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Ghana has truly become a two nations state, one for the rich and one for the poor

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Black Star Square
Black Star Square, Ghana

By Nico van Staalduinen, a concerned Ghanaian               

We all know Ghana is currently in crisis. You can blame it on whatever you want; COVID-19, Ukraine, Israel, Trump, the world’s economic situation, El Nino, climate change, our economic management team, President Akufo-Addo, former President Mahama, free senior high school education, over-borrowing, etc. etc. Each politician will explain the trouble we are in in his/her way.

But honestly, I don’t care (anymore) whose fault it is. What I care about is the result of policies of the last 15 years and especially the last seven years. Two different political areas with two different policy lines and mostly with the same results; corrupt government officials and employees.

Born a Dutch, I often use Dutch sayings, and one of them is: “It doesn’t matter if you are bitten by the cat or the dog, both hurt”.

I remember how former president Mahama was destroyed by the media on his (perceived) corruption or corrupt government. And I see the same happening today with President Akufo-Addo’s government.

Who is bad and who is worse depends on who you speak to. To me, that’s a very difficult subject because how do you quantify the bad, worst, and worst? By money per transaction? by total amount missing? by several corrupt acts? or by the number of people who get caught (and left of the hook)?  Corrupt people don’t keep accounts, that’s why even being not corrupt is not easy to prove (ask Cecilia Abena Dapaah).   

Let’s stick to the ‘two Ghanas‘. Where Palestinian people would have been very happy with a two-state solution in what we call today Israel, I am not pleased with two Ghanas within our borders.

Let me clarify what I am before stating why I am not happy with two Ghana borders. I am a profound liberal and in my native Netherlands, liberalism is represented by the VVD, ( translated to the People’s Party for Freedom). The VVD is a party at the right side of the political arena and just like NPP, united to a worldwide federation of Liberal and most of these parties follow stricter fiscal rules and are on the conservative side.

The main reason for Kwame Nkrumah to break with the UGCC was that his ideas were more socialist than conservative and although CPP is still claiming to be a socialist-based party, NDC is also a party based on (at least pragmatic) socialism.

Some of the main ideologies of socialist-based parties are: We are all equal and we are all important in life. Every person should have access to the same possibilities in life etc. Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked under CPP, NDC, or anywhere in the world.

Leftist governments in general tend to do more for the poor and rightist governments make sure the rich don’t get poor.

In Ghana, it doesn’t always work like that. NDC won the elections with a sympathy vote for President Mahama after the death of Prof. Atta-Mills and NPP won the election with free education which in the “real world” would be a leftish subject. But it worked and NPP and President Akufo-Addo consequently won the elections laying the foundation for the bankruptcy of Ghana. In other countries, free education is paid with tax money, in Ghana people who have never paid tax and will probably never pay tax, now enjoy no tax and no school fees.

Let’s get back to two Ghanas and why I am not happy with that.

In the last seven years, the rich have grown richer and the poor have become poorer. The only ones who can tell me if that is by mistake or well-planned are the current people in government.

So my question to all the MPs of NPP, deputy Ministers, Ministers, Vice President Bawumia, and President Akufo-Addo is: is the creation of ‘two Ghanas,’ one for the rich and another Ghana for the poor, a deliberate plan or an undesirable consequence?

I am not poor and not rich, I don’t have millions in the bank, I don’t drive Range Rovers and Mercedes, and I don’t have a penthouse in London or Dubai.                      But I have a great life in Ghana and don’t need all of that to be or to feel rich.

I noticed that (so-called) rich people in Ghana look down on poor and poorer people and avoid contact with them if they are not their workers, nannies, drivers, or security guards.  Ghana’s elite hangs out with Ghana’s elite at places where the elites, rich and wannabe rich are hanging out.

In the past in Ghana, it was stay with your race and your tribe. Today it stays with your class. High-class and perceived high-class people bring their children to high-class schools, have private doctors and visit private hospitals, go to high-end churches, shops, events, restaurants, and hotels, and go on holidays to high-end destinations.

Low-class (sadly called) people, but being poor have poor friends, their children go to government schools, go to cheap drinking spots, go to simple churches, and remain in their circle of “poverty”. Maybe that is how it has always been but I noticed a significant change over the last 5-6 years.

I often move between Aburi where I live, Cantonments where I work, and Dzorwulu where I have a guesthouse. I pass through Airport Residential, Labone, Accra Mall area, and Legon. All are so-called high or upper-class neighborhoods and if you only frequent them you might think Accra is looking good.

But I also move through and inside Madina, Labadi, Osu, Teshi, Korlegonu, Latorbiokorshi and those and others like them look worse than ever.

I like the company of my “high class” and well-educated friends but I also love to get my Tuo zafi at one of the illegal shops at the airport railway more than overpriced sushi for the upper ten in Accra. I appreciate my large Club beer at my drinking spot in Osu more than my mini Club in one of the upmarket bars and restaurants. My khebab from Alhaji, a street vendor behind the Bank of Ghana has more taste than a copy of European food in any upper-class, overpriced restaurant in Accra.

But the main reason I love to go to all those kinds of places is that I (just like my wife) love interacting with ordinary people, the normal mainstream of Ghanaians. Kwame in his wheelchair is a good friend, Yaw always begging for a beer as well, another interesting friend who comes to my house always needs transportation and at my spot in Osu, I have my sober and almost always drunk friends to talk to. Whenever we have a party or celebrate a birthday my mason, carpenter, and workers are always present.   

Whilst doing that and driving to our rich and poorer neighborhoods I noticed that roads in the earlier mentioned high-class areas have newly laid asphalt and in the poor areas potholes are growing bigger by the day.

In the rich areas, luxury apartments are shooting up by the day and there is zero investment in social housing for the poor. Simple people around Accra are paid peanuts for their land to build closed communities for the rich.

More international schools and universities are opening but education in the rural and poor parts of the cities is completely neglected.

Salaries of government employees, led by the Bank of Ghana are going up whilst others are prepared to work for accommodation plus whatever you are prepared to pay.

Renal patients are suffering and dying whilst our rich fly to the UK and Turkey for a Brazilian butt. Airports are shooting up around the country whilst the vast majority of Ghanaians will probably never sit in an airplane. Tax holidays are given to Ghanaians who are rich whilst the poor have to stay quiet when they see how much tax is being withheld on their desperate needed salary. The group in the middle, the average middle class (like meis starting to feel the pain as well and I wonder where this will end/   

Ghana has truly become a two-nation state, one for the rich and one for the poor.

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