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Feb
21

GHANA’S POLITICIANS MUST REALISE THAT THEY ARE BEING WATCHED

The Ghanaian Times 21st February, 2012
THE ENEMIES OF DEMOCRACY ARE WATCHING YOU, POLITICIANS OF GHANA!
By Cameron Duodu
In an article entitled “What exactly is ‘misconduct’, published on 24th January 2012, I spelt out for our body-politic, the perilous nature of the situation in which its leadership had placed itself, with the unfolding of the unsavoury Woyome saga, which involves the siphoning of between C51 and C92m of Ghanaian taxpayers’ money into the pockets of a single individual, Alfred Agbesi Woyome. 

I warned that not everyone in our society is enamoured of the democracy we are now enjoying, and that some elements think that Ghana is too ‘under-developed’ to be allowed to enjoy the “luxury” of full democracy. Of course, such elements are misguided and selfish, for as Winston Churchill pointed out, democracy may be “the worst” form of government – “except [for] all the rest that have been tried.”

Less than one month after I published my article, I find to my dismay (but, alas,  not to my surprise) that a campaign appears to have begun on the Internet, suggesting openly that the level of “corruption” in the country has reached such a stage as might tempt some soldiers to try to intervene to end it. 

One such writer was so dishonest that although he tacitly admitted that military intervention by hypocritical officers in the past had led to further corruption, nevertheless (he seemed to suggest) it would be a good idea to have some more of it! 

Now, when I advised, in my earlier article, that the Woyome cancer should be cut out, I merely urged that the right thing be done. However, I must point out that what has occurred so far is so puny in that regard that it  leaves me still apprehensive about the survival of  our democracy. Two factors have led to my unease. 

The first is the Opposition’s attitude to the Woyome saga. One important Opposition figure thought it was adequate to say that although he got an expensive vehicle from Woyome, it was for “legal services” performed on Woyome’s behalf. He did not find it necessary to end public speculation by giving exact details of what those “legal services” were. 

Then, the official Opposition Communications Director condemned the arrest of an Opposition MP who, it had been alleged, had been paid a large sum of money by Woyome at a time the MP was a Minister. 

I deplore the attitude of the Opposition Communications Director. His concern that the NDC is seeking to “embroil” the Opposition NPP in the Woyome saga is naïve. I suggest that if the shoe had been on the other foot, he would have done precisely  the same thing. What should give him disquiet rather is the fact that apparently,  there are highly-placed members of the Opposition who smiled at Woyome and didn’t care a tinker’s dime about why he would want to write them large cheques. 

That having been said, I have to condemn in no uncertain terms, the impression the Government is creating that it wants to “dichotomise” criminality in this country. As a lawyer, I am sure the President remembers the word “dichotomy” very well. It was first introduced into our political lexicon by Mr Kwaw Swanzy, Attorney-General under the Nkrumah regime. 

Mr Swanzy was addressing a press conference in the aftermath of the 9 August 1963 treason trial of Dr Nkrumah’s Minister of Information, Tawia Adamafio, and the following persons: Robert Benjamin Otchere (former [opposition] United Party member of parliament); Joseph Yaw Manu (also of the opposition); Ako Adjei (Dr Nkrumah’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs); Hugo Horatio Cofie-Crabbe (former Administrative Secretary of Dr Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party) and E C Quaye, CPP member and former chairman of the Accra-Tema Municipal Council). 

 

They were all charged with treason for their alleged involvement in the Kulungugu bomb attack on President Kwame Nkrumah on 2 August 1962.

The court, headed by the Chief Justice, Sir Arku Korsah, found the two United Party members guilty but acquitted Adamafio and the other CPP members. Mr Kwaw Swanzy hit the roof at his press conference. 

He spat fire: the court, he charged, had used a mechanism known in law as “the dichotomy of the credibility of a witness” to convict the United Party members, whilst using the same principle to acquit the CPP members. “The dichotomy of the credibility of a witness is a dangerous principle  in law!” Mr Kwaw Swanzy thundered. 

When I heard Mr Swanzy say these things, I realised that legal history was about to be made in Ghana and I asked him pointblank, “Will the Government  sack the judges?” 

It was the question on everybody’s mind, and there was a loud murmur at the Accra Press Club, where the press conference was being held. Mr Kwaw Swanzy didn’t answer the question, but his body language suggested that something quite earth-shattering was afoot. And indeed, a few days later, the CPP used its majority in Parliament to set aside the judgement. This was unheard of in the annals of the judiciary in Ghana!
Indeed, so stunning was it that C L R James, one of Dr Nkrumah’s supporters abroad, wrote a stinker about it and broke off relations with Nkrumah afterwards. He suggested that if the “elders” within the CPP could allow Nkrumah to set aside a judgement by the Chief Justice and a properly constituted Bench, then the CPP was as good as dead. His words were proved right on 24 February 1966, when Nkrumah and the CPP were swept aside by the military.
It wasn’t only that the judgement was nullified — President Nkrumah was next given power to sack the Chief Justice,and a law was also enacted creating a “Special Court”, which did the Government’s bidding by trying anew,  the acquitted CPP politicians. The court was presided over by a new Chief Justice, Mr Justice Julius Sarkodee-Adoo. It duly convicted Adamafio, Ako Adjei and Co.
I am recalling these things to draw attention to the fact that Governments are often tempted to interfere with what should be purely impartial judicial processes. So, if we go by the interim report of EOCO, Woyome had dealings with several influential members of the current Government, including the former Attorney-General, Mrs Betty Mould-Idrissu; the incumbent Minister of Finance, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, and several civil servants, including a Senior State Attorney.
Yet only the wife of the Senior State Attorney was implausibly named in the interim report as having had money paid into her account by Woyome. Nothing was said about the widespread belief that Woyome paid for a huge contingent of ruling party [NDC] ‘foot-soldiers’ to be flown to South Africa to watch the 2010 World Cup. Nor was the issue of Woyome’s alleged financing of an NDC headquarters building in Accra, addressed.
But then, weeks after the public  has been wondering about how reliable the interim report was, out of the blue comes the name, not of anyone prominent who was  connected by the interim report to Woyome, but of an NPP MP. He had also been paid money from Woyome’s account, it is understood. A leak to the media now suggests that a letter has been written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, informing her that another NPP MP is to be arrested

Seriously, does the President of Ghana, a law professor, really expect the Ghanaian public to accept this situation with equanimity? Are there other people who are connected to Woyome’s account? If so, who are they? Why weren’t they named by EOCO? Even if EOCO had not completed its investigations – and may well name others in the “full” report later – did it make good political sense to name only some people and not even so much as  comment on the possibility that other names might emerge, after further investigations?

The President received the “interim report” and commended EOCO for its work. When he read the interim report, did EOCO’s “dichotomous”  release of names of people who had benefited from the Woyome account, strike him or not? If it did not strike him, then it should have struck his legal team (please don’t laugh!) who include people with grand-sounding names: Attorney-General and Minister of Justice; Solicitor-General; and Director of Public Prosecutions.

All these are paid to give the Government advice on legal matters and the President ought to have given the interim report of EOCO to them and asked for their comments before approving of any actions derived from the report. Additionally,  the Government always has the option of employing eminent counsel in private practice on an  ad hoc basis, if its officials are either too snowed under, or feel out of their depth  on any legal issue!

Because the Interim Report of EOCO  was so opaque – hinting at certain things and not others; naming some names but ignoring others; highlighting some acts of negligence but not others; stating that the President had stopped payment to Woyome twice but glaringly failing to tell the public when the President’s orders were issued; to whom they were issued;  who dared to refuse to carry them out; and what the President did when he became aware that his orders had not been carried out; the public is left with a bitter taste in its mouth. Is their Government, headed by a learned law professor,  really as cynical as this, merely playing games with public perceptions of what it is up to?

Vulnerable though the Government  has made itself to be, the Opposition is, I am afraid, giving the Government an easy ride over this Woyome matter. Why did the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament, which is chaired by an Opposition member,  invite the former Attorney-General to appear before the Committee, without making sure beforehand that  it could supply the relevant documentation to her, if necessary?

Also, would it not have been wiser to invite the Accountant-General and the relevant Bank of Ghana and other officials first, so that their evidence about how much money was paid, how speedily it was paid and why, whether any procedures were ignored and why, could then have been put to the former AG and the Minister of Finance, when they appeared before the Committee later? Doesn’t common sense suggest that if the civil servants appear after their bosses have appeared, they might feel embarrassed about daring to contradict their bosses, if the truth demands that they should  do so?  How can you build a case, regarding a complex financial transaction, from the top down, instead of from the bottom up? Ins’t conventional wisdom’s advice that one should “follow the money and see where it leads to”, if one wants the truth?  Poor strategy in total, I think.

Furthermore, are the Committee members satisfied with the Auditor-General’s attempts to wriggle out of some of the statements he’d himself  made, in his  Report to Parliament? Why hasn’t he so far appeared to set the record straight?

This Woyome  matter should be forensically examined, devoid of red herring type distractions, and put to bed as quickly as possible, for when a political system in a country is indicted as being generally  “corrupt” — albeit by opportunists seeking to insert their own dirty snouts into the national feeding trough – dichotomy does not usually rear its head to discriminate between the politicians who operate the system.

The whole of Parliament is under threat, if the MPs don’t know it.

For authoritarian rule is not selective, but is  an ‘equal opportunity’ abuser of human rights, so to speak. Ask any CPP [1966], PP [1973] or PNP man [1981] or even SMC2 man [1979]  who has ever — unceremoniously – been ordered to report to a police station at six o’clock in the morning, and he will tell you that quite unjustly, they all suffer when opportunists strike at democracy..

Wake up, then, ye politicians of Ghana! Don’t let us ever go through those horrific periods again. Because if you don’t read the signs,  one thing is for sure: those who do not learn from their own history are condemned to relive it – nightmares and all. 

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