Cabinet Shake-Up; Prez Mahama Replies Rawlings
President John Dramani Mahama has dispelled a rumour of an impending cabinet reshuffle, saying that he would not be stampeded to act.
In an apparent response to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) founder, Jerry John Rawlings’ request for heads to roll in the Mahama administration, the President said he would not be compelled to embark on a premature ministerial reshuffle as demanded by his former boss.
On Thursday former President Rawlings, in an interview with Joy FM said the ministerial reshuffle was long overdue and that people had “reached their saturation point.”
He said a “sizeable number” of the ministerial appointees were incompetent and must go. Mr. Rawlings dismissed speculation that he was holding on to the list of the reshuffle.
However, Information Minister Mahama Ayariga in a statement said, “The attention of Government has been drawn to depictions of an impending ministerial reshuffle.
“The publications hint at the existence of a possible list of hands to be reshuffled and which list is said to be circulating in some quarters.
“Government would like to state that the reports are an elementary political tactic designed to stay the hand of the President, assuming he plans to undertake a reshuffle, or to stampede His Excellency into carrying out a reshuffle, if he intends otherwise”.
The statement noted that the last two weeks had recorded stringent steps by the government to halt the freefall of the local currency and stabilize the economy.
It went on to state that if the President decides to reshuffle his cabinet, his decision will neither be influenced nor clouded by such reports, but will be done through sound judgment and a careful consideration of the resources at his disposal.
Former President Rawlings was of the opinion that such a reshuffle was necessary to stem the tide of ineptitude featuring in the Mahama-led government.
Expressing disgust over what he regarded as the occasional misuse of his name among ruling party elements to, as he claimed, “cover up their weaknesses and ineptitude,” Mr. Rawlings insisted that no such list was in his possession.
This is coming at the heels of a general poor rating for the Mahama-led government by a section of Ghanaians – something aggravated by the depreciation of the Cedi against the major convertible currencies and an attendant downward plunge of the economy.
He stressed, “But make no mistake, some of us who are perceived to be part and parcel of the changes of these developments, I hear it also on the air like most of you. I find it extremely mischievous that some of the leaders in the party tend to create this false impression that Rawlings knows and approves of everything going on in government.
“This is not true. The elected President is the coach as he said, and that is where our attention should be directed, and not at me.”
Mr. Rawlings, who has largely spared President Mahama his usually acerbic remarks, noted that people have reached a level where they can no longer tolerate the current situation in the country.
This situation, he pointed out, could only be mitigated through a cabinet reshuffle suggestion which President Mahama does not have appetite for.
“Of course, a sizeable percentage of them, I don’t think were good enough, and they demonstrated it with their time in office. I don’t think this is a matter of opinion really; I think we can all see the result of their work. If they had performed better, things would have been different.”
He continued, “And let me assure you, if such lists were to come to my office, they would take no longer than 30 minutes on my table because all I would have to do is tick, cancel out or put a question mark to any such suggested names. And send them right back to where they would have come from.”
Mr. Rawlings noted, “These changes I believe should have taken place towards the end of last year when Ghanaians had reached their saturation point with what they perceived as the incompetence or the non-performance of some of the appointees, but it didn’t happen. There is a bit of anxiety, some sense of expectation that is where my name becomes a convenient tool to be misused.”
The former President disagreed that the young appointees should be given time to find their footing, saying the NDC has “personalities with lots of experience; this is not the time to be learning in government, no, no, no. We have people with lots of experience, lots of integrity, they could have helped, could provide wise counsel.”
The government rebuttal would be seen by observers as a major snub to the former President whose relationship with President Mahama has witnessed a certain degree of thawing in recent times.
The statement was couched in a manner as to avoid a direct reference to Rawlings’ reshuffle demand.