Rowing back

July 4, 2017
Source: thebftonline.com l Ghana
Rowing back

In the 21st century here in a Ghana where we insist on somewhere between 11-14 local languages (depending on who is counting), we lay claim to mobile phone density of 128 percent and pay lip service to E-governance.  So why did it cost me Ghc65 to procure a Law that is available only in hard copy, in English, through one (Assembly) Press in one location in Ghana, Accra?  

The offending document in question is the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 Legislative Instrument (L.I. 2180), if you insist on reading its 195 sections in one go, have fun.  That would be 213 bum numbing pages.  


I bought it only after watching the recent sloppy attempt by this government to implement sections of the law they inherited.  Their proposal was that a subsidiary of the Josprong/Zoomlion Ghana group be awarded a nationwide monopoly on the lucrative business of recovering and towing disabled vehicles.  Civil society and the recently pious Minority raised an awful stink and the government has rowed back.  As they should. 

There is history here. In the 'you do me I do you' political culture, equalisation is the game. According to the Hansard, in February 2015,  then Minister of Transport, Dzifa Attivor, was summoned to Parliament to expand on how and why her Ministry had interpreted this very same L.I.2180 to 'divisble' Ghana into 6 and provide each zone with a private sector company to remove cars that break down.  

Given that our roads are unlit, reducing surprises for motorists must lead to a reduction of road accidents.  Surely.   The issue was that the time, Minister Attivor couldn't/wouldn't provide the criterion used for the selection of the 6 companies.  5 of the chosen few were Accra based, one of them was Road Safety Management Services Limited, a subsidiary of guess who? - Josprong/Zoomlion Ghana Limited.  History repeats itself if you refuse to learn the right lessons.  

 

Supported by the Majority, now in the Minority, Mrs. Attivor, was allowed to slink away in an opaque fug to later sign off on Smartty's.  That would be the padded 'sole sourcing' after the illegal fact, of the branding of municipal buses in Accra with pictures of former Presidents/Heads of State.  When that scandal of the week broke, the Minister was allowed to slither away again, and resign without ever admitting publicly that she had grievously erred.  

Smartty’s, some random type company fronted by an actress of ambivalent talent, was required to pay back what they had obviously over charged.  Have they paid back, in full, and was that with or without interest?  At what rate?  Should their public admission of taking liberties with the public purse not be followed too by legal proceedings with the very real possibility of punitive damages?


When Josprong/Zoomlion pulled a stunt in Liberia involving bribing officials to get a World Bank funded contract they were investigated, exposed and prevented for a specific period from accessing Bank's funded contracts until they sorted their messy innards out.  Should we too not be applying rules to prevent individuals and companies who take liberties with the public purse from re emerging in the same or a different guise at our expense, at least for a while?


The Supreme Court has ruled so when do we begin to disallow, surcharge and prosecute those who abuse the public purse?  I too Am In A Hurry.  History repeats itself if you refuse to learn the obvious lessons.

 

Ghana is a soccer mad country.  Mad enough that during the last World Cup some bright spark in the government then, thought it best to by pass the facilities of electronic banking and instead transport by private jet (whose and at what cost?), millions of dollars in cash to pay off the mutinous national team.  Mad enough for a cash strapped government, to fund the travel of hundreds of soccer fans to Brazil to cheer on the Black Stars.  The criteria for selecting the hundreds of soccer fans airlifted by public expense to Brazil, like the ‘Attivor/Josprong factor’ should be subject to ripe speculation.  If not a disallowance, surcharge and prosecution. 


Note that in a secular country, 'Facilitation', meaning the expense of public funds and the use of the time of awfully efficient public officials for private persons, groups, actually anyone, to the Hajj - we have recently upped equalization and included the Holy Land - falls in the same quadrant for me of 'say what?' Row Back.  Really.  


Some of these soccer fans overstayed their Tabom welcome in Brazil, somehow slipped across several borders and ended up in Yankee.  A number of them have recently been deported back to Ghana, in chains.  There are apparently another 7,000 Ghanaians to be similarly returned from America, without protocol.  

 

 Miistaa Speekaaah!  Since the House confirmed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, her Ladyship Sophia Akuffo has been on the move.  In a 6-1 majority ruling, it has ordered this government to seek ratification within three months from the House of the agreement made by the former government (basically John III pulled a fast one) with America for the transfer of 2 erstwhile detainees of Guantanamo Bay to Ghana.  


If the House doesn’t ratify after the fact and cure the violation of Article 75 of our Constitution by John III, then the 2 Yemenis are to be returned to America, also without protocol.  With respect, the Court should have considered a third option.  Strapping John III firmly to the GITMO 2 and dropping that package deal off in Yemen. From a great height. If a bungee rope is applied then they will bounce, just above the ground. See me?  Safety first. Always. 


By happy coincidence, the Court handed down its ruling on the same day as the US Ambassador, Robert Jackson appeared before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of Parliament on matters deportees and he also told our 275 entitled Members of Parliament and our 2 living ex Presidents, 'if you want a visa for a private trip, join the queue'.    Bra, Aden?

 

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The government may choose to return to the House with a reworked implementation plan for L.I. 2180, or they may simply let this matter too hover with ill pregnant intent.  There are other laws including the Representation of People Act that are law and have deliberately not been implemented.  The Attorney General however, will have no choice but to appear in Parliament to clean up the mess John III left in surreptitiously and deliberately dumping Mahmud Umar Muhammed Bin Atef and Khalid Mohammed on us.  

 

When Bills are presented to Parliament, the Speaker refers them to the relevant Committee.  All Committees are Chaired by the Minority, the Ranking Member is always from the Majority.  Equalisation begins at home.  Do you know where your MP is lurking and voting?


Nkrumah Never Dies. He did. And he left an impression. After the ruinous experience of one party rule in the First Republic where passage of laws under Certificates of Emergency, (no questions asked), was par for the course, our subsequent Constitutions have recognized the importance of public participation in the law making process.  


Since the Second Republic, on paper, we have agreed, that even if it is the Executive who initiates legislation, then "we the people" can claw back some weight by actively watching the Parliamentary calendar and submitting detailed memoranda with our concerns about Bills.  Technically, we should be adequately informed, given enough time and access to voice our opinions and objections.  Did you see the notice to the public informing us about this government’s intention to rework the implementation of the Towing Levy?

 

History repeats itself for those who refuse to learn. Approach Parliament.  The game is afoot.  It feels very much like we are it.  Watch Parliament very very closely.  Ssssshhhh.