Opinions Fri, 30 Mar 2007

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Of Rawlings and his destructive nature


Never before in the history of Ghana, has opinion poll been so meaningful than, when Rawligns took over power militarily in 1981. At the said time, over 99.9% of the country’s citizenry hailed and gave him a thunderous support and carte-blanche to correct “the ills of Ghana” which was his mantra to justify that Junta. As expected, some of the best brains in the country came on board to help him to strategically position the country economically and, without prejudice, achieved some significant milestones.

For example, in 1990, Ghana implemented the Financial Institutions Structural Adjustment Programs (FINSAP II), as part of the “Brady Plan” initiated by the first Bush administration in consultation with the World Bank and IMF, to help developing countries to rejuvenate their economies. The mandate of FINSAP II, was for government to remove the legacies of the economic bottlenecks that had stagnated the country’s economic development, including, removing the bad loan portfolios that had accumulated over the years from the banking system. The loans were then securitized as FINSAP/Brady Bonds, and the World Bank later redeemed the bonds and in the process injected new capital into the banking system. FINSAP also created the Ghana Stock Exchange and the Non-bank Financial Institutions System, among others. To wit, I played a key role as a World Bank Consultant, by providing strategic direction in the FINSAP implementation process.

The restructuring and subsequent capital infusion of the banks, brought economic enthusiasm to the country and, in that regard several Ghanaian entrepreneurs including this writer invested in Ghana The program attracted other Ghanaians living abroad to come home and invest as well. Thus, in effect the reform showed great prospects for the objectives of FINSAP, as jobs were created and the newly university graduates and other several individuals became gainfully employed especially, in the brokerage and services industries.

Rawlings Derailment

But just as the economy was to sky-rocket, the demons in Rawlings and his anti-capitalist nature collided and, like a volcanicanic reaction, erupted to destroy the very strategic plan that his own administration has put in place to rejuvenate the country’s economy. Specifically, between 1998 and 2000, Rawlings physically moved to abruptly derail the economy’s bright future when he used flimsy laws to bulldozed businesses or closed down several progressive companies, including my own. A case in point, in April 1999, Rawlings deployed the armed forces to demolish a newly built $5 million 65-room hotel, owned to an indigenous Ghanaian without due process of law. In the end, he disappointed Ghanaians, all the president’s men who played key roles in making FINSAP a success and above all, the donor nations and multilateral institutions that provided funding for the project. Unfortunately, the demolishing exercise did not end with the hotel, but became a weapon of business destruction (WBD) in corporate Ghana.

For example, in addition to the hotel, Rawlings demolished several other structures including yet again, a newly constructed church building, a coral of private homes and restaurants, to name but a few - most notable of which, being the - Mauli Chop bar at Osu, a popular eatery for the working class, which was also frequented by tourists. In all, over 50 Ghanaian established companies with assets in the millions of dollars were completely destroyed by demolition or seizure. By-and-large, that was the only thing Rwalings did indiscriminatingly during his 20 years reign in Ghana; in that, he did not spare any tribal group. He destroyed businesses owned to the Northerner, Eve, Ashanti, and Fanti, among others. Yet, at the same time, he helped his Jezebelic wife to buy state owned enterprises (SOEs) at bargain prices, and used government guaranteed loans to finance those acquisitions for her thus, showing the true colors of Mr. Rawllings.

Further, while he staunchly hated Ghanaian owned businesses, he globe-trotted to woo foreign investors, and as expected failed miserably in that endeavor. And, instead of taking responsibility for his shortcomings, Rawlings blamed the West for discriminating against Africa and therefore Ghana. He conveniently failed to realize that: when a president tells his countrymen not to patronize the businesses of native sons and daughters; when a president unleashed his Hench-men to demolish a newly completed $5 million hotel; a coral of homes belonging to a mother of a would be son-in-law because, he wouldn’t kowtow to the whims of a snooty girl friend, who happens to be the daughter of the president; when a president is constantly in tantrums and abusing/slapping cabinet ministers and a vice president at whim; when a president chases foreign and Ghanaian investors to leave the country in the ungodly hours of the night and turned around to buy their hard earned properties at fire sale prices for his wife, then, one would understand why foreign investors did not rush to Ghana in droves to invest in the country during his presidency. Mr. Paul O’Neal, former US Secretary of Treasury, put it best when he said during his 2002 visit to Ghana that, “Capital is a coward. Investors are slow to put their capital into Africa because they are afraid that the buildings and machines and businesses their capital will help build could be confiscated through corruption, or through a violent change in power. They fear their contracts will not be respected.” He continued, “I am not only talking about foreign investors. I am talking about Africans investing in Africa… Local entrepreneurs cannot flourish when they fear that corrupt officials may appropriate their success.”

These are irrefutable facts and exactly the business environment in Ghana under Rwalings’ watch. Consequently, I am at a loss to see that some die-in-the-wool cronies still think that Rawlings did something productive for Ghana during his 20 year reign which, by the way is 40% of Ghana’s 50 years, in the making.

The untold truth

View in the contest of Mr. Kufour’s presidency and, in contrast to the above, there is plenty of evidence that points to the fact that the inflow of foreign direct investments to Ghana has surged at a supersonic pace thus, signaling that Mr. Kufour’s governing paradigm is having positive impact on foreign investors than that of his predecessor; not to mention his pro-democratic policy, that is nourishing the now fertile corporate Ghana. Accordingly, it is not by happenstance that Ghana is enjoying such a stratospheric recognition of late, on the African continent but that; it is Kufour and his dynamic administration’s yeoman’s job that has attracted this international love affair for Ghana. Or to paraphrase President Clinton, is the world stupid?

Indeed, as I was writing this article it was reported on the Ghanaweb that a foreign investor(s) in the name of Sumatec Resource Bhd, etc., has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Ghana to undertake a US$1 billion housing development project in Ghana. The project is to build 60,000 units of mid-range apartments over a five year period, and is scheduled to commence in 2Q/07. This undoubtedly will generate thousands of jobs for the youth across the country as the entire 60,000 homes will not be built in one region. And, as expected, there shall be exponential collateral benefits in the country that is destined to have positive impact on every facet of the economy. We therefore cannot continue to burry our heads in the sand like an ostrich and pretend that we cannot see what is going on in Ghana.

Rawlings has made it his crusade to badmouth the incumbent president for no apparent reason other than hatred perhaps, the only true legacy of his presidency, in addition to his murderous record Let us not forget that it is the invocation of hatred that he used to propel himself to the limelight on June 4th 1979; and again in 1981. But, notwithstanding all his hoopla, Rawlings’ inability for visionary outlook caused him to squander his infamy opportunity and is now aggrieved.

Fact is, the politics of hate which Rawlings introduced into the Ghanaian political fabric has gone too badly and far too long. And, the trouble with hate, naked and unashamed is that, it dose not blow away in an instant; a morning mist before some freshing breeze. Therefore, Ghanaians must wake up to this canker and stamp it out completely out of our culture. Until Rwalings came to power, hate was alien to Ghana’s political landscape and culture. However, given his long-term clung to power, hatred has infiltrated every facet of the Ghanaian establishment and destroying every effort being made by this president to position the country in the right direction and, by implication follows therefore that , efforts of any future president, that is not hand pick by Rawlings shall be equally harassed.

This murderer and insignificant deposit of a phenomenon, has terrorized Ghanaians far too long and is about time someone stood-up to him. Mr. Kufour is our legitimate and bona-fide Chief Executive, who came to power legitimately and not through the backdoor and therefore, has to be accorded the due respect that comes with the occupancy of the presidency. It is therefore, my moral and patriotic duty to urge all good mannered and level headed Ghanaians who have the country at heart, to fight back and tell Rawlings and his cronies that, we will not allow ourselves to be intimidated and hoodwinked by him or, any other person for that matter any more; and, give overwhelming support to our President, Commander in Chief and Chief Executive of Ghana, Mr. John Agyekum Kufour for the good job he is doing. Besides, the Presidency is an institution that our forebear fought for us, with their lives and blood and as such is, SACRED. Hence, it must not be allowed to be desecrated in no shape or form of hatred and falsehood spearheaded by a mean-spirited bloodthirsty tyrant.

Once again God bless you Mr. President and Long Live Ghana.

Joseph Smith Adomakoh, Jr.
Wall Street, New York, NY 03/27/2007

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

Columnist: Adomakoh, Joseph Smith

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