There is no doubt that the current issue wasting the precious time of most Ghanaians is the Menzgold Ponzi Scheme perpetuated on “Middle Class Ghanaians with meticulous precision by Nana Appiah Mensah and his cohorts.
Like many ordinary Ghanaians who had the sense not to fall prey to this modern day “Aladdin” I would have kept my counsel to myself if not because of three main reasons.
First I am a Ghanaian and cannot act as the proverbial ostrich. Second, our current President has commanded us to be active citizens not participants. Finally, and most important of all I have been inundated with calls from some residents and young men of our Zongo Communities and slums who wanted their voices to be heard on this “middle classes” Menzgold mantra.
Personally, I have no beef with Nana Appiah Mensah, I have never met him before and do not wish to meet him. I wished him well when he was the “superman” of Ghana, wining and dining with the great and good. I was just a bit skeptical about his business model as the price of gold like all commodities is susceptible to internal and external economic shocks. All the same many learned, wise, elderly men and women of sound mind decided to take their chances with the then “guru of investment”
Junior Secondary School(JSS) Facts about Menzgold
First, I would like to establish some fundamental (JSS) facts about Menzgold. Menzgold was an investment company albeit a Ponzi one registered in Ghana. I am not privy to their “Objects” as expressed in their documentation for registration but that is not necessary for this piece. All that readers need to know is that it was a legitimate Private Company operating under the same rules as any other company in Ghana.
Stop Accusing Innocent Parties
Let us clear the dust once and for all and bury the hatchet. Whether Menzgold’s license to operate required the mandate and authorization of the SEC and bank of Ghana or the tacit Blessing of the President of Ghana, or the prayers of our venerable Chief Inman, or the wise counsel of Otumfuo Osei Tutu 11, that is totally immaterial to the central issue at stake.
Are we as a nation seriously suggesting that before the President of the Republic meets a business person, church leader, prospective investor or any ordinary Ghanaian that individual needs to be vetted prior to the meeting?
Are we suggesting that before the Chief Imam, Otumfuo Osei Tutu 11, Togbe Afede X1V or any important person in Ghana interacts with any personality the visitors be vetted? What planet do we come from? What logic is that?
Whilst I totally agree that our President and eminent leaders must be circumspect with whom they associate with, it will be practically impossible to vet all those who come into contact with our leaders.
The Buck Stops with The Greedy Investors
Ghanaians can argue till the cows come home about the role of the Bank of Ghana, SEC and other personalities in the creation, marketing and collapse of Menzgold. We can chat on FM stations, Television Channels, drinking bars and discuss Menzgold till the cows come home that will not change the fundamentals of the case. We can sing bobolibobo at the offices of EOCO and curse our current crop of leaders that will not make an iota of difference. The investors who invested their hard earned cash in Menzgold had the sole and prime responsibility of undertaking due diligence of Menzgold prior to parting with their cash.
I suffered the same fate when the share price of Royal Bank of Scotland plummeted, Her Majesty Government took majority control of the Bank and did not pay me a dime. I lost half of my hard earned life savings at the stroke of a pen. I was primarily and solely responsible for my adult decision.
In relation to Menzgold, I was asked by one of my best friends my views on investing his UK savings with Menzgold – my reply was simple: “all investments involve some degree of risk” and it is your sole responsibility to figure out your goals and risk tolerance.
I went on further to advise him not on book knowledge but native sense. What our grandmothers, mothers and aunties from Nkawie thought us - basic common sense investment principle - Do not put all your eggs in one basket expressed soundly in my favorite Ghanaian Proverb – “When you grow plantain also grow bananas in reserve” in case the plantain fail to mature.
To make matters worse, most of the investors who had invested their life savings into the Menzgold Ponzi scheme got themselves entangled in the hot sector investment syndrome. NAM1 provided an illusion of easy money but came with a cost – momentum investing. In simple English their investments were in serious trouble from Day 1.
In any case, no one was prepared to raise his head above the parapet and question the business model of Nana Appiah- Mensah as you will be accused of jealousy. The typical response by the average Ghanaian to evidence base reasoning.
MenzGold Not a Priority for Government
It is a fact that 99% of people living in the Zongo Communities and slum areas of Ghana never invested a penny into Menzgold Ponzi scheme. They could not afford to or were busy selling their wares to eke out a pittance and living.
If I may ask why should the taxes of the pure water seller, banku seller, yoko gari seller, yam seller be used to bail out the greed of the middle classes? Why should the taxes of the poor public servant already burdened with punitive taxes be used to pay for the greed of middle Ghana?
To my utter disbelief Hon. Okudezto Ablakwa has joined in the affray – he is seeking a bipartisan parliamentary committee to look into the effects and impact of the activities of a private registered company on the fortunes of “Middle Class Ghana”.
To compound my depressive mood, Dr. Anning a security expert said if “Ghana was a functional state it still had the responsibility to ensure that criminal enterprises are not successful”. Hmmm. My respected friend Adam Bonaa waded in by suggesting that all that the Menzgold customers want is their money.
Compensate Farmers for Unsold Rotten Crops
Of course, Mr. Adam Bonaa all that our hard working mothers, aunties in Dambai, Bibiani, Damongo, Yendi, Techiman want is compensation for their rotten foodstuffs. Crops which they have toiled like baboons to grow but end up rotten on the markets due to lack of patronage- they also deserve compensation.
Of course, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa residents in the Zongo communities and slums deserve a bi-partisan parliamentary committee to look, investigate and understand the devastating impacts of poverty related diseases. Of course Dr. Anning, the 100’s of mothers who lose their children through child birth want to know if Ghana was a functional state, would it allow their babies to die during child birth.
As citizens, let us all learn the art of empathy and compassion. I feel sorry for some of the investors who have lost everything but let us not be fooled by this middle class crocodile tears. With hindsight the Government may have made a mistake in doling out monies to the DKM depositors.
Snapshot of Conditions in Zongo Communities and Slum Areas
Quiet recently personnel from Zongo Economic Development Agency undertook a short survey of conditions in Ashiaman municipality.
The three most worrying findings of the survey was:
(a) There seem to be an increasing disconnect between the have and have nots which have created a chasm and increased the contempt held by many poor urban dwellers to state institutions;
(b) Residents living in the slums are fed up with long years of institutionalized neglect, living in filth and squalor and constantly seeing middle Ghana fighting their own corner;
(c) Many areas of the slums have been turned into recruiting grounds for criminal minded groups and the grooming of prostitutes and child labour.
These are some of the real issues that our President, MP’s and our elected representatives in the Assembly should concern themselves with, not the rantings and futile warnings of educated misfits and intelligent zombies.
Message to the Executive & Legislature from the Slums- Not a Dime
Mr. President, Hon Finance Minister, MP’s of all political persuasions do not pay a dime or get involved in this private middle class greed saga. It is not the job of the President, Minister of Finance, Governor of Bank of Ghana, Parliamentarians to get themselves embroiled and entangled in the private investment decisions of greedy middle calls individuals.
And in any case Kwaku Adoboli caused the largest trading loss in British Banking History $2.5bn; Nick Leeson broke Barings bank with the loss of $1,38bn; Toshihide Iguch cost Daiwa Bank a cool $1.1bn and John Rusnack blew $691m when he was at Allied Irish Bank. Did any of their respective governments pay a dime. I could go on and on and provide examples of rogue traders or guys who have devise Ponzi schemes and ended up in Prison.
It any Menzgold investor feels aggrieved let them seek redress through the law courts. I am in total agreement with the New Juaben NPP Chairman, the real riots will begin in the Zongo Communities if the Government decides to compensate the greedy Menzgold investors with the tax money of poor citizens.
Columnist: Appiah–Danquah Kufuor