A Year In Which Leadership Has Been Tested Around The World

Feature Article A Year In Which Leadership Has Been Tested Around The World
DEC 25, 2022 LISTEN

If I WERE a European, I would be very cross at celebrating Christmas with the war in Ukraine still hanging on my future.

With Zelensky in America being feted like a super-hero, I’d have to ask, “So how will Russia react, if the Americans DO NOW supply Ukraine with Patriot missiles?”

The answer, I fear, would be, “We’d go one more step nearer to a nuclear war!”

A second question then arises: “Does Putin really think that Ukraine is worth a nuclear war?”

Yep. For who can tell what is in Putin’s mind? Look at the devastation he has already caused – to Russia; to Ukraine; to European gas supplies; to wheat supplies from Ukraine to the rest of the world, including Africa: was it really necessary to unleash so much punishment on humankind, just because the Ukraine looked as if it would join NATO?

Okay, Zelensky might have been a bit naive, even foolish, to under-estimate Russia’s possible reaction to Ukraine’s romance with NATO. But was this brutal, full war, the answer?

So Russia wanted the world to continue to respect Russia as being STILL a super-power in the post-Soviet era. But what sort of respect does Putin think Russia has now gained in the eyes of the world?

Russia has been ruthlessly flattening Ukraine with bombs for a good TEN MONTHS now. Ukrainian infrastructure, including power stations and water-pumping installations as well as transport yards, now lies in waste, Ukrainians freeze and starves... And Putin thinks that will earn him respect?

Throughout the world, Governments whose economic policies have failed are blaming the mistakes on the Ukrainian war. Look at our own situation in Ghana: I myself used to flinch each time I read that Ghana had floated a “Euro-loan” or something similar, and that it had been “over-subscribed.”

To the bankers in charge of our economy, floating a loan and having it “over-subscribed” was the height of economic “respectability”. But hadn’t they heard of “repossession” in mortgage language? You default on a mortgage repayment and the lender comes at you with bailiffs. Your reasons don’t matter to the lender.

Ghana appears now to be in the hands of international bailiffs. The IMF and the World Bank may mute their concerns. But they ARE the chief shareholders in the international mortgage world! They dare not let us off lightly, in case it sends the “wrong message” to other countries in a similar position to ours.

Truly, running a nation’s economy is not just a matter of moving figures from one column to the anther, as “refinancing” allows bankers to do. With a nation, the name of the game is “political economy”. And there is always a political price to pay when the game’s rules are flouted.

Already, cynics are predicting that Ghana is being circled by “vulture funds” which will swoop low and consume us in future.

What, pray, is a “vulture fund?” This is how Wikipedia describes a vulture fund:

QUOTE: “A vulture fund is a hedge fund, a private-equity fund, or a distressed debt fund, that invests in debt considered to be very weak or in default, known as distressed securities.

[Vulture Funds] make “profit by buying debt at a discounted price, on a secondary market and then using numerous methods to subsequently sell the debt for a larger amount than the purchasing price. [Their] debtors include companies, countries, and individuals.

“Vulture funds have had success in bringing attachment and recovery actions against sovereign debtor governments, usually settling with them before realizing the attachments in forced sales. Settlements [are] typically made at a discount... or in the form of new debt issuance. In one instance involving Peru, such a seizure threatened payments to other creditors”.

That is why, like the vulture bird, vulture funds stink in the noses of everyone they approach!”

To summarise: Putin uses military power to try and humiliate Ukraine, a country which has a tradition of strong national pride. And vulture funds that fly everywhere in search of victims could benefit from the situation in which we have we put ourselves. But can we as brave as Zelensky?

Failure does not occur only in the military and economic spheres. For just as I was about to start writing, my eye caught a programme on DSTV, in which a football match was being shown.

It was a match in the Philly’s Games tournament that is taken very seriously by the South Africans. This particular match was between a team called The Ambassadors, and another, Musa United. It was taking place at Etafulani –Tembisa, a large township situated to the north of Kempton Park, on the East Rand, Gauteng Province, (capital, Johannesburg)l.

What shocked me was that although the event was very well attended with some of the spectators comfortably seated under colourful hospitality umbrellas, the game itself was being played on a dusty, ungrassed field.

What? South Africa has been a democratic country since 1994; has hosted the World Cup and a game in a football tournament was being played on an ungrassed park?

Yes --whilst ex-President Jacob Zuma was granting access to millions of South Africa’s Rands to companies run by a group known as “the Guptas”, in a “State Capture” caper, and the incumbent President, Cyril Ramaphosa, was creating a personal zoo worth millions, their people were still being obliged to play football in the dust.

Like in the days under”Apartheid”!

What do those ANC leaders who treasured the football matches they valiantly wrested from the apartheid authorities when they were incarcerated on -- that rotten Robben Island – have to say about this blatant neglect of their people’s rights?