Friday, 20 November 2009

It Is Scandalous That Judges In Ghana Still Record Court Proceedings By Longhand

Nearly two years after I first petitioned the Attorney General to halt my prosecution, I was discharged from the Nsawam Circuit Court just this morning – after the prosecution finally dropped its case against me.

That Kafkaesque case, The Republic Vs Kofi Thompson, should never have been brought to trial in the first place – as it was in effect a complete waste of the court’s time.

Amazingly, I was charged with causing criminal damage to my own farmland – my crime being that I had acted with resolve to rid myself of a recalcitrant trespasser: who repeatedly refused to abate his trespass and leave our land.

Yet, the land in question has been in my family since 1933 – and it was the trespasser who caused criminal damage to our organic farm: by spraying papaya that he had illegally planted on a portion of the land, with synthetic pesticides, and making a complete nonsense of our business-model.

Still, I am looking at the whole thing in a positive light – I learnt a great deal about the nature of Ghanaian society, during that trial.

It really is scandalous that the profligate President Kufour, chose to spend over US$150 millions building a presidential palace complex, during his tenure – when that sum could probably have provided modern recording equipment for all the law courts in our country.

Why, in the 21st century ICT age, should we ask our judges to record court proceedings in longhand, I ask, dear reader? Would it not have benefited our nation a great deal more, if President Kufuor had spent the zillions he wasted on the so-called Golden Jubilee House (Flagstaff House to most Ghanaian nationalists and Nkrumaists!) buying our law courts recording equipment, instead?

Incidentally, I have often wondered, whether it ever occurs to any of those shortsighted individuals, who seek to justify that folly of President Kufuor’s at the site of the old Flagstaff House, that rather than spending zillions building a chi-chi presidential palace (probably riddled with listening-bugs – placed there by the secret services of those who loaned his regime the money to build it!), offered a choice in the matter, a more visionary and prudent leader, would have taken a different course.

He or she would have simply opted to acquire a blueprint for a new capital for Ghana, and invited Ghanaian city-planners to design a modern and green capital city - to be built in the centre of Ghana by a future successor-regime: at a point in time when our country can easily afford it -and chosen, instead, to spend the Indian loan buying our law courts recording equipment – and left that as one of his or her legacies.

Would that not have helped entrench the rule of law yet further, in our country?

But I digress. Needless to say, the police summons for the case I was being prosecuted for, was issued in October 2007 – during the perfidious New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) tenure in office.

The plaintiff was a retired Ghana Armed Forces warrant officer. Apparently, he had also once been a National Democratic Congress (NDC) big-wig in Nsawam. Sadly, he was bitten by a snake at home – and thus died midstream during the trial.

It so happened that his lawyer was a former NPP member of parliament for the Akuapim South constituency. That well-educated buffoon was a quintessential NPP-type: insufferable, arrogant, and a world-class philistine – a Mr. Wiafe.

The question, dear reader, is: What was that staunch NPP politician doing representing an NDC man, who once upon a time, must have worked pretty hard, to stop him from being elected to parliament – during the particular election campaign that sent him to parliament as the NPP Member of Parliament for the Akuapim South constituency?

It was one of the many odd things about that travesty of justice, which that most egregious of malicious prosecutions, represented.

Incredibly, the police investigator (who did not even interview me!) rushed the case to court, with such undue haste – in a time-frame that must rate as the quickest in the annals of the Ghana Police Service: from the date of the reporting of the case by the complainant, and the issuing of the police summons for me, the ‘suspect,’ to appear before Nsawam Circuit Court, presided over, initially, by Mrs. Justice Ankumah.

She was transferred to Accra during the case – and replaced by Her Honour, Justice Ms. Myers. I am so relieved that that dreadful matter is now behind me – and that those in the previous regime who thought they could use it to silence me, failed so miserably in their aim.

It is outrageous that whiles many corrupt officials regularly go unpunished for their crimes against our country and its people, so many underprivileged Ghanaians pay daily in the law courts, for the crimes they commit – crimes that often pale into insignificant when compared to the zillions of Ghana cedis that the crooks amongst our political class, for example, purloin from our national treasury, with such impunity.

If we are serious about entrenching democracy in our homeland Ghana, we must ensure that the judiciary is given all the resources it needs (including paying our judges well!) to enable it fulfill its role in our constitutional democracy. Those who now rule our nation must act quickly to make the recording of court proceedings in longhand by Ghana’s judges a thing of the past.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Cocoa Processing Company Limited - Please Stick To Ghana's Premium Quality Cocoa Beans!

The Ghanaian subsidiary of the US food giant, Cargil, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, took out a full-page advert in the Thursday, September 10, 2009 edition of the Daily Graphic newspaper, to help publicise the new chocolate milk drink it is now producing in Ghana.

The bottle has the advertising slogan “The good taste of Ghana” blazoned on it. The clever marketing team at Cargil, is obviously leveraging Ghana’s good image in the international community as a haven of peace and stability, in choosing that slogan.

One wishes that those in charge of the cocoa processing plant that Nkrumah built at Tema, would also be so positive in their outlook!

Speaking as someone who farms cocoa organically at Akim Abuakwa Juaso, I was alarmed, when I heard one of the gentleman in charge of the Cocoa Processing Company (CPC), incredibly telling the world, during an interview with one of Accra’s many FM radio stations (incidentally, I forget precisely which one it was – but I have a feeling it might have been in one of Joy FM’s business news bulletins), that the company had imported (or was going to import!) about 5,000 metric tonnes of cocoa from a neighbouring country: because Ghana’s cocoa beans command a “premium price.”

Apparently, that shortsighted move will save the CPC money – and it is said that the company will still produce chocolate of “acceptable quality.” Incredible.

He topped that inanity by adding that chocolate manufacturers elsewhere blend various grades of cocoa to produce chocolate.

It obviously escapes the geniuses who run the CPC that those manufacturers in Europe, and elsewhere, are not in the lucky and happy position, of being able to manufacture their products in Ghana – which produces the world’s best quality cocoa beans. Incredible.

Why, do those who are going to ruin the hard-won reputation of the CPC’s famous dark chocolate, not realize that the “premium quality” cocoa beans from Ghana enable their products to occupy a niche in the global market for dark chocolate?

Perhaps it will interest them to know that a dear friend from Pennsylvania, in the US, who loves chocolates and speaks highly of the CPC’s range of dark chocolates, will be horrified to hear that the chocolate she thinks is one of the best in the world, is now about to take the slippery slope to ruination – because of the shortsightedness and foolishness of those who run the factory that produces it.

On behalf of Ghana’s many long-suffering cocoa farmers, I humbly appeal to the Ghana Cocoa Marketing Board (COCOBOD), and the minister for trade and industry, to order the CPC to stop importing any more cocoa beans from outside Ghana, henceforth.

Surely, in the internet age, it is not asking too much, for even the most unimaginative of public-sector corporate leadership, to strike a partnership with Ghana Post – so that the CPC can sell its marvelous dark chocolate worldwide online, using their EMS global parcel delivery service?

Has it ever occurred to the denizens of the corridors of corporate power at the CPC, that they can sell their dark chocolate and other products as niche products, which ought to be bought at a premium: precisely because they are made from the best cocoa beans in the world?

Let them rescind that shortsighted decision immediately. The leadership of the COCOBOD and the ministerial team in charge of the ministry of trade and industry must step in to halt this pure nonsense on bamboo stilts – and do so now!

Tel (powered by Tigo – the one mobile phone network in Ghan that actually works): + 233 27 745.