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Opinion | Oct 23, 2018

Working Together For Accountable Governance; The Case Of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Kelni/GVG Scandal And The Cartel Republic

Working Together For Accountable Governance; The Case Of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Kelni/GVG Scandal And The Cartel Republic

By working independently and in the public interest, CSOs can play an important role in holding governments and their leaders to account. It is by the principle of independence and public interest that industry watchers applied in monitoring keenly the role of Imani Ghana, Occupy Ghana and scores of other CSOs in the Kelni/GVG.

As I watched the president launch the Common Monitoring (CMP) yesterday, I could not control my emotions. This is a president who has introduced shift system in our secondary education leading to marked reduction in time spent in SHS by students due to financial constraints. This is a president who has publicly admitted of the untold hardships Ghanaians are going through and yet this is the same president launching an obviously fraudulent project that is robbing the tax payer of huge sums that could have been applied to the completion of abandoned Mahama community High Schools to end the shift system at once.

This CMP attracted a great deal of attention for the wrong reasons because $178 million of taxpayers’ money will be used to fund this needles project. Well-meaning Ghanaian across the length and breadth of country shared their opinions on the subject matter, the general consensus being that the agreement is an unconscionable which should not see the light of day. Ironically all is now set for the take off the CMP after government cleared all impediments which hitherto delayed the operationalization of the project. One of such impediments was mounted by CSOs including Imani Africa and Occupy Ghana. Imani Ghana asked legitimate questions about the Kelni/GVG and proceeded to apply to the MOC to make relevant documents regarding the project available. Court.

The Ministry of Communication (MOC) had to be compelled by the court for such documents to be released. The promise by the President of Imani Africa to Ghanaians was that he would pursue the CMP case till the last drop of his blood. This assurance brought a sigh of relief to Ghanaians that at least justice would be served and that the Ministry of Communications (MOC), National Communications Authority (NCA) and Kelni/GVG would not be allowed to take Ghanaians for granted. However, to the utter dismay of Ghanaians and myself, the President of Imani Africa is now telling us the lawyers of Kelni/GVG and Imani Africa have settled the matter and the only outstanding issue is the value for money analysis to be handled by CHRAG.

A statement released by the same Imani Africa sometime last week cited the exhaustion and lack of free flow of cash to pay legal and related fees for the continuation of the case in Court. The release further indicated the pro bono handling of the case by Kofi Bentil (Vice President of Imani Africa) had been exhausted and they could not raise funds to prosecute the pending case hence the withdrawal of the lawsuit. The mystery surrounding the withdrawal would linger in the minds of Ghanaians for a long while considering the assurance given by Imani about their resolve to pursue the matter to its logical conclusion.

I am scandalised by the actions of Imani particularly the coincidence between their withdrawal of the lawsuit and the settlement reached between the GRA and Subah paving way for the injunction to be lifted for the takeoff of the CMP. By this settlement, Subah is to be paid some Ghc120 million plus the amount to be determined by the valuation of their equipment used for traffic monitoring. In addition to this amount, government per the agreement with Kelni/GVG has paid $10.5 million within ten months for no work done. If this is not financial loss to state what else would?

Sometime ago we were told about 20 CSOs including Imani Africa congregated and asked pertinent questions regarding this Kelni/GVG contract and demanded answers. Since these questions were asked publicly, one would expect that answers, if any, would be made public. It is intriguing that nothing has been heard of these questions ever since. Strangely, none of the 20 CSOs are interested in pursuing the matter they vehemently opposed. The question to ask is whether those questions were relevant, if yes, then they are still relevant today and we demand answers to the relevant questions.

Another CSO with much interest in the Kelni/GVG CMP scandal was Occupy Ghana. They also vociferous and asked questions, demanded some documents and threatened to go to court if those answers were unconvincing and documents not provided.

I challenge Occupy Ghana to provide answers they received from the stakeholders involved in the implementation of the CMP since a former member is now the Deputy Minister of Communications. These questions were asked publicly and if answers were provided, the reasonable thing to do was to put it in the public domain to reassure Ghanaians this contract was indeed in the national interest. Surprisingly, Occupy Ghana has gone to sleep over an important matter such as this in which about $178m of tax payers’ money is at stake. I hope and pray they have also not been settled.

The magic of the Kelni/GVG still baffles my mind because of series of coincidences; from the CSOs going quiet on the issue, Imani Africa withdrawing their suit and finally Subah being settled by the GRA. But more importantly is also the coincidence between Imani withdrawing their lawsuit and Subah being promised settlement for the lifting of their injunction against the NCA. Most of these CSOs and Think tanks are proactive and vociferous when NDC is in power, but virtually mute on crucial national issues when NPP, The Cartels, is in power. I dare state that in the matter of Kelni/GVG, the CSOs have failed Ghanaians and posterity will judge them. It is obvious these CSOs are part and parcel of an elite consensus out there to do the rest of us ill: the rest of us who are not in politics or probably not big business people”, quoting Franklin. I end this piece leaving with you a popular equitable maxim that “equity will never suffer a wrong to be without a remedy”. This reassures me that this wrong will definitely find a remedy and justice would be served one day. Regards

Dr. Mawia Zakaria
Executive Director
Institute of Social Research and Development.

Mawia Zakaria
Mawia Zakaria, © 2018

This author has authored 5 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: MawiaZakaria

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