This morning, I gave My Take in summary and here is the full version.  

It must be troubling when a teacher allegedly threatened with sanctions for a conduct the Ghana Education Service (GES) takes exception, boldly announces that he is happy to leave the classroom because his GHC 1.500 salary does not cover even his transportation cost for a month. This must be troubling. The teacher cum comedian Michael Owusu Afriyie known as Teacher Kwadwo, is unperturbed about the reported threat of disciplinary sanctions for reportedly going public with a campaign highlighting poor conditions and the plight of pupils and teachers in rural communities. It is troubling that he calls the bluff of whoever is after him, declaring it will rather be “their loss, not mine” if he abandons the classroom.    

It must be troubling when university teachers who have been fighting for better conditions for a decade now are ambushed with an injunction and told to call off a strike for which they had given a whole month’s notice to the employer. The arbiter labour commission, which is said to have ignored this notice, suddenly saw the need to call UTAG for a meeting, seeing the strike meant the costly postponement of end of semester examinations. It reportedly called the meeting while it was in court, seeking the injunction on their blindside. The man who runs the commission, who obviously is given a car, etc. and earns far more than a Professor’s ¢5,000 or less monthly salary, took them to court presided over by a privileged article 71 officeholder judge who is looking to a huge pay raise compared to the 4% hike for public servants.

It must be troubling when the courts, which often do not treat such ex parte injunction applications lightly but are predisposed to demand to see the affected party before making a decision, seems to almost always grant the supposed independent arbiter these injunctions without question. Of course, absolutely nothing is lost if the courts compel the NLC to serve the application on the affected party so they can appear in two or three days to argue their opposition it, so why this near default unfair approach? In fact, the practice is that, once the application is on notice and it is served on the affected party, UTAG is expected to suspend the action the NLC is seeking to injunct until arguments have been heard and a decision/ruling is made by the court.

It is even most troubling for a supposed independent arbiter to act in such bad faith and expect the cooperation of UTAG. But how is the cardinal principle of fairness – rules of natural justice, which prohibit one from being a judge in their own cause not offended by this arrangement and conduct by a supposed independent arbiter?

It is troubling they have ignored that injunction, and nothing may happen because of the potential impracticality or further poisoning of the atmosphere if their leaders were cited and punished for contempt.  

It is troubling that there doesn’t seem to be any urgency in solving their problem even as students suffer the consequences of the strike after the havoc to education done by Covid-19.  

In the news, two men have been found guilty of robbery and sentenced to 15 years in jail. Of course, the law may not make any difference between small and big thieves. But members of the public have become too familiar with and question the justice system for the ‘injustice’ it does to the poor and supposed justice to the rich and influential in society.

The Yendi Circuit Court sent Karim Salifu, 29, a poultry farmer and herdsman, as well as Karim Issaka, 30, also a herdsman, into prison for 15 years each for robbing a man of his motorbike, five mobile phones and ¢50 at gunpoint at Salnayili in the Nanumba North Municipality.

They may be deserving of the punishment, but why don’t the many bigger thieves get anything close to the punishment poor hungry plantain thieves get for stealing a bunch of plantains to survive?

These bigger thieves in public service steal millions of dollars by the stroke of the pen, and the pen here is even more destructive than the gun. Gun robbery may kill a person, but pen-robbery can kill many people by the badly constructed road. Corrupt politicians divert funds for a hospital in a village, denying the poor and vulnerable the much-needed services of the hospital. It must be troubling that these bigger thieves may never suffer any consequences at all.

You may try explaining your laws and how the charges preferred do not attract the same sentences, but why should ordinary people care about that. They see these bigger thieves get lesser sentences in the rare situations where they are prosecuted. They see these bigger thieves get bail when the poor may not get bail or so easily. They see these bigger thieves return their loot and go free in the name of plea bargains which our MPs recently fortified in the Office of Special Prosecutor law. So why are we not allowed to simply return what we steal and go free, they ask?

The rich and influential, especially politically exposed persons, can buy justice or their freedom – isn’t that another way to define plea bargain? They see these bigger thieves complain of sickness while in jail and get better treatment, while they are often left to die in their sickness. They see these bigger thieves easily quickly frequently freed in the name of a constitutional exercise of a president’s power to pardon convicts. When the law and justice system is this pro-rich, pro-influential and easily applied discriminately against the poor in society, there is an implosion that is bound however deferred. They see the rich and influential never thrown into jail, even when found guilty of contempt.

They see a politician who incites tribal conflict and whose utterances can plunge the country into war, publicly insult and abuse judges but given a slap on the wrist when cited for criminal contempt. This is how a country’s justice system is set to fail. A fair and truly just justice system will automatically command the respect of the people to receive validity and legitimacy. The people, consequently, give their voluntary cooperation to promote that justice system for the good of all. Please do away with the false thinking that a country’s justice system works only because of the law’s compulsion and the fear of punishment. Such lack of deep thinking forgets that the Constitution affirms that the country’s sovereignty springs from the people on whose behalf and for whose welfare the functions of Government shall be exercised.  

It must be troubling that State-Owned Enterprises managed by very well-paid CEOs, some said to be better paid than the President, continue to post losses and still, these mis-managers keep their jobs. The fact is that some are square pegs in round holes who get the job only by reason of holding membership cards of the governing party.

We are told that the value of Ghana’s 126 SOEs is ¢110 billion, and that represents about 27% of our GDP for 2020. It must be troubling that these entities that have the capacity to contribute ¢11 billion to the national coffers are so mismanaged that they made a loss of almost ¢600m in 2019. 47 of them have never submitted the basic but important and legally mandated annual financial statements for five years. However, their managers still have their jobs despite superintending the impunity in violating the Public Financial Management Act. In 2019, only 14 out of the 126 SOEs met this mandatory legal requirement of submitting annual statements.

The Auditor-General’s Report is out again. Sincerely, I am sick and tired of reading these reports. I invite you to read about the rot, and millions of cedis reported stolen by the thieves caught in that report. It is troubling. In the course of this week, the media has been serializing portions of the Report. How do you feel hearing about the colossal sums that are unaccounted for; somebody has stolen, people who are alleged to have taken double salaries for years, and it does appear nothing may happen to them.

Unfortunately, at this time, it is only the opposition who sees these wrongs as wrongs. The majority of the people in government and their followers will continue to defend and not see anything wrong. This must be troubling. Read about what the Auditor-General reports have happened to over ¢440m of pensioners’ funds and the ¢59m managers of ECG spent on prepaid meters that have been locked up in their warehouse for seven years now?

That’s My Take.

Samson Lardy ANYENINI

August 14, 2021 Issue#28   

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