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PUBLIC POLICY FOR RACIAL JUSTICE  OR “STATE CAPTURE”?A COMMENTARY

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Deeply-troubled and concerned, President George Weah, the Second “Country-Boy” President of the Republic, born and raised in the Ghetto-Slum, Clara Town, enclave of the City of Monrovia, declared in his first State of the Nation Address, that “In these circumstances, it is my view that keeping such a Clause [Article 27 (b)] in our Constitution (of 1986) is unnecessary, racist and inappropriate for the place that Liberia occupies today in the comity of nations”.


The Clause, which has come to be known as the “Negro Clause”, denies Liberian citizenship to persons or individuals only and only because they are not Negroes or are not of Negro descent.

The relevant questions, crucial and critical, are the “circumstances” and “place” which the Republic now occupies, according to the President. Our answers:

a) Prior to and during 18th century conditions and “circumstances”, Liberians were a people subjected to and fled from wrongful, racial discrimination, human bondage and servitude, with social, economic and political rights denied and routinely abused with impunity. Therefore, such a law [(Article 27(b)] was not only necessary, but also, mandatory, for fear that the non-Negro race might gain political power/control and, again, enslave and persecute them.

b) But in the prevailing 21st century, conditions and “circumstances” have changed dramatically, such that the new Nation of freed Negro Slaves has become the high-profiled, internationally-recognized member of the United Nations and participating actor on the world stage in this age of democratic, pluralistic political process with protection of human, civil and political rights of all peoples.

c) Moreover, the Republic is not only a founding member-state of the World Body, but also the willing signatory to all International Treaties, including the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which forbids member-states from discrimination based on race, gender, age, nationality, sexual preference, religion, etc.

d) It was in the light of these changed conditions and “circumstances” that the Republic of Liberia dragged the Republic of South Africa to the International Court of Justice for Racial Segregation/Discrimination on behalf of the Republic of Namibia, then under its (South Africa’s) Trusteeship.

Indeed, segregation/discrimination based on race has been declared, and is, a profound wrongful, evil and illegal act long ago then and is now wrongful, evil, illegal act, will be henceforth for all time. Therefore, Article 27(b), the “Negro Clause”, must be repealed and cleansed from the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, under these “circumstances”.

The Political Scientist
Now, comes the Political Scientist, Counselor-at-Law and member of Liberia’s Supreme Court Bar who declares that “President Weah is been coerced by certain group of people to seek their selfish interest at the detriment of the ordinary Liberian people . . . This draws a parallel to the political science concept called State Capture. I don’t think those who advised the President (Weah about repeal of the Negro Clause) were fair to him. In economics we say land is a factor of production. If you look at Liberia, from its founding up to the present, a vast majority of the country’s population has been deprived of land ownership. The dockets of courts are crowded with land dispute cases (New Democrat, February 6, 2018)”.

From his outburst, the eminent Political Scientist and Counselor-at-Law is against repeal, but retention of the wrongful, immoral and illegal act incorporated in the nation’s organic law, the Constitution more than a centuries ago.

Moreover, the Counselor raised the issue of “State Capture”, an illegal practice against which State law enforcement action should and must, now, be directed to compensate, implicitly, in exchange for retention of Article 27(b), the Negro Clause, rather than repeal of this wrongful, immoral and illegal act. This is reasonable conclusion implied in accordance with the Counselor’s choices.

Although the Counselor’s suggested approach of exchange/substitution to provide justice, the critical issue racial justice, leaves the Republic of Liberia NOT better-off in the final analysis, it is very important and relevant, therefore, to inquire as to what is meant by “State Capture”, simply, for the sake of the Counselor’s argument.

According to Wikipedia Encyclopedia online, the term “State Capture” describes the whole body of Political Corruption in which private interests influence significant state decision-making process to achieve their objectives. The term was used, first, by the World Bank to describe situations/conditions in central Asian countries which were in transition from Soviet Communism. Specifically, the term was applied to situations where small, corrupt groups used their influence over government officials to appropriate state decision-making to their economic advantage. These groups were later known as Oligarchs.

State Capture, Specific & Classic
This category of State Capture refers to formal control and manipulation of state institutions – Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Laws and Patterns of expected social behavior – by private individuals and firms to influence state policies and laws in their favor. This category of State Capture seeks to influence the design, crafting and formation of laws to protect and promote influential private interests, not to seek selective enforcement of laws already on the books.

The basic objective of this category of State Capture is replacement of state-selected managements, boards, commissions, etc., with its privately-chosen compliant ones. State decision-makers are, in fact, agents of the state captors who function in monopolistic, non-competitive manner. In the case of this type of State Capture, the expected outcome or state decision is known and assured.

Example of this classic State Capture is the case of South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family business empire.

Corruption State Capture
The other form of State Capture is Corruption State Capture in which a plurality and competition of several Corruptors seek to influence state decision-making by selective enforcement of laws on the books, in force and effect. But in this case, the outcome of policy or regulatory decision is uncertain.

This form of Corruption State Capture had been established in Liberia since 1847. There has been, and is, the plurality and competition of corrupt Captors – American, British, German, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, Israeli, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, etc., you name it.

The major Corruption State Captors are western states, some Asian, others, firms and individuals. Although these States have declared anti-corruption and pro-democracy policies, but they cooperate, collaborate and partnership with corrupt, undemocratic states and, thereby, become Super Corruption State Captors, with local “puppet” presidents.

This approach has been the historic case in the Republic of Liberia for 170 years and continuing!

Land Cases “Crowd Court Dockets”
Regarding the issue of land ownership (raised by the Political Scientist/learned Counselor-at-Law), Liberian History reveals that it was NOT the Corruption State Captors, but the leading Liberian founding Fathers, the African-Americans/Americo-Liberians who confiscated and appropriated, forcibly, indigenous citizens’ tribal land – Vai, Gola, Bassa, Kru, Grebo, etc. – of Cape Mount, Bomi, Montserrado, Lower Margibi, Grand Bassa, Sinoe, Grand Kru, Maryland Counties, etc.

This process has been handed down to descendants of Africa-Americans/Americo-Liberians, Congo-Liberians and the Indigenous citizens who graduated into the Americo-Liberian political ruling Class, now as Lawyers and politicians. The process continues to this day, NOT by Corruption State Captors, but by ourselves – Liberian citizens – particularly, the political Counselors-at-Law who “eat money” from both sides of litigant-parties and baffle, baffle and baffle with delay tactics, such that the “dockets of courts are crowded with land dispute cases”.

Example is the Cooper Beach estate land issue. The Supreme Court of Liberia has decided that case in favor the Coopers and lawful owners who bought land from the Coopers. But there are bandits and illegal encroachers who rely on illegal connections with corrupt, political lawyers and judges to continue, still, occupy the land years after the Supreme Court decision. The Ministry of Justice, even, lacks the power/authority to vacate the illegal encroachers!!

It remains to be seen from the promises made by the new Justice Minister (Cllr. Dean).

Therefore, the intervention, by the Political Scientist/Counselor-at-Law of the Supreme Bar, is not only irrelevant to the issue of racial justice at hand, but also, false and vicious distortion of the facts of Liberian History, regarding law enforcement.

 

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