The President’s praise last Friday of the work of the Jospong Group of Companies should be seen more of an endorsement of their sanitation work rather than a verdict on their operations.
It should be easy for us to draw the distinction between the operations of the Jospong Group, allegedly fraught with some questionable transactions, and its work. While one is being probed by anti-graft agency, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the other is not.
The work of the companies could be seen around us, on our streets and landfill sites. The way Ghanaians view matters of sanitation with a renewed concern is a testament to the work of deliberate sanitation policies, Zoomlion and its affiliates.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s comments during his visit to the Accra Compost and Recycling Plant at Adjen Kotoku were not an endorsement of the company’s operations.
“What we are witnessing here is the modern way of providing service, the collaboration between the State and private sector to deliver public goods,” the President said.
Prior to the creation of Zoomlion, Ghanaians had a shabby attitude towards sanitation and this had a great toll on the citizens and country. The streets of Accra and many parts of the country were dirty (some still are). The Assemblies were incompetent, not because of the lack of competent people, but because of their love for shoddy work.
But there is a renewed interest in a clean environment and this was bolstered by the National Sanitation Day, instituted by the past regime.
Zoomlion and its affiliates contribute daily to the delivering of the public good, which is clean cities, to the country.
“If we do not have an efficient, modern way of dealing with waste disposal, then we will have a city that has major troubles with hygiene,” President Akufo-Addo said.
But I think the seeming disaffection the President’s comments have created was because of his praise of CEO of Jospong Group, Joseph Siaw Agyepong.
“When you are at the forefront of doing things like you are, you will be the subject of controversy. It goes with the territory. I know you a little bit, and I know you are capable of handling it. Stay focused,” the President said.
I know why these words successfully glazed the raw skin of some people, leading to claims that President Akufo-Addo has endorsed the alleged corrupt practices of Mr Agyepong.
I have my reservations about the operations of the Jospong Group, which I see as everything but transparent. I was in Liberia in 2013 when the World Bank banned Zoomlion from bidding for its contracts for the next two years. I was not surprised because the controversies that surrounded the Emergency Monrovia Urban Sanitation Project executed by Zoomlion in Liberia were grave.
The involvement of Zoomlion in the crass misappropriation of funds at the then Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) is unpardonable. Also, the manipulation of sanitation contracts under the past regime to favour Jospong affiliated companies should be condemned.
It is the job of the President to dredge the country of corruption but it is not his work to deliver judgment on alleged corrupt operations of Jospong. That’s the function of the court.
I will on any day ask for a probe of some of the contracts awarded to Jospong during the John Mahama administration.
But I won’t fault President Akufo-Addo for praising Joseph Siaw Agyepong for his entrepreneurial spirit and his companies for their work in the country.
I don’t care how much Jospong pays in terms of tax to the nation, but I care about how it does its business. Its business dealings are dotted with controversies that must be reformed.
I doubt the President will interfere with any investigation into the operations of Jospong Group. He won’t dare considering his credential as a man of integrity.
The author, Austin Brakopowers is a Broadcast journalist at Joy99.7 and views expressed here are exclusively his and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Multimedia Group Limited or Myjoyonline.com. You can reach him via Brakomen@outlook.com