Ghana: Akufo-Addo cabinet shuffle disappoints, say analysts

By Jonas Nyabor

Posted on Wednesday, 8 February 2023 18:27
Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo, interviewed by The Africa Report in Paris on 13 October 2022
Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo, interviewed by The Africa Report in Paris on 13 October 2022 (Photo: Vincent Fournier for JAMG)

Faced with a barrage of criticisms over the poor state of the economy, Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo has reshuffled his government for the first time since he began his second term in 2021. But some have questioned whether his choices are valid ones.

The restructuring announcement, which includes filling posts vacated by MPs pursuing presidential ambitions has left many disappointed, especially after civil society groups called for the removal of Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, the president’s cousin. He remains in place.

“What we are seeing now is filling vacant spaces in government. This can never be said to be a reshuffle,” says Ransford Gyampo, political science lecturer at the University of Ghana.

Both Alan Kyeremateng at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Owusu Afriyie Akoto at the Ministry for Agriculture are presidential aspirants. Kobina Tahir Hammond (MP for Adansi Asokwa) steps up to the trade portfolio, while Bryan Acheampong (MP for Abetifi) becomes agriculture minister.

Large cabinet, economic woes

Inherent in the calls for a reshuffle was the demand that Akufo-Addo reduce his “elephant-size” government as a means of cutting down on public expenditure amidst the country’s economic crisis.

Ebenezer Kojo Kum reigned as Minister of Chieftaincy for health reasons and was replaced by former director of the government’s State Interests and Governance Authority, Stephen Asamoah Boateng.

“I didn’t think we need a minister for chieftaincy and religious affairs,” Franklin Cudjoe, president of public policy thinktank IMANI Africa tells The Africa Report.

Ghana’s economy began showing signs of instability last year with its finances reaching their lowest ebb in more than two decades, while the cost of living has significantly shot up with December inflation pegged at 54.1%, a 22-year high.

“We still stand by the fact that close to ¢6bn ($493m) will be saved for this economy if there is a proper reordering of the ministries, departments and agencies,” adds Cudjoe.

Akufo-Addo has accused those who called for cabinet cuts and changes as opposition elements seeking to destabilise his government.

Ghana is pushing for a $3bn IMF programme, which means it must urgently cut down on expenditure and raise public revenue to make its debts sustainable.

Individual bondholders who are actively resisting the government’s proposal to extend the maturity of their investments and hand them lower interests said reducing the size of government will yield a more positive outcome for the government’s financials.

Bad behaviour

Disappointment also stems from reported previous inappropriate conduct from some appointees.

Hammond, the minister-designate for Trade and Industry, dominated media headlines late last year when he described Ghana’s youth as “empty-headed” in reaction to jeers at the president when he made an appearance at the 2022 Global Citizen Festival in Accra.

Also nominated at trade and industry ministry as deputy minister is Stephen Amoah (MP for Nhviaeso). He was trolled last year when he claimed the government was working on creating a “Chinese movie” industry in Kumasi to be called “Ghana Chinese.”

Juggling titles

Other members of cabinet have been elevated within their portfolios or moved to different ministries entirely.

Mohammed Amin Adam (MP for Karaga) has been moved from the position of deputy Energy Minister to the position of minister of state at the Ministry of Finance.

The reorganisation also sees Herbert Krapa, a deputy minister of Trade and Industry move to the Ministry of Energy as a deputy minister.

Osei Bonsu Amoah (MP for Akuapem South) has moved up the ladder from deputy minister to minister of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development.

Akufo-Addo responded to calls to reduce and shuffle the cabinet last year by saying he had no intention of undertaking a reshuffle insisting that his appointees were meeting his expectations.

These current appointees must be approved by parliament before officially taking up their roles.

With barely two years before the next general elections in Ghana, there is little anticipation that these new appointees, if confirmed, will be driving major policy decisions.

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