Ghana, our beloved country has faced another test in its near 52 year life, with the recent elections judged one of the most competitive in the country's history.
With the elections behind us, many of our citizens are already wondering if a change of government will deliver change in their lives. Many however are focusing on why it is that our country has failed to match other countries we started with on the journey of development, over 50 years ago. The answer seems quite clear to members of the CPP and indeed sizeable sections of our population – 24th February 1966.
Forty-three years ago, the constitutionally elected Convention People's Party (CPP) government of Ghana was overthrown by police and military self seekers teleguided by foreign intelligence handlers, because of their vitriolic and cerebral dislike of Kwame Nkrumah, the CPP and Ghana's developmental path. “In 1966 Ghana stood at the crossroads. With the right direction, the nation could have been saved, not for any privileged few, but for the broad masses of the people.” - The Spokesman 1971.
24th February 1966 was a turning point for Ghana because the militarization of the Ghanaian state and the intervention of the international financial agencies reversed the progressive directions in the Ghanaian economy since independence and overturned all the gains made by the mass of the people, taking the country backwards in the process.
The CPP's drive to reorganize Ghanaian society and state institutions to reflect the mobilized will of the mass of the Ghanaian people was thus halted, together with the impressive progress made on the economic front for the benefit of ordinary Ghanaians – Control of crucial sectors of (Banking, Insurance, Import/Export, the internal distributive trade, gold-mining), exceptional rate of capital investment in industry, agriculture, social infrastructure. There was a major shift from importation of consumer goods to capital goods. This was an achievement which was unmatched in Africa. Whilst the CPP was striving for development along the following lines: • Manufacturing and industrialization linked to the development of domestic agriculture and the local resource base.
• Progressive development of indigenous technology
• Production to meet mass needs rather than elite consumption of the privileged few.
The coup makers and their international backers espoused the primacy of foreign capital in Ghana's development, giving it first priority. The National Liberation Council (NLC) government of the Police and Military granted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) wide powers over the Ghana economy, with Ghana obliged to keep the fund informed of all developments in the exchange, trade, monetary, credit and fiscal issues.
Whilst the CPP wanted equity and structural transformation, for the NLC and their foreign backers budget balancing was the main objective. The IMF stabilization policy pursued in Ghana 1966 – 1968 comprised:
• The contraction of the state sector and large scale farms
• State industries were to be scaled down through the sale of assets or participation with private investors.
• The lowering of tariffs to generate competition.
• The removal of subsidies
• Decontrol of market prices, import and licensing controls
• Elimination of duty concessions on imported inputs meant to encourage more local raw material production and linkages
• Currency devaluation
• Encouragement of more export oriented production.
The reality of these measures far from ensuring Ghana's economic recovery, deepened foreign control of the Ghanaian economy and intensified structural and social contradictions which laid the foundations for our accelerated decline.
The NLC's National Economic Committee (NEC) charged with the revision of CPP government policies comprised – E.N. Omaboe, Albert Adomakoh, RS Amegashie, two principal secretaries of the Ministry of Finance and two members of the National Planning Commission. They supervised or perhaps slept through the systematic looting of Ghana by Multi National Companies (MNC's). In agreement after agreement with these Foreign Companies, Ghana was short changed.
Norway Cement Export company ( Norcem) with only 25% stake in the establishment of the Ghana Cement Works, obtained parity with the Government of Ghana on the Board of Directors, with the Norcem representative taking both the Chairman and Managing Director role on the Board.
Abbot Laboratories of Illinois with 45% in a pharmaceutical partnership with the Government of Ghana took control of the board and its representatives were Chairman, Managing Director and Company Secretary. The premise of such agreements was that these companies would bring in foreign finance; the reality was that these companies financed the bulk of their operations from local finance sources and were given preferential treatment by local banks at the expense of smaller local companies.
Thus Ghanaian state funding played an indirect role in funding these foreign takeovers. With little control – transfer –pricing practices i.e. over-invoicing and under invoicing could not have been checked.
All the MNC's involved in negotiations with Ghana were only interested in the most profitable industries and companies leaving the Ghana Government with the dependant companies.
None were interested in helping Ghana develop as demonstrated by the Norcem case. Ghana had the potential for an integrated cement factory with limestone deposits at Nauli, Buipe and other places, as well as local charcoal for production of clinker. In Building a factory in Takoradi the plan was that the industry would be integrated by exploitation of the Nauli deposits. The NLC agreement in 1967committed Norcem to explore the feasibility of Nauli deposits, but signed a separate agreement contracting Norcem (a major clinker exporter) to supply the total; clinker requirements of the joint company – Ghana Cement Works. Norcem's investigation of the feasibility of Nauli naturally concluded that the Nauli deposits would be too difficult and expensive to mine.
Similar examples are too numerous to list here.
It is clear from all the analysis that the main objective of the IMF and NLC programmes in Ghana after the CPP overthrow was to destroy the basis laid by the CPP for local self-sufficiency and development.
The military coup facilitated the re-capture of the Ghana economy by finance capital and the reintegration of our economy into world capitalism. This required the destruction of all the positive gains of the CPP years. The benefits the NLC supposedly expected for their treason – debt settlement and increased aid did not materialize. Only 14% of donor funds were utilized in 1967 due largely to the complex procedures tying aid to procurement in the donor countries.
The effects of the NLC/IMF programmes were deep stagnation and unemployment. Public Sector investment fell by 18% in 1966 and 21% in 1967. Per capita GNP fell from Cedis145 in 1965 to Cedis135 in 1969.
43 years after the overthrow of the CPP we are still suffering, failing to make meaningful progress. Ghana and Africa does not function to supply the goods and services that its people need and thus we do not produce or control the wealth for our people.
Our raw materials and resources are exported at prices dictated by global forces who sell to us expensive finished products at prices also dictated by them. We are faced with a systematic and sustained transfer of wealth from our continent, and MNC's continue to extract surplus capital from our shores. This means simply then that we do not enjoy the wealth created from our resources to help reduce poverty, build all the schools and hospitals we need or create jobs for our populations.
Crime, education, health, shelter, poverty, unemployment all remain problems that we have failed to overcome.
As Ghana ponders what the next 4 years of NDC government will bring, many have already concluded that their lives will not change, that their hope still remains with the return of a CPP Government.
24th February 1966 was indeed a turning point for Ghana's; the country is still struggling to find its feet.
God bless our homeland Ghana Communications Directorate
CPP (United Kingdom & Ireland) www.cppuk.org; [email protected]