How Ghana Gov’t Took Petty Partisan Politics To AU ..And got embarrassed

Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

More details are emerging on the happenings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with reports that the President's favourites are holding sway over others, despite their qualifications, experiences and respectability within the international diplomatic circles.

The Herald is informed about an embarrassing incident where Ghana's Ambassador, Kwasi Quartey, lost the position of Deputy AU Chair, although he was most qualified, highly experienced and had served in the position, and only needed a renewal of his appointment.

Instead of President Akufo-Addo and his government endorsing Ambassador Quartey, who is a career diplomat who became the Ghana's ambassador to the AU and later Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs under the former Minister Madam Hannah Tetteh, he was snubbed for Martha Pobee, who was subsequently rejected by AU.

President John Mahama, had appointed Ambassador Kwasi Quartey as secretary to the President just as another Foreign Service Officer (FSO), Ambassador D K Osei was appointed by Kufuor as secretary to the President.

Ambassador Quartey is renowned in Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) as a Pan-Africanist scholar, but was accused of being a supporter of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) by the government and refused an endorsement which would have renewed his tenure.

Interestingly, the African ambassadors at the AU, were waiting for Akufo-Addo's endorsement, but it didn't come due to partisan considerations.

"Now fast forward 2015, when our Mission in Addis Ababa informed us about the candidatures in the AU system, MFA processed the report and made recommendations to cabinet for Ghana to field Kwasi Quartey. As the process went from cabinet to the office of the President, it was difficult for John Mahama to let his new secretary to the President go but for the sake of national pride he was released for us to campaign for him and he won easily because of his deep knowledge and professionalism," The Herald was told.

As his first term was drawing to an end in December 2020, the source said Ghana presented Ambassador Quartey's bid for re-election, but "as international candidatures go, you need a letter from government to endorse every candidature."

It said the Akufo-Addo government refused to endorse him, even though the entire AU system was only waiting for a letter from the Government of Ghana.

It said Ghana, however, bypassed Ambassador Quartey and presented another candidate in the person of Martha Pobee, who it described as Nana Addos darling girl who was then Ghana's ambassador in New York.

It said Madam Pobee having been unsuccessful with the AU bid, has since been appointed as a chief director, even though one ambassador Addico who returned from Geneva some three years ago, is next in line for chief directorship.

On Monday, The Herald revealed that tension was brewing in the Foreign Service under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, following the incessant recruitments and promotions of party loyalists, family and friends of Akufo-Addo's government appointees into the service, which some of the staff consider as indiscriminate.

The Foreign Ministry, has just gotten financial clearance for some 320 newly recruited officers to serve in various capacities in the Foreign Service and insiders complain that they are mainly political party apparatchiks, close friends of people in the corridors of power and family members.

The skewed selection process, has ignited some agitation among senior staff of the service, but worsened by the promotion of these special recruits ahead of the professional diplomats and others, who have held the fort for all these years with a proven track record.

A source close to the Ministry, told this paper that aside the recruitment of some 40 officers known as "Hackman 40" into the service when Hackman Owusu Agyeman was the Foreign Minister in the era of President John Agyekum Kufuor, the practice is being repeated under the government of President Akufo-Addo.

A letter sighted by The Herald dated December 11, 2020, with reference number AC36/452/02F which was titled "RE: Financial clearance" and released to the head of civil service, from the Ministry of Finance, said "The Ministry of Finance as per the letter No. B/CPMU/2020/FC10 dated October 13, 2020, granted your organization financial clearance to recruit the under listed with effect from April 1, 2021.

The letter listed the following Foreign Service Officer (FSOs), A5/Director IIB, 22, two Principal Executive Officers, 63, B4 Senior executive officers, six, B5 Higher executive officers and 25, FSO C3.

Also recruited according to the letter are; 38, FSO C4. One, FSO C5, Five telephonists, six messengers, three store keepers and sixteen catering staff.

The letter further stated that "the request for the following officers will be posted to your institution in due course.

FSO A1/Director, nine, FSO A2 Deputy Director 15, FSO A3 Assistant Director I, 40, FSO A4 assistant director IIA, eleven and FSO B2 Asst Chief Executive Officer, 23."

It was explained that in the foreign service, there are three branches, these are FSO branch A, this is made up of administrative class, who go on to become Ambassadors, the FSO branch B which is the executive class, manages government accounts at post and the FSO branch C, are the secretarial class, and also serve as confidential secretaries.

So, if you apply for any of the branches, you start for instance from FSO A5, A4 to A3, A2 and then to A1.

The same system, applies to FSO B and the C branches

However, during Hackman's time, the source said those 40, were recruited midstream and given a special treatment by starting them from A3 and A4 and were placed ahead of the A3 and A4 officers who were already in the system.

"Fast forward to 2016 when NPP regained power, they posted them before those in the system and made them seniors on the Foreign Service Precedence list", adding "these officers are now A1s therefore eligible to be considered for ambassadorial appointments including those who were in the system long before they were recruited," the source disclosed.

The source further said "obviously these recruits get more appointments than the FSO A1s who rose through the ranks by dint of hard work."

It said since taking over the country's leadership in 2017, the Akufo-Addo government, has continuously been recruiting into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs without considering whether or not the scheme of service, had been expanded to make room for new recruits at the present rate.

Currently, it was said that officers in the Foreign Ministry are now sharing desks and computers and they work in turns since logistics, including office furniture are not enough for everyone

"Once you finish typing and printing, you leave the desk for another to do theirs", the source painted the dire situation at the Foreign Ministry.

"What's more, this letter is the latest list of recruitment that is making the rounds," the source added saying "most of the people they recruit are family and friends. There are some who live abroad and are made to relocate to Ghana to work at MFA."