IMF & World Bank : The Neo-Colonial Masters

Once upon a time, the Gold Coast (currently Ghana) comprised several tribes and kingdoms, which coexisted and interacted through an elaborate system of trade and diplomacy, and despite hosting a poorer economic region than our prospective colonial master back then, we had our liberty; our traditional leaders made the decisions after doing their ‘own thinking’ without any duress or external control. Then came the British, who through a combination of craftiness and gun powder, managed to subjugate the Gold Coast. After a long period of exploitation from our colonizers, some of the educated natives decided to retaliate and restore the system of self-rule. Nevertheless, the British, as well as other European masters, had thought light years ahead and discovered that they need not be in their colonies to rule them, but they could create a better system of master-slave manipulation and exploitation from afar, a situation which prompted a school of thought to conjecture the dependency theory.

credits : chikaoduahblog.com
credits : chikaoduahblog.com

Since 1967 to date, Ghana seeking aid from international financial bodies, especially the IMF, hasn’t been something that is new to the country. These include programs in 1967, 1972, 1983, 1999, 2001, and 2009. The IMF program with Ghana between 2009 and 2012 was a programme called Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative under the former NPP administration in 2001. HIPC sought to provide debt relief to cash-strapped countries based on the implementation of poverty alleviation strategies prescribed by the IMF and the World Bank. After Ghana exited the HIPC programme, it became a lower middle income country. The most recent encounter with the IMF was 2015. After the 2015 bailout which came with its conditions (including cutting down the number of jobbs in the public sector), the country hasn’t got any better. Just recently, there had been rumours that the country was to be put on the HIPC programme again because the country’s debt to GDP ratio is currently around 65-75%.

With respect to these rumours, The Daily Graphic, sought to find out whether the IMF would consider advising Ghana to consider a HIPC debt relief but the IMF answered that Ghana had already had its chance and could not do so again. These events and occurrences show how Ghana still relies on western countries(or former colonial masters) and institutions even after we have had political independence.

IMF deputy managing director and Seth Tekper credits: citifmonline
IMF deputy managing director and Seth Tekper
credits: citifmonline

We concur with the dependency school of thought that infrastructure and the administration of our public institutions remain our key challenge, but the current state of the economy of Ghana presents a bit of a dilemma with respect to the our next move to generate the needed capital. There is a possibility of getting revenue from taxes, but the government has failed to establish a system to effectively collect taxes from the informal sector, which contributes to about 88% of the workforce. The country is replete with natural resources like gold ores and crude oil, but those have been donated to some of our creditors, so we stick with cocoa, which is still inadequate to support government expenditure. This affords us only one option: to borrow more from international financial institutions i.e. IMF and World Bank…and we all know by now that there is no such thing as a free lunch in this world.

So we ask ourselves, can the economy of Ghana survive for 10 years, there will be no IMF bailout?

Written by Ayishetu Seidu and Norbert Sackey

links :

http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/50081-imf-clears-the-air-on-hipc.html

http://www.fesghana.org/index.php?page=informal-economy

http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2014/September-10th/imf-bailout-sad-moment-in-ghanas-history-nana-akufo-addo.php

http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/Bawumia-s-Lecture-IMF-Bailout-Will-the-Anchor-Hold-351788

KABOOM IN THE SINAI PENINSULA!!

KABOOM IN SINAI!!!

BOOM

The Egyptian Government has begun an operation to literally destroy all homes and buildings along the Gaza border to eliminate the smuggling tunnels . This operation is in line with a counterinsurgency campaign established following a surge in attacks by militants through tunnels under the border with Gaza. These attacks have claimed the lives of 3,600 civilians, security personnel and militants (more than two-thirds of them the plans for the buffer zone were announced).

In 2013, Egypt troops began razing buildings within 1km (0.6 miles) of the Gaza border to create a buffer zone in a bid to completely eliminate the smuggling of weapons and militants via the clandestine tunnels.

The border before the demolition
Satellite image of the border before the demolition
After
Satellite image of the border one year later

According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Egyptian government has destroyed more than 3255 homes in the Sinai Peninsula along the Gaza border, which is clearly an act in violation of International and basic human rights. Also, Egyptian troops have reportedly begun flooding tunnels under the border.

These actions by the Egyptian government may seem harsh even inhumane as clearly violates international law irrespective of the fact that it has extraterritorial rights in the Sinai peninsula. The government has vehementy denied allegation of the Human Rights Watch. It says that the locals are in favour of the demolitions as it prevents insurgents from gaining access to Egypt via the tunnels. However the lack of compensation and housing has rendered some locals homeless. In addition some locals no longer have a reliable source of income as the farmlands they relied on are reduced to cinders.

The counterinsurgency campaign to level buildings by the Egyptian government may be a strategic approach to curb the influx of insurgents but there are some immediate implcations it would have to take into consideration.

@authors Benjamin Annan-Baidoo and Judah Lafia-King

Sources :

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34317654

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34288465

No Strings Attached….

The chains of imprisonment fell and in their place cleverly placed strings. Slaves are now puppets. A current state no different from the former. As long as it is a mutually accepted and voluntary relationship, we can turn a blind eye to its savagery. Freedom, self-dependency, autonomy, independence all dubious machinations of an elaborate illusion.  Patronage to neopatrimonialism. Neopatrimonialism the neo-colonisation. The hope of Africa has worn thin, leaving zealous warriors to do the wisest thing left – grab what they can from who they know in their privileged position. For a period it seems ingenious, festive even. Leaders have used the ‘unfortunate’ status of third world nations to further personal ambition, taking its populace from frying pan to fire (I will explain in a few minutes). The wind blows, and into thin air goes billions of state money yearly. With ailing structures of governance, transparency has no place in these nations. In fact we are far led away from the core ethos of pan-Africanism in securing for our selfish gains, resources that are meant to better serve and forward the collective dreams of the hopeful citizens of Africa. Perhaps Scientific can better express my pain.

It hurts to sit and watch the sacrifice of visionaries traded for fleeting ‘riches’ that are in fact liabilities. Liabilities because aid received often dig deeper wedges between us and our goals. Often momentarily injecting the economy with money but the debt afterwards puts us in a worse situation. Loyalties are forged with the exchange of bilateral pleasantries but our resources are. We accepted the new and kicked out the old. We neglected our very culture and blindly built systems developed with no consideration for our environment. Pitcher mentions in Rethinking Patrimonialism and Neopatrimonialism in Africa that our actions a recipe for disaster because ancient practices used the accumulation of wealth by leaders (Kingdoms) as a means of maintaining control of the people being governed. By neglecting the significant role our past plays on our move for contemporary change, sets us in perpetual backwardness. A different mind set has been carried into a different setting that propounds the active participation of the populace (democracy).

It comes as no surprise that many are crossing oceans from Africa to find ‘work’. We are back at square one working for others when we should be managing our affairs freely and independently. Why are people leaving their free countries back into the previously detested slavery? Neopatrimonialism is simply for a few select, leaving the rest suffer bitterly. Libya is among the most recent to lose to the system in question.

migrants

In years gone by, men, women and children have risked their lives and left their homes to seek greener pastures in the golden lands of Europe and America. Many are the times that these journeys to a ‘better place’ are unsafe and could possibly lead to serious injuries and even death. Yet, these people take that seemingly unreasonable risk to escape the barren lands of Africa. In a recent news story, roughly 4,700 people were rescued of the coast of Libya as they were trying to get to Europe. It was found out that during this dangerous journey, one woman lost her life in her quest to reach the promised land.

dead

The coast guards that under took the rescue mission reported that twenty rescue missions were coordinated to save over 4,300 migrants that were travelling on non-seaworthy rubber boats and barges. A further 335 migrants were picked up by Greece rescue missions and were directed to Italy to disembark. These rescue missions were the collective efforts of the Italian coastguard and navy, humanitarian agency Doctors without Borders, the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station, a merchant boat, a Croatian vessel under the European Union’s Triton rescue mission and naval ships from Germany and Britain under the EU’s EUNAVFOR Med mission. Now Europe is having a hard time coping with the unwanted migrants as they leave Africa to seek a better life.

migrant-boat

Perhaps the new Africa that our independence icons dreamed of was not meant to be. After all we did waltz back into the control of our so called oppressors. From independence, to begging , to selling our loyalties, to losing the pan-African spirit and back into chains and the vessel has been neopatrimonialism by our very selves. No strings attached? They lied.

  • Makafui Amezah and Christian Biassey- Bogart

Link to the news story:  http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/19/us-europe-migrants-italy-idUSKCN0RJ0PG20150919

Pitcher, A. & Moran, M. H. & Johnston, M.(2009). Rethinking Patrimonialism and Neopatrimonialism in Africa. African Studies Review 52(1), 125-156. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved September 20, 2015, from Project MUSE database.

LET THE TOOTHLESS DOGS BARK

The hope of Burkinabes to see a new democratically elected government was dashed on the 17th of September 2015, when news spread of the occurrence of a coup d’etat. According to BBC news Africa, the coup, led by General Diendere was born out of the displeasure of members of the presidential guard (RSP),a unit set up by former President Compaore, over the new electoral law banning candidates linked to last year’s bid to extend the president’s time in office. The RSP anticipates that the election of a new president will mean an end to their existence as a unit, thus causing them to revolt via the coup.

Military-of-Burkina-Faso
The African Union, Africa’s continental international body, has renounced the actions of the RSP. Being a body which has promoting democratic principles and institutions in Africa as one of its core objectives, it is no surprise that they have been quick to lash out against the RSP. They have suspended Burkina Faso’s membership status and the coup leaders have been given a 96 hour grace period to restore civilian rule lest sanctions be placed on them. Considering that this is not the first of such occurrences in Africa, one question that may be bugging the minds of the continent’s citizens is whether or not the AU has made any progress or improved on it’s ability to appropriately handle such phenomena. Nora McKeon, in her paper African states and the OAU tells of how the series of coups that ravaged West Africa right after the formation of the OAU (parent group to the AU), and how these weakened the institution. More than 5 decades afterwards, has the African Union gained enough technical know how to better handle the coups in Africa?

African_Union_flag.svg
Maybe not. It must be said that the union has put a fair amount of effort into dealing with coup d’etats in Africa. In 2000, the Lome Declaration was drafted by the African Union, spelling out clear guidelines on the AU’s line of action should an unconstitutional change of government occur. These guidelines include public denouncement of the coup d’etat by the leader of the AU, suspension of the country in question’s AU membership, and sanctions on the coup leaders. These guidelines were intended to be a deterrent to any attempt to stage a coup d’etat. However, historical records show that the African Union has been woeful in dealing with the spate of coup d’etats on the continent. Since the Lome Declaration was put into force, there have been no less than 12 coup d’etats on the continent with General Diendere’s seizure of power in Burkina Faso being the latest. This is no different from their inability to handle the coup d’etats that occurred in the onset of post-colonial era. In several cases such as the Congo crisis and the West African coup d’atat epidemic of the 1960’s, the OAU at the time showed serious deficiencies in their capacity to curtail these instances of military seizures of power. At that point in time, several salient reasons could be used to explain why the OAU couldn’t deal with the spate of coup d’etats. For one, it could be said that the union and the leaders of the member countries were only just getting the hang of democratic rule and its complexities and as such, they lacked the know-how to deal with these problems. However, those reasons do not hold anymore. The union’s inability to handle these issues cries out that they have always been and probably always will be unable to deal with coup d’etats in Africa.
With this knowledge, it wouldn’t be too surprising to find that General Diendere and his men are taking the African Union’s threats and remarks with a pinch of salt. The possibility of and implication of sanctions on them may be the least of their worries. After all, if the AU turns out to be ineffective once again, General Diendere and his men will only make the AU seem like a large, restrained, toothless dog barking away at a band of thieves. We wait to see the outcome of events and sincerely hope that the AU will prove us wrong.

Written By: Anna Addei and Mawuli Adjei.

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-34277045

http://www.jstor.org/stable/2612179

http://www.au.int/en/about/nutshell

http://dspace.africaportal.org/jspui/bitstream/123456789/30819/1/P197.pdf