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Opinions Mon, 12 Sep 2011

What Is This Incurable Greed Ailing Our Politics?

Most Africans are poorer today than they were 50 years ago. Why is poverty

worse in many African countries today after over 50 years of political

independence? It is disheartening to note that Ghana, once the beacon of hope in

Africa, a country so blessed with many natural resources, and at the

time of independence with a GDP larger than South Korea cannot meet

it's basic needs after half a century of political independence. Over

40% of its citizens survive on less than a dollar a day, have no access

to clean drinking water, uninterrupted electricity, basic health

services, and formal education. What went wrong? Where did the promise

and the dream go? Yet any pragmatic discussion on the country’s economic situation

degenerates into bickering partisanship, name calling,

insults, heated tribal arguments that fail to identify the

problems let alone address them. No wonder we are stagnating in our

development efforts and even going backwards in some respects. Why is it that an

idea that seemed so right : political independence - taking

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charge of running your own affairs - has proved so wrong?

All across the continent there has been massive leadership failures.

These monumental leadership failures has trapped Africa in a vicious

circle of corruption and even greater poverty. Not that no progress has

been made at all. The little progress hat has been made has not trickle

down to the ordinary folks of the World's poorest continent on whose

back this little progress were made; The poor farmers in the rural

areas, the hard working women who carry wares on their head day in and

day out servicing the informal sector of their countries economies. The

farmers who till the land daily to produce that cocoa that earns the

foreign

exchange for the country yet has no electricity and no clean drinking

water and medical facility to attend when he falls sick. Their children

study under trees.

The insatiable and incurable greed

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of the African politician condemns these hardworking folks to perpetual

poverty. Bloated, inefficient bureaucracy swallows up any gains that

should have gone to make life a little comfortable for these farmers

while corrupt and venal ministers buy fleets of new 4x4 cars and travel

business and first class on planes to meetings and conferences no one

cares about. In Ghana under NPP government of John Agyekum Kuffour,

government ministers and appointees were quickly whisked abroad for

treatment at the slightest hint of a headache for supposedly better

equipped hospitals where they could receive better treatment. They were

avoiding Korle Bu, Komfo Anokye, Effia

Nkwanta etc, etc,like a plague because of their own failure to equip

these hospitals and expand them to provide top notch medical services

for all Ghanaians. Even deputy ministers, special assistants, and

presidential hangers on were all whisked around in motorcades led by

police sirens to avoid the chaotic traffic situation in Accra and Kumasi

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created by their own failure to think and expand the road network. I

read that in Kenya today, ministers use helicopters to avoid traffic

jams again created by their own failure to build roads with millions of

dollars of loans from the European Union and EU Central bank for that

very purpose. Under the current NDC government of Attah Mills, part of

the money meant for the Achimota - Ofankor road project is used by a the

sector minister to get himself a brand new luxury BMW 740Li .

Failure to invest in the people

through pragmatic and prudent economic policies backed by selfless and

honest leadership the dream of reducing poverty will remain a fleeting

illusion.Putting policies in place that will boost the private sector to

invest at the grassroots to create jobs for the people who will receive

salaries and then spend it on buying essential goods and services such

as clothing and food. This money goes around and in classic Keynesian

terms the economy is boosted. In such ways more people can be lifted out

of poverty. It happened in China, it is happening in India and it is

time for this to take off in Africa.We need to take advantage of the

opportunities in the global economy to make real results for our

people..Africa's future is in our own hands.

There is no lack of resources, no deficiency of know how. What we need

is effective planning, putting country first and banishing greedy

selfish interests.

Ben Ofosu-Appiah,

Tokyo, JAPAN.

The author is a senior political and social analyst, policy strategist based in

Tokyo, Japan. He welcomes your comments;

do4luv27@yahoo.com

Columnist: Ofosu-Appiah, Ben