George M. Weah’s Presidency: The Worst Racket in Liberia’s Political History
The halo is removed and what seems to be a gory orgy of corruption has become the defining character trait of the regime. Campaign promises of stamping out corruption and placing the homeland on a progressive path for social transformation were all placatory pronouncements meant to whip up false hope in George M. Weah and put the CDC party at an advantageous end to collect votes in the 2017 presidential election.
Almost One year into the presidency of George Weah, the rhetoric of the CDC about fighting waste, abuse and graft has come across to the general public as a political ruse and campaign play-acting. The real meaning of the pro-poor agenda which took a back seat during the heated electoral process has taken a dominant role, flexing its influence across the divide and going in full circle to hold the government hostage. The so-called new Liberia of social development was a doublespeak meant to mean a backward Liberia of scandal, swindle and racket.
Scolding the erstwhile Unity Party regime for delighting in corruption, the CDC faithful pontificated about ensuring it becomes a vice of the past. The party made fighting graft a major issue during the electoral campaign, but it seems as though such promise to run a clean, corrupt-free government mean the opposite.
Careening out of control based on the infiltration of the Civil Service Agency with ne’er-do-well in positions of significance by the CDC Chairman, the wage bill of the government has ballooned, making it to spend more money on itself while other productive sectors of the economy lag behind due to the indifference of policy consideration. Sectors that would stimulate growth and spur prosperity are given no real considerations except that morsels are put in the budget to pay the remunerations of officials who do virtually nothing but collect whopping pay checks akin to giving somebody a Christmas bonanza.
The little oasis of progress has become a dying relic, as the desert of the lack of public spiritedness and no sense of governance is the dominant ideology of the regime. With these early breakdowns, one can wager that its modus operandi is racket and motivation is swindle.
The major plank of the pro-poor government has been unveiled to the chagrin of the popular classes and to the masses of people who had a huge illusion in George M. Weah. He has obtained the dubious distinction of being a stable part of a trashy tradition of political leadership in Africa which has robbed and decimated the African people. He has become an albatross around our necks, and a leading member of the same order of rotten avarice like the likes of Mobutu Sese Seko, Jean Bedel Bokasa, Sunni Abacha, Charles Taylor, Samuel K. Doe, William V.S. Tubman etc. etc.
Pro Poor Agenda and the Mood in the Streets
Pro poor agenda the regime shouts. What pro-poor agenda? An agenda which for the past months has quadrupled economic repression and continue to keep the people in the firm stranglehold of the unequal neocolonial capitalist orbit—a social system which has led to the development of underdevelopment in Liberia and distributed social inequality. It has only contributed to more suffering, more economic banditry, more social inequality, and more blight for the people.
Liberians are living, eating, sleeping and walking with hardship and living an awful social life. Some Liberians are dying of curable diseases. Most have sunk deeply into beggary and social backwardness. Some of them have taken to crime out of sheer desperation for survival. Oppression and unmasked corruption are tormenting the republic, and the mass of people are suffocating. Right before our eyes, public medical centers are shutting down. We are seeing businesses folding up. On the other hand, we see President Weah amassing wealth and gobbling up properties reminiscent of the California Gold Rush. We see him living like a millionaire-racketeer, a millionaire-Al Capone, don of all dons, and owner of the vapid bimbos.
In spite of the compendium of vague generalities dubbed as the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD, in spite of the empty optimism of the CDC faithful and thus given the level of anarchy in governance, the unbridled swindle and the lack of determination to ignite social change, the Weah administration is akin to opening the South Beach Prison and letting elements who were convicted for money laundering and all manners of financial crimes out without the least correction, but are given the state to govern the state. There can be no appropriate characterization about the reality in the country than that, as each day passes the uncertainty grows, the woe of the masses of the people increases, and the situation deteriorates.
Taxed without benefit, reduced to the lot of helots, crushed by the amalgam of poverty, disease and ignorance, decimated by social inequality and unsolvable crimes, perished under the crude dagger of curable diseases, far removed from civilization and living akin to prehistory, these disastrous social contradictions are the living existence of the people. The homeland has become a space where corruption has not the least shame, where avarice has become the dominant morality, where statecraft is reduced to incompetence, where national domination flourishes with reckless abandon. These all the more make the Weah government the best racket bourgeois democracy can foist on our people, making the corruption of previous regime before it a toddler in the arena of racketeering.
Indeed, the psychodrama of scandal has become inherent in the regime and thus generated quick fortunes for President Weah aside from the failed Eton and Ebomaf deals, Samuel D. Tweah changing his ticket to first class on an exotic Emirate air flight, violation of the Act of the PPCC, the NHA scandal, paying of debt to nonexistent companies, the charming conjugal bliss between President Weah and Lebanese businessman Mohammed Bittah, and a long list of excesses making scandal the locus classicus of the regime.
This is a cursory list of the fruits of President Weah’s plundering labor.
The construction of a 49-units city on the Robertfield Highway.
Purchased a private jet with taxpayers’ money which is docked at an airport in Senegal.
The demolishment of his home on 9th Street, Sinkor and subsequent reconstruction with taxpayers’ dollars.
Purchasing of 50 acres of land behind the Farmington Hotel with taxpayers’ money.
Inflicting project costs to later be given the difference by his Lebanese cronies who are awarded construction contracts in gross violation of the PPCC Act.
Blue revolution or Blue racket?
Dreaded indifference to the collective woes of the people by the regime has led to the concoction of a banal phrase, banal that can only be because its assertion flies in the face of elementary fact, bearing stark resemblance to the growing sycophancy which wrought the politics of the republic. The CDC lackey thus trot out the awful abstraction ‘this government will succeed.’ But again, fanatics are fanatics. They see reality and gloss over it because of perverse interests.
Showing signs of the growing revolutionary potential, every day there is a protest somewhere; everyday there is a roadblock in one community or another either for electricity or due to the hike in the crime rate; everyday there is a protest either in Monrovia or some parts of the country. Either there are some riots in Kakata, some disturbances in Jallah Town, some outcries for basic social services on the Old road, and some protests against social alienation.
Everywhere there is a sight of men, women and children in rags. The people are clamoring for meal and can barely find a cup of rice to eat. With the drift of the people from the rural areas to the urban centers, living a half-butchered existence and consigned to tribal reserves and stinking squalors like New Kru Town, Buzzi Quarter, Chicken Soup Factory, means even life in the city is no better for the masses of the people.
Liberia in Search of direction
The homeland stands across as a land of dual realities. In the world of avarice, corruption and rottenness, sit Weah and his band of swindlers, empty-headed bimbos and spineless conman, such world is one full of surplus wealth, mouth-watering perk and disproportionate remuneration. The world of the popular classes, by contrast, is one of implacable scarcity, hardship and discontent. This world of surplus for a handful of rascals and the one of scarcity for the popular classes are leading to discontent from below.
A diplomat near Monrovia who is disgusted at the debauchery has this to say: “Liberia has once more relapsed into its inglorious past, of shameful bankruptcy, historical sterility and social immobility. The problem here is the current crop of leaders at the helm of power lack a sense of history as they are bereft of the sense of patriotism and public spiritedness.” What masquerades in this sorry West African state as a government is nothing but a trashy collection of gangsters, conmen and empty-headed bimbos making a messy meal of public service, plunging the country into the rungs of the abyss. Every act of plunder that ingenuity and greed could formulate has been devised by these men of all crimes and economic bloodsuckers.
Whether this country will recover from such mystery will require an alliance of the patriotic forces (all layers of the oppressed) and the masses who are the hardest hit to undo this disgrace because the axis of greed in George M. Weah, Samuel D. Tweah, Nathaniel McGill, etc. and etc. are determined to sink this country far under the water than the fate suffered by titanic. Any new government which emerges out of this anarchy must drag these boys before a judicial commission of inquiry to account for their misrule. When and how this will happen, is another history which is waiting to happen!”
The Way Forward
While President Weah lays bare his ill-gotten fortunes before the Liberian people who are crushed on all sides by the excruciating forces of poverty, mystery and despair, they have been asked to retreat to religious obscurantism—a careful strategy carve by the CDC faithful to hide the contradictions produced by class society. The people are thus asked to pray for President Weah and are told to seek the intervention of God. However, we put it back to those who are pushing this line that they are using religion as a succor to conceal the mysteries produced by class society and as an ideology to justify class domination in the homeland.
The activities in almost a year of the regime have stifled the advancement of the people, stagnated the country and kept social development at inertia. These anomalies must thus motivate the people to destroy what have held them hostage like oppressed people who cherish the values of freedom and social emancipation. From the struggle of the San Domingo blacks, to the liberation struggle in the Global South, there is one and only way to crush national exclusion and domination: to expropriate the ruling class and turn the struggle into a social revolution.
The problem about the underdevelopment of Liberia and its backwardness is not entirely the creation of George M. Weah nor the creation of anybody. Although Weah as a subjective actor has danced so badly on the stage of history to the extent that the rottenness of the system has been unveiled to the public. We say that the transformation that is needed in Liberia cannot happen without the smashing of the neocolonial capitalist social-economic system which has fallen flat and cannot deliver social transformation. The whole illusion about asking the masses of the people to go to the polls every six years to vote for one of the puppets of western imperialism to govern the neocolonial state is akin to putting a cog in the machine. As to not address the problems of the system, means electing even the most progressive character solves nothing.
By Alfred P. B. Kiadii is the Secretary General of the Movement for Social Democratic Alternative (MOSODA). You can reach him through [email protected].