Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Ghana must be Saved - Ghana must be Free

Ghana Democratic Movement

A second year in Ghana's darkest era has drawn to a close. It has been like a long night filled with the most horrible nightmares for the people of Ghana. Yet the horror has been real enough. The land is polluted with blood: the tale continues, unbroken since 1979, of senseless murder, maiming and torture inflicted upon our people by Rawlings' closest associates and friends.

Cpl. 'Azaa' executes a woman in a petrol queue. Flt. Lt. Lee, an alien previously cashiered from the Armed Forces but reinstated by his friend Rawlings, drives around Accra carrying a fearsome armoury in his car and casually discharging A.K.47s and machine pistols into the air or into human beings at will. As in the past, the more notorious outrages are investigated. But the majority of the victims of uncontrolled violence in our towns and villages go unnoticed by the government and unrevenged.

Bribery and corruption were allegedly the cardinal sins of politicians which the 'holy war' was going to wipe out. Today bribery and corruption are raging out of control among the apostles of the revolution, from the top of the PNDC, NDC, CVC etc where gold smuggling and deals on purchases of essential commodities are being organised to the local PDCs and WDCs who are seizing every opportunity to cheat and steal from the working people, the farmers and the government, while shouting the praises of their benefactor Rawlings.

Meanwhile the people of Ghana face starvation and the most severe deprivation in living memory in every aspect of their existence. Long before Christmas, maize is already more than £6,000 a bag and the C20 ball of kenkey cannot feed a three-year old child. A loaf of bread - when it is available - costs more than a day's wages. Everybody is thin and worn out from walking daily such long distances on a complaining stomach. The minimum wage of a worker is less than one dollar a day.

This Christmas was very bleak. And sending the children back to school in January will be a harrowing thought in so many homes up and down the country.


Earlier this year, when government started the process of devaluing the cedi and pushing even further down the standards of living of our people, they started on a huge campaign of propaganda and deception. These people, who had railed so vehemently against Busia and Limann for 'selling out to the imperialists' had, as far back as February 1983, signed a specific undertaking to carry out the most drastic devaluation that had been conducted by any nation in the world since the IMF was founded.

Having failed to hide their intentions under the much-touted system of export bonuses and import surcharges, which could not deal with the desperate state of the economy, they surreptitiously announced their record-breaking devaluation through a Bank of Ghana notice. But the consequential increase in the prices of all goods and services could not be hidden. Rawlings' government has made a firm promise to the IMF that in 1984 petrol will go up again to a target figure of C50 per gallon as against the C35 announced in November.

Ghanaians have been told that in return for all these hardships the economy will begin to improve soon. But the government knows that this is a blatant lie. Having spent so many months abusing and condemning the Western world, Rawlings suddenly burst out with endearing letters to Reagan and invitations to British diplomats and World Bank representatives to give approving testimonials to his government. But his mentor, Kodzo Tsikata, should know that the Western governments are not deceived by these childish ploys. For instance, in Jamaica where there is a serious, Western-backed a programme, the IMF has loaned $680 million plus $180 million in stand-by credits to a population of less than 4 million souls.

In Ghana, with nearly 14 million people to cater for, the IMF has provided barely $380 million plus $80-100 million of readily available money from the World Bank. Everybody knows that IMF arrangements are principally designed to call forth much larger amounts of bilateral and private investments. The US government has been pouring some $200 million a year into Jamaica. In the case of Brazil the IMF was lending $1.2 billion out of a total package of $12 billion, i.e. only one tenth of the money, with the rest to come from private and bilateral sources.

Yet the Rawlings government through Kwesi Botchway has been presenting to the people of Ghana as a triumph of its international economic success, a donors' meeting which only yielded $150 million, much of it not new aid at all. In the meantime, Barclays Bank estimated that Ghana's arrears on short-term payment for letters of credit etc. amounted to more than $900 million by September.

In the crucial area of food supplies, the US government has promised 6,000 tons of grains as aid. But every informed person knows that Ghana's shortage of grains this year is well above 100,000 tons. So if Rawlings just keeps on with his present propaganda about the economy, maize could well be selling at more than C20,000 per bag by the next March-June quarter. And nobody can stop its upward climb -- or the desperate hunger and domestic distress that it will spread to all Ghanaians.

Our people are justifiably sceptical of the sudden transformation of the PNDC from its radical hostility towards Ghana's traditional partners in trade, finance and development to the new-found posture of now justifying its economic performance on the grounds that Western governments and institutions have lent Ghana a total of $700 million under Rawlings that is, about $50 for each one of us over the two years The money itself is of course welcome in our dire straits. But Ghanaians also know:

i. that our own domestic production rather than foreign assistance must provide the solution to our economic crisis;

ii. that private savings and investment, both Ghanaian and foreign, which must support the growth of domestic production will not pick up again until stable and attractive political conditions return to Ghana: and

iii. that whatever the amount of financial and other resources that comes into our hands it will be dissipated and disappear instead of working and multiplying as long as management remains in the state of collapse into which it has been driven by Rawlings and his political supporters. The people of Ghana have paid a heavy price in hunger and economic distress for the economic education of Rawlings and his friends in the last two years. But clearly, it has all been in vain: the PNDC has fought hard and ruthlessly to hang onto power, but Rawlings knows little and does even less about reviving the economy.

Early in 1982, with the support of university students and professors, they produced an elaborate 'plan' to rehabilitate the transport system. Today, after two years of talk, the transport situation is infinitely worse than it was under Limann. The daily trek on foot to work is a seemingly endless punishment for hundreds of thousands of Ghanaian workers.

Rawlings' contribution has been to encourage the disintegration by WDCs of production at the country's only tyre factory even though lack of tyres accounts for two-thirds of all the vehicles laid off the road in Ghana. Meanwhile the Planning Ministry was announcing elaborate committees, corporations and other administrative 'reforms' which had little to do with the reality - which is that everything was coming to a standstill.

A second example has been in the all-important Cocoa sector. The government ostensibly attached the highest priority to its rehabilitation. But by November 1983 less than 2 percent of the 56,000 target acreage in Ashanti has been replanted. Rawlings and Tsikata know little, and care even less, about cocoa and cocoa farmers.

It is vain to hope that the PNDC will ever seriously address the economic problems of Ghana simply because so-called new 'plans' and programmes' are announced from time to time. Politically it is absolutely unacceptable that the people of Ghana should be asked to continue to bear the terrible privations of the last two years in the forlorn hope that somehow, sometime, the regime of Rawlings and Tsikata will be able to effectively repair the economy.

Beginning with the expropriation of private bank balances and C50 notes in early 1982 through the inquisition and extortions of the CVCs and the direct assault on major private enterprise such as Valco, GTP, Lever Brothers, Firestone, Juapong Textiles etc etc, Rawlings and his political supporters have demonstrated their ideological hostility to private enterprise and capital, both Ghanaian and foreign.

The banking system is moribund and savings have largely been wiped out. Whatever support Rawlings and his gang may claim to have received from foreign governments and institutions, the unkempt cocoa farms, the laid-up vehicles and half-finished buildings, and the painful selling off of private assets down to radios and our women's clothes, all point to the collapse of private savings and production investment. The government's new rhetoric and pretensions cannot coax investors into vigorous action until it is matched by a radical change towards a liberal and open economy and that means a liberal and democratic regime in the political sphere.

While private capital has simply stagnated or run down under the assaults and abuses of the past two years, management and administration has actually fled into retirement and immobility or completely out of the country. There is no possibility of reversing the terrible brain drain out of Ghana while government remains in the hands of a bunch of armed terrorists. And no amount of foreign aid can get Ghana going again as long as the government lacks the managerial capacity to implement its programmes whether in agriculture, education, mining, energy, transportation or public utilities.

For months, the apologists of the government claimed that it was the so-called privileged classes that were undermining the 'revolution'. But finally they have had to admit nobody wants this dictatorship, regardless of 'class'. Speaking of the much-touted Economic Recovery Programme the government's own 'People's Daily Graphic' was forced to write: "What we tried to portray is the entrenched apathy which is being demonstrated by a majority of the citizenry to the whole process of recovery. "

(Thursday, December 22, 1983). Surely it is a mirage to imagine that the PNDC can ever galvanise the economy of Ghana into recovery when the majority simply do not want to work with it in the terrible conditions of their day-to-day life.


The soldiers who helped Rawlings to seize power a second time are thoroughly disillusioned. They know that they have been manipulated by a bunch of power-hungry anarchists who can only drive Ghana into ever deepening hunger and misery. They are poised to overthrow the Rawlings regime, because they can now lay hands on the arms and ammunition that the government imported for its own protection. This fratricidal conflict will bring further suffering upon many innocent people, especially as the Rawlings government has been so blatantly tribalistic.

The Ghana Democratic Movement recommends an alternative solution. Let Rawlings and Tsikata hand over power immediately to a group of responsible representatives and respected civilians. There are even now many people in Ghana who could bail them out in this way. But the Ghana Democratic Movement in sists that their gang of murderous terrorists must eventually answer to the people of Ghana for their heinous crimes.

This, then, is the message of the Ghana Democratic Movement to the people as we enter the second anniversary of the Rawlings-Tsikata dictatorship.

After the 31st of December, strike out and reclaim the proud heritage of Ghana. Let us recover our civic and human rights: no more lawlessness and armed robberies in the guise of military operations; no more trial or imprisonment of Ghanaians without the right of appeal.

Let us set up liberal and democratic institutions of government and of social management so that Ghanaians can regain the freedom and prosperity which we have known before and which we need to galvanise the nation into a glorious new era of rebirth and reconstruction.

We say to Rawlings and Tsikata "Go away now and take your troubles with you. Leave the people of Ghana to rebuild the nation you have ruined. This is your last chance; soon it will be too late. You can either leave now through a voluntary hand-over or a few weeks later as the casualties of violent upheaval."

And to the people of Ghana: "Take heart. The night is darkest before the dawn of a new day. Ghana shall be free. Ghana shall once more know peace and prosperity. Salvation is at hand. God bless us all in 1984."

talking drums 1984-01-30 isiyaku ibrahim - why democracy failed in Nigeria - restructuring Ghana's legal system