Friday, June 16, 2006

As the Week Draws to a Close in Accra: Of Mendacious Multinationals, Maggots, Lawyers, & Football

Just when Ghanaians though their food was safe, an investigative reporter from the Crusading Guide newspaper—known more for its defence of the NPP and NDC-bashing—reveals that Ghanaians have been eating maggots. If you area like me, you might have squirmed a degree or two, but if you are like the rest of my fellow Ghanaians, you probably might have inundated the airwaves to the degree that you, the perpetrator (in this case Eurofoods) might just feel like leaving the country ASAP.

The operative word here is "might", because like many a multinational when its pants have been caught down, it bluffs and blusters, as the lawyer for the company, Turkson, speaking on CITI FM two days ago, did. He tried to argue that there were no maggots nor weevils, nor fungi, and that it was figments of people’s imaginations. Then he tried to lay a guilt trip on Ghanaians that if foreign investors fail to come to this country, then it is because of incidents like this.

Not that he wasn’t doing his job—hell, if I were in his position, I might have said the same thing, but I suppose he is Ghanaian. He definitely spoke like one, and he seemed to have no problem that Ghanaians were being fed expired flour. Though not quite literally, then, to him it’s ok, cos it’s cooked!

This is how CITI FM reported it on its news website:

But the Solicitor to the Company, Lawyer Bernard Turkson, in an interview with CITI NEWS said that the move was wrong and an affront to the nation's attempt to woo foreign investors into the country.

Lawyer Bernard Turkson told CITI NEWS that the allegations that the company was in breach of the FDB's safety regulations by using unwholesome materials in its production chain were false.

Lawyer Turkson also hinted of a possible law suit against the FDB and the Police administration, if the current verbal ban on the company's operations is not revoked within a reasonable period of time.

Meanwhile, the newspaper reporter, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, is standing by his story disclosing that he got employment from EuroFoods under a cover and that he has evidence to support what he reported.

When armed police swoop down on your factory, then you know your time’s up. If you hadn’t been doing something wrong, why would they be there? So that’s a queue to all those multinationals out there who feel that operating in a developing country means utilising sub-standard methods. If that doesn’t wash, how about being reminded that Blacks aren’t as puerile and infantile as they make out to be, so TNCs, please watch out. We’ve got your back. You don’t take profit to the grave; you leave it all behind. We know you do it because you can, but just remind yourselves that sometime, somewhere, some people might just wake up and take notice—like the Food and Drugs Board did.

I just checked the FDB website, and it is regrettable that their latest press release is that of April 2006. We need INSTANT communication and monitoring of what happened at the East Airport-based factory.

As for investigative reporting, this is the second time this reporter-- Anas Aremeyaw Anas—has uncovered a scoop. His first item a few weeks ago was that of passports, which I covered here, and he caused some public furore.

Health Watch
On the health front, whilst I am still thinking of Nana Amma, time is helping me cope with her loss. But I cannot forget what is happening in the country as doctors are being asked to go back to work after the three-week strike.

Here’s a story that originally ran in the VOAnews:

By Efam Dovi
13 June 2006
Doctors in the Ghanaian capital Accra have returned to work after being on strike for nearly three weeks over a salary dispute.
Authorities of Ghana's medical sector are relieved doctors decided to go back to work after an 18-day strike. They feared the industry would collapse after the walkout of all health workers, coupled with Ghana's "brain drain' as doctors leave the country for better jobs abroad.
The president of the Ghana Medical Association, Francis Adu-Ababio, says the order is effective immediately.

"We have been at negotiations with our employers, the government for the past three months," he said. "We have reached a point where the national executive council and the leadership [of the Ghana Medical Association] have come to be convinced that, yes indeed, come pay day this month the new salary scheme will kick in, which will mean that the demands we were making will be fulfilled and it is on that basis that I have asked the entire membership, especially those who have been on strike for the past two and a half weeks, to go back to work and this must be with immediate effect."

The junior doctors, or doctors in training, began the strike almost three weeks ago to demand payment of their salaries. Their pay had been in arrears for five months while senior doctors negotiated with the government.
A spokesman for the junior doctors, Hadi Abdallah, said he and his colleagues would not go strike on the salary issue anymore, even if the government does not pay them as promised. He says that doctors in Ghana have bigger issues to focus on.

Hadi Abdallah"In the hospital that I work, that is Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, we do not have what we call risk allowance for doctors," he said. "So if you get a needle sting injury from an HIV patient, that is, you will not be compensated. And they will only give you drugs, the anti-retroviral, which every Ghanaian enjoys. So even as a doctor working in the hospital, I do not have access to free medical care, which is very, very bad."

Meanwhile, members of the Health Workers Group who joined the junior doctors in a strike last Thursday, remain off the job.

Incidentally, on the football side, we lost to the Italians on Monday 2-0. The game was exciting, though, with John Mensah defending fantastically. The goalkeeper, Richard Kingston, did an equally stupendous job of keeping many Italian goals away. It was a combination of luck and perseverance that saw them scoring against Ghana in the second half. We play the Czechs Saturday. Keep your fingers crossed, pls!

For more on the world cup, pls check a kewl site out here

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