For years, it has been in the grapevine. Honestly, I never heard the Rawlingses deny the speculation that they had a mansion in East Legon. But they never confirmed it either! All they have done (or failed to do) and all they have said over all of these years suggest that they would rather that we didn’t know they owned that property in East Legon.

Since their house got burnt in February – by yet to be determined causes – Jerry Rawlings and his wife have deliberately created the impression that if urgent steps are not taken they would be thrown on the streets to sleep with the truck pushers and ‘kayayei’ at the Kaneshie Market.

“We are looking for a place to rent,” the ever-manipulative Mrs. Rawlings proclaimed on radio even as the state was providing fittings to make her mother’s home habitable for her. Then she spoke in rather forlorn tones about how the fire outbreak in her home has forced her husband to go and stay in Tefle, trekking to Accra every now and then to transact whatever business he’s involved in – besides “dealing with the weed situation” in the Volta Region.

“It’s not good for marriage life, it’s not good for partnership, it’s not good for family life, it’s not good for companionship, it’s not good for anything,” she said.

Almost everything Mrs. Rawlings said in that interview seemed calculated to deceive Ghanaians into thinking that her family was in a very dire situation and to force the hand of government to do her bidding, knowing very well that she had rejected government offers of alternative accommodation.

I foolishly fell for her trickery. I sat on radio and said government had no excuse for its failure to provide the Rawlingses with alternative accommodation – five months after something (or someone) set their house on fire. I wasn’t alone. Others were also incensed and government had no choice than to come out to quickly rebut her claim that nothing had been done yet to provide her family with a home.

With that, one question was foremost on many Ghanaian minds.

“Ah, Rawlings paa,” one man asked. “After 19 years in power as a dictator, is he saying that he hasn’t built a house for himself?”

To questions like that there was one recurring answer: The mansion in East Legon. And that’s when Nana Konadu’s shameful deceit was exposed.

If you have a mansion, why on earth would you go looking for a place to rent? Her aides claimed the place was not “ready” for habitation. Fair enough. If your mansion, with lush lawns and CCTV cameras, is not ready for habitation, why not spend whatever little money you have to put it in shape instead of using your cash to “look for a place to rent”?

By the way, even if it’s true that the place is not ready for habitation, is Rawlings and his wife telling us that there isn’t even a single bedroom in that mansion where they can mount a bed to cuddle on – which no doubt is very good for whatever companionship Nana Konadu is being deprived of by her husband’s stay in Tefle? In any case, what stops Nana Konadu from moving to Tefle to perform her wifely duties?

Enough of the questions!

I believe it’s about time Rawlings and his wife were told some home truths. They should do as Kufuor has done – move into their home. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in Tefle or Adjiringanor.

I am beginning to think that all that is going on is a clear signal to all of us Ghanaians that we should not allow our former heads of states to become an unnecessary burden on us. It should not be the job of the taxpayer to provide our ex-presidents with housing.

They get paid a monthly salary, don’t they? For doing nothing?

That’s just about as far as we should go. It’s a good salary Rawlings gets. If his East Legon mansion is not fit for his royal revolutionary habitation, he should go to Ghana Home Loans and get a mortgage. Last time I checked, his son, Kimathi works with Fidelity Bank. They also offer mortgages. He should go and take one.

George Bush’s retirement home was not provided by the American government. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are living in their own homes. So is Kufuor. It’s not beyond Rawlings to move into his own place. He’s even lucky that his so called “village house” in Tefle is on the banks of a river. Gordon Brown would kill for that.

If you become president of this nation, take a monthly salary and several other perks that make it virtually unnecessary for you to use your own money and you can’t build a house of your own and you turn around expecting the state to provide you with accommodation upon retirement, then you are nothing but a big fool. Thankfully, Rawlings was wiser and built himself not one but two big houses – one on the banks of a river. He should move into one of them and leave us alone.

We have very pressing issues to deal with – including providing housing for the very people whose taxes are being used to pay him for doing nothing.


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