It is impossible

BY: Nana Yaa Ofori-Atta
 Mr George Ayisi, High Commissioner in South Africa
Mr George Ayisi, High Commissioner in South Africa

It was Arthur Conan Doyle the creator of Sherlock Holmes, the legendary veddy veddy English gentleman of a detective, who wrote in 1890, 'How often have I said to you that once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth?'

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya has achieved exactly that. Last week, among the many ripostes written about the rerun of a presidential election - Uhuru competed against himself on his 56th birthday - was this quote from an unknown blogger.

Uhuru Kenyatta opened a considerable lead over his close rival in the October 26 repeat presidential vote. Uhuru Kenyatta was leading with 7.2 million votes, followed closely by "Number of voters who turned out to vote" at 6.5 million votes, though international poll observers and news organisations say that "Number of voters who turned out to vote" actually was 3.5 million. With more than 3/4 of the results in, there was no way "Number of voters who turned out to vote" would be able to catch up with Mr Kenyatta's numbers. BBC reports that Uhuru's supporters are jubilating after their candidate got more votes than "those who turned out to vote" and they have petitioned that Mr Kenyatta be entered into the Guinness World Records for his accomplishment.

In short, the birthday boy, played with himself in public, all on his lonesome. On the record, Wachira Maina published a blistering Opinion Editorial in The East Africa newspaper that I highly commend, for non- Kenyan wananchi bemused by recent events.

Maina insists that far from burying the career of the troubled Raila Odinga as Kenyatta's father, Jomo, had effectively done to Odinga's father, Jamoragi, in 1966, Uhuru has singlehandedly managed to deliver the impossible. He won 98.2 per cent of votes cast in an election he ran against himself, after the wily Odinga pulled out. Voter turnout was 40 per cent or lower, voting did not take place in 25 areas-opposition Odinga strongholds.

So now what? Maina calls Uhuru's win a poisoned chalice - a lame duck second-term presidency facing 'three implications, each of which he will find unsettling.' Legitimacy damaged beyond repair, and the bolstering of Odinga; empowering Vice-President, William Ruto, with his ambitions to succeed Uhuru and now faced with a 'shrunken electoral mandate' he will likely begin as we say in Ghana, 'to advise himself' and create his own power base that Kenyatta would not like; and, a constitutional crises that will likely compel Uhuru to resort to more authoritarian acts to hold on to power. The long and short of it, per Maina, is that even relying on the usual toxic ethnic divisions in Kenya, Uhuru has unequivocally blown it.

The truth too is that there is not much to be said about the links between Spain and Kenya, beyond the usual public calls to deepen calls for trade and investment, tourism and education, culture, health, science and technology. I checked online. Betwixt the two countries, there exists also a special short-term visa for tourism and business purposes. The usual cannon fodder. What is new, is the ability of politicians in those two countries to conflate, deflect, distract to destruct.
Between October 1 and Halloween, the administration of Catalan, one of the 17 autonomous communities in Europe's fifth largest economy, has managed to hold an illegal referendum where turnout was below 42 per cent; 90 per cent of those who voted chose independence; the Catalan administration dithered for days then declared formal independence; the Spanish government threw down the castanets and threatened arrests; and a certain Senor Puigdemont has skipped across two borders and taken refuge in Brussels.

If he does a Julian Assange and claims political asylum, I recommend strongly, the op-ed published in the New Times titled The Catalan Martyr versus the Spanish Strongman, by Omar Encarnacium, a professor of Political Science and an author. He too sums up with clarity, the history of the confederation that is Spain with a quote. 'The big loser is the people of Spain, including the majority of Catalans, who throughout this ordeal have consistently called for the one thing that neither martyrs nor strongmen are particularly good at: dialogue and compromise.'

Railway workers

In dear old Ghana, there appears to be little room for dialogue or compromise this week on three issues. That the Ghana Railways Company, a fully state-owned enterprise (Nkrumah never dies?), armed impotently with a mere 64 km of operating track, continues to pay the salaries (however poorly) and benefits of some 1,400 workers. It will require per a report published in the Daily Graphic, $7.8 billion of investment over the next four years to make it fit for purpose. Retrenching the existing staff will cost millions of Ghana cedis and no doubt lead to press conferences, walkouts in Parliament and orchestrated curses rained down by religious and traditional leaders on the evil head of Minister Joe Ghartey and the administration of President Akufo-Addo. Keeping the idling workers on, as is in the hope of attracting the quantum of foreign investment in capital and the wherewithal required to provide a truly modern backbone to agricultural development and efficient transportation, is a conundrum.

South African High Commissioner

It is impossible, in the limited space, to fully share my views on the statements attributed to our esteemed High Commissioner in South Africa, a certain George Ayisi Boateng. The truth is we should be thankful that he has outed himself, and now to ask, what will the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, do to rein him in tightly, sanction if not revoke his appointment?

Domestic violence and sexual abuse

I am deeply concerned too here in Ghana, about the legal, institutional, processes, resource — capacity and budget —that we devote to preventing and addressing domestic violence and sexual abuse of minors. This is why, like 22,000 plus overly eager civil society types, #Metoo has signed the petition at change.org asking the Attorney General, Ms Gloria Akuffo, (I hold her in high esteem), to replicate, the magic she and others delivered in sorting out our maritime borders, in this small matter. The truth is I voted for change. Is it impossible or improbable to stand by my vote and also call it? #Justice4Her (and him).