Monday, 4 December 2017

Zimbabwe: Resignation of President Mugabe

Power, they say corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. At long last the people of Zimbabwe have said good bye to Robert Gabriel Mugabe, their President who ruled them for 37 years and welcomed to the throne his then Vice President and Chief Strategist Emmerson Mnangagwa. But for the love of a woman and inordinate quest for power, Mr. Mugabe would have still been enjoying his Presidency. Sacking his Vice President ostensibly to bring in his wife, Grace to take over from him was the rod that broke the camel`s back. At age 93, Mr. Mugabe needed nobody to tell him that he should have quit when the applause was loudest but he allowed greed and lust for power to goad him on. At the end of it all, even his own party, Zanu PF and his war veterans deserted him and passed a vote of no confidence in him. The jubilation that greeted his resignation is enough to tell Mr. Mugabe that all that glitters is not gold.

Simply put, Mr. Mugabe reduced himself to the likes of Yahaya Jammeh of Gambia and resigned only when threatened with impeachment. We agree Mr. Mugabe deserves tons of praise for his Pan Africanist stance and his role in the liberation struggle but he allowed indecision and nepotism to erode all these attributes. The Zimbabwe military equally deserves commendation for the way they handled the takeover. There is no doubt they handled good old Mugabe graciously. This is a far cry from what happens in other African countries in the event of a coup d’├ętat.

In life no human being is indispensable and no one is a repository of knowledge. That is why we hope the new President Emmerson Mnangagwa will adequately measure up to the task and sail the ship of state to safe shore. We expect him to tackle the country’s economy which most analysts say is in tatters. With respect to Mr Mugabe any attempt by the new President to exact vengeance will not be the best. It is good Mr Mugabe has been indemnified against prosecution. To the jubilant and expectant Zimbabweans, they must tone down their expectations and join forces with the new President to rebuild the nation.

The country no doubt has enough resources which can be tapped to turn things around. With the experience of countries like Libya and Iraq at hind sight, we urge Zimbabweans not to be over optimistic of an instant economic turn-around. It is unfortunate Mr Mnangagwa has started raising hopes with the promises of jobs when he is yet to know what is in the kitty. Now that Mr Mugabe is off the scene, the Bretton Wood Institutions must lift every economic embargo on Zimbabwe and support that country to resuscitate its economy. As a country with one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, we expect Zimbabwe to overcome all its challenges to spring back to the limelight. Developments in Zimbabwe must be an eye opener to other Africa leaders who see the Presidency as their personal property and would wish to hang on to power even when they have outlived their hospitality.

As we say goodbye to Mr Mugabe and welcome Mr Mnangagwa known in political circles as the crocodile to the seat, we wish the two personalities all the best in their endeavours.


The National Sanitation Campaign

Last week, the National Sanitation Campaign was launched by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on the theme, Let's Keep Ghana Clean, Play Your Part. The campaign marks the beginning of series of activities to be implemented by the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and all its stakeholders to rid the cities and towns of filth. It also marks the beginning of yet another national drive to make the nation clean for Sustainable National Development and the promotion of good health. The launch was significant especially against the backdrop of the declaration by the President that by the end of his first term in office, he would make Accra the neatest and cleanest city in Africa.

There is no doubt that one of the key issues today in national discourse is on sanitation, environmental pollution and land degradation due to the impact on the socio- economy of the country. It is estimated that poor sanitation practices in Ghana costs about $290 million per annum which is a drain on national resources. The cost incurred is as result of poor sanitation delivery arising from time spent on accessing water and sanitation facilities, deaths, exposure to preventable diseases among other factors. One cannot also ignore the fact that the cost of procuring pharmaceuticals and other medications for the treatment of sanitation related diseases is another area of huge government expenditure.

Generally, the attitude of Ghanaians towards good sanitation practice is rather poor. Even in places where dustbins have been provided for the proper disposal of refuse, people throw rubbish around indiscriminately, regardless of the consequences on our health and the implication on national development. Open defecation is practiced everywhere and in most communities; the practice has become the accepted norm. Most of the beaches are never clean due to this uncivilised habit. This practice has become a great threat to the promotion of tourism in the country.

Statistics show that open defecation alone places a financial burden of almost $79 million per annum on the state. What is even more worrying is the fact that in Accra alone, there are close to two thousand pan latrines which have very serious health implications. The sanitation situation in most parts of the country is indeed an eyesore which if not addressed immediately would be a bane to the country’s quest in achieving the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on sanitation. The establishment of the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources by the President is a direct government response in dealing with the sanitation challenge. It has brought into being new policy direction and programmes to tackle the sanitation challenge head-on.

The major objective and consideration is to prepare the country in achieving the SDGs in general and promoting the living standard of Ghanaians in particular, for it is said that the wealth of every nation resides in the good health of its people. A healthy population of every nation facilitates sustained poverty reduction and socio- economic growth and development. The Sustainable Development Goal, SDG, on sanitation states that by the year 2030 all people in the world would have access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women, girls and the vulnerable.

The Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources therefore is expected to formulate the necessary policies for implementation to enable all people living in Ghana to have easy access to Sanitation services and clean hygienic environment in relation to the objectives outlined in the Sustainable Development Goal target 6&2. Improved environmental sanitation would go a long way to contribute significantly to the reduction and prevention of water and sanitation related diseases such as malaria, typhoid and dysentery. It behoves all Ghanaians to contribute to the national programme by ensuring that the environment is always clean. If Ghanaians become a little more responsible collectively as a nation in dealing with sanitation issues, it will save the nation millions of the tax payers’ money which can be channeled into other development projects to enhance the standard of living of the citizenry.

By Nelson Kofi Akatey, Public Relations Officer, Ministry Of Sanitation And Water Resources.