Today is election day in Ghana. This is the final runoff election for president. I spoke briefly to people back home. I heard a lot of anger about electoral cheating, stuffing ballot boxes, ballot boxes stolen, voter intimidation, and other dirty tricks. I can’t really tell how bad it is, as tempers are running high. It sounds very like what has been going on in US elections, particularly the presidential elections in the last 9 years. I am praying that the person who actually gets the most votes is declared the winner, and that all the votes are counted. I heard the security forces voted early so they will be available to work on election day, and that they were subjected to voter intimidation. Many government workers are unhappy because they have not been paid, in some cases for several months.
The current Ghana government has treated Ghana very much like the current US government has treated the US. It has been asset stripping the country, selling out Ghana and shipping jobs and resources overseas. It has undermined Ghanaian agricuture, encouraging agricultural dumping by the EU, and some from the US as well.
The latest incident that angered me was this blow to the textile workers:
Floodgates opened to foreign textiles
The speed with which the government has temporarily lifted the ban on imported textile has drawn the expected reaction from the category of Ghanaian workers who would be hardest hit.
… the decision was taken in total disregard to the survival of the local textile industry.
Even before the lifting of the ban, smugglers had outwitted the security agencies at the entry points and got their cheap imports into the country. The sight of Nigeriens and other non-Ghanaians selling foreign textiles on the streets of Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi etc is common. In their place are the numerous Ghanaian textiles workers who have lost their jobs due to the closure of textile factories or the reduction in production capacity by the few factories struggling to stay in business.
A report in 2003 by the Revenue Agencies Governing Board titled “Practical Measures to Combat the Menace of Under Invoicing and Smuggling into Ghana” pointed out that the “local production of textile which peaked at 130 million metres per annum in the 1970s has dropped to under 39 million metres per annum currently; and the labour force in the industry consequently reduced from 25, 000 in the 1970s to under 3,000 as of now.”
The report identified under invoicing in import duties, laxity in the performance of valuation and monitoring functions of the destination inspection agencies etc as some of the acts hampering the growth of the local textile industries. The report further pointed out that as a result of under invoicing there are rampant contraband goods dumped on the market. “This kills competition and also does not give any protection to the infant manufacturing sector because the smuggled goods sell cheaper than the locally produced goods.”
TGLEU wonders if anything has changed regarding local production to warrant the lifting of the ban on cheap foreign imports. ‘Since the reasons for Government’s action was not stated, the NEC considers the timing of the lifting of the ban as politically motivated aimed at influencing the votes of the electorate.”
These jobs are going to China. Ghana needs these jobs.
I was most discouraged in 2007 when I heard that the textiles for the Ghana@50 celebrations were ordered from China. If there was ever a time to show national pride by displaying national talents and products, that was it. That was the time to showcase the country and the people and the work they produce.
As I’ve watched the governments of both the US and Ghana over the past 8 years, I have been struck by the similarities, particularly by the rapacious exploitation and contempt with which the governing elites treat the vast majority of the citizens they govern.
The US has given itself a new chance. I hope Ghana gets the same opportunity.