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Opinions Mon, 31 Mar 2014

The litany of Rawlings' corruption

(Part 1)

Former President Jerry Rawlings is reported to have said he is one of Africa’s cleanest leaders to have been head of state. He is quoted to have said to a group of youth forumers “I will dare you to go and line up some of your finest policemen, some of your finest heads of state, some of your finest judges. Make any allegations against me. You included. Whatever questions you want to ask; take me through a chemical interrogation. I will be the one who will pass. I wonder how many of you will pass,” Mr Rawlings is reported to have boasted of this cleanliness in politics at a time when corruption has become the bane of African politics past and present. It is against this background that I am writing this response.

Let me attempt here to define corruption according to some of the dictionaries of life. In philosophical discussions, corruption is moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement. Government, or 'political', corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain.

The word corrupt when used as an adjective literally means "utterly broken". The word was first used by Aristotle and later by Cicero who added the terms bribe and abandonment of good habits. According to Morris, corruption is described as the illegitimate use of public power to benefit a private interest. Senior, however, defines corruption as an action to (a) secretly provide (b) a good or a service to a third party (c) so that he or she can influence certain actions which (d) benefit the corrupt, a third party, or both (e) in which the corrupt agent has authority.(Source: Wikipedia)

Rawlings we all know came to power on two occasions through bloody overthrow of predecessor administrations, the first being a military junta which was preparing to hand over to a constitutional government and the second a just installed constitutional government which had spent only 27 months of its 48-month life.

On both occasions Rawlings used illegitimate means to overthrow public power for the benefit of his AFRC and PNDC cronies. This is his charge of corruption number one. The private beneficiaries of these coup d'états were himself and his immediate family who from September 1979 till today have lived on Ghana government subventions and unlimited pension.

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The extra judicial killings that took place during the era of AFRC, the most bloody period in Ghana's history was supervised by Mr Rawlings who now classifies himself as clean whistle. The backyard of the Air force Station guardroom in Burma Camp became a hunt and shoot grounds for persons who were considered undesirable by Chairman Rawlings. Between the waste space of land from 37 Military Hospital and GBC Club House children begged for their lives but were gunned down by soldiers led by his errand boy WO Agyei Boadi who could not even group shots of 5cm at Teshie Shooting Range. If Rawlings does not see this senseless abuse of powers as corruption, then I wonder what kind of person he calls himself. I will break these senseless murders down in my next treatise.

As office holder Rawlings used his position and influence for a number of personal and family financial gains as well as that of his cronies. Let's examine the facts here.

Over sixty (60) of Ghana’s State-owned companies were placed on divestiture by Former President Rawlings and sold between 1989 and 1992 to either himself or his cronies. He did this under the powers of a bent committee-The Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC), a body set up by the PNDC junta to oversee this process of their large scale corruption of selling state lands, buildings and foreign properties to themselves. The law which gave legal backing to the DIC was not passed until January 5th, 1993 five years after all the acts of current ion started. So in effect, between 1989 to the passage of PNDC Law 326 Emmanuel Agbodo’s DIC was an illegality which was selling Kwame Nkrumah’s industries. However two clear days before the 1992 constitution became operational; the PNDC passed the Divestiture Law (PNDC Law 326) to cover their behind by retroactively taking effect from January 1st, 1988. As criminal and bent as Rawlings is he abusively used retrospective laws to cover his sorry back, like all corrupt leaders do.

In Section 15 of the same law they inserted another indemnity clause: “No action shall be brought and no court shall entertain any proceedings against the State, the committee or any member or officer of the committee in respect of any act or omission arising out of a disposal of any interest made or under consideration under this law.”

The then PNDC Chairman Rawlings hatched a plan to sell off Ghana's hotels to himself under the pretext that they were not making good profit for the nation. He set up GLAHCO (Ghana-Libyan Arab Holding Company) on Plot 32 & 33, 1st Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra as a partnership between himself and Gadhafi with the blood money from the latter's government. GLAHCO was set up to take over Ghanaian hotels, real estate and lands for farming, all under the corrupt pen of Chairman Rawlings. They then got into action by selling Continental Hotel and Kumasi City Hotel now Golden Tulip Hotels Ltd for a knocked down price of $3,578,125. Rawlings Sogakope home is owned by GLAHCO, so that tells you who owns GLAHCO, now that Gadhafi is dead.

GHACEM was sold to SCANCEM of Norway for $3 million after he and members of his administration took a bribe of $4million. This was revealed in 2007 in a Norwegian court. A Norwegian minister was being interviewed by two Ghanaian editors, Asare Otchere-Darko and Kweku Baako, during their visit to Norway to investigate matters involving evidence before a Norwegian court that top people under the National Democratic Congress government received bribes of more than $4 million from Scancem with the purpose of consolidating the then Norwegian-owned firm’s hold in the local cement industry. He said he had followed the court case of the multi-million dollar bribe scandal as published in Dagens Naeringlsiv Magasinet of 21/22 April 2007 specifically between 1993 and 1998 as stated in a Norwegian court by two of Norway's most respected journalists, Geir Imset and Harald Vanvik.(Ghanaweb, Thursday 9 August 2007). The rest of the story is as long as the rope of Rawlings’ litany of corruption.

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Rawlings gave GIHOC’s Abosso Glass Factory to the Togolese Opposition Leader, Gilchrist Olympio, a Rawlings crony. West African Mills and GIHOC Electronics were sold to Kofi Kludjeson, another crony. Prestea and Tarkwa Goldfields were each sold for $3 million. He sold Nsawam canary to Caridem and if you lift the veil of incorporation, you will see his wife Nana Konadu as the owner. She cried witch hunt when the NPP government arraigned her in the court for trial. In 1981, when Chairman Rawlings came to power, Ghana’s Shipping Line, the Black Star Line, had 14 vessels. These were ships that belonged to the Republic of Ghana. By the time Rawlings left power he had shut down the Black Star Line which Nkrumah had built, sold all of the 14 vessels, kept the purse and rendered our fellow citizens who worked as seamen jobless!

My litany of Rawlings corruption has just started. It gets juicier. I shall be back.

Kwesi Atta-Krufi Hayford

London.

Columnist: Hayford Atta-Krufi