Assume the position

July 24, 2017
Source: Nana Yaa l thebftonline l Ghana
Assume the position

When the diminutive Joseph Kabila assumed the position of his father, as Head of State of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he appeared initially, to have inherited and allegedly sat in the very winged back chair in the very office in which Papa was shot.  Junior also appeared to have worn, for a while, his rotund father’s oversize suits. The DRC is physically immense - 68 million people dotted around 150 million acres - the third largest country on the continent, it is home to 50% of Africa’s forests, has enough hydropower to light up the continent and sits on untapped minerals worth in excess of some $24 trillion.   


Since 2001, Kabila junior has refined his appearance and his grip on one of the world’s last producers of copper, gold, diamonds and zinc.  The constitution of the DRC prevents the Head of State from working, he can however own shares/companies and invest.  President Laurent Kabila has indeed been working.  King Leopold II and Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga would be proud of him.  A recent report published by the New York University based Congo Research Group, reveals that that the Kabila family owns more than a 100 mining permits for precious metals, substantial shares in the country’s largest mobile phone network, thousands of hectares of farmland and other assets registered in some 80 companies both at home and abroad, generating income potentially worth hundreds of millions of US$.  Such dedication to duty in a country where an estimated 70 percent of the population lives under the poverty line.


The DRC has one of the lowest GDP per capita in the world, consistently fights for and achieves starring place at the bottom of the UN’s Human Development Index and any corruption survey, in any language,

In December 2016, the now dapper Kabila refused to step down after his mandate expired, elections were cancelled because the country, official receipts for exports in 2015 was $4.9 billion, couldn’t afford the time to complete essential voter registration or indeed the funds required to conduct the elections itself.  Presiding over a country the size of Western Europe, Kabila is a small man making a big dent.  Kabila will go, one day, and we will read, hopefully not from a US non profit group but from a report generated by the suitably named Commission of Repression of Economic Crimes that Kabila himself established, how badly, repeatedly and deeply, this predatory man has bent the country over and contorted its fortunes.  Will the DRC, ever go from ‘predatory'' to leader?


Ask the same question about Nigeria, West Africa’s behemoth, in every sense of the word.  Our neighbours are loud and they do everything biggly.  A local court has ordered the seizure of a $37.5 million property owned by its former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Maduke, in what must be a coordinated pincer move, the US Justice Department has also filed action to recover an additional $144 million of assets by the woman who served between 2010 and 2015.  Do the math.  Then assume the position.  


Closer to home, the office of the Auditor General has met, arguably for the first time, the statutory deadline to submit to Parliament, the audited financial reports of the Government of Ghana from the previous financial year (ending December 2016), within 6 months.  Well done.  And, post June 30th, 2017, the report is neither available online or in hard copy to our 275 eager Members of Parliament. Our legislature is stretched on many matters, filibustering is not one of them.  The much awaited Bill to establish the Office of the Special Prosecutor has been formally laid before the House and referred to the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee for their consideration and review.  


Like a jack in the box, the Minority assumed the position, they line edited the Standing Orders and Meestah Spiiiiker’s attention was immediately drawn to 3 critical and for the Minority, fatal constitutional errors that required that the offensive document be withdrawn post haste, forthwith and with all required prejudice.  First they objected to the Bill being laid.  Honourable Members didn't have copies you see.  A full 24 hours after the fact.  Second, they objected to the discourtesy done to the dignity of the house.  The Bill was presented, by a lowly and mere Deputy Attorney General instead of the Minister of Justice herself.  Imagine.  And, they objected to the implied speed - a Certificate of Urgency - by which the Executive intends to plough on.  I refer you to the Majority Leader’s reported laconic responses.

“What you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson   


I don’t speak often in favour of this Minority ,I don’t have to.  And, to be fair to the Minority, per the Standing Orders of Parliament (Order 120 - 1) and our Constitution Article 106 -2), Bills must be gazetted for 14 days prior to being presented to the House.  And per the same rules, that the Minority can recite backwards when their selective amnesia allows them to, a Bill can circumvent matters of process including the 14 days required for gazetting, by being presented by the Executive to the House under a Certificate of Urgency.  


The Minority insists that it is not against fighting corruption via the proposed Bill, not at all.  They are guardians of process.  In assuming the position of latter day saints, the Minority have exercised process and asked that the Attorney General present herself to the House to explain why the urgency of this Bill.  I hope fervently that she does avail herself of their kind invitation and when she arrives, as a former Member of the House and a former Deputy Attorney General, (who too must know process) she presents the explanation sought.   


And to be helpful to the debate that will no doubt ensue, I hope that Ms Akuffo also presents, line by line, the number of Bills that have been presented in such a manner to Parliament in the Fourth Republic.  I would like her to lay particular emphasis on the Certificates of Emergencies that were presented when John (IV) Mahama was President and the now deeply aggrieved Minority sat on the other side of the House.  What was the justification then or now?   Lets get clarity, principles and process lined up here.  Is it healthy to proceed with urgency on Bills, if so what should be the criteria?


Will the Minority lead directly with dispatch (hopefully this time with more thought so they do not continue to look like they are twerking in public), and support the Majority to summon both the Auditor General and the Minister of Finance as well?  As a matter of urgency, both must explain why, the 2016 accounts of the government are being coyly withheld from them with such grievous intent.  The report will detail exactly how much money, if any, was wasted, cannot be accounted for, was misappropriated and/or brazenly looted during the last year of John IV when many of the Honourable Members were in Parliament, some were also Ministers and deputy Ministers.  That auspicious list of experienced hands on/in the till, include a certain Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, our former self crowned transformational mayor of Accra, he now represents the good people of Ablekuma South.   


Will the Minority engage the Majority with a solution?  They all have phones, indeed some of them gleefully defended being dashed gifts of telephones by the Chinese government as a justifiable perk.  Those phones surely enable them to bundle data, so will the cost saving Parliament stand together in the spirit of E-goverment, instruct both the Auditor General and the Minister of Finance to publish the MIA report online so that they and we the people can also begin to read and marvel at how/if we blew a hole in the budget in the election year?  Think how much money and trees we will save from not printing out a report for each of our MPs?  


Will the Minority lead in pressing the Auditor General to assume the position (his Office was forced into shape by legal action taken by OccupyGhana), and following the presentation of said audited accounts for 2016, begin issuing with laser precision and utmost urgency, certificates of disallow and surcharge?  Will criminal prosecutions emanating from this report and previous others, be presented to court with the quality of forensic evidence on which basis a judge can make a legal defensible ruling that may well result in the conviction of senior members of their party.  Sssssshhhhh.  When the Auditor General closes 2016 and goes back, as he must, to previous reports, there may well be culprits from the Majority.  


'Will the Minority now urgently lead in pressing the Majority, after the fact of their both dilly dallying on this small matter when they were in government, to re introduce the Right to information Act?  So that apart from ..... 


The head of the French Army, General Pierre de Villiers has executed an elegant tactical manoeuvre, he resigned days ahead of a meeting he was to have with President Macron.  The 2 have butted heads over matters budget, the President was apparently incensed that the General had engaged the media to suggest, that the cuts would undermine La Patrie’s defenses.  Like many European countries blighted by terrorism, security is a very sore multiple point.  Lives have been lost, economies undermined and political credibility shot.  At a meeting at the Defence Minister, President Macron is reported to have sniffed without naming names “it is not dignified to hold certain debates in the public areas.”  When that not so veiled shot across the bow didn't quite land up the Khyber Pass, Monsieur le President dialled it up.  In his next public comment he delivered “if the military chief of staff and the president are opposed on something, the military chief of staff goes.”  Show me your tricolour and I will show you Le Exit.   Approach moi.  Je suis bilengue.