By Brian Chitemba
‘Ghana, this is our money; (Nana) Akufo-Addo (Ghana President) you will kill us. Look at the number of cars. Akufo-Addo why? You will kill us. Our money, our money. Imagine the fuel they are using; Akufo-Addo,” complained a Ghana national as he recorded a 50 plus presidential convoy cruising through a poor community.
The video went viral across the continent.
Reading the comments on the video reveals the frustration of Africans at the calibre of leaders who have an insatiable penchant for luxury. Akufo-Addo who was sworn into office for his second term in January this year for another four year tenure has won infamy for moving around a huge entourage of top-of-the-range cars.
A long winding train of the latest Toyota Landcruisers, Nissan Patrols and other enviable SUVs driving past a community seemingly wallowing in a sea of poverty tells the sorry African story.
Africa is not homogenous as its people have a rich diverse culture but the love for luxuries by its leaders is strikingly similar.
Ghana, like many African countries including Zimbabwe, is facing economic challenges. The West African country last year witnessed its economy shrink by 3,2%, pushing the country into a recession for the first time in 38 years.
Back home, a 31-second video was posted on social media platforms as government officials and security personnel huddled together to wish President Emmerson Mnangagwa a happy birthday. He turned 79 on Wednesday.
What caught my attention in that video was the black Mercedes Benz Pullman. A quick search revealed that the breathtaking Mercedes S-Class cost about US$1 million, depending on the year of manufacturing.
Such cars are rare globally, never mind on the continent. The late former President Robert Mugabe also boasted of a Mercedes Benz Pullman. One wonders where and who is using the beast.
Mnangagwa has a relatively huge convoy as he is escorted by BMW motorbikes, Mercedes Benz police cars, Toyota Landcruisers, Prados, Fortuners and Jeep Cherokees.
Cabinet ministers, judges, commissioners, security chiefs and top civil servants drive Land Rovers, Range Rovers (Autobiography and Vogue), Mercedes Benz E-Class and S-Class. The cost of buying and maintaining these vehicles is astronomical in an economy where over seven million people are said to be living in extreme poverty by the World Bank.
Luxury cars and homes cost a fortune. If only these resources could be channeled towards social services in both urban and rural areas. Of course, the President, ministers and other top officials deserve the dignity that comes with the office but it only becomes problematic when a huge number are scrounging to make ends meet.
Ministers and other government officials should be given locally assembled cars from Willowvale Motors and Quest. High dependence on British and German cars is expensive and such extravagance must be curtailed.