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Rawlings Faults Support Of Corruption By Development Partners

JJ Rawlings

JJ Rawlings

Former President Rawlings says the failure of Africa’s development partners to check corrupt leaders has led to such corruption taking a life of its own.

He said it was unfortunate that some corrupt leaders rather than being exposed are rewarded with international awards and sometimes even knighted. The former President was delivering the keynote address at the second Pan African Congress in Munich, Germany on Saturday.

Speaking on the theme, “How Good Governance Could Be Achieved in Africa” the former President said good governance in Africa requires the genuine support of our development partners. He said, “if they fail to support us with real intentions but rather do so on some petty and parochial agenda as experienced over the past decade it breeds corrupt leaders. When elections in a large and recognised democracy like the United States is seen as doubtful it gives room for some opportunistic African leaders to take a cue.”

Former President Rawlings said he was encouraged by the efforts of US President Barrack Obama quest to bring sanity into international diplomacy, governance and economic crime. He said attempts to question illicit funds siphoned away into offshore bank accounts were commendable. “Afghanistan’s Ahmed Karzai realised last week the full import of that new American policy when Obama warned that no additional troops would be sent to his country unless the recommendations of election observers were adhered to,” former President Rawlings stated.

The former Ghanaian President said it was unfortunate that the West always preferred to impose its version of democracy on the continent and counselled that it was important that individual African countries adopted their own democratic systems based on their historical and cultural backgrounds.

Justice, President Rawlings noted was an essential ingredient of good governance emphasising that with it law and order was not prevail as the people “will eventually take the law into their own hands to extract the justice that their chosen leaders have refused to apply.”

President Rawlings mentioned the Mabey and Johnson bribery scandal and prayed that when the government concludes its investigations on the matter those guilty will receive no preferential treatment. The District Assembly concept, which was adopted from the PNDC era, is one aspect of governance he stated had been adopted into Ghana’s Fourth Republican democratic process.

“In 1992 Ghana once again reverted to multiparty democracy under the fourth republican constitution. We did not adopt the process hook, line and sinker as the West clamoured for. We ensured that the District Assembly concept still remained to support central government in grassroots democracy. District assemblies and municipal assemblies have till today supported central government and allow for people to identify directly with what government is doing through their own active participation.

“For Africa to achieve good governance countries sovereign as they are have to adopt effective means of allowing the populace to play a sustained role in governance. Views have to be sought not only from parliamentarians as they most often are unable to sample general opinion and also tend to support policy on strict party lines sometimes to the detriment of their communities. “Politics of impunity and terrorising the citizenry as witnessed in Ghana between 2000 and 2008 could lead to revolt of different dimensions. In the last Ghanaian election it had to take General Muktarr an envoy of President Y’Adua of Nigeria to warn Kufuor of the dire consequence of stealing the election as he had done in 2004. Try as the incumbent attempted to doctor the result the people decided enough was enough and booted the New Patriotic Party out of power,” former President Rawlings said.

Please find below the full text of former President Rawlings’ address.

ADDRESS BY FLT. LT. JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS (rtd), FORMER PRESIDENT OF GHANA AT THE PAN AFRICAN CONGRESS IN MUNICH – OCTOBER 24, 2009

Distinguished guests ladies and gentleman, it is an honour to be invited to speak on the theme “How good governance could be achieved in Africa”. Our continent continues to bleed from its inability to institute permanent structures that will guarantee good governance and lead us into economic prosperity.

The continent is still saddled with some politicians and personalities who have a parochial agenda and are aided by international interests to impose their selfish and exploitative agenda against the will of the majority.

It is significant that this subject is being discussed as we celebrate the centenary of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah – the man who led Ghana’s independence and served as a beacon for the rest of the continent. Nkrumah had a dream of self-sustainability and social democracy that many on the continent have today decided to embrace after years of wandering and tinkering with unbridled capitalism to disastrous results.

What is good governance and what are the yardsticks for measuring these? The World Bank refers to good governance as effectiveness and efficiency in public sector management, accountability and responsiveness of public officials to the citizenry, rule of law and public access to information and transparency. Good governance also involves effective policymaking, transparency of governmental programmes and actions, accountability, the protection of human rights and working relationship between the public, private and civil sectors in determining how power is exercised.

Ladies and gentlemen in discussing such topics I am always inclined to use Ghana as reference. One basic tenet of good governance is ensuring that the will of the people remains supreme in all governmental decisions. Governments often issue statements after forcing bitter policy decisions down the throats of the people saying such bitterness is temporary and will subside sooner than later.

What many in leadership positions forget is that the ordinary citizenry however low their educational levels are, can be discerning and have alternative opinions that may very well work as well or better than what government proposes. When we talk of good governance, the international community or the West always refers to their version of democracy as the best antidote.

Ghana had to endure over a decade of painful political metamorphoses. The inability of our leaders to stay focussed on the national vision, to respect the will and wishes of the people eventually led to the violent revolt of 1979 when Ghana had totally collapsed, a minority had hijacked the country and corruption was at its peak.

The 1979 insurrection short-lived as it was later gave birth to the 31st December 1981 Revolution – the revolution that came to stop the rot and re-awaken the Ghanaian to participatory governance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I do not wish to digress but it is important to outline the sequence of events that led eventually to the resumption of multi-party democracy in Ghana in 1992. The period between 1982 and 1992 saw a Ghanaian re-awakening only comparable to the period leading up to Independence. Ghanaians took up the mantle to manage their own destiny. There was leadership all right but right from the grassroots decisions were being taken that affected the very wellbeing of the people and such decisions did not emanate from Accra or Central Government.

People’s Defence Committees, Workers Defence Committees, District Committees were all established to tackle matters at local level. This level of decentralisation eventually led to the District Assembly concept that has been adopted to this day and which ensures that government keeps in touch with the people.

The period in question saw the Ghanaian people tasting real power. In 1992 Ghana once again reverted to multiparty democracy under the fourth republican constitution. We did not adopt the process hook, line and sinker as the West clamoured for. We ensured that the District Assembly concept still remained to support central government in grassroots democracy. District assemblies and municipal assemblies have till today supported central government and allow for people to identify directly with what government is doing through their own active participation.

For Africa to achieve good governance countries sovereign as they are have to adopt effective means of allowing the populace to play a sustained role in governance. Views have to be sought not only from parliamentarians as they most often are unable to sample general opinion and also tend to support policy on strict party lines sometimes to the detriment of their communities.

Politics of impunity and terrorising the citizenry as witnessed in Ghana between 2000 and 2008 could lead to revolt of different dimensions. In the last Ghanaian election it had to take General Muktarr an envoy of President Y’Adua of Nigeria to warn Kufuor of the dire consequence of stealing the election as he had done in 2004. Try as the incumbent attempted to doctor the result the people decided enough was enough and booted the New Patriotic Party out of power.

Ladies and gentleman, many talk of law and order as another ingredient of good governance emphasising that enhancing these will lead to good governance. Law and order can only work well if there is justice. One of our failings as a continent is our inability to punish so-called white-collar crimes even though they lead to the impoverishment of our people oftentimes leading to their deaths or incapacitation.

We have been witnesses to politicians of the immediate past ignoring the needs of the people and looting the nation’s wealth, contracts awarded to their kith, kin and cronies and funds allocated for national development misappropriated in nonchalant fashion. Sadly while the people voted for change to ensure that such criminality is punished, some of our leaders today seem to think punishing these wrongs is not right for the political climate and will rather lead to instability.

This is bizarre and an affront to the ideals of good governance. Good governance will never thrive if the wheels of justice are not seen to be grinding at steady pace. Without justice law and order will never thrive. The people will eventually take the law into their own hands to extract the justice that their chosen leaders have refused to apply.

Africa cannot afford to delay justice. The moral and social fabric of the society must not be allowed to degenerate. Justice is what makes most advanced economies thrive and which ensures a sense of confidence in the political system as no politician or political leader can hold the people to ransom.

Everyone must be seen to be equal to the law. Recently a UK court has indicted some leading political appointees during my tenure, some of who are in the current government for accepting bribes ostensibly to influence contracts for Mabey and Johnson, a construction company. I issued a statement immediately supporting the government’s call for investigations. I hope that when these allegations are proven those guilty will receive no preferential treatment.

As leader and founder of the NDC I will continue to harp on the need for justice at all levels and I am hope President Mills will do the right thing by pursuing this matter to its logical conclusion. As we call for good governance across the continent we must be seen to be practising the ideals that we preach.

Ghana has discovered oil in commercial quantities and both the Kufuor and Mills governments keep harping on about the positive impact it will have on the economy some day. Unfortunately no amount of oil promise tomorrow can take the place of unlived justice today. The sanctity of natural justice must be preserved not avoided, not destroyed, not defiled.

The previous regime almost destroyed the political, economic, social and judicial fabric of our stability as a people. Certainly the Mills government does not want to continue the destruction and the bleeding of the truth? Ladies and gentleman another ingredient of good governance is patriotic leadership – leaders who are ready to die for their people, for their countries; leaders who understand the voices of the people and speak the same language.

Unfortunately true patriotism is seen as a threat by some of these developed countries and they with the support of their local agents undermine attempts by such patriots. Emerging as a patriotic leader on our continent can be risky. In the end we are rather saddled with self-seeking leaders with ostentatious lifestyles who rather receive the support from some amongst the development partners.

Ladies and gentlemen when nationalistic fervour is not supported and political leaders with corrupt credentials are allowed to entrench themselves it destroys the moral fabric of society to the extent that even academic work is affected and some lecturers can abuse the integrity of the educational system by awarding marks to students based on ethnic, political or even sexual biases. In the end we fail to recognise brilliance and merit, allowing a cabal of selfish educationists to de-recognise academic brilliance.

We cannot achieve good governance without probity and accountability. Government must be answerable to the people in every facet of its operations. There is no good in hiding behind official secrecy acts and allowing the electorate to conjecture what the real facts are. Managing a country involves huge financial resources obtained from the sweat of the ordinary people through taxes or from loans that have to be paid for by this very same electorate.

We owe them an explanation for every dime we spend and cannot afford to compromise on it. It is sometimes unfortunate when one comes to the realisation that governments rather seek the wellbeing of political appointees, offering huge allowances, car loans and expensive accommodation while the ordinary folk cannot survive on the national minimum wage.

Sadly the collapse of the bipolar world had/has allowed the West to cover up regimes that have lost track with their people whitewashing their track record and creating the impression that they are darlings of democracy. Once a government accepts the prescription for uncontrolled capitalism then they are tagged as a successful democracy even though the ordinary people cannot be sustained on what the Pope John Paul once referred to as the savagery of capitalism.

Fortunately the backslide Africa and indeed the rest of the world had to suffer during the Bush-Blair years is taking a turn for the better with the advent of Obama. The new American President’s quest to bring sanity into international governance by exposing corruption and political mismanagement is commendable.

Monies stashed away in offshore banks are now being queried and so-called friends of America are now waking up to the realisation that the relationship can only be sustained on a strict ethical foundation. Afghanistan’s Ahmed Karzai realised last week the full import of that new American policy when Obama warned that no additional troops would be sent to his country unless the recommendations of election observers were adhered to.

Ladies and gentleman I have not changed the subject. Good governance is also predicated on the genuine support of our development partners. If they fail to support us with real intentions but rather do so on some petty and parochial agenda as experienced over the past decade it breeds corrupt leaders.

When elections in a large and recognised democracy like the United States is seen as doubtful it gives room for some opportunistic African leaders to take a cue. Just count for yourself the number of questionable elections that have taken place on the continent in the past decade. The record speaks for itself.

The failure of our development partners to hold their institutions and our corrupt leaders in check in the past allowed the decadence to generate into a life of its own. While many of our people lived the indignity of not being able to live with a real meal a day and were violated the leaders and personalities who perpetuated this on their people were rather recognised globally and sometimes even given awards or knighted!

Good governance in Africa is sustainable primarily on a blend of socialism and capitalism – what is now referred to as social democracy. The continent has traditionally thrived on a system of traditional leaders looking out for their subjects. Colonialism and neo-colonialism have been unable to change that and it is only when we practice a system of government where the welfare of the people is paramount that we can develop and progress. Low per capita incomes and GDP mean we cannot assume that the harshness of capitalist approach to development will facilitate our national development.

Today as we celebrate the ideals of Nkrumah and Pan Africanism we have to recognise the fact that Nkrumah’s dream for Ghana and Africa was one of a continent that looked out for itself. He baulked at the prospect of a few laying claim to the resources of the state while the majority are oppressed and compelled to worship the oppressor.

Rather than continue from where he left off successive governments refused to build upon his legacy until the 1979 uprising and subsequently the 1981 revolution. Ladies and gentlemen it is interesting to note that though the West espouses uncontrolled capitalism as the way forward most of these countries have entrenched social welfare policies that defy the very concept they sell to Africa.

Take the issue of health for instance. In the UK every citizen is entitled to free medical care. In the United States there is a huge debate as President Obama attempts to modify the existing health system, but the bottom line is that there is a system in place that ensures that every US citizen enjoys some element of free health care.

The major resource in every economy is the work force or the potential work force. That is why education is subsidised across the world and the welfare of the working adult or unemployed adult is the concern of every government in the West. These are socialist tendencies cloaked in capitalism. It is thus ironic when we in Africa do not have health care systems in place, fee free education is still a mirage and student loans for tertiary education so abysmally low that it serves little purpose.

It is imperative that we invest adequately but prudently in our human resource to ensure that it meets standards required for maximum productivity. Low human resource investment encourages corruption and laissez faire attitude to work with its attendant effect on economic development. Surely every citizen must be encouraged to be desirous of working hard enough to earn a living but we cannot encourage this without offering the right incentive for a productive human resource. The time has come for Africa to examine itself very well and identify the traditional democratic tendencies that survived during pre-colonial and colonial times.

Good governance is not a mirage. It is the concerted effort of a leadership that has vision and a people desirous of seeing that leaders deliver. When we vote people into power we have to charge them to deliver on their promises and the mandate we gave them. Let us not encourage their failure by seeking personal favours. Let us support them to put in place policies that positively affect the social well being of every citizen.

Let us encourage our leaders to invest in infrastructure, create jobs and also ensure a sustainable maintenance culture. More importantly the institutions that serve as checks and balances must be truly independent. Having a President who has control over the judiciary, parliament and the investigative agencies allows for corruption while giving rise to tension and instability. Africa’s corruption index speaks for itself and we have to allow for true independence for these institutions so the electorate will have more confidence in the institutions and their leaders. This provides the incentive needed for development.

Ladies and gentlemen I cannot end this without talking about the patriarch of Africa who we eulogise today. Below is an excerpt from a statement I issued on September 21, 2009 in commemoration of Nkrumah’s birthday. “Some of the most gallant heroes of our nation building…have been relegated to the background, whilst undeserving and treacherous people have been undeservedly elevated.

“Today Nkrumah is eulogised by many across the world. In Ghana the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the Mausoleum and a few others are but a microcosm of the monuments in his honour.

“Ghana has seen political metamorphoses since December 31, 1982 – A journey started by Nkrumah in the 1950s but derailed by self-seekers who did not appreciate Nkrumah’s vision and demonised every aspect of his leadership. “What Ghana needs are bold leaders who have absolute faith, trust and respect for the judicial consciousness of our people. Leaders who believe in true justice and freedom; leaders who believe in empowering the people as they fashion out policies that will improve their lot and leaders who will create equal opportunities for wealth while ensuring that there is absolute probity and accountability.

“As we celebrate Nkrumah today let us have unity of purpose as far as the socio-economic and socio-political development of Ghana is concerned.” Ladies and gentlemen sadly Nkrumah’s name and legacy is being abused by the ignorant few like Kufuor and his cohorts who hate him and those who profess to be his followers but have used his name for their selfish ends rather than extol his virtues and ideals.

I wish to thank the Pan African Organisation Board for inviting me to this year’s congress and offering me this platform. It is heart-warming that you have continued to keep the flame of Pan Africanism alight. I am honoured to be here today. Thank you.

Source: Ghanaweb.com

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