised by ivory tower intellectualism. This is why they populate our TV screens and newspapers dramatising sophistry and offering self-centred bamboozlements to further confuse our compatriots on the matter.

But they must choose between facile arguments and immaterial counter accusatory epithets against advocates of Nationalisation. Words like, “immaturity”, “radicalism”, “revolutionalism” and “infantile leftism’ must ring hollow in the reality barrel of abject poverty and cruel struggles that many Ghanaians/Africans experience daily.

Our politicians, lawyers and media intellectuals have to evaluate the compelling realities of deepest poverty, ignorance, and material, spiritual and intellectual powerlessness of Ghana’s/Africa’s masses of people. They must dissemble and reorder their faculties to prioritise and fight poverty, ignorance and powerlessness in: education, health, food, employment, housing, transportation, public amenities, the sexual and economic oppression of women and children, poor infrastructure, etc.

CONCLUSION

Puzzlingly, and to the obvious elation of both the NDC-NPP (our neocolonial political leadership), the public is not challenging this clear national economic betrayal to the whims of the IMF-SAP. Rather, we allow ourselves to be led by the nose through daily public debates of facile, mundane, party political and ridiculous narratives - as illustrated in the above introduction. Of course, these are mostly bereft of serious discourse on national development in form, content and practical enforcement.

Ghana’s continued relationship with the IMF/World Bank/SAP is the battle field to which all serious individuals and political commentators and activists must direct their critical inquiry. We must focus on challenging this.

Let our many detractors think what they wish. But it is the patriotic duty of all Ghanaians/Africans to defend our national and continental self-interest. One is either for Ghana’s/Africa’s self-determination - to secure a good, prosperous future for our children - or one is not. I think we must resist total subjugation to foreign economic diktats. Ghana must revisit the popular revolutionary spirit that prevailed throughout Nkrumah; that momentarily reignited during the early ‘Y3n Tua’ days of the Acheampong era and JJ Rawlings’ 31st December Revolution. There is dignity in resistance!

Regards.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- BIO-DATA Kofi of Africa resides in Leeds, UK. He is currently a Director of, Resources for Education for African Development (READ), a UK-Ghana educational charity that offers accessible community education from primary to university level. He is a writer/educator who blogs avidly on Facebook and Blogspot. Mission statement: to examine and offer reasonable solutions to help address the poverty, ignorance and powerlessness of the Ghanaian/African poor.

He lectured, Media & Cultural Studies and Sociology (the University of Leeds, and Leeds Metropolitan University - 1992-07). He also worked variously as: Assistant Editor, Third World Book Review; freelance journalist (West Africa, Africa, Afrique Asie, etc), as Media Researcher (Campaign for Press Freedom); a Printer and Graphic Designer.

He was the 1985 Mohammed Maiga laureate in journalism for Africa (“Ghana’s Daughters in Lagos”, Feb.1985, Afrique Asie). He received the prize from the late, President Thomas Sankara in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Blog: brakofi.blogspot.com

Mb phone: 0044 7943 969651

Email: kofi.of.africa@gmail.com

Columnist: Kofi of Africa