Suggesting to You in Slooooow Motion

Mon, 29 Apr 2013 Source: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

Critical News, 28th April 2013

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

I spent half a day of my life on Saturday with the Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). Getting caught in the rain wasn’t part of the deal (oops, I think Indomie has that plug). Boy, it rained. Torrents of it. I could barely see more than fifty meters on the motorway as I headed out to Tema. Four accidents and two hours later, I pick up my “helping hand” who would take me through the whole process of car registration. We came out from a very efficient, tagged and uniformed testing center; fast, easy and organized, no one asked for a bribe and I paid the publicized twenty-three cedis and forty-three pesewas and exited after a brief paper inspection. Private enterprise. Sweet. Making our way to the DVLA in Tema, navigating potholes, half submerged in trenches and rivulets, all roads leading to the DVLA a mess of arterial connections. The reason was clear when we eventually got there. The yard was full of “license contractors”. Nobody wears a uniform or badge. Don’t know who works there and not and I am listening to my masterful guide explaining the mechanics of how to do this in the fastest possible time.

As it is, the process is very simple. Give the man a whole lot of money, don’t ask any questions and just sit back. Well, I couldn’t do all that, so I parted with the cash and raised some objections. End result? It cost me three and a half hours of my life. My money had disappeared and all I had was the trust of a guide I did not know from Anabi Issah. Now I understood why the insolence of potholes and where the DVLA money goes. I got the number plates in the end, a square and a rectangle, I asked for two rectangles and I was shown the yard next door where business is brisk and you buy an additional plate if that is what you want. And I am not joking, after I asked that they press me a rectangle, DUM! Now I am convinced someone has my number and I am going for deliverance when the Election Petition is over. It took another 38 minutes off my life waiting for SOR!

So I arrived home at about 6.30pm, I left McCarthy Hill 6.30am and quickly went to the DVLA website. Nothing about fees for licensing a vehicle. This DVLA is a denizen of corruption. A complete cartel, you surrender money above the statutory fees and at the behest of some magic contractor you will get, hopefully a legitimate document. Lord “un-corrupt” us immediately you deem fit.

The Ghana Military still think there are many idiots in this country. They think we are still in a coup state and also think we are not owed a pesewa of respect at public gatherings. Early this year at the Presidential inauguration ceremony, some Military Police manhandled a journalist “with minimum force” for “crossing a line” to take photographs. According to the journalist, he was slapped, pushed around and his tools of trade destroyed. Another had his balls caressed with a Tazer, all this because he wanted to get closer to take a picture of the President. This week the investigation by the Military into the incident exonerated their personnel, colonel Atintande saying “having a hand on another person’s cheek is not an evidence of a slap”. It reminded me of the Ananse story we tell children, where Ananse is caught with his hand stuck on the tar face of the effigy after he steals the yam. Read this report to the media and see the picture from the Joyfm website for yourself. Here is another picture, this time from the Daily Guide. Incidents like this, abusing our civil rights and brashly legitimizing criminal activity is why we are still stuck in rearward humanity.

These stories appeal to the likes of Hassan Ayariga and Asiedu Nketia, whose versions make sense to only them and their foot soldiers. Hassan Ayariga was in the limelight since winning his award for “Joker at Presidential Debates”, that the Petition challenge must be stopped because it is causing anxiety with the investor community and cutting productivity. In his view, Chief Justice Woode should halt the petition. I don’t know what to make of this except I recommend he join the Military. He is still young enough to make Warrant Officer.

In Vea, the Tindana (a local mallam) halted the completion of a dam, because of the use of some raw materials in constructing the dam, which have to be purified before shoring up the collapsing walls of the dam. The rains are on their way and the sides of the dam are ready to cave in if the contractor does not get back to work soonest. His support base is the youth of the community who chased the contractor away and who will get first work once the irrigation systems provide enough water for crop farming. But we don’t need work and cheaper food do we? Juju and spiritual guidance are better mechanisms for sustenance.

While all this was going on and we were not watching, the Supreme Court set 14 June as the date to finally hear the Woyome judgment debt case. It is the Amidu case brought before the Supreme Court and I am looking forward to Citizen Vigilante having his day in court.

Bui Dam is 92% complete. If my memory serves me right it has been 90% complete for nearly two years. Just like the Gas Processing Plant, which we hear Sinopec of China have threatened to discontinue if not paid, we cannot figure out what the real story is. But Veep Paa Kwesi went to visit his brother at Bui and added another 2% to progress completion.

If Tony Lithur and Tsatsu Tsikata have all the freedom to maneuver we might never get to the end of the Petition case. Somehow, our Judges are bringing the case round to faster delivery and with some humor we are beginning to see the extent of the challenge. I was particularly interested in some of the arguments about whether omissions and errors are irregularities. So in very slooooow suggestion here is a view. If you fill in a form and make mistakes, that form might be corrected or rejected by a reviewer. You could have made a deliberate mistake or it could be a genuine mistake. Either way, it must be corrected. Admitting that you made a mistake is an honorable thing to do and only esteems you in the face of the reviewer. My interpretation of the Petition case is this. We need to know whether someone deliberately changed figures or made genuine errors and therefore caused a wrong count and declaration of a different winner. That is why when even in a sporting contest you foul an opponent or dope to win, you can be stripped of the title if inadvertently given to you. It couldn’t be simpler. All the slow suggestions and legal jingoisms are not the issue. Does the evidence show in the numbers that this was a deliberate attempt to divert the destiny of Ghanaians? The Respondents must cut to the chase and deal with the matter as presented. Hopefully, not much longer.

The hilltop walk on McCarthy Hill has become a mini legend. Every Sunday, church groups, sporting clubs and families do the pilgrimage to the top of the hill, some jogging, some power walking and some of us just strolling and jiggling whatever is available. I am usually late, a sole walker, converse thoughts on a myriad of problems to those descending. You get the chat and what is most topical and this Sunday we are engaged in the Doctor’s strike. The views are totally divided. I hear blame for the doctors, lives lost and the shameful way doctors are holding the Government to ransom. But just as strong are the views condemning Government for not meeting its obligations. The debates are heated but will not break families or divide friends. There is a clear balance but overall, Ghanaians want an end to this strife so we can at least get rid of the anxiety. The Ghana Medical Association says they did not sign a poverty contract with the Government, so which way? I cannot believe that this Government cannot find ten million cedis to end this impasse and I think Finance Minister Seth Terkper should cut the cash-balancing act and find the money. A few families have already lost loved ones; how many more while we lock this confrontation in court? Government must find a “Better Ghana” way.

My weekend lift was in the Shoprite Mall at Weija. I was doing some grocery shopping, very expensively I must say, oblivious to all as I stepped into my Azonto dig, the public address system serving Azonto Ghost by Bisa Kdei. I turned a corner and there was my nemesis. Five-year old (she looked that age) Ameera was digging into the music too, Daddy patiently cajoling her to come along, she just enjoying the free space and rhythm. Her daddy face-recognized me and we exchanged some light hearted banter, but I so enjoyed Ameera’s freedom and expression, that I say we need more children like this and more dads to keep them creative. In Ghana the pain goes away so easily.

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa. Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney