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Feature Article of Friday, 19 October 2012

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Force Presidential Candidates To Publicly Publish Assets

Ghanaian Media: Force Presidential Candidates To Publicly Publish Assets - & Political Parties To Disclose Funding Sources

By Kofi Thompson

The Ghanain media is failing Ghanaians by not demanding that presidential candidates in the December 2012 election ought to publicly publish their assets (and that of their spouses).

And, worst of all, the media have failed to call for political parties to disclose their funding sources.

Surveying today's political landscape, and judging by the campaign narratives we have heard and read thus far, were the Ghanaian electorate just as discerning as that found in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, there's no question that Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom and his Progressive Peoples Party (PPP), would win the December 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections, by a landslide.

Why, when they know it is vital evidence that a political leader and the political party he or she leads are incorruptible, would American and British voters cast their ballots for a presidential candidate and political party, other than the candidate and party demanding that presidential candidates publicly publish their assets and filed tax returns, and that political parties ought to disclose their funding sources, I ask, dear reader?

Sadly, in Ghana, this remarkable and positive development in the politics of our nation is yet to attract any media comment at all. Amazing.

Perhaps it is no accident that Ghana's mostly corrupt media entities and journalists have not shown the slightest interest in bringing this most positive of campaign narratives to the attention of voters.

Yet, ordinary people now fully understand that the quality of life for ordinary Ghanaians will never improve, if high-level corruption in Ghana is not dealt with decisively once and for all.

As things stand, by declaring that he will publicly publish his assets and filed tax returns, as well as disclose the source of funding for the party he founded and leads, it is Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom and the party he founded (the Progressive Peoples Party), which deserve the mandate of Ghanaian voters.

Surely, on behalf of the good people of Ghana, the Ghanaian media ought to demand same from all the other presidential candidates and the parties they lead? Will that not help ensure good governance at long last?

As a people, if we want to end high-level corruption in the years ahead, then the time has come to force all the political parties in Ghana to disclose their sources of funding.

It is the opaque nature of financing the activities that is at the heart of high-level corruption in Ghana.

Consequently, in a corrupt society such as ours, it would be a grave error of judgement on the part of voters, to trust any presidential candidate who does not publicly publish his or her assets and filed tax returns (as well as that of their spouse).

And to vote for any political party that is unwilling or unable to disclose all its sources of funding, would be suicidal on the part of Ghanaian voters.

Given the parlous nature of our public finances, every voter in Ghana must take into account the fact that this is a nation that spends the bulk of its tax revenues paying public-sector employees.

It will be in their interest, for that reason, to demand that political parties show them precisely how they intend to fund all the policy proposals they make in their manifestos.

Voters must be particularly wary of those politicians who like to give ordinary people the impression that Ghana can be turned into paradise - the day after they are elected to rule Ghana. It won't happen. Period.

So to help fight high-level corruption, voters must neither trust nor vote for politicians and political parties that are unwilling or unable to publicly publish their candidate's personal net worth and disclose the sources of their party's funding.

Above all, for the sake of Mother Ghana, the media must help end the continued entrenchment of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the NPP in the minds of the gullible millions of "My-party-my-tribe-right-or-wrong" myrmidon-types.

Their blinkered support for those two leading parties is slowly destroying Ghanaian democracy. It must end in this election.

The Ghanaian media can help us make a start in that direction, by demanding that all the presidential candidates in December election publicly publish their assets (and that of their spouse) and latest filed tax returns.

Above all, the Ghanaian media must insist that political parties fully disclose their funding sources. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Email: peakofi.thompson@gmail.com

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