“Rwanda and Mauritius are countries that Ghana can emulate from in strengthening the economy of Ghana…Africans will only get the respect of the rest of the world if we emancipate ourselves economically. We don’t have to take begging bowls around the world. We should look for investment, cooperation and partnerships” (“Ghana Can Learn from Mauritius and Rwanda—Bawumia,” Ghanaweb, March 12, 2017).
THE FLIPPANT HYPOCRISY OF GHANAIAN LEADERSHIP: THE IRONY OF BAWUMIA
One wonders why Bawumia is not using the economy under Kufuor as a model of unparalleled excellence, if indeed the economy under Kufuor was the best thing that ever happened to Ghana, as he has been trumpeting since the birth of time.
What makes Rwanda’s economy better, more sustainable and vibrant than Ghana’s under Kufuor? The Holy Grail of comparative economics seems to have completely lost its bearings in Bawumia’s confused world of extreme partisan politics and politics of convenience. Not surprising!
We have long thought it was the New Patriotic Party’s property-owning democracy, and not rather Rwanda or Mauritius, that is the absolute answer to Ghana’s mounting manifold challenges.
Now the economic model touted by this gang of all-knowing partisan caliphs, has suddenly assumed a new language of existential ambiguity for the role it has to play in Ghana’s purported economic redemption, where it is deferred to the primary examples of Rwanda and Mauritius.
No one is disputing the fact that it is strategically wrong to learn from others, at least from resourceful ones.
We don’t object to this path of learning as ideas are not concentrated in any island.
After all, that is what strategically and tactically intelligent people do when they find themselves disadvantaged in a relationship built around the notion of unequal dichotomy.
But what we strongly object to among other things, is the flippant hypocrisy of this new leadership in matters of political strategy, whether it’s sticking to its fiduciary responsibilities to Ghanaians in honoring its manifesto promises, or not, a dicey situation that has made us wondering what its confused and internally jarring political philosophy is all about.
Akufo-Addo and Bawumia confidently assured Ghanaians that they had the men and women who capable of transforming Ghana, and bringing economic prosperity to Ghanaian citizens, all in just eighteen months.
As far as we can recall, this new administration never so much as mentioned Rwanda and Mauritius as economic success stories worthy of emulation, during the lead-up to the 2016 general elections.
Thus Bawumia’s auxiliary verb, “can,” may be masking a deep sense of strategic and tactical cluelessness on how to effectively manage Ghana’s bleak political economy.
It is not surprising that he will tendentiously moralize about the state of the national economy, from the point of view of the exclusive examples of Rwanda and Mauritius, while conveniently refusing to tell his audience that he was indeed part of a very corrupt government that traveled around the world with leaking begging bowls.
His statement that Africa “cut its dependence on foreign aid and handouts” is laudable but, regrettably, not the kind of strategic answer we seek. African governments—including—his must put an immediate stop to this shameful act of begging.
Even today, Bawumia and his boss Akufo-Addo are taking foreign aid and grants from the West. Politicians like Bawumia do not practice what they preach.
Ghanaian leaders will not cease amazing us with their conscious narrative omissions when actually doing otherwise exposes their diabolical intentions. Political morality means nothing to them.
They also see no practical need to pay serious attention to whether our political constitution and what we might preferably call constitutional economics are actually opposed to each other.
Of course, all this is not to say Rwanda is not a better example than Ghana in many important respects. It is generally environmentally cleaner than Ghana, the latter being a giant heap of rubbish. It is also more disciplined than morally chaotic Ghana. Rwanda appears to have a better grip on institutional corruption than Ghana.
But, unlike Ghana, Rwanda is a one-party state where multi-party democracy, freedom of expression and, finally, of political association are not existential luxuries. Again, it also appears to enjoy better gender relations than Ghana. Here is how one journalist Richard Grant succinctly puts it:
“Rwanda is now the safest, cleanest country in Africa, with no slums and virtually no begging or street crime. It has one of the highest sustained rates of economic growth on the continent, the least amount of corruption and red tape, and it is the only country in the world to have a majority of women in its parliament…
“Plastic bags are outlawed for environmental reasons, and in Kigali, the capital city, skyscrapers are rising, and the streets are swept clean every morning…There is a national health system, 19 out of 20 children are now in school, and rural Rwanda, while still in severe poverty, has better internet service than rural Britain, and a good network of immaculately paved roads…
“Then Kagame, who is Tutsi and runs a Tutsi-dominated government…”
Kagame is therefore an astute champion of ethnic politics for the most part. The underlying assumptions of—and path to—the so-called Rwandan Miracle are unlike anything we have witnessed in the entire political history of the Fourth Republic. For instance, in Part 8 of our March 11, 2014 article “What Amiri Baraka Said About Kwame Nkrumah” published on Ghanaweb, we wrote:
“Dambisa Moyo capitalizes on the sharp contrasts between the West and China to make her case, pointing out that private capitalism, liberal democracy, prioritized political rights, sociopolitical qualities we readily associate with the West, the ‘Western Model,’ she calls it, are not necessarily ironclad ingredients for economic success.
“Alternatively, her observations are bolstered by the fact that state capitalism, de-emphasized democracy, prioritized economic rights over political rights, in other words, what she refers to as the ‘Chinese Model or Beijing Consensus,’ equally promises better standard of living in the shortest possible time.
“In short, Dambisa believes democracy is not a prerequisite for economic growth. Moreover, she has also cited Chile, Thailand, and Chile to buttress her arguments (See “How the West Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly”).
Yet what Bawumia did not say was that, Paul Kagame’s Rwanda literally feeds off the lifeline of foreign aid mostly from Western donor countries, while, he, namely Kagame, looks to Asia, especially Singapore, for his model of economic and political development, a creative irony of sorts, from countries associated with the so-called East Asian Miracle. As Masoud Movahed notes:
“Contrary to Smith’s assertion, a cursory revision of the titanic economic growth of the late 20th century developers, namely Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, clearly reveals that economic growth in those countries has been due to anything but non-state intervention.
“Quite the contrary, it was not the ‘invisible hand’ of the market that kindled rapid growth in those countries but rather the ‘visible hand’ of the state, which directed the flow of capital to the industries the state thought would be the most productive…
“Without vigorous state intervention, massive industrialization would not have been feasible in the post-World War II giant industrialized economies, namely Germany, Japan, and recently the East Asian Tigers.
“The state in those late developers not only provided macroeconomic conditions conducive to capital accumulation and economic dynamism, but also strived to reduce uncertainty and risk for the local firms through various provisions of subsidies such as cheap credit, low or no taxes, as well as subsidized equipment and machinery…
We quoted Movahed at considerable length to demonstrate that Kagame is state-intervention itself, and also that the Rwandan economy is a centrally planned economy based on the Beijing Model, another important observation Bawumia glossed over.
The other shocking truth is that a chunk of donor aid makes up the Rwandan budget. The Ghanaian economy is likewise addicted to donor aid.
We should add that the much-touted property-owning democracy of the NPP and the Beijing Model are far from similar.
In fact, Prof Lungu and this author explored aspects of the general issues in their joint article, “When Did Akufo-Addo and His NPP Discover that Socialism Works”?
We also exposed the escapist hypocrisy of Akufo-Addo and the NPP in that regard, in this same article.
In simple terms therefore, comparing Rwanda and Ghana is just like comparing apples and oranges, just like comparing the Beijing Consensus and the Washington Consensus—restating our case.
And, finally, here is what our good friend Milton Allimadi has to say about Kagame:
“Rwanda and Uganda ended up occupying mineral-rich eastern Congo. Eventually that part of the country became the epicenter of disaster: resource plunder; massacres; ethnic displacement; and, mass sexual assaults against women and men so pervasive that Congo became known as the ‘rape capital of the world’…
“Rwanda’s and Uganda’s support for various warring militias through the years including CNDP and later M23—both countries use the manufactured chaos as cover to steal Congo’s resources —have led to unimaginable suffering. No one really knows how many Congolese have died. Some estimates place the toll at six million…”
What Allimadi calls “resource plunder” is in fact part of the ideological complication and mystery of the Rwandan success story, the Rwandan Miracle. This much-touted success story is not even sustainable as foreign aid to Rwanda is on the decrease—progressively—to say the least. This Paul Kagame is the economic model Bawumia wants Ghana to take inspiration from, to replicate.
Granted, all available evidence points to the fact that Ghana is a morally mindless society lacking the kind of bold assertion, of the critical wavelength of authoritarian discipline which Kagame has progressively imposed on his country, many a time in stark violation of constitutional stipulations, has made Rwanda what it is today to the extent that Bawumia sees Ghana’s potential salvation in Rwanda’s relative economic success. Furthermore, the extent of state intervention in the economic life of Rwanda is probably also deeper than Ghana’s.
Is Bawumia suggesting that we toe these paths too? Is Bawumia a proponent of the “end-justifies-the-means” too? Since when? Bawumia does not seem to have any moral qualms about “stealing” ideas from Kagame’s authoritarian state.
But, even all that said, the concept of property-owning democracy which implies lean government or diminished state intervention in the economic activities of a nation, admittedly has taken on a new dimension of policy controversy measured in terms of bloated government, expanded bureaucracy, and unnecessarily preventable functional duplication and overlaps in ministerial and bureaucratic structuring.
The public purse of the Ghanaian body politic has been unstitched. Unhindered savaging and bleeding of the public purse has just begun!
Well, we shall have our say on Mauritius later.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: SOME CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES
Dependence on donor aid is part of the general reasons for our underdevelopment. That is why international economist Dambisa Moyo calls foreign aid “dead aid,” “dead aid” because it has killed the natural initiative of Africans to harness their creative potential for national and continental development.
Foreign aid has gone on to enrich and sustain the “big men” and “strongmen” of Africa rather than developing the continent, empowering and improving the standards of life and quality of life for the vast majority of Africans who otherwise need assistance the most.
In one sense, foreign aid shares some of the debilitating symptomatology of the Dutch Disease and the Resource Curse. And quite in another sense, it boldly comes across as a serious agathocacological conundrum. Foreign aid is palliative chemotherapy disguised as effective panacea.
Then also gross mismanagement of the national economy and natural resources on the part of the Ghanaian leadership, and what Walter Rodney appropriately called “How Europe Undeveloped Africa,” factor into our arrested development.
We, herefore, need to wean ourselves from donor aid if we want to truly harness our natural capacity for internal development and growth.
This is because we have come of age, and it looks as though we have exhausted all available explanatory excuses for our predicament and continued underdevelopment.
The unpalatable irony is that, if Bawumia truly wants Africans to “get the respect of the rest of the world,” then he should have first impressed upon the Kufuor to reject foreign aid and, for all intents and purposes, we should be expecting him to be doing same in the Akufo-Addo government.
Lone wolf he must be even if others refuse to join forces with him on that progressive quest. But he and his boss are cannot reject donor aid outright because the reality has finally set in when they assumed political office.
Surely they will need donor money to help them unburden the existing pressure on fulfilling some of their many campaign promises, namely, to enable them free financial and logistical resources for other development priorities.
Besides, doesn’t Bawumia’s “investment, cooperation and partnerships” already exist? Finally, we need to take a hard look at our laws, our tax laws particularly, which provide easy avenues for foreign investors to rape the country (and Africa) —via illicit financial flows from Ghana and Africa.
We need to put an end to kill constitutional circumlocution on these important matters of immense national import. We may recall ex-President Mahama appearing before the United States and appealing to its members to come up with effective regulations, or something to that effect, to deal with illicit finncial flows from Ghana when, ironically, Ghanaian laws endorse and aid the practice.
CONCLUDING REMARKS: SOME HIGHLIGHTS
“Like so many rebel generals who have made the switch to civilian leadership, Kagame places a high premium on loyalty and discipline, likes to operate in secrecy, is comfortable using violence and threats of violence against his enemies, and tends to equate criticism with treason. Unusually, he doesn’t appear motivated by wealth or luxury, either for himself or his relations” (Richard Grant).
Bawumia is partly right though, and there is so much we can learn from others including Mauritius and Rwanda.
And yet we also need to tread cautiously. We must not copy uncritically—that is. These are the same people, who have decried Nkrumah’s one-party state but do not find anything morally objectionable about Kagame’s one-party state, or about that of Malaysia’s Lee Kuan Yew, and about those the Western donor countries have supported and continue to support.
Intellectual, moral and political revolution is what we need to overthrow the status quo, not necessarily copying others.
And Rwanda has been on this path for some time now in spite of its terrible human rights record under Kagame, and of its involvement in the protracted conflict in Eastern Congo.
The question of political morality should therefore override any serious attempt to copy ideas, wholesale, from our sister nations.
We need to weigh the merits and demerits of moral relativism and moral equivalence as part of the overall political strategy of cultural appropriation and industrial espionage. .
On the other hand, the burdensome crises of moral chaos in Ghana today will not be conducive to the implementation of imported progressive ideas.
The onus now is on Akufo-Addo and Bawumia to repair Ghana’s economic image which their sustained pre-election rhetoric, both in Ghana and abroad, damaged somewhat.
It never occurred to them that traveling around the world, to the metropolitan West mostly, the same West they are now implying we should not approach with begging bowls if we want respect, little did they know that their staged-managed concoction of truths, half-truths, and outright lies about the economic health of Ghana will eventually turn away potential investors, local and foreign, and also that the repercussions of this approach to electioneering tactics will come back to bite them in a way they never probably anticipated.
The pig thinks swimming in mud will render it wholistically clean. It surely did. But it also surely did not. Catch-22!
Bawumia is like that clever, sophisticated thief and cheat who is also a saint, a Mother Teresa, an angel, a Virgin Mary, a god!
Ghana is a monumental failure and flip-flopper Bawumia is part of it.
We shall return…
Masoud Movahed. “The East Asian Miracle: Where Did Adam Smith Go Wrong?” Harvard International Review, Oct. 26, 2014 (see also “A World Bank Policy Research Report: The East Asian Miracle (Economic Growth and Public Policy),” Oxford University Press, 1993).
Milton Allimadi. (2017). “Breaking the Silence—NYC Conference Examines 20 Years Since Congo Invasion.”
Richard Grant. (2010, July 22). “Paul Kagame: Rwanda’s Redeemer or Ruthless Dictator?” The Telegraph.