GHANA Cotton tales 16th May 2003 Image courtesy of Panos Pictures View site The previous government's financial misdeeds are a boon to President John Kufuor Three former officials of ex-President Jerry Rawlings's National Democratic Congress (NDC) were gaoled on 28 April for their part in the Quality Grain scandal, involving a loan of US$20 million for a rice-growing project that never materialised (AC Vol 43 No 13). Stung into action by the verdict, the NDC announced a 'March for Survival' through the streets of Accra on 6 May. But the previous evening state television screened pictures of the lavish wedding in the United States of Quality Grain boss Juliet Cotton, now in a US prison. Cotton was heard boasting to her Georgia church congregation of her influence with 'kings and men', and of how Ghana Finance Ministry officials gave her a loan on demand. She was shown arriving by helicopter, and presenting $50,000 to the pastor who officiated at the wedding. Such revelations of NDC misdeeds have helped shore up President John Agyekum Kufuor's popularity, despite steep energy price hikes that have pushed up inflation to 29 per cent from 16 per cent, while interest rates rose for the first time since the National Patriotic Party (NPP) came to power in January 2001. The Accra Fast Track High Court gaoled former Finance Minister Kwame Peprah for four years, for guaranteeing Cotton's $20 mn. loan; former Food and Agriculture Minister Ibrahim Adam and former Finance Ministry official George Sipa Yankey were each gaoled for two years.