…How the Ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC); is gradually evaporating its taunted Social Democratic credentials as the President and the commander-in-chief of the Ghana Armed Forces- John Dramani Mahama; strives to build 100s of houses but with the support of his security forces- the local authorities, the military and the police force, supervises the homelessness of thousands of households?
BRIEFS & MEMOS
In the Kingdom of the Great Britain, “the law concerning homelessness is contained in Part VII of the Housing Act 1996, as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002. In addition, regulations have been passed covering, among other matters, the status of persons from abroad, local connection and priority need groups. The law requires each housing authority- here; the Local Authority, such as the Tema/Adenta Municipal Assembly, to have a homelessness strategy that sets out how the authority will:- prevent homelessness; and ensure that enough accommodation is, and will be, available for people who are, or who could become, homeless; and provide satisfactory support to people who are, who may become, or who have been, homeless and who need help to prevent them becoming homeless again. In a number of situations, a housing authority must take reasonable steps to protect an applicant’s personal property if there is a danger of loss or damage to it because s/he is unable to protect it or deal with it, for example, the applicant is ill or cannot afford storage costs, and no other suitable arrangements have been made.” (Housing Act 1996 s211) The current demolitions fall into this and must be politically, estopped.
It is said that ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Therefore, if you were to build on a water-way or illegally; encroached on someone’s land and succeeds to mount your mansion or mud house on it which were to be lawfully demolished or bulldozed by the orders of a competent court of jurisdiction, then I will certainly be that last student in that school of taught who hold the belief that you could some remedy in law or commonsense. But if had legally understood the reasoning behind majority decision in just-decided Presidential Election Petition of 2012; with particular reverence to the deductions of Justice Mrs Sophia Agyeibea Adinyira; then I could persuasively have the right of audience at the Supreme Court of Ghana to forcefully argue that the ongoing mass housing demolitions exercises enforced by state institutions such as the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research [Animals Research], in Adenta Municipality and more recently, that of Tema Development Corporation (TDC) at Adjei Kojo, near Ashiaman, have the propensity of igniting social unrest that might subvert Ghana’s democratic gains.
If there had been anything that had stayed true to my convictions as a youth and shall remain so even beyond my grave; is what some decades ago our nationalistic instructor said during our training in Pinar del Rio- Cuba, which I paraphrase: “As a revolutionaries being trained to fight imperialism and to champion the causes of the proletarians, the masses or the peasant farmers; who are the bedrock of socialist engagements/struggles, it must always be your preoccupations to respect and protect their properties- being it agricultural produces, manufacturing products or dwellings, which form the basis of their livelihoods.” The reason then was that if the masses become disconnected with your course and saw no difference between you and the said “capitalist-bully” system you seek to annihilate, you are likely to be subverted. Not until 31 December 1959 Che-Fidel successful attacks, the Cubans had a US-Fulgencio Batista sponsored political regime that saw many ordinary Cubans uneducated and homeless.
According to Shelter- the UK Charity Organization; well-known for its tireless preoccupation in fighting against all forms of homelessness, homelessness means not having a home. “Some people have no roof over their head and sleep on the street, in doorways or on night buses. But much more homelessness is hidden- you could be homeless if you sleep on a friend’s sofa or in their spare room, or in a squat. Even if you have a roof over your head you can still be homeless, if you don’t have any rights to stay where you live or your home is unsuitable due to severe overcrowding or other reasons.” The rise in the number of homelessness; like that of unemployment figures, has become one of the treasured political barometers upon which most democratic elections are fought and won or lost. Because housing, family and employment are linked together, people-centred local governments are always sensitive on these.
It is against this backdrop that one might find it extremely baffling, seeing the John Mahama-led Social Democratic [NDC] regime; appearing financially-constrained in meeting its electoral promise of building some 50 community-based and 10 colleges of education across the country, where some school-feeding subsidies are still on transit and for purposes of economic and finance prudence; the generational Nursing and Teachers Training Colleges Allowances, painstakingly, had to be temporarily abolished? At page 153 paragraph 606 of the 2013 Budget Statement, the ruling NDC promises that “the Government will construct 200 new community day Senior High schools. For this year, 50 Community-based and 10 Colleges of Education will be completed in order to increase accessibility to secondary education; subsidies would be provided to students in all public Senior High and Technical Schools.”
The Ministry of Education recently abolished the 3-year allowance paid to trainee teachers in Teacher Training Colleges (TTC) currently re-named Colleges of Education which in the words of the Chronicle reports, the members of the umbrella body for trainee teachers- the National Trainee Teachers Association (NTTA), carried placards to Flagstaff House, urging the government to re-think the new policy on teacher-training in the country. “Addressing them, President John Dramani Mahama said the allowance can no longer be paid to teachers in training, because Colleges of Education are being made degree-awarding tertiary institutions; that if it was continued for them, then it must also be paid to trainee teachers at the University of Cape Coast and University College of Education, Winneba.”
The Chronicle Newspaper argues that the teacher-training allowance is the only reason why teachers allow themselves to be bonded, which often sentences them to living in the remotest corners in the country, deprived of the basic amenities of life. “Take it away, and the government would have no basis to demand that College of Education graduates be bonded or teach in public first cycle schools,” the report adds. While in Ghana; I came across many teachers and educationists who said that most of the current basic schools as well as the Senor High Schools, including the traditional training colleges, have vast untapped lands which could have been equally developed and resourced to expand its intake to serve its immediate communities. It is therefore, unclear why the government insists on building new schools and colleges while the existing ones lack the basic regenerations to serve the same intended purposes. Similar argument was raised when President Mahama said that Government is to facilitate the construction of 5,000 affordable housing units across the country for low and middle income earners.
On 06 November 2013 the GBC posted on its website that President John Mahama has cut the sod at Saglemi, old Ningo in the Prampram District of the Greater Accra Region for the construction of 5,000 housing units across the country under the government’s national housing scheme. “The houses, when completed, would be sold to public and civil servants all over the country to reduce the housing deficit,” the president was quoted as saying. He is said to have emphasized that the NDC-led Government will complete the 4,000 housing units started by the Kufour-led NPP Government and that the Brazilian Construtora OAS company, is expected to build 5,000 housing units within a four-year period for Ghana. On the same story, GNA quoted Alhaji Collins Dauda- the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing that government’s efforts to tackle the housing deficit was yielding dividends as more partners had agreed to invest in the sector. “Housing deficit was 1,7million units and government needed to build about 85, 000 each year for the next 20 years to achieve the housing deficit target,” he said.
With this haunting government’s reported figure of 1,7million housing deficit, heart-wrenching headline such “TDC demolition renders Adjei-Kojo Promise Land residents of Ashaiman homeless”, conservatively, one wouldn’t have been expected from a State-financed media such as the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, and under a social democratic ideological-leaning such as the ruling NDC which had come to power a litter over 50% popular votes. At least, not in a country where it is becoming a revolutionary and yes; democratically shame and face-saving, in witnessing Ghana, having politically, gone through many trying times and uncertainties, as the only country that the rich and the affluent, not forgetting their families and relations, have to occupy or purchase state-financed houses but without a hoot to dispel rumoured under-hands of government’s drive in making its own citizens homeless all in bid to resell its encroached lands to private property developers and cronies that serve their interests?In Cuba, it is told that upon his seizure of power, Batista inherited a country that was relatively prosperous for Latin America. ACIG.org, writes that at the beginning of 1959 United States companies owned about 40 percent of the Cuban sugar lands- almost all the cattle ranches- 90 percent of the mines and mineral concessions- 80 percent of the utilities- practically all the oil industry- and supplied two-thirds of Cuba’s imports. In a manner that antagonized the Cuban people, the U.S. government used its influence to advance the interests of and increase the profits of the private American companies, which “dominated the island’s economy. “As a symbol of this relationship, ITT Corporation, an American-owned multinational telephone company, presented Batista with a Golden Telephone, as an “expression of gratitude” for the “excessive telephone rate increase” that Batista granted at the urging of the U.S. government. We are not to discuss in detail the five tests of homelessness under which a Local Authority will be expected to deem its citizen as one priority need to be housed but causes for a social revolution.
We mention in passing that in England and Wales, a person is in priority need if either s/he, or anyone s/he lives with, or would reasonably be expected to live with, is vulnerable because of old age, mental illness or disability, or physical disability, or some other special reason. According to AdviserNet UK, the rule gives guidance on specific groups of people who may be vulnerable for a special reason: people who are chronically sick, including people with Aids and HIV-related illnesses; young people who fall outside the other priority need categories, people fleeing harassment, where it falls short of actual or threatened violence. It is even suggested that authorities should be sensitive to the fact that a former asylum seeker may be reluctant to or have difficulty discussing her/his potential vulnerability if they have experienced humiliating, painful or traumatic circumstances such as torture, rape or the killing of a family member. So how could the government remain indifferent with police-cum-military demolitions?
In her article “How Tunisia’s revolution began”; Yasmine Ryan, writes that since the same day of the self-immolation of the 26-year-old street vendor that triggered riots causing the Tunisian leadership to flee the country, family members and friends used social media to share the news of what was happening in Sidi Bouzid with international media. Mohamed Bouazizi was not the first Tunisian to set himself alight in an act of public protest. “Abdesslem Trimech, to name one of many cases occurred without any significant media attention, set himself ablaze in the town of Monastir on March 3 after facing bureaucratic hindrance in his own work as a street vendor. “ Mohamed A. El-Khawas describes the protest that toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime as a genuine popular revolution, started without a leader, and was nonpolitical, non-ideological, and nonreligious. For those who might have tutored socialism/communism or attended proper revolutionary schools you might recall the adage that revolutions are neither imported nor exported- it comes against the backdrop social realities in life.
The U.S. State Department writes this about the Fall of Communism in East Germany: “Inspired by their neighbors’ reforms, east Germans took to the streets in the summer and fall of 1989 to call for reforms, including freedom to visit West Berlin and West Germany. Moscow’s refusal to use military force to buoy the regime of East German leader Erich Honecker led to his replacement and the initiation of political reforms, leading up to the fateful decision to open the border crossings on the night of November 9, 1989.” We condone not lawlessness. But unless the recent demolitions at Adjei Kojo or Adenta are entrapments designed to lure its citizens; how could hundreds of incorruptible households; whose only sin is probably, the strive to fend for themselves without recourse to public funds, trample over the law on lawful occupation- vis-à-vis State lands, at the eagle eyes of law enforcement agencies?
With its ever-increasing urban populations amid deportable and ever-gapping rural development heights, it appears to JusticeGhana that it is for example, incumbent upon Ghanaian Government, to mint a value on its animal or human population whose livelihoods, are being evaporated like a smoke into the skies. Otherwise; we will inadvertently, be tickling the democratic gains anti-clockwise, into the Dark Ages.
1. Shelter, “What is homelessness http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/homelessness/homelessness_-_an_introduction/what_is_homelessness
2. Abolition Of Teacher-Training Allowance Will Be A Great Mistake
3. President Mahama Cuts Sod For 5,000 Affordable Housing Units At Old Ningo,
4. the GBC06 November 2013
5. “Air war over Cuba 1956-1959”, ACIG.org, Retrieved 14 June 30 November 2011
“How Tunisia’s revolution began”, Yasmine Ryan, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/01/2011126121815985483.html, date accessed, 24/01/14
6. “Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution: Causes and Impact”, Mohamed A. El-Khawas, Mediterranean Quarterly, Volume 23, Number 4, Fall 2012, pp. 1-23
7. Fall of Communism, U.S. Department, http://future.state.gov/when/timeline/1969_detente/fall_of_communism.htm