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Opinions Sat, 2 Sep 2006

Kufuor's Machiavellan's and the Politics of Lies

(Part 1 of Several)

A magazine on sale in the streets of Accra these days is titled “How to become President of Ghana” written by one John Westwood.

He is not our favourite writer, this John Westwood, whoever he may be, as he likes to poke fun at Jerry John Rawlings and make snide remarks against the NDC. But this particular magazine is interesting for the way he has been able to bring into the popular domain, the rather dense writings of Niccolo di Bernardo Machiavelli, the Italian writer of the 15th Century who wrote some rather brutally frank treatises on the character of “The Prince” (replace with “The President”) and what Princes (Presidents) do to survive.

His short thrift is that Princes (Presidents) must be liars, immoral, wicked, insensitive and inconsistent if need be, if they are to survive. Indeed, the extracts from Machiavelli’s, “The Prince”, quoted by John Westwood, seem to have been the catechism of John Agyekum Kufuor in office as President of the Republic of Ghana. This is what Machiavelli writes, as quoted by John Westwood: “HOW A PRINCE SHOULD KEEP HIS WORD: How praiseworthy it is for a Prince to keep his word and to live by integrity and not by deceit! Nevertheless, one sees from the experience of our times that the princes who have accomplished great deeds are those who have cared little for keeping their promises and who have known how to manipulate the minds of men by shrewdness; and in the end they have surpassed those who laid their foundations upon honesty.

You must, therefore, know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the law, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to the beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is insufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second. Therefore, a prince must know how to use wisely the natures of the beast and the man.

He should choose from among the beasts the fox and the lion; for the lion cannot defend itself from traps and the fox cannot protect itself from wolves. It is therefore necessary to be a fox in order to recognise traps and a lion in order to frighten the wolves.

Those who play only the part of the lion do not understand matters. A wise ruler, therefore, cannot and should not keep his word when such an observance of faith would be to his disadvantage and when the reasons which made him promise are removed. And if men were all good, this rule would not be good; but since men are a sorry lot and will not keep their promises to you, you likewise need not keep yours to them.

A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promises. Of this one could cite an endless number of modern examples to show how many pacts, how many promises have been made null and void because of the infidelity of princes; and he who has known best how to use the fox has come to a better end. But it is necessary to know how to disguise this nature well and to be a great hypocrite and a liar; and men are so simpleminded and so controlled by their present necessities that one who deceives will always find another who will allow himself to be deceived.

A prince, therefore, must be very careful never to let anything slip from his lips which is not full of the five qualities: he should appear, upon seeing or hearing him, to be merciful, faithful, humane, forthright, religious—and have a mind ready to turn itself according to the way Fortune and the changeability of affairs require him”.

President J.A. Kufuor, basing his credo on Machiavelli’s advice, has taken the “Politics of Lies” to new heights in his Presidency. Never in the history of Ghana has a Head of State and his Government told so many lies to the people and yet gotten away with it, or appear to be getting away with it. The problem with the “Kufuor Lies” is that they are not just spoken lies. They are written lies, documented lies, and therefore etched in permanent form, easy to refer to and easy to prove as lies, but Kufuor and his Government just don’t care. After all, in the words of Machiavelli, “a wise ruler—cannot, and should not keep his word when such an observance of faith would be to his disadvantage and when the reasons which made him promise are removed”.

So, beginning with the 2000 Manifesto of the NPP on whose back the NPP rode to power, we are going to examine how mendacious and therefore true to the principle of Machiavellianism President Kufuor and his NPP Government have been. The Promise: We offer the elimination of rampant corruption and the application in its stead of an experienced, honest leadership. (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 3). The Practice: In Government, President Kufuor says corruption cannot be eliminated because it dates from the days of Adam, and he cannot do anything about corruption unless people bring him “the evidence”.

The Promise: The economic problems we face in Ghana today cannot be attributed to adverse external factors alone—sustainable growth cannot be achieved at the generosity of the donor community nor from primary commodity exports. (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 7, paragraphs 2.2.2.3 and 2.2.2.4)

The Practice: In Government, the NPP says it is the world price of crude oil (external factor) over which they have no control that has driven up the price of petrol from ¢6,400 in Year 2000 (under the NDC) TO ¢42,000 in 2006 (under the NPP). The generosity of foreign donors now contribute more than 40% to our domestic budget, and the production of primary commodities (cocoa and gold) on whose reliance we cannot achieve sustainable growth, according to the NPP, has almost doubled.

The Promise: An NPP Government will cut the size and budget of the offices of the President and the Vice President, the budget and the size of the Cabinet Secretariat, the number of Ministers and other Presidential Appointees, and channel the resources to spur greater economic growth (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 8 paragraph 2.2.3.3.).

The Practice: In Government, the sizes and the budgets of all these Governance cost centres have grown so much and gotten so over-bloated that President Kufuor has had to publicly apologise to the NDC Government for criticising the NDC Government on the size of its Government.

The Promise: An NPP government will work with our trading partners to negotiate an Anti-Dumping Code to guide our trade relationships (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 14, paragraph 2.2.9.5)

The Practice: Not only has an Anti-Dumping Code not been negotiated, but even when our sovereign Parliament passed a law to increase the import duties on rice and fish (Anti-Dumping measures) in order to protect domestic rice and fish production, the NPP Government quickly asked the CEPS not to implement the law as a result of IMF/World Bank objections.

The Promise: A National Subsidies Code— will be developed to provide fiscal support and other subsidies to Ghanaian farmers to enhance their ability to compete in a global world. (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 15, paragraph 2.2.9.6)

The Practice: No such Code has been developed. On the contrary, Ghanaian firms have been collapsing in their hundreds as a result of unfair foreign competition.

The Promise: The NPP will grant special credits and technical up-grading to “chop bars”, lower-end hotels and restaurants to improve their surroundings and services to tourists. (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 14, paragraph 2.2.10.1)

The Practice: We are not aware of one “chop bar” that has been granted special credit and technically up-graded.

The Promise: The NPP will upgrade the numerous small garages and fitter’s shop through (a) access to credits to acquire equipment and tools, (b) making available technical training through linkages with tertiary engineering institutions.

The Practice: This has not happened. In Parliament, then Minister for Private Sector Development Kwamena Bartels mendaciously tried to mislead the House by saying that US$10 million of a foreign loan was to be used for this purpose. NPP MP for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa P.C. Appiah-Ofori, then Chairman of the House Assurances Committee, wrote to the Embassy of the country to confirm Hon. Bartels’ assertion. The response was a shocker – Kwamena Bartels had lied.

The Promise: Economic infrastructure will include modernisation and extension of railway network. Connection to be Northern Regions within the next decade (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 15, paragraph 2.2.11.1)

The Practice: This has not happened; not even the Accra-Tema railway rehabilitation project has been completed.

The Promise: The NPP Government will introduce a Farmers and Fisherfolk’s Security Trust to cater for them in their times of need and in their old age. (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 17, paragraph 2.2.13.1)

The Practice: This has not happened.

The Promise: The abandoned Aveyime Rice Project will be resuscitated. (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 18, paragraph 2.2.13.4)

The Practice: In a policy reversal, the NPP Government has allowed the US$12 million Quality Grain Project investment in the Aveyime Rice Project to go to waste.

The Promise: The NPP government will put in place well-equipped community manned Fire Control Service to rid the rural areas from the perennial scourge of bush fires (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 18, paragraph 2.2.14.1)

The Practice: This has not happened.

The Promise: The NPP government will establish a National Youth Corps to create at least 100,000 jobs by the end of its first year and even more in subsequent years (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 19, paragraph 2.2.15.4)

The Practice: This did not happen.

The Promise: The aim of the NPP is to manage construction of the next generation of electricity and water supply facilities in such a way that unit costs of production will actually come down and stay down. The economies thus achieved will be passed on to consumers in lower charges (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 21, paragraph 2.3.5.2)

The Practice: Under the NPP Government, electricity and water charges have been going up and up and up and up and up.

The Promise: The NPP will —ensure that —the poorest people in Ghana will have the incentive and the means to change from destructive charcoal and wood burning to cooking by gas (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 22, paragraph 2.2.25.1) The Practice: Under the NPP Government, the price of LPG has risen from ¢28,000 per 14.5 kilogram in 2000 under the NDC to ¢100.000 in 2006 per the same 14.5 kilogram under the NPP. The poorest people in Ghana have now gone back to destructive charcoal and wood burning with a vengeance.

The Promise: The NPP government proposes to launch a special Housing The People Scheme which shall focus on low-cost housing, urban renewal and rural housing (NPP 2000 Manifesto, page 23, paragraph 2.3.12.1).

The Practice: This has not happened.



Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Quaye, Rikard