By J. Yanqui Zaza
|Ellen and Sawyer|
As Liberians search for solutions to the health sector/Ebola crisis, let us not forget about the issue of national leadership, as the primary reason why Liberia’s Ebola death rate is higher than the death rate of Guinea and, or Sierra Leone. If the democratic process is good for other countries, the Liberian people don’t think it is good for Liberia, according to Mr. Ashoka Mukpo. Mr. Mukpo stated in an article that Liberia’s poor believe that the International community ‘chooses their leaders, and then shrugs when those leaders treat them callously.”
Poverty continues to increase, although Liberia's prior and current leaders continue to follow the blueprints of the World Bank (W/B), as detailed within the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Additionally, even when other reports depict the W/B policies to be harsh and harming ordinary people, the W/B continues to praise its policies and the leadership. The Governance Commission’s 100-page report is a case in point. The Commission stated that the Health and Social Welfare Ministry and Education Ministry did perform poorly, the President, I guess, relying on W/B policies, did not respond to the report. (http://goodgovernance.org.lr/mediacenter/AGR.pdf).
Further, it is difficult for the poor to benefit form Liberia’s natural resources because the W/B is writing flawed concessionary agreement, according Robert Sirleaf, son of President Ellen Sirleaf. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmGJQo419YI&feature=youtu.be). Added to the suffering of the poor, our powerful leaders don’t “…follow a code of public spiritedness, don’t live a lifestyle that is more integrated into middle class…” nor do they restrain their private interest for the sake of domestic tranquility, or do they recognize the lines between public service and private enrichment, excepts from Mr. David Brooks, a NY Times Columnist.
Nonetheless, the W/B recruits such characters because such individuals don’t care when flawed concessionary agreements are negotiated, labor laws are compromised, natural resources are exported without adding values, minimal taxes and, or minimal royalties. In case you have doubt, Global Policy Forum wrote: poverty is rising because W/B coerces poor countries to deregulate capital markets, privatize state companies, and downsize public programs for social welfare.
Predictably, to achieve its aims, W/B needs local politicians within strategic positions of influence, including some Civil Society Organizations. Equally so, it simultaneously, badmouths any individuals or groups that holds counter views. So, by working with Monrovia-landlords/urbanites as well as some Civil Society Organizations, it finances and promotes its preferred candidates. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITTI), for example, is one of the organizations that W/B finances, according to W/B’s report. (http://siteresources.worldbank.org/CSO/Resources/228716-1369241545034/CSReviewFY10-12FINAL.pdf). EITTI, on the other hand, ensures
that provision within flawed agreements is implemented.
In disparaging advocates, the W/B as well as urbanities that benefit from such spoiled economic arrangement, refer to advocates as communists, atheists or homeless. Sadly, other good-meaning people such as Mr. Gbi Gabla, Theodore Hodge, Frederick Jayweh, etc., unwilling to take on the real exploiters of the poor, are calling advocates gravy seekers, corrupt, backstabbers, good for nothing PhDs, etc.
But those individuals who are accusing the advocates have not provided any evidence, yet the avalanche of criticism continues. Now with irrefutable evidence indicating that the advocates did not orchestrate the April 12, 1980 coup, Monrovia-landlords/urbanites are now saying that if the advocates didn’t call for change, the April 12, 1980 coup wouldn’t have happened in the first place. Also, some are asking the advocates to be advisers and advocates at the same time.
On the issue of corruption, let us look at a few of the advocates. Dr. Sawyer, Dr. Tipoteh and Dr. Fahnbulleh are not part of President Sirleaf’s other advisers who are building huge mansions or listed as targets of the Anti-corruption Commission, General Auditing Commission, Ministry of Justice, etc. They are living modest live-styles with dignity and happiness.
Neither did the late Gabriel Matthew live an opulent lifestyle. Dr. Amos Sawyer continues to provide laudable advice in writing the Code of Conduct, National Decentralization & Local Governance Policy: an essential Step toward Popular Participation Bill, the Report on the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and Ministry of Education, etc. He worked as Chairman of the 1986 Constitutional Commission during the military regime. President Samuel Doe fired Dr. Sawyer for reinstating the four-year term for the senate and presidency of the Constitution. Wrongly, though, critics are accusing him for the 9-year provision within the Constitution, even though Dr. Edward Kesselly and others of the Constitutional Assembly Committee included the 9-year provision.
What’s about the Interim Government of National Unity? Did Liberia have money through 1990-1994 for someone to steal? The U.S., pressured by anti-progressives forces, did not want to do business with Dr. Sawyer, much more to assist him. The country was not ready, and did not negotiate and, or re-negotiate any concessionary agreements. So, how was it possible for Dr. Sawyer and other advocates to have siphoned public monies into their private bank accounts? Nonetheless, Monrovia-landlords/urbanites, advised by the W/B, continue to indict him. Okay, let us look at the issue of a house he bought on credit in the United States of America. Without recognizing and accepting the economic arrangement in the United States of America where a minimum down payment could allow a borrower to claim an ownership to a home, Liberians concluded otherwise. Yet when confronted with the mortgage document, they said Dr. Sawyer is guilty of being insensitive since Liberians were poor and homeless.
Interestingly, the W/B through its facilitators (Monrovia-landlords/urbanites) do not have problem with corrupt candidates. More so, they do not criticize corruption issue evenly. They will vote for candidates that have proven records of corruption or questionable characters, but do not vote for advocates, whose accusations are without evidence. For example, Charles Taylor, a rebel leader and accused of selling the country’s resources, was elected overwhelmingly as president in the 1997 Liberian presidential election. Currently, Mr. Beoni Urey, someone who accumulated wealth during the Charles Taylor regime, is leading the poll for the 2017 Liberian presidential election. In fact, they now believe that corruption is a badge of honor, as long as the owners of the ill-gotten wealth do not questions illegal or unlawful activities of big business.
Such accusation and, or contradictory charges are not limited to the 70s progressives of Liberia, and these accusations are not going to end as long as there is a need for an arbiter to divide the economic pie that big business has interest in. Neither is the debate unique to Liberia, especially when it is between, on the one hand, advocates of the poor, and, on the other hand, those who are benefiting from the current economic arrangement. For example, the landowner of the site of the Hotel Africa building would have lost the rental income or economic gain from the sale of the land if Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her boss, President William R. Tolbert, had decided to use the money and invest in education in rural towns. Presumably, were U.S. President Barack Obama to advocate for the poor of Liberia, proxies of big business would call him a socialist, corrupt progressive, etc.
Error correction: In my last article I did not write that Dr. Sawyer stated that the Governance Commission did inform President Sirleaf and the lawmakers of the poor performance of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and that there was no response. And, that I did not state that he informed the teleconference participants that the Governance Commission report about the poor performance of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and Ministry of Education is on the GC Web Site. Rather, I stated: "Another evidence of poor management by the Sirleaf government was presented by Dr. Amos Sawyer, the former Interim President and, currently the chairman of the Good Governance Commission during a teleconference held on 8/30/14. He stated that the Health System is not alone, and that the Liberia educational system would also have collapsed if it had encountered the same kind of Ebola crisis. More troubling for him, the collapse of the governing system was predicted and communicated to the President, Legislature and heads of the Health Ministry and Ministry of Education about four months ago. Yet, the Health system collapsed."
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