Liberian President George Weah has learnt the hard way that politics is a different ball game. The former FIFA world best player has had a tough time trying to make his country more prosperous than he received it.
Last month, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised the country’s GDP growth forecast for 2019, from 4.9% to a miserable 0.4%. Inflation, cost of living, poverty and corruption are all high. The health sector is in disarray as many hospitals have run out of essential drugs and some are collapsing. Meanwhile, several ambitious infrastructure projects promised by the president have still not started.
Many Liberians are in agreement that this is not what they were expecting and this is not the change they voted for; so on 7th June, thousands of Liberians, young and old, took to the streets in protest and gave President George Weah a list of demands and a deadline of one month to act. Time is almost up now.
Prominent among their demands, they want the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the central bank sacked. The two stand accused of having the responsibility for some missing $2 million. In September 2018, shipments of fresh Liberian currency equivalent to $104 million were also reported missing, before an investigation later claimed that the money was not missing.
The president initiated an investigation into the missing cash saga, and in response to the country’s woes, has publicly stated that he is “deeply concerned” and working around the clock to solve the problems.
But the president himself is not totally clean. He has still not published his assets. And since getting into office, he has travelled a lot by private jet, revamped his houses and acquired some more mansions and residential properties, kindling discontent in many Liberians as the latter struggle to make their living.
As the deadline looms, bigger and more pressing demonstrations await. The president has not fired the central bank governor and his finance minister, and many Liberians are in agreement that this is not the Liberia they want.