General News of Thursday, 18 October 2012
Source: The Finder
The political weapon of choice loved by the country’s political parties is corruption.
One social scientist estimated that about GH¢1 billion is embezzled every year in the country. Other studies detail losses in sectors such as health, education and road sectors; and the two major political parties – the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) – have been particularly busy launching it against each other while protesting their abhorrence of the practice.
Former President J.J. Rawlings has said he has a difficulty with the NDC not prosecuting the NPP for corruption and indulging in it themselves.
The difficulty for the public is that none of the various allegations made against current and former office holders have been investigated properly to test their strength or otherwise.
A former Attorney General, Martin Amidu, a.k.a. Sole Crusader, has argued that no one in his right senses would take the President, and by extension members of the executive, to an official investigative body and expect to see justice in the end.
While the statement cannot be absolute, it still points to the difficulty of proving corruption against a government when it is in power.
Except under military regimes, political figures are hardly convicted of corruption, but even most of such decisions have been overturned by the courts, making accusations of corruption always debatable.
Yet the public continues to believe that corruption is prevalent among high government officials, numerous surveys on the issue affirm.
Stories of individuals entering politics as average persons and coming out as super-rich also adorn the landscape, which is why the charge is so potent on the campaign trail. The charge is often buttressed by tales massive with acquisitions manifested in mansions, schooling abroad for children, money distribution sprees, etc.
The issue jumped up on the political agenda recently after news of judgement debt payment to businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome become public.
The circumstances under which the payment was made are currently subject of an ongoing trial.
That issue pulled into public domain other judgement debts cases involving, again, millions of cedi payments.
Before then there had been allegations of state lands sold for a fraction of their value, as well as those of politicians using their privileged positions to corner public and private properties.
In recent times, however, arguments over corruption among the two major parties appear to have shifted more to which party is more corrupt than the other, and no more who is not corrupt.
Some have argued, for instance, that a thief in one party will be made a bishop in the other party.
The issue, however, always comes up as an election issue; it was fodder of electioneering in 2008 just as it was in previous elections, particularly in 2000 and 1992.
It is, therefore, ironic that institutional bodies set up purposely to protect the public purse and shed light on the issue hold very little credibility with the public.
So with the few days left to choose which political party to lead the country, those voting based on the less corrupt are likely to rely on perceptions not tested in any acceptable forum.