Accra, Dec 21, GNA - The Former First Lady and President of the 31st December Women's Movement, (DWM) Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, on Monday said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government was attempting to destroy the Movement to the detriment of the underprivileged in society. She said if the NPP Government had a personal grudge with her it should take her on and not use all the pent up hatred for her to derail the developmental programmes of the Movement.
She said instead of the Government to focus on delivering development to Ghanaians, it had for the past four years been harassing, persecuting and intimidating the DWM, whose main objective was to enhance the socio-economic conditions of women and children.
Mrs Rawlings said this at a press conference in Accra to respond to a newspaper publication, which alleged that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning had directed the National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) through the Ministry of Manpower Development to immediately sever relationship with the DWM as it did not have the authority of the Government to operate two NVTI Centres at Dansoman and Kanda.
The publication said the directive, which was issued on December 12 2004, accused Mrs Rawlings of taking over the Centres and described the action as usurpation of Government powers and property.
However, Mrs Rawlings denied the assertion that the Centres belonged to the Government, saying, the Centres in question were sourced and secured solely by the DWM and that the NVTI was only brought in by the Movement to assist in the technical set up and training.
Giving the background to the funding of the two Centres established in 2000, Mrs Rawlings explained that she and other Executives of the Movement went to Japan between 1989 and 1990 to solicit for funding and also to interact with other Japanese non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to support in the Movements developmental project.
She said one of the NGO's by name SESCO took interest in the Movement objectives and agreed to assist it put up the Kanda Training Centre after it had helped in putting up a day care centre and toilet facilities for the Chorkor Community.
The Dansoman Centre, she said, was also acquired through the help of the Chinese Women's Federation, which advised them to present a proposal to the Chinese Government in order to secure funding for the project.
Mrs Rawlings said it took the Movement eight years to finally conclude the negotiations and got the funding for the school, upon whose completion the NVTI was contacted through the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare to provide the centre with managers, instructors, and to be on the Board of Directors that would be set up and "eventually depart when we are ready with our own instructors to run the schools".
She noted that since the institutes were opened in 2000, the Movement had sourced computers, air conditioners and other fittings for the Centres and had put a Board of Directors in place but had never collected fees from the students on any monies from the Centres, even though, NVTI had been collecting fees from students.
Mrs Rawlings said: "The DWM has every right to audit the accounts of the Centre Manager and accompanying staff in relation to all moneys collected from students as well as all activities and we are just doing that. Transparency and accountability is part of our discipline". She insisted: "The Movement had never encroached upon or misused Government funds for its personal gain, we worked and continue to work and tirelessly and reach out to all parts of the country to contribute what we can to nation building."
Mrs Cecelia Johnson, General Secretary of the Movement, said the DWM was still financially quite strong and that it continued to benefit from some donor fund in support of their programmes.
She, however, said funds were not as accessible as previously because some donor agencies according to their foreign policies had refused to fund the DWM.
The Movement said it had not received any letter from the Government on the matter adding that it would act appropriately when it did. Meanwhile, the Acting Director of the NVTI, Mr George Yevu in an interview with GNA indicated that, the Institute objected to the Movement's request to audit the accounts because it refused to use the legal channel.
He said since the NVTI was a public institution, it was only proper that any of its Centres was audited by the Auditor General's Department and not any private auditor as the DWM wanted it to be.
He said he had not come across any document that showed that the Centres belonged to the DWM, but he knew that the Movement sourced for some funds for the initial capital and establishment of the Centres, which were later handed over to the Government.