The Chief Justice Wants “EVIDENCE”

During the later part of first term of President Kufour of Ghana and all of the second term, several reports have indicted the government he led as corrupt. During the second term Mr. Kufour has always challenged people describing his government as corrupt to “provide evidence” and his popular speech about “corruption is as old as Adam”.  This is all from the background that Kufuor’s administration was launched on “Zero tolerance for Corruption” slogan.

Eighteen months after the Kufour era, the issue of “Produce EVIDENCE” has come back to haunt Ghanaians again; this time in the person of the Chief Judge of the land – Justice Georgina Wood.  I hear Her Lordship’s comments on JoyFM’s evening news on 29th July 2010. She said among other things that if there is a “perception” of corruption on her watch she wants people to produce evidence.

So I scratched my head and thought, wait, I have EVIDENCE. It’s not a big one but it will do – especially when you do the “trickle-down” maths.

So here is my story:

Three months ago, I was engaged to develop a course for a community around Elmina as part of an MOU for a business man sitting a hotel and other businesses in that community. The payment arrangements were that at the end of day 1 of the event 50% of the fees would be paid and on day 2 the final payment would be concluded. For some reason or the other, the organiser managed to defer the payment until now. Once he issued a dud cheque.

So I filed a civil case and the filing process including cost of serving the writ cost a total of Fifty Ghana Cedis [about 35USD]. I was issued a receipt of forty-seven Ghana Cedis [47GHC]. I considered the difference as a tip to the receptionist and cashier. When the case was called, the defendant was not present so judgement was turned in my favour ordering the defendant to pay the amount owed me and a one hundred cedis cost was awarded against him.

But that was the beginning of my second worry. I had to pay a total of fifteen Ghana cedis for the judgement to be typed and served; but the Judicial service got only five Ghana cedis [GHC5) of the 15 that I paid. Five Ghana cedis of the money went to the bailiff and another five to the person that typed the one paragraph judgement. The interesting thing is that of the GHC5 that I paid 3 of that went towards serving the judgement (called mileage); so there was no need to pay the other five to the bailiff. Should you complain, you were told that the writ will not be served and the choice was yours to make.

So, when I heard the Chief Justice say provide evidence of corruption I said to myself – well, multiply the GHC 10 that went un-receipted by the number of cases like mine around that country and that is a lot of money going to waste!

Ok, so before writing this piece I called a friend at the Judicial Service who is an Executive Member of the Staff Association of the Judicial Service. Below is some transcription of our telephone conversation:

Me: So, what is mileage?

Friend: it’s the money charged to be given to the bailiff to serve a writ or generally perform a service of the court.

Me: So why would I be asked to pay more (un-receipted) to the bailiff if I have already paid?

Friend: Well, sometimes, the bailiff may have to return to the place more than once so if you pay the extra it helps takes care of the eventuality that the bailiff had to visit more than once.

Me: Well, is the mileage fee charged not under that impression that it will be enough to do more than at least 3 trips? And even if so, the court has the responsibility as they took money from me to perform that service. So why not charge a realistic price of say GHC10 so that for the distance for which I was charged GHC3 the Service could make GHC7 if the bailiff goes once or make GHC1 if he has to go thrice?

Friend: That could be better.

Me: I think so too, then the savings could go towards better wages, equipping of the offices, refurbishing of the court rooms, hiring and training more Judges, Magistrates, etc?

Friend: Yes, you make sense. I will go and reprimand my colleagues.

Me: No, I want to send this- copies of the receipts, and a narration of what happened to the Chief Justice as she wants “EVIDENCE”. What do I do?

Friend: Address the letter to the Judicial Secretary in Accra. But if you are called to explain anything, do not call my name and if you do, I will say I do not know you.

So, Madam Chief Justice, multiply the GHC10 I paid that did not end up in the coffers of the service across the country and tell me what the sum is; until then, do not tell me about “EVIDENE” or REFORMS, and “SALARY INCREASES” and “DELAY in GOVERNMENT SUBVENTIONS” you can pay for all of these and more.

Am tired!

Next, I will share how the Ghana Immigration Service and some of its staff are cheating the State by under reporting on money collected on behalf of the state.

A Social Change: The case of Cadres and foot soldiers in Ghanaian Politics and Ethos.

The last 18 months of the National Democratic Congress [NDC] of Ghana has been marked by youth violence and hooliganism.

From the day of the swearing-in [inauguration] of President Evans Atta-Mills, supporters or purported supporters of the NDC have hijacked public places of convenience, markets, public car parks and stations. These supporters have also been accused of running government appointed office holders from their offices – especially the National Health Insurance Schemes and the District Assemblies.

The reasoning of the perpetuators of this violence and hooliganism is that, they [foot soldiers and cadres] of the ruling party have slaved for the Party to win the election so; they expect part of the “spoils”. It begun with the nominations of Municipal/Metropolitan and District Assembly Chief Executives. The Cadres and foot soldiers want specific people put into those positions and where the President [who in this case is the appointing authority] differs with them, there were demonstrations and destructions. In some cases, threats were issued.

A few months back, the Vice President H.E John D. Mahama bemoaned the situation and asked the foot soldiers/Cadres to be more sympathetic to the government as times were hard. Indeed he mentioned that, party membership is voluntary so no one can hold the party to ransom. Well, the Vice President got a tongue lashing from the Cadres.

To appease the key architects of this hooliganism, the government during the world cup flew over one-thousand people, the majority believed to be party members. There were rumours that people boarded the plane without passport, whiles others did without visas. From the signals that come from some party big wigs, this was a “thank you” and “be quiet” gesture from the party. Sadly the planners of this grand misguided adventure forgot to provide accommodation, food and other logistics for the “fans” that went to cheer the National team – the Black Stars. How they were fed and the news feeds that got in to Ghana is another story all together.

The questions that come to mind are what is happening to the NDC? What is informing this violence and Hooliganism?  From a conflict perspective, this could be normal. What is not normal could be why does it involve only the youth of the party?

My immediate reaction was that, the effect of the social change theory is beginning to hit the NDC Party.

As Marx and Engels wrote in the “Communist Manifesto”:

“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”[2]

Is it the forces of opposites at work? Is the NDC party in a process of recreating itself? What kind of new “creation” will it be? Violent and destructive or a synthesis with a cool head that moves with speed to resolve challenges?

I see an NDC that is slowly reducing itself to a lawless party and is continuously been swallowed by the actions of its youth. What comes to mind however is; are these seemingly coordinated violence just and NDC party issue? Could this be a bigger National issue that is simmering underground? That the few upheavals could just be a tip of the iceberg?

Key in putting these youth led violence to perspective is how successive governments have treated the formulation of the National Youth Policy. During a meeting of youth service providers in the Civil Society Sector in 2009 in Dakar, I said that: “…without a plan – which is the youth policy the youth have become lost in the decision-making process or how to engage in policy issues since there are no specified entry points. This has left the youth front divided and non-functional.” But how the issues have played out now, not only are youth groups and advocates non-functional, but they have decided in my opinion to “advocate” for themselves and since history posits that our leaders understand violence most; here we are – daily reports of seized state cars, closed/barricaded offices, etc.

“I maintain that the best experts in youth development are youth themselves, therefore, creating appropriate openings for bring youth on board the decision making process has huge net benefits to government. First, there must be the effort to create affirmative action for youth in local governance where a quota of seats in the district assemblies could be guaranteed for youth as is the case for women and other groups. It is important though that, the legislature or policy for this will not be one that will be reduced to tokenism. Also, outlets for youth to use other means to influence and participate in decision making such as blogging, social networks and other internet tools must be developed and encourage however, there is the need to first train many armies of youth to be able to use internet as a governance tool. If we are able to do this, the issues of HIV/AIDS, unemployment etc, will be more easily tackled because of the supports that online networking can provide.” This quote was from that Dakar/OSIWA conference in December 2009.

While writing this s piece the Inspector General of Police, Paul Tawiah Quaye is reported to have commanded his regional commanders to “Clamp down on Foot soldiers”.  The police chief is reported to have ordered the arrest and prosecution of lawless youth who engaged in anarchy in the name of politics. This directive is in stark contrast with police chiefs in various districts and regions claiming that the violence perpetuated by these youth are “political matters” and therefore cannot interfere.

What implications do these actions by the ruling party’s “youth have on the Country? What legacies will it leave? What are the implications for investor confidence, democracy, peace and security? How does this impact on governance and the feedback from the Opposition parties?

While the politicians [especially the ruling party] scratch their head about this matter, why not consider giving a very realistic look at the draft Youth Policy and work towards actually implementing the policy. That is will offer 70% relief while proper management and sustainability plan will add another 15% and the resultant gap will be the nuances that come with any project – their management will obviously determine the success of the project.

[2] Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels The Communist Manifesto 1848

[Posted Earlier on FaceBook]

The last day and half has been gloomy. Nothing to do with the weather or the sessions but I just cannot find the connection. My mind has been on a lot of issues and on nothing! One moment I am on a high about an idea and the next there is nothing I am thinking about and everything holds my attention while I take in nothing. I could stare with the most of interest and yet see nothing. I listen to everyone and yet heard nothing.
I hear beautiful music and yet heard no rhythm or lyrics and I have been wondering what is “wrong” with me? There are great people, greater ideas and even more noble causes here – those have been displayed, shared, and jubilated. However, I could not but feel my helplessness – lost in the fountain of innovation and networks.
I lost connection with the event as it turned out to be a big business competition for “social innovators” – ideas that target people and will help correct issues of unemployment, environment, and land-use among others. It was not about “empowering people and the do good. It was about how “business philanthropies” can contribute to social causes and still make money with an interest.
Then I learned that, the decision to support poor people by rich people is not about doing good but about profits. It was something I have known but being hit with the reality at that level was an awakening call and the fact that “there is no free lunch”.
My point, if any African government thinks it can get free money anywhere, it must re-think that philosophy. Civil society actors shouting about aid or no aid and the effectiveness of aid may as well just take a rest.
I have a plan to raise billions of dollars in months – charge an AU or ECOWAS or other regional levies on every in and out borne train, bus or air ticket to and from Africa. Multiply by the number of flights that come to the continent. However, before this, a stringent water-tight plan must be put in place on how the money will be distributed, for what and above all how to keep out kleptomaniac leader’s hands away from stealing from that fund.
Specifically, we could use proceeds from such fund to support youth employment initiatives, HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Education. Indeed, if we can do this, we will be able to a large extent extract ourselves from Western economic reliance. Maybe the continent will further save money on our globetrotting leaders going to beg and thus cut back on their carbon emissions among others.
The gross effect can be amazing.

Sweden, Leksand, Youth, energy and dynamism

[Previously posted on FaceBook on June 2010]

Again, I am out of Ghana and there are many counting how many more times will I be traveling. To others still, I must be rich. So also my think I am lucky. But for those who know…its a lot of head-ache which I must admit is worth enduring.

It begins with the visa – if its out of West Africa (if you do not know…once you are a West African and have a prove of nationality of anyone of the 15 states,. you do not need a visa. All you need is a passport, national ID and your ticket and if by road…just go!).

If its an EU visa you require, it may or many not be difficult but I know with the UK and US, O, mine! Just be ready to produce a heap of paperwork not to mention that, you may need to travel half the day to pay for your visa and spend another God knows how many hours to book an appointment. But that is for another discussion..

Mine this time started with the timing as we had some great gals and guys from Wharton School of Business helping to re-brand one of our programmes, while Araine Malawski – my friend, confidant and programmes coordinator had ended her contract with Abusua Foundation to begin a new life of marriage and “wife and familyhood”. We have 2 new staff that needed settling in, all these not withstanding I choose to go to Sweden because I was fully funded except for 200 Euro that I had to refund! I was too grateful to refuse that offer plus there was great opportunity to meet other great people doing big and small things that are contributing to making the world a better place.

So I got my visa on Monday at 11 am. Had a couple of meetings and then went back to pack. I left Accra Tuesday 1st and arrived in Sweden via Holland on Wednesday by 10 am and went straight to work till 12 midnight.
Day one was marvelous – we had great people from India, Liberia, Boston, Ireland, etc talk to us – to share, whip enthusiasm and to encourage. Follow what happened yesterday here:

Today, participants are to go for a nature walk…I woke at 4 am and did my private walk and it meant a lot to me. During that walk, many things came to perspective. I have walked the long lonely walk of vision bearer, leader, father, friend, inspirer, motivator, and soon a married man. The list is long but for the first time none of these titles or roles scared me. I felt tears come to my eyes and I realised that this is not the time to “leave” or jump ship.

The last week has been even more traumatic for me as so-called “powerful” elders tried to soil my reputation by writing malicious emails to prospective funders. Thinking about it all on this Thursday morning in Leksand and accompanied my the sun, the birds, the brush and conversations of the wide, trees/leaves and bushes. I felt never than now did it matter more!

Its not that I am rich, neither that I am lucky for nothing is luck or easy. It takes hard work, commitment, purpose, tenacity, courage, stupidity (the times that I should quit that I refused to) and above all karma, fate and destiny (mixing and inter twinning) to bring me and Abusua Foundation this far. For those that are inspired, I can only tell you this is the beginning. For those that want to bring us down, you have only stirred the bees nest. We are moving on, one at a time..bringing change where we can and making our lives matter to society.

I want to leave the world and be noticed, missed and loved more than when I was born.

If you feel inspired, come rework the world with us! []

Why there are few blogers…

You know how they say that if you are forced to begin a project, it usually does not work well unless you really are the led or initiator. Well, I find this thought quiet interesting. There are two instances that make me want to believe this is true: one as a participant at the AfriCamp in Kenya in March, participants were taken through social messaging tools and blogging was introduced to us. Many of us, including yours truly have never really gone on to use the blogs we registered and contributing to the inefficient use of space on the providers storage systems. Another reason is that, it takes more than being an advocate to write. You need to be a writer to have a blog that is constantly updated and true to form. Second, as a member of the Ghana Youth Development Network – a network of youth service providers, groups, etc that was hurriedly put together by the World Bank Country office in 2007 or there about to celebrate the International Youth Day in Ghana. This led to the GYDN winning a short term facility from its God-father the WB to work with youth within the network and from Sierra Leone and Liberia. The short of this was; the network is struggling to stand on its own feet. To further push home my point, another event organised by OSIWA to rethink its youth engagement strategy in 2009 in Dakar mooted the idea of youth network around the meeting. This has failed so far. My point? Well, the idea for a network can only succeed if the desire is built on the commitment of the group themselves and not from the influence of “outsiders”.
I am sure that many of you readers will have counter story, but I am yet to be convinced that a network can be sustained from without. In both instances that I have listed, one key has been that the initiators did not add to the “package” as fixed sum of money. I am sure that were that the case, the three networks will be up and thriving. After, money drives ideas not the other way round – at least in the world of the young and ambitious.
Why am I writing? Well, as the name of my blog is called – Sossah’ Ravings, I just have discovered my ravings and “rantings” have increased these few days and thought I might as well get to work writing about how I feel.

So in the next few weeks…just follow me…

Stop Agonising! Organise!: AfriCamp 2010

At the 2010 AfriCamp in Kenya, youth from across Africa have decided to look beyond pointing fingers and getting things done. That the destiny of Africa, now and the future lies in their hands.

Participants have ascribe to stop agonising and move to organising!

Yes, we can!

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