Beauty, Money & Governance: Vikileaks Unleashed!

Mon, 18 Nov 2013 Source: Sodzi-Tettey, Sodzi

There are apparently government appointees like Ms. Victoria Hammah, former Deputy Communications Minister, who believe they owe their positions in government to their beauty! But if every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets, then it is to the system that nominated and passed her appointment with flying colors that we must turn and not vanquish the young lady per se!

“There are so many other beautiful ladies in the party who have not gotten appointment”, she said in a leaked tape last week.

As I read the transcript, I compared its contents to the NDC’s brilliant communication’s plan for Ghana as contained in the 2012 manifesto and then I examined my current communication plight. My wretched mobile telephone aside, not a day passes by without three out of ten callers expressing great frustration about my “switched off signals” from a telephone that never died. Not a day passes by without my constantly fretting, “Do we have internet?” Saddled with two internet modems, the unreliability is palpable. All along, I had been under the distinct impression that the Honorable Deputy Minister was negotiating some fiber optic cables to enable high speed internet. I had been under the impression that given that Ghana has more mobile telephones than human beings; the Ministry would be brimming with ideas on how to rapidly facilitate the provision of health services through the introduction of electronic health records as promised by government.

Maybe we should just face it and arrest any illusionary thoughts that for some reason, some appointees are focused more on the inspirational, aspirational and transformational and less on plain gossip.

“Sena (A Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection) is the more beautiful one, has a great body and well-endowed at the hips; why does she not hate Sena? But you, with this ugly face; you think she detests you?”

Mr. Kwasi Pratt Jnr. has raised some serious points worth considering. Our former honorable was passed by a Parliamentary appointments committee with flying colors. She was also appointed by the President. If indeed as he argues, some Minority members of the Appointments Committee interpret their roles to mean “appointing mediocre appointees” in order to sabotage the bigger government agenda and if Majority members interpret their roles to be staunch defenders of the faith even where obvious doubt exists, then truly great is our collective burden. Here we are today with Hammah herself degrading the performance of a colleague Deputy Minister during the vetting that they both passed with flying colors.

The President has taken superficially commendable steps of taking his appointees through a rigorous orientation process while launching a code of ethics for government appointees. Further, he has signed performance contracts with various Ministers. If these laudable interventions are serving the purpose, how has he ended up with a Deputy Minister who believes that “…here in Ghana, public propriety is not important”?

Further, did this orientation have elements of basic security/intelligence awareness training? Given that Hammah was allegedly recorded for 90 days, were there any signals she could have picked up that her personal security had been compromised? Why has the orientation not cured the government of a deputy Minister allegedly swearing to disgrace her substantive Minister, forgetting all along that you disgrace your Minister, you disgrace yourself. President Mills was very categorical – if you undermine your Minister, you lose your job!

While one cannot debate Hammah’s assertion that the constitutional mandate of a substantive Minister is quite distinct from that of a Deputy, it is certainly a matter of great concern to have Deputies who may be so removed from the governance process, suffused with a care free spirit and seeing themselves only as coming along for the ride while government projects perish.

The whole saga has reignited the saga of so called young appointees. While I wholeheartedly support this President and his immediate predecessor on the move to give young people opportunities, we must be careful with the selection such that underperformance in any guise is not attributed solely to their youth. Young appointees must themselves recognize that in a country that claims the youth is its future but says/does a lot to kill their fire, every one of these young appointees is on trial, a test they must pass both for themselves and for others. It is time for a careful reflection and decision on who is ready for what and at what time by the President if he is not to spend the rest of his tenure on the defensive. To Ms. Hammah’s leaked point, “a lot of us young people are ambitious and meanwhile they don’t read. And they are not politically astute…”

Alternately, isn’t it entirely possible for the President to find and appoint so called young people who would make him proud, dazzle us with their brilliance and in the process actually solve our concrete bread and butter challenges?

After De Klerk’s speech on Ghana’s Supreme Court ruling on the Presidential election petition, I bumped into a Dutch man who lamented how he could not understand why in Africa, politicians seemed to want to make money while in office compared to his native Netherlands where making money was reserved for the period after political office. If you distinguish yourself enough, fame and fortune will come knocking in the form of high profile speaking engagements, appointments on Boards of powerfully rich multinationals etc. As someone asked, if a Minister’s sole aim is to make $1M, if a Deputy Minister confesses approaching her boss to request for money, what are the other risks she is willing to take and/or expose the country to in this money making quest? Alas, there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.

In 2016, the good people will among other things judge the government by the extent to which the Communication portfolio was transformed as per the government’s own promises: “Promote the rapid development and deploy­ment of the national ICT infrastructure; Rapidly accelerate the supply of 400,000 Laptops to tertiary institutions, including their students and lecturers by the end of the NDC`s term of office in 2016; Upgrade the ICT infrastructure of Ghana`s Parliament, and provide all Members of Parlia­ment with laptop computers and access to the internet; Convert all under-utilized Post Offices into Community Information Centres as part of a nation-wide programme; Promote the establishment of a reliable national backbone with the capacity to carry high-speed voice, video, data and internet facilities to all districts; Ensure the completion of the National Data Centre; Improve the quality of telephone service nation-wide; … electronic linkage of all research institutions, universities, polytech­nics, colleges, and second cycle institutions and their libraries to promote research and effective learning outcomes;…etc.”

In truth, I have no clue what government’s planned “digitized content development bureau” is, but if my Deputy Minister is taken up with matters of the hip size of her colleagues, how can she simultaneously spare the time to enlighten me?

Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey



13th November, 2013

Columnist: Sodzi-Tettey, Sodzi

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