General News of Wednesday, 22 June 2005
Accra, June 22, GNA - The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) on Tuesday criticised politicians, civil society groups and officials, who defended the corrupt practices of their colleagues and called for concerted efforts to fight the canker.
"Corruption is the bane of development; we all recognise it yet we pretend it does not exist," Mrs Augustina Akosua Akumanyi, NCCE Deputy Chairperson, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview. She urged anti-corruption agencies, the Media and civil society groups to intensify their vigilant role and expose corrupt officials, as posterity would definitely judge the population for its actions and inactions.
Mrs Akumanyi urged the Government to hasten the passage of the Whistleblowers and Freedom of Information Bills into laws, saying these laws would empower civil society groups and anti-corruption agencies to work effectively.
She commended the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for seeking to set into operation the definition for Article 284 of the 1992 Constitution on the Code of Conduct for Public Officials. This reads: "A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts or is likely to conflict with the performance of the function of his office."
The law does not define what actions constituted conflict of interest, he said, pointing out that anti-corruption agencies, civil society and the Media needed to know and to understand in clear terms what actions of officials should be challenged on the basis of Article 284. "You see, we have to make corruption unattractive and these guidelines would certainly provide the ammunition and weapon to fight corruption."
A draft document - "Conflict of Interest (COI) Guidelines" - CHRAJ made available to the Ghana News Agency defines it as: "Any interest, financial or otherwise; direct or indirect participation in any business transaction or professional activity, an incurring of any obligation of any nature, which is or appears to be in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of an official's duties in the public interest."
It considers the general principles of the COI in terms of financial interest, impartiality in official performance of a public officer, employment and recruitment practices and moonlighting, and abuse and misuse of office for private gain. The rest are post-employment activities of an officer, definition of gifts and gratuities and suggestions on what to do in a conflict of interest situation.