J.H Mensah is dead! …As nation mourns the political giant

Mr Joseph Henry (J.H) Mensah, 89, a founding member of New Patriotic Party (NPP), reportedly died on Thursday at the 37 Military Hospital.

He served in various ministerial positions under different governments as a leading economist.

As a seasoned politician in Ghana, his political career dated back to the 1960s, when he was in charge of planning in Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s government.

From Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia’s regime to January 6, 2009, Mr Mensah was the representative of the people of Sunyani in Parliament.

He was the brother of Mrs Theresa Kufuor, wife of former President John Agyekum Kufuor, under whose government he served as a Senior Minister, when the NPP won the 2000 elections.

Mr Mensah attended the University of the Gold Coast (now University of Ghana, Legon) between 1948 and 1954.

He continued his education at the University of London then Stanford University, where he earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree with specialisation in economic theory and development.

Mr Mensah worked as an Assistant Inspector of Taxes in 1953 while the Gold Coast was still under colonial rule, then in 1954 he became a Research Fellow in Economics at the University of Ghana, which lasted until 1958.

In 1958, he joined the United Nations Secretariat at the Centre for Development Planning, Projections and Policies, in New York City, United States.

Mr Mensah returned to Ghana in 1961 and became the head of an agency at the National Planning Commission, which drew and implemented the country’s Seven-Year Development Plan (1962–1969).

In 1969, he was elected to Parliament and became the Finance Minister under the government of Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia until 1972, when he was replaced by head of state Ignatius Kutu Acheampong after the military coup.

He was imprisoned by the National Redemption Council from 1975 to 1978, but played a major role in the campaign of the Popular Front Party in the 1979 elections.

Mr Mensah was Chairman of the Sunyani District Council in the Brong-Ahafo Region, (1979–1981), and proprietor of Banka Farms and went into exile in England, in 1983, and headed a group opposing the PNDC. He also served on the African Advisory Council of the African Development Bank from 1993 to 1997.

In December 1996, Mr Mensah won the parliamentary seat of Sunyani East District on the ticket of the NPP, and re-elected in 2000, and prior to John Kufuor’s election in 2001, Mr Mensah was the Minority Leader in Parliament (1997 -2001).

Mr Mensah was born in Sekondi in October 1928, and the third of 10 children.

Former President Jerry John Rawlings has expressed his “sincere condolences” to the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the family of the late J.H. Mensah “for their loss”.

Mr Rawlings said in a tweet that: “He [Mr J.H. Mensah] left an indelible mark on Ghana’s politics”, adding: “May his soul rest in peace”.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is saddened by the death of late statesman Joseph Henry Mensah and has promised to duly honour him.

President Akufo-Addo told a gathering of family, members of government and the NPP the former minister deserves a good farewell.

He described the news of his death as a sad one but said he was comforted that he was going to a place where he would no longer suffer.

The President praised the late statesman’s contribution to the development of the country and assured of his government’s preparedness to honour him for his work.

Dr Bawumia in a tweet said: “Truly a mighty tree has fallen with the passing on of a statesman Mr. Joseph Henry Mensah (affectionately called J.H. Mensah)”
The late JH Mensah was one of Ghana’s best economist, Vice President Dr Mahammudu Bawumia, has said.


“He passionately served his country with pride to enhance development and was a man of endearing charm and wit.”

“He passionately served his country with pride to enhance development and was a man of endearing charm and wit.

“For me, J.H. Mensah was a mentor. In my humble opinion he is probably the best economist Ghana has produced.

“Analytically amazing in the way he dissected issues and practical in his policy prescriptions. He was the author of President Kwame Nkrumah’s seven-year development plan.

“My sincerest condolences go to his family, government, people of Ghana and the fraternity of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition. May his soul rest In peace.”

“My sincerest condolences go to his family, government, people of Ghana and the fraternity of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition.

Some Members of Parliament (MP) have also been paying tribute to the late statesman.

Tamale Central MP, Inusah Fuseini described him as a consummate politician.

“He understood, on a personal level, the problems confronting this country and sought as a person to contribute his quota towards the upliftment of the country.

“We saw it in every contribution he made on the floor of the house. Most of us, even though from different political divides sought to take inspiration from him,” he added.

Pru MP Dr Kwabena Donkor said an intellectual awakening is needed for the transformation of the country and that will be the greatest tribute to to him.

“As a people, we have been intellectually lazy and I think J.H will sleep peacefully if we wake up from our intellectual slumber as a people and focus our intellectual capital on national development.”
Commenting on the passing of the economist Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, described the deceased as “an exceptionally and profoundly brilliant economist”.

“One of few gifted with God’s gift of thinking on his feet momentarily at all times, has made significant contribution to the economic and political development of our country, we have justified as a nation to be in grief, to celebrate his departure and mourn his death.

“We have lost a father; we have lost a political colossus [and] our sympathy and condolences to the immediate family, to the president and members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the nation at large.

“He was an inspiration to many of us particularly in this house, we will miss his brilliance, we will miss his humility, we will miss the death of his knowledge, was very academic, had well researched papers and will forever remain in our hearts,” Mr Iddrisu said.

On his part, Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu pointed out that the first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who knew the value of Mr Mensah invited him to come to Ghana and contribute to the development of the country.


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