More than 25 furious immigrants from the West African country of Ghana held an emotional demonstration outside the gates of the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. The organization Ghanaians Against Bad Governance carried colorful picket signs, sang songs and shouted chants during a peaceful protest accusing the sub-Saharan country’s political elite of mass corruption. “The government doesn’t have the political will to clean the system up,” says Kwaku Boateng, an activist in charge of coordinating the public event. “We want the government to implement rules to stop corruption.”
Demonstrators accuse some of Ghana’s public officials of misusing government loans that were issued by foreign banks. According to Mr. Boateng, the loans in question, which are supposed to help maintain the economy and keep the nation’s public sector afloat, are being used to fund lavish lifestyles of the political elite. “They are siphoning the country’s money through schemes under a disguise that they are doing something good for the nation,” says Mr. Boateng, a native Ghanaian with a booming voice and the physical build of an imposing American football player. “An example is they had a program that was supposed to generate jobs for the youth. But the people in charge of the program were paying themselves so much money.” Mr. Boateng also alleges “There are government agencies that were renting office spaces for 68 thousand dollars a month in our country. We found out the buildings (personally) belonged to government appointees.”
The enclave of demonstrators is the latest group of Ghanaian immigrants worldwide to call attention to their home country’s economic woes. According to the activists, the West African nation, which had one of the region’s most vibrant and promising economies, has suffered a downturn in recent years due to increasing debt, inflation and a weakening currency. “The government has been borrowing billions of dollars but there is no reflection,” says Mr. Boateng as he wipes sweat from his eyebrow while tightly clutching his bullhorn. “The government doesn’t stay within their budget. They always overspend.”
Despite criticism, the Ghanaian government continues to tout its country’s potential. “Ghana is rapidly becoming an attractive and profitable investment and business destination in West Africa, facilitating easy access to sub-regional markets,” says the embassy on its website.
But Ghanaians Against Bad Governance stands by its explosive claims and vows to continue applying public pressure. “It’s all because of cronyism,” says Mr. Boateng with a red rag wrapped tightly around his head as if he’s readying for battle. “It’s unprecedented.”