Opinions Fri, 8 Jan 2016

Ghana’s Era of Economic Tyranny and IMF’S Blood Money

I write as a youth who is stack in WAITHOOD. This is a stage of stagnation for the present day young person after he/she graduates from our tertiary and other training institutions. This stage spans from between 5 to 10 years depending on several factors like how connected your parents are, where they stand on the economic ladder, which part of the country you find yourself etc. Many of us young people are at this stage and we have worsened our situation due to some leaders we have elected to control the affairs of our nation in these few years, I know these leaders are going to be anathematic to this assertion but it is the truth, they have made our life a living hell these few years. They have DANGEROUSLY increased our period of WAITHOOD. This prolonged stage of stagnation in the development of young people has led to anarchy in places like Tunisia and Egypt in recent years. Young people out of frustration have chased some ‘crazy bald heads’ out of town, but in Ghana, the youth are restlessly calm because of the old lady we all call democracy.

There is an adage in the Akan language that says that once you dip your hand into an old woman’s food you are bound to eat the food to the end, whether the food is delicious or not. Many of us young people have really lived this adage in these few years. We have really dipped our hands in a pot we cannot remove our hands from until the food in the pot is totally done with, and we will for a long time, after the food is done with, live with the bitter taste of this food in mouth.

In our country, we vote to elect a president and parliamentarians, IMF executives don’t elect our leaders, we therefore expect our leaders to be accountable to us and be sensitive to the plight and needs of Ghanaians. As we speak, I can confidently conclude, with historical antecedents, that our leaders are being accountable to the IMF and other external powers rather than being accountable to the people that gave them the jobs they have now. The IMF blood money they call bailouts, which has led to bloodshed and anarchy in other countries has been visited on us, and our WAITHOOD as young people is bound to be prolonged. The bitter taste of this blood money will linger in our mouth for years to come.

In 2015, entering 2016, Ghanaians have been hit with senseless utility tariff, fuel and tax increments among other austerity measures simultaneously. These increments don’t make any economic and political sense yet they have been harshly imposed on the stagnant youth and the rest of the Ghanaian population, most of these increments were tyrannically rushed through parliament and approved thereby using democracy to entangle us with these economic suicide bombs. Our leaders refuse to listen to the agony of the people who employed them because of one reason, THE IMF. History has taught us that any third world country that engages the IMF for the kind of bailout our leaders have gone for due to mismanagement are subjected to what we are going through now. The IMF, hijacks these wasteful and corrupt leaders who present themselves to them due to their own mismanagement, and covertly pull these tyrannical economic strings which only goes to balance and profit the accounts of other people rather than the suffering masses.

In July 2000, the IMF gave a $198 million ‘assistance’ to the Kenyan government then lead by President Arap Moi, the so called macroeconomic and structural reforms that came with this ‘assistance’ brought untold hardship on the people which lead to several peaceful demonstrations that ending in violence. For example a peaceful demonstration organized by the Kenyan Debt Relief Network, the Green Belt Movement and other human rights organizations calling for an end to IMF conditions ended in violence and the arrest of church leaders, nuns, and other protestors. Many people were injured including children.

Elsewhere in Nigeria, on 4th August 2000, the IMF gave Nigeria US$1,031 million for its 2000-01 economic program, in giving out that money, the IMF noted that ‘’ An acceleration of the implementation of structural reforms is urgently needed, including to tackle serious deficiencies in the provision of power, telecommunication and petroleum that are obstacles to growth.’’ Does this rhetoric sound familiar? Upon receiving this IMF money, Obasanjo declared his intention to deregulate the oil sector and raise fuel prices. Upon the declaration of this intention, the Nigerian Labour Congress took over 5,000 worker on a march to show their opposition to the deregulation of the oil sector and fuel price hikes, armed security personnel were unleashed on them in a dictatorial regime fashion. People were injured and lives were lost.

In the face of opposition and alternative solution however, Obasanjo’s government implemented his plan in June 2000. Does all these sound familiar in the Ghanaian setting today?

Well, as we know of our West African neighbors, they never became better off after ‘’chopping’’ the IMF blood money and the eminent bullet biting that followed. These strategies that are being employed in our dear mother land Ghana has been repeated in a number of the so called third world countries without a single success as far we know, one can talk of Colombia in the late 90s, Ecuador in 2000, Paraguay in the late 90s, Zambia in the late 90s etc.

As we speak now, you can’t exactly put your finger on what the priority of the leadership of our country is, the talk of the stabilization of our currency has died down. You can’t also say the priority is economic expansion because with their actions and policies you can tell without much stress that they are not committed to the rhetoric about the growth of our industries and businesses, so the question is, where exactly are we headed towards?

Our leaders willingly mismanaged our country’s finances and submitted themselves for this bloody hijack which has visited this senseless suffering on the people of Ghana. Ghanaians are dyeing and getting frustrated by the day. The youth is getting restless as we continue to wait in our WAITHOOD and continue to bite the bullet. As the late Prof Ali Mazrui once said, just as absolute power corrupts absolutely, absolute powerlessness also leads to acts of DESPERATION.


Columnist: Yeboah, Kenneth Nii