THE CURRENT political and economic situation of Ghana can best be described as one of widespread economic hardships resulting in general frustration among the populace. With inflation at 40.4 percent, the cedi's exchange rate to the dollar hovering around 13.30 cedis, the prices of goods, foodstuffs and fuel soaring almost every day with resultant rising transport fares, it has become well-nigh impossible for the average Ghanaian family to plan economically. Against the backdrop of the uncertainty surrounding the package we will receive from the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the political and economic uneasiness among the citizenry is very palpable, with some venting their anger and or frustration on radios, in commercial vehicles (trotros) and fuel stations and others with demonstrations and strike actions.
Election Promises And Their Fulfilment: The Great Political Mismatch in Ghana
Since the beginning of Ghana's Fourth republican dispensation in 1993 till today, it has become the “accepted norm” that opposition parties have all the answers or solutions to the country's challenges than the party in power. While campaigning for the highest office of the land in the period leading to the 2016 elections, then candidate Akufo Addo (now President) is on record to have made many fantastic promises and proposals on how to resolve the dire economic situation of Ghana at the time. Talking about the value of the cedi, for example, the President is reported to have said that “Cedi no ay3 hatahata, enntohwee”, to wit, “The Ghana cedi has become so light that it is unable to purchase anything.” On another occasion, he famously said, “Y3te sika so enso ekom de h3n,” to wit, “we are sitting on gold and yet we are hungry.” Speaking about the escalating prices of fuel and foodstuffs also, he said, “Ghanafo ay3 mbobor ntsi meeba abatete ndz3mba so ma Ghanafuo ho ato hon,” to wit, “Ghanaians have become so disenchanted and so am coming to reduce the prices of goods to bring some needed respite or relief to them.” With all these, the current President asked that the then President, John D. Mahama, should consider resigning if he could not turn things around, adding that he knows the latter would not do so because he lacked credibility.
Interestingly, today, the tables have turned and similar economic conditions the sitting President complained about, if not worse, are still prevalent albeit under different circumstances, and nobody seems to know the best way forward. While the promises the President made to reduce taxes, the prices of goods and fuel while in opposition have yet to be fulfilled, we are also yet to feel the gold the President claimed we were sitting on then.
On the President's Recent Address and Matters Arising: From “Y3te Sika so” To Sika Mmp3 Dede”
On October 30, 2022, the President addressed the nation on the efforts being made by his Government to tackle the dire economic challenges facing the country. Among others, the President talked about the depreciation of the cedi, the escalating prices of food and other items and the progress on negotiations with the IMF. While it is debatable whether the President's address was able to assuage the fears of Ghanaians to elicit their confidence in the Government's ability to address the country's current economic woes, there is no much debate surrounding the most remembered quote from the President's address, namely, “sika mmp3 dede” (French, l'argent n'aime pas le bruit – “money does not like noise”).
Overall, the President was right in asserting that when you talk down your currency, its value goes down as people resort to panic withdrawals and exchange for foreign currency, especially dollars. Yet, I contend that while the message itself is credible, the messenger is not because the President while in opposition, talked down the cedi's value on many occasions. Credibility is missing here. In addition, I also think that the President's “sika mmp3 dede” quote is but a charade meant to silence critics from talking about the economic hardships they are currently facing and criticising the Government's abysmal failure in finding solutions to resolve the current economic challenges. Besides, I believe that the President is using his (in)famous quote above, “sika nnp3 dede”, to lead people away from his earlier “y3te sika so,3nso ekom de h3n” mantra and his inability to fulfil his promise to put money in Ghanaian pockets.
Learning Useful Political and Economic Lessons from Ghana's Current Woes
Our current political and economic situation ought to teach us some useful lessons, including the following three. One, that, being in opposition is different from being in government. Hence, Ghana's political parties need to be circumspect in their criticisms of governments in power as well as in the promises they make while in opposition since such lofty promises would come back to haunt them.
Two, all Ghanaians need to understand that we are all in this situation together and so need we all need to come on board to help find the appropriate solutions. Traders, and particularly our market women, cannot continue to take advantage of Ghana's current situation by increasing prices of goods astronomically to obtain profits for themselves and assume that we can turn our woes around through magic. Also, all citizens need to patronize Ghanaian goods, reduce taste for foreign goods.
Three, Government cannot continue to do business as usual and believe that things will improve automatically. For example, it is time to cut down on long presidential convoys and downsize Government to save some monies for more important things. Besides, Government must remove some tax components on goods and begin to use saved Corona Virus Recovery taxes which we have been paying for some time now.
We are currently living in very dire political economic times. While we need everybody to contribute their quota to help resolve the situation, we need our current Government to show us the way through prudent economic policies and actions. While we hope and pray for the best, hope and prayer alone are not enough; they must be backed by prudent, credible and right actions.