Craig Murray, a former British Deputy High Commissioner to Ghana who caused controversy during the 2000 general elections which brought the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to
office, is in the news again.
This time around, he has claimed that the out-gone NPP government paid millions of dollars to Zhakem International Construction Limited for no work done.
In 2000, during the collation of the election results, Envoy Murray had slept at offices at Electoral Commission, claiming the election result were being manipulate, an action which was condemned by the then National Democratic Congress (NDC) government as Ã¢â‚¬ËœundiplomaticÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
His reason at the time was that his government (British) had pumped too much money in the organization of the election and could not sit down for the investment to be wasted.
In this current case, Mr. Murray, who has since been relieved of his diplomatic duties by his government after stints in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2005, is saying that the NPP administration paid about $80 million to Zhakem International Company Limited for the construction of the Kpone Thermal Power Project (KTPP) which has not been done.
He told Oman FM, an Accra-based private station, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I went to the site three weeks ago. I stood on the very spot where the turbines are supposed to be and they have not even started.
I went there with Kwesi Pratt. All they have done is to clear some land and they have built a wall. Foundations are not even dug. They have not even dug the trenches yet for the foundation.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Challenged by the host that something was being done at the site, he said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Unless everything has happened inside the last three weeks. It is quite possible as a result of what I have been saying. They quickly dug something.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Envoy Murray insisted Ã¢â‚¬Å“there is nothing constructive about the ground level. The turbines are not even on site. They are in the storage yard of the VRA. Please go and see it yourself.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It takes a minimum of 18 months to construct a turbine. The turbine foundations are very large things. They have to go right down to the bedrock. You do not have to believe me. You can go there yourself to seeÃ¢â‚¬Â.
When asked where his interest lies in the whole issue, Envoy Murray replied, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am a human rights activist and an anti corruption campaigner. I am quite well-known internationally.
I have many interests in Ghana one of which is a company in which I am the chairman in the power sector and that is how I discovered this fact.
I was most upset because of my concern for the ordinary Ghanaian taxpayer whose money is being abused. That is where my interest lies.Ã¢â‚¬Â
When asked whether his company had interest in the building of the turbine, he said he is an agent for a company that builds turbines, adding Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am not entirely ashamed of it.
People should be able to build what they supposed to build and the taxpayer should get what they pay for. In the case of Zhakem, the truth is there is no functioning power station.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I decided to go public with this because I was worried the government was not getting sufficient support in its anti corruption work. Even some foreign missions were criticizing the government for investigating foreign companies.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He claimed he once reported the matter to former President John Agyekum Kufuor, his Chief of Staff Kwadwo Mpiani as well as the current vice President, John Mahama and the Energy Minister.
He also said he once took Mr. Mpiani to the site and upon seeing developments, Mr. Mpiani expressed his disappointment over the state of affairs, a position the former Chief of Staff later called into the programme to vehemently deny and went ahead to accuse Envoy Murray of hypocrisy.
He admitted that he had constant interest Ã¢â‚¬Å“because I have learned Zhakem kept being paid constantly 2008 in particular. I heard they kept being paid more and more installments of money despite the fact that absolutely no work was happening and I could not understand it.
They are getting another 20 million dollars despite having done nothing. That is why I started alerting people.Ã¢â‚¬Â
At this juncture, Kwabena Sarpong, a close associate of Mr. Mpiani, called into the programme to protest against what he calls Envoy MurrayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬ËœliesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
He said Ã¢â‚¬Å“he is lying. It is a fact that he reported this case, especially Zhakem, to Mr. Mpiani but Mr. Mpiani never told him Zhakem had disappointed him. I was there at the site and I believe if he sees me, he will remember me.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Mr. Sarpong said what the government paid to Zhakem was what he called mobilization fee which he said was normal, adding Ã¢â‚¬Å“when you sign a contract, you are given mobilization. Your contract that you are doing, were you not given mobilization.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I do not want to tell Ghanaian what you are because if I do, they will drive you out. Your wife is currently holding a Ghanaian passport. How did your wife come to have the passport?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You are talking about people being corrupt. Talk about yourself. How did you wife come to get a Ghanaian passport. Why are you doing this? Some people will think maybe something is wrong with your mindÃ¢â‚¬Â?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“NPP comes; you are doing the same thing. NPP goes; you are doing the same thing. Ghanaians are getting tired of youÃ¢â‚¬Â.
He claimed that the delay in the construction of the turbine was as a result of the NDC government having to tell Zhakem that there was no money, saying Ã¢â‚¬Å“as I speak to you Zhakem has a certificate to be paid. If they have not done any work, why would they be given a certificate?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Envoy Murray then cuts in to say that he was glad that Mr. Sarpong confirmed that he took Mr. Mpiani to the site and also the turbines were still at the VRA stores but maintained Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mr. Mpiani said to me he was disappointed.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Mr. Sarpong replied that Mr. Mpiani had told Envoy Murray that he was going to crosscheck and get back to the envoy and never said he was disappointed, insisting Ã¢â‚¬Å“Craig Murray is lyingÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Envoy Murray became annoyed and shouted that if Mr Sarpong did not conduct himself as a civilized person, he would stop talking to him.
Mr. Sarpong replied Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you are a civilized person and have conscience you will not be saying theseÃ¢â‚¬Â.
When the host later asked Envoy Murray whether his wife had a Ghanaian passport, he confirmed it was true.
By William Yaw Owusu