REJOINDER: "Save Ghana's Image - An Open plea To The President
1) The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to an article entitled “Save Ghana’s Image – An Open Plea To The President”, by one Daniel Boye Mensah published in the 8th August, 2002 edition of the Ghanaian Chronicle. 2) The Ministry is amazed at the deliberate distortion of facts and issues by this self-styled researcher and student of international politics. Right from the onset, it appears that the writer, whoever he is, is full of mischief and has tried to create disaffection for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 3) Evidence abounds that the foreign policy of Ghana has made a most positive impact in Africa and the world at large in the last 18 months. As is the norm, the President and Cabinet sets the parameters and priorities and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs executes them. The working of any government dictate that the day-to-day management of foreign policy fall within the purview of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If Ghana has been acclaimed to have a vibrant and impact-making foreign policy, then it is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that has chaperoned this process led by the Minister under the overall guidance of the Government. 4) The credentials that the author claims for himself as a researcher must be suspect because he did not, in the spirit of true researchers even attempt to find out the basic facts. From the onset it appears that the writer is motivated by malice and nothing else. Otherwise, how can it be that the Ministry’s Human Resource and Administration Bureau, which is the modern-day equivalent of the Personnel and Training Division, be willfully glossed over and claimed to be non-existent? The Ministry’s training programme is so coherent that the Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA) at the University of Ghana is an affiliate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is maintained by annual subvention by the Ministry and every year, a minimum of six officers are sent to LECIA to be trained. Furthermore, we have more than seven officers currently training or about to train overseas. Can this be said to be the lack of a training programme or division. 5) Again, regards last year’s recruitment of officers into the Ministry, this was necessitated by the need to meet the manpower requirements of the Ministry that were deficient at certain levels owing to non-replacement of personnel who were retired sometimes prematurely by the previous administration for whatever reasons. The whole recruitment exercise was one of the most transparent in the history of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The exercise was given the widest national coverage and advertised in the Daily Graphic and the Ghanaian Times (the most widely circulated newspapers in the country today). All applications received from those who were so-qualified were submitted to the Public Services Commission (PSC) for processing. Of the board of interviewers of seven headed by a member of the Public Services Commission, only one official was from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and certainly the Minister had nothing to do with the process of interviewing and selection. How can a so-called diligent researcher have failed to find out this basic truism in the recruitment process? In the case of the entry grade of Foreign Service Officer (FSO) A5, the University of Ghana organized an unbiased written examination and those who passed were subsequently interviewed by the P.S.C. This exercise was one of the cleanest in recruitment into the Foreign Service and we would have thought the Ministry deserved praise rather than vilification. 6) As regards the mix of people selected for appointment, the overriding consideration was qualification and performance at the interview conducted by the P.S.C. Any researcher of even the most minimum standing and competence should have been aware that a healthy mix of all disciplines are required in any Foreign Service establishment. Indeed, the common cliché in all Diplomatic Services is the recruitment of persons from all academic disciplines – the so-called A to Z (archeology to Zoology). This healthy mix then responds to the needs of the Service, which are diverse. But most importantly, the pharmacist, daycare centre operator and soldier referred to in the article, all have MBAs and came out tops in the interview. The writer refers to the distinguished Ghanaian Diplomat, Mr. A. L. Adu; he was a scientist – a chemist. Mr K.B. Asante is a mathematician by training! What is the basis therefore for calling into question the competence of the pharmacist or soldier who beat the candidates in the preferred disciplines of Mr. Boye Mensah? If this so-called researcher was intellectually honest, he could have cross-checked the qualifications from our Human Resource and Administration Bureau and saved the nation these blatant lies. These matured and academically brilliant individuals are being given training and none of them has so far been posted out. They will certainly be posted out within the shortest practical period of training and hands-on experience. There is the need for the Ministry to respond to the exigencies of the Service and fast-tracking recruits for urgent assignments is normal in any establishment. Again this is a basic fact this so-called researcher should have known. 7) For the education of Mr. Boye Mensah, the outcome of every Presidential travel is diligently sent to all MDA’s concerned with specific action required of them, these correspondence are copied to the Office of the President. Obviously technical and implementation follow-up is done by the MDA’s. Even in this instance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs monitors follow-up action. How could the writer have failed to discover this “routine” action by the Ministry? 8) What the Minister has sought to do in the Ministry is to reward competence, dedication and commitment with recognition. The officers who had not been performing and were not responsive obviously needed to be told to improve their performance. There was no stigmatization of officers but rather a call for increased productivity, on-time attendance to work and speedy and efficient execution of tasks. Those who have shown competence are most pleased. The overseas posting exercise was most transparent with officers being given a chance for the first time in the history of this Ministry to indicate their preferences (subject to the exigencies of the Service). The available positions were advertised internally for those eligible to be posted. This is a departure from the past and definitely put to rest the old system of cronyism where those with connections in high places were always posted to so-called European and other “soft” posts. The Minister has de-frozen promotions and restored allowances arbitrarily withdrawn by the PNDC. There is a breath of fresh air for those willing to perform and be recognized – morale for good performers in the Ministry has never been higher. 9) The minor re-organisation of the Ministry was to ensure it responded to the needs of the times in consonance with the new focus on economic diplomacy. The Minister in his very first meeting with the staff, emphasized that the basis for promotion and recognition in the Ministry will be based on merit, commitment and dedication devoid of any political considerations. What could be wrong with meritocracy being the driving force for advancement in the Service? The widely acknowledged and acclaimed diplomats of yester-year all showed merit. Mediocrity was never encouraged. 10) As regards the alleged excessive travels of the Minister, again this researcher, if he had cared to find out, would have come to the conclusion that the Minister’s travels are basically to attend meetings of organizations and bodies that Ghana is a member of and these are approved by the President himself. Furthermore, the composition of all Ministerial delegations are approved personally by the President. So it cannot be said that officers who have nothing to do with conferences were ever included. Officers accompanying the Minister have always been chosen on work schedule basis and this so-called researcher can check on this. Some staff in the immediate office of the Minister, referred to as the “Minister’s Directorate” travel with him when considered necessary. As officials of the Ministry, it cannot be said that they do not have relevant duties to carry out. A cursory look at the composition of all delegations will confirm this. For example, the delegation to the AU Summit in Durban, South Africa (that the writer refers to) included the substantive Director of the Africa and A.U. Bureau, the Director in the Office of the Minister, the schedule officer in the Africa and A.U. Bureau and a Secretary. As regards the travel to Yamoussoukro, the meeting was on NEPAD and the NEPAD Secretariat determined the need for the attendance of a Secretary to assist with the production of documents during the one-week Technical Committee Meeting. The Secretary works in the NEPAD Secretariat. Ghana’s delegation to most meetings is always the smallest in number compared to other African countries. 11) One must be concerned by the oblique reference to “female Secretaries” in the words of the self-styled researcher. The Ministry hopes that he is not implying that female officers of the Ministry should not attend meetings because they are women even if their schedules so demand. Again, the composition of the delegation to the meeting in Yamoussoukro as well as the conference in Durban was approved by the President upon justification. 12) As regards the briefing on NEPAD, this so-called researcher is at his ignorant and mischievous best. The OAU Meeting at which NEPAD was launched was attended by two Members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs. So from the onset, Parliament was involved and the Foreign Affairs Committee as per practice was obliged to report to the wider body of Parliament. This is the basic rationale for including MPs on delegations to important Conferences. Knowing that the Vice-Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs were at this meeting, the Ministry considered it appropriate to brief Parliament when it did after all the necessary processes had advanced sufficiently for the Ministry to provide a meaningful briefing. Before then, the Foreign Affairs Committee had organized a Seminar on NEPAD where the Ministry presented papers. There can therefore be no basis for Mr. Daniel Boye Mensah’s assertions. 13) Since assuming office, the Minister has tried to streamline and cut waste in the system, especially in the area of procurement where inflated prices, sometimes in excess of 100% marking over current market prices have been discovered. Obviously some affected staff are most unhappy about this rigid call to honesty, accountability and value for money. 14) On the work environment, the Minister has restored most Foreign Service Conditions that were arbitrarily taken away by the PNDC from Foreign Service Officers and has rectified the basic constitutional breaches that were taking place. It is strange that this researcher had nothing positive to report on this widely-acclaimed initiative of the Minister and the Government. 15) In conclusion, the Ministry will be delighted to meet with the faceless Mr. Daniel Boye Mensah to go over the research that he claims he is undertaking with a view to ensuring that the good people of Ghana are fed with opinions based on facts and not the made-up reports of aggrieved individuals and detractors of the government and its programmes and policies in the area of foreign policy which is being applauded by fair-minded and knowledgeable citizens and individuals everywhere.